|Henry E. Huntington|
Stupendously miraculous things can happen to a book collector without warning. On an unseasonably hot October day the package arrived, signature required, and I wasn’t home. The mail delivery notice was stuck firmly to the front door and I didn’t recognize the sender’s name from any of my recent book purchases. My faithful mail lady greeted me the next day. I said no I hadn’t gone to the post office to pick up the package. So, we arranged for delivery, talked of her pending retirement in two weeks after thirty-six years of service, and I became a bit wistful. Would the next mail person be so package friendly?
But I’m getting ahead of myself and miracles have beginnings. I first spotted the object of my desire in a Dawson’s catalogue in 1996. The venerable Los Angeles antiquarian firm had acquired portions of the library of Edwin Carpenter, Jr. (1915-1995), historian, librarian, bibliographer, and notable book collector. Carpenter was associated with the Huntington Library much of his career. He collected a wide range of subjects. His favorite was bibliographic association copies—a kindred spirit! He had a special affinity for Henry Wagner, Henry Harrisse, and Wilberforce Eames, for example. Carpenter talks at length about his career and collecting in Ruth Axe’s interview Education of a Bibliophile: Edwin H. Carpenter published by the Oral History Program at UCLA in 1977.