Sunday, October 30, 2011

Collecting on a Biblical Scale

This year is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible (1611).  Its publication was a watershed event and it became the most influential volume published in the English language, rivaled only by Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623).  This last week, I was asked to examine and appraise a folio first edition of the Bible for a private institution that was considering purchasing the copy.   My appraisal consulting services normally come with pleasant surprises and this time was no exception.   The owner of the volume, John Hellstern, was not only present but also his friend and fellow collector, Donald Blake.   Both men are deeply involved in Bible collecting and particularly the study of the first printing of the King James Bible.  They have just published a census of copies with much new bibliographical information discovered:  A Royal Monument to English Literature: The King James Bible 1611-2011.  

Monday, October 24, 2011


This blog is dedicated to the history of American book collecting.  Private book collectors will be a primary focus.  However, there are many other kinds of book hunters who will receive attention such as dealers, rare book librarians, bibliographers, writers, and auctioneers.

My main interest is in the biographical side of book collecting.  The bookplate motto of famous collector A. Edward Newton exemplifies the spirit of it,"Sir, the biographical part of literature is what I love most."   Stories of association copies, letters, manuscripts, and photographs are going to be added in abundance.  Images will amplify the stories.  This is a forum serious in nature but not blogged down in detailed collations, bibliographic minutia, or dry lists.  All material is from my own collection unless otherwise noted.  Please read, comment, and share.   Amor librorum nos unit!

Newton bookplate in his copy of Richard de Bury's Philobiblon. NY: The Grolier Club, 1889.