My American Book Collecting blog celebrates its eleventh anniversary on October 24. I almost missed it, but unlike a wedding anniversary, there would have been no harm, no foul. However, I just received two emails only a day apart that referenced my August 23, 2014 post on American literature collector extraordinaire Stephen H. Wakeman (1859-1924). This was certainly unusual, but also reminded me just how long I’ve been serving up essays to those who enjoy such a meal. I began my blog on October 24, 2011 with a welcoming post that spelled out my plans:
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!
In terms of attendance, I must say I have been surprised at the reach of the readership. Spreading the gospel of book collecting has also been a goal of mine. So, looking at the numbers, not as an author, but as a proselytizer, I see as of today there have been 475,247 views of my eighty-nine previous posts. My most read essay according to the blogger analytics is “Peter B. Howard: Serendipitous Bookman” (Nov. 29, 2011) with 9,381 views. Many other posts have surpassed 5,000 views and counting. These exact figures are not as important as the realization that a substantial number of readers are interested in the history and adventure of rare book collecting / hunting. This is exciting and motivates me to keep writing; a virtual tip jar of sorts.
My posts have ignited hundreds of interactions over eleven years, typically via email, on all sorts of bookish subjects. Usually it is an inquiry, comment, or amplification related to what I’ve written. The expansion of my circle of books friends has been wonderous and gratifying. And as icing on the proverbial cake, it sometimes leads to new acquisitions! I recall one memorable occasion when a descendant of Vincent Starrett, who had read my post about her illustrious ancestor, sold me a number of Starrett’s books inscribed to his brother, most notably the famous Sherlock Holmes pastiche The Unique Hamlet (1920).
This brings me back to those latest emails about my post on famed collector Stephen Wakeman. A dealer had acquired a couple of nice literary gems with Wakeman’s bookplate. He discovered my essay doing research and had further questions. The very next day, I received an email from a collector, hitherto unknown to me, saying he had just acquired books from Wakeman’s library and asking a different set of questions! I was bemused and replied he must have just purchased said books from a certain dealer. The answer was a surprised affirmative, and all three of us—writer, dealer, and collector—got a good biblio-chuckle over the whole thing.
I anticipate with relish what future bookish happenings await me. And I have some essays brewing to get us through the winter.
Thanks to all who have read and supported my blog over the years.