Price and Provenance 7

A Routledge edition of Macaria

In the previous post, Price and Provenance 6, I discussed some of the Routledge Editions of Macaria as well as other titles by Augusta Jane Evans Wilson, and showed how the page count for Macaria was, at 380 pages, identical to the Miles and Miles edition, further supporting the notion that the Miles and Miles edition was printed from Routledge stereotype plates. I also noted that there were 7 copies of Routledge editions of Macaria on offer via Abe Books. One of those copies was offered by a local Victorian (Australia) online book dealer whom I have bought books from before. The asking price was modest and the description was slightly vague, but did include a mention of no date, 380 pages, chapter vignettes and the phrase “Cover faded and scuffed in places”, so, sight unseen, I ordered the book on April 9th 2020.

It arrived today, 16th April 2020, and here it is, in all its glory, in Figures 1 and 2. The condition of the cover was all that was promised.

Several things were immediately apparent. The design on the binding, while it is clearly different from the Miles and Miles binding, does show some similarities, with the title at the top of the top board in a rectangular cartouche, and an overall design that is floral in nature. The appearance of the text block, as exemplified by page one, shown in the left hand panel of figure 2, is identical to that of that of the Miles and Miles Macaria, including an identical decorative vignette at the top of the page and the number 7 at the bottom centre of the page. The words on the title page (Figure 1, right hand panel) are identical to the text of the Miles and Miles edition, except for the publisher’s name and address, but the layout of the text is slightly different. Neither of the title pages is dated. There is a wood engraving as the frontispiece for the Routledge edition, but no illustrations in the Miles and Miles edition. The frontispiece is signed “Geo. G” in the bottom left hand corner, but again, there is no date. The final pages of the text blocks are identical for the two books, down to the detail of the final ornamental floral vignette, except for the identification of the printer of the Routledge edition at the bottom of page 380. It reads “BILLING AND SONS, PRINTERS, GUILDFORD.” This exactly matches the printer identified in WorldCat for the later Routledge edition of Macaria.

To assist with visual comparisons, the binding, title pages and first and last text pages of the two editions are presented side by side in Figure 3, with the Routledge edition on the left and the Miles and Miles edition on the right.

All of these observations confirm that these two books have been created from the same stereotype plates. Overall, the Miles and Miles edition appears to have been a higher quality production than the Routledge edition, both in the printing and the quality of the binding and the paper, notwithstanding the poor condition of my copy of the Routledge edition.

The search on WorldCat reported in Price and Provenance 6 revealed a scarce Routledge edition (one copy known) published in 1892. It also listed many copies of my edition, clearly as a later reprint, appearing at some time after 1900. On the lower right of the top board, we see printed “The Augusta Evans Wilson Series”, suggesting that the book is part of a later set of collected reprints. From the wear on the printed pages, it may well have been printed from the common stereotype plates after they were used to print the Miles and Miles edition. I can put some tentative limits on the dates. From the appearance of the title page, particularly the form of the address and the lack of the Routledge colophon, the Routledge edition seems to have been printed between 1900 and 1902. This would provisionally date the Miles and Miles edition to perhaps 1898-1899.

A Helpful Signature

As part of my examination of the Routledge Macaria, I looked for any other clues to the date of publication. There is a block of four pages of publisher’s advertisements, but after examining the titles, they are all 19th century books. One of the listed books is dated as a 12th edition of September 1897, implying that this edition of Macaria was published in 1898 at the earliest.

On the top of the front paste-down, there is a faded hand-written name “B.V. Inglis Alvie”, but no date. It is shown in Figure 4. below.

Figure 4. B.V. Inglis Alvie from front paste-down.

My initial thought was who could this B. V. Inglis Alvie be, when I noticed the gap between Inglis and Alvie. A Google search for “Inglis Alvie” revealed that an Inglis family had lived in Alvie, a small town near Colac in the Western District of Victoria, Australia. Further research revealed that a Thomas Gordon Inglis of Alvie had been killed on August 3rd 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign of World War I. A search on Ancestry.com for Thomas Gordon Inglis of Alvie soon revealed his older sister Barbara Victoria Inglis (1887 – 1972), who lived her whole life in the Colac area, mostly at Alvie. She married a Leopold William Wallace in 1911. On both the 1909 and 1912 electoral rolls for Corangamite, the electorate which still covers Colac and Alvie, she is shown as living, firstly with her parents, and then with her husband, both times at Alvie.

The signature is helpful, even without a date, as after 1911 she was no longer Barbara Victoria Inglis, but had become Barbara Victoria Wallace, so she would no longer have written her name as Inglis. This clearly dates the book to no later than 1911, and is consistent with the notion that Macaria was published in the first few years of the 20th century. The Victorian book dealer from whom I bought the book is located at Skipton, in the Western District of Victoria, about 85km north of Alvie. It would be interesting to know if they obtained the book locally.

My Routledge edition of Macaria clearly looks like a fairly cheap production. The four pages of advertisements bound into the back of the book are described as “George Routledge’s Juvenile Catalogue”, and presents books at two different prices. First of all, there were Gift Books for 7s. 6d., described as “In large crown 8vo., profusely illustrated with plain and coloured plates, and tastefully bound in cloth gilt or gilt edges.” There were also three other categories of cheaper books described, each of them offered at five shillings:

  • Five Shilling Gift Books, described as “Large crown 8vo., with many illustrations, plain and coloured, and in attractive cloth bindings.”
  • Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Books, described as “Well printed on good paper, page llustrations, elegantly bound in cloth gilt.”
  • Five Shilling Picture Books, described as “Printed in colours by Edmond Evans, and tastefully bound in picture-boarded covers designed by the artists.”

All of these books sound like much better productions than my Macaria, and I think that the Macaria would be more likely to have been priced at 2s. or 2s. 6d. The Five Shilling Picture Books that were advertised were the famous four “Pictures from the Graphic” volumes illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. These were all very attractive books, published by Routledge between 1886 and 1890. Interestingly, one of the titles listed under the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Books is At The Mercy of Tiberius by Augusta Evans Wilson. It sounds like a better production than Macaria.

The final point worth considering is how did such a book get to a small settlement in the Western District of Victoria in the first few years of the 20th century? Some London publishers, such as Ward Lock, Cassell, Collins and William Inglis (ironically!), had offices in Melbourne, the centre of Australian publishing in Victorian and Edwardian times. Routledge did not have an Australian office at that time, so their books would have been ordered from London and imported by individual booksellers or possibly a wholesale supply house. It would mean at least a six month delay between publication in London and availability in Australia.

UPDATE 27 May 2020

I have since purchased another book from the same book dealer, a copy of Women of Israel by Grace Aguilar, published by Groombridge and Sons in 1876. My interest in this book is an attempt to learn more about Groombridge and Sons’ publishing of fiction, as they were mainly publishers of natural history, horticultural and agricultural works, with a few religious books thrown in for good measure. Groombridge was the publisher of my illustrated Mansfield Park featured in Price and Provenance 10. For more on Groombridge and Sons, see my page Groombridge, publishers.

The owner of the bookshop from which I purchased the Routledge Macaria and the Groombridge Women of Isreal has sent me the following information on how he obtained the two books. Many thanks to John Orton of Black Stump Books, Skipton, Victoria, Australia. Email: blackstumpbooks@bigpond.com

“Apropos your purchase of Macaria and Women of Israel. For your records, you may be interested to know that we acquired both these and many other titles at an auction in Colac, about a decade ago. The auction was held at 39 Gravesend Street, Colac, the residence of the Bassett family. The last occupants of the house were Bromwyn and Valerie Bassett. They were elderly twin sisters, who were avid book collectors. After the death of the last of the twins the home and contents were put up for auction.”   

Barbara Victoria Wallace nee Inglis was the previous owner of the Macaria. Her final address in Colac before she died was (ironically) 2 Inglis Court. If you look at the map of the southern part of Colac shown below in Figure 5, you can see that Barbara Victoria Wallace and the two Bassett sisters were very close neighbours, as their two houses are within about 50 metres of each other. In 1972, Valerie Bassett was living in East Hawthorn in Melbourne, but her sister, Irene Bronwen Bassett to give her full name, was living at 39 Gravesend Street with her widowed mother, Clare Irene Bassett nee Sitlington. Bronwen seems to have moved back from East Melbourne to Colac following her father’s death in 1970. She would have been on hand to buy books from the estate of Barbara Victoria Wallace following her death in Colac in 1972. This provides one possible explanation of the line of provenance of the Routledge Macaria.

Figure 5. 39 Gravesend Street (blue) and 2 Inglis Court (red) in Colac

The Bassetts are an interesting study in family history. I have spent a day exploring them online and have identifed many members of the family at large, including all 16 great-great-grandparents of the two sisters, who were not twins, but were in fact Irene Bronwen Bassett (1920-2013) and Valerie Farndale Bassett (1921-2013). They lived to be 93 and 92 years old respectively and died within three weeks of each other in December 2013.

It will be interesting to find out if there was any other relationship than proximity between the Bassett sisters and Barbara Victoria Wallace nee Inglis.

In the next post, I will consider the prior ownership and provenance of the Miles and Miles Macaria.


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