Price and Provenance 5

Miles and Miles and Miles and Miles and Miles and Miles

In the first few posts in this series, I have featured an edition of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park published by Miles and Miles, a very poorly documented London publisher of Prize books, who seemed to be active during the Edwardian era. In this blog, I am looking at two other Miles and Miles books in my collection. The three Miles and Miles books that I have are shown in Figure 1 below. The top row shows the top board of the binding and the bottom row shows the end papers for the three books.

It is obvious from the appearance of these three books that the design of the top boards is identical for all three books, with the only difference being the background colour. Note that although the end-papers for the three books are all similar in style, they are in fact different in pattern and colour. For all three books, all of the page edges have been gilded, both to protect them from dust and to enhance the external appearance. This is generally referred to in book descriptions as a.e.g (all edges gilt), as compared with t.e.g. (top edge gilt) which is also commonly found in books of this period.

I would hope that everyone reading this would know that Jane Austen was the author of Mansfield Park. I doubt that many people would be able to identify the authors of the other two books, until they read a bit more of this posting.

There are many published accounts of Captain Cook’s three great voyages, and most of them are not written by Captain James Cook (1728-1779) himself, although they draw heavily on his own journals and other accounts, particularly that by Joseph Banks and John Hawkworth, which was first published in 1773, in Cook’s lifetime.

Macaria was a famous book in its day, but it has now been largely forgotten. Does anyone remember the author today? To put you out of your suspense, the answers are on the title pages of the three books, which are shown below in Figure 2.

The three title pages are generally similar in layout and look like a fairly plain standard title page of the Edwardian period. The publisher and address lines are identical on all three title pages and read “LONDON: |MILES & MILES | Foresters’ Hall Place, Clerkenwell Road, E.C.” There is no printed date of publication on the title page or anywhere else in the books. None of the books has a frontispiece or any other illustrations, nor are there any advertisements bound into the books or any identification of the name or address of the printer.

Macaria was written by Augusta J. Evans Wilson, whom we are told, was also the author of “Beulah,” “St. Elmo,” “Infelice,” etc. Captain Cook’s Three Voyages Around the World was written by Lieutenant Charles R. Low, who was “(Late) H.M. Indian Navy, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Member of the Royal United Services Institute.”

In order to complete the documentation of the books we need to look at the text blocks. Macaria was published as 36 chapters printed in 380 pages. Captain Cook’s Voyages was published as sequential accounts of each of the three voyages, with no sub-division into chapters, in 512 pages. Mansfield Park was published as 48 consecutive chapters in 443 pages. This arrangement for Mansfield Park is quite common, although you also sometimes see it published with the text divided into three volumes, which was the arrangement in the first edition of 1814.

The first page of the text block is shown in Figure 3 below. It is apparent from these pages that Macaria and Mansfield Park both have a similar look, with a decoration at the top of the title page. A similar decoration is repeated at the top of the first page of each chapter in both books. Captain Cook’s Voyages does not have a decoration on the first page, nor on any of the subsequent pages.

Origin of the text blocks in these books.

It is clear from the images in Figure 3 above that Macaria and Mansfield Park are stylistically very similar, particularly in terms of the ornamentation at the top of the page. In these two books, there is also ornamentation at the bottom of the final page of each chapter. For Macaria, the chapter headings and the chapter ending designs are floral. For Mansfield Park, the ornamentation is classical in appearance with a range of different embedded emblems. It should also be noted in Figure 3 that Mansfield Park has a decorated initial capital to start every chapter, whereas Macaria has a plain initial capital.

In Price and Provenance 4, I showed that the Miles and Miles edition of Mansfield Park was printed from the same stereotype plates that were used to print Routlege and Sons’ 1883 edition of Mansfield Park, identified as Gilson E62, as well as the later Routledge “Steventon edition” of Jane Austen from around 1890.

Yet another variant of Routledge’s Mansfield Park Gilson E62

I have also recently acquired another “mystery” Routledge edition of Mansfield Park printed from those same stereotype plates, this time in a plain half-cloth binding of brown and black, and with a title page that differs from the “Steventon Editions” that I have shown in Price and Provenance 2, and the original 1883 edition of Gilson E62. This edition, indicated as part of “Routledge’s Edition of Jane Austen’s Novels” on the verso of the title page, also has a frontispiece which shows Edmond Bertram and Fanny Price with a necklace. This was described as the cover design of the original soft wrapper-bound Gilson E62, and was reported by Gilson to be present as a frontispiece of a cloth-bound variant edition of E62 at Harvard University’s Widener Library. Images of my new “mystery” edition are shown in Figure 4 below.

The title page gives the publisher’s details as “London| George Routledge and Sons, Limited |Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Glasgow, Manchester and New York”. From the information on my George Routledge Publisher page, this form of the publisher’s address suggests a publication date between 1889 and 1892. This is confirmed by the printer’s details on the bottom of the last page, which is given as “Woodfall & Kinder, Printers, 70 to 76 Long Acre, London W.C.” This address is indicative of the period 1888-1900. The frontispiece is clearly different in style as well as showing a completely different image from the slightly later Routledge edition shown in the left hand panel of Figure 5 of Price and Provenance 2. The book shown in figure 4 also had a four page block of publisher’s advertisements bound at the end. These are shown in Figure 5 below. An analysis of the books listed show that they were mostly first published much earlier than the 1890s. The latest one I can identify is Eighty-seven by Pansy, which was first published by Routledge in 1892.

From all of this evidence and the relative crispness of the printing, I would place this book as being published earlier than the Mansfield Park with the Sydney Carter frontispiece and the Routledge Colophon published between 1903 and 1906. Clearly the date 1892 is the most likely.

Janine Barchas, in her book The Lost Books of Jane Austen (2019), has identified several Miles and Miles books that were also printed and published by Lever Brothers between 1890 and 1897. She suspected that they were all printed from Routledge stereotype plates. She lists 100 titles that were advertised as published by Lever Brothers in 1897 on pages 107-108 of her book. Sadly for me, neither Macaria nor Captain Cook’s Voyages appear on that list. However, it is interesting that four of her 100 titles do appear in the list of the Pansy Books above. (They are Four Girls at Chatauqua, Little Fishers and Their Nets, Three People and The Chatauqua Girls at Home.) This again suggests a link between Routledge, Lever Brother and Miles and Miles when it comes to the use of the same sterotype plates.

Routledge editions of Macaria or Captain Cook’s Voyages

If my thesis is correct, then we should be able to find Routledge editions of Macaria by Augusta J Evans Wilson or Captain Cook’s Voyages by Charles Low. The easiest way to look for these is to search WorldCat.org; it is free, easy to use and searches the contents of tens of thousands of libraries world-wide. You can organise the return from the search to list the books found in order of the closeness of the library to your location. You may then to be able to interrogate the database of your local library to find out more about the book and also be able to call or reserve it for your inspection. I then followed up with a search of books offered for sale by Abe Books at AbeBooks.com to find images and details of copies of these books that might be examined or bought. In the remainder of this post, I will only examine Captain Cook’s Voyages.

Routledge editions of Captain Cook’s Voyages by Charles R Low

I searched for Captain Cook’s Voyage on WorldCat by clicking the Advance Search on the WorldCat home page, and then I entered “Routledge” in the keyword field, “Captain Cook’s Voyage” in the Title field and “Charles Low” in the Author field. I checked “Book” in the drop-down menu for Format, and then pressed Search. This returned details for seven different editions of Captain Cook’s Voyages by Charles Rathbone Low that were published by Routledge between 1880 and 1906. Each one was 512 pages, the same length as the Miles and Miles edition. In the entry in WorldCat on Charles Rathbone Low, nine different editions of Captain Cook’s Voyage were recorded between 1876 and 1906. I am not sure why there was this discrepancy.

I then searched for Captain Cook’s Voyages on Abe Books using the same three terms as I used for the World Cat search in the publisher, title, and author fields in AbeBooks advanced search form. This search returned 34 books, all published by Routledge, including several editions that were dated to between 1876 and 1879. There were several duplicates within the 33 books, and after looking through the list carefully and comparing it with the World Cat listing, I could identify nine or ten different versions, either impressions or editions, of Captain Cook’s Voyages published between by Routledge 1876 and 1910. All of them that gave a page count had text blocks of 512 pages.

There were quite a few different bindings on view on the Abe Books site which I show in Figure 6 above. These images are taken directly from the AbeBooks.com site. The green binding on the top left is the first edition of 1876. The brown and red decorated bindings in the middle of the top row are from 1880. The plain blue binding in the top right hand corner is from the Routledge series “Sir John Lubbocks 100 Best Books”, and is dated 1892. The light-coloured binding showing a tribal camp on the left side of the bottom row is dated 1895.The blue version of the same image is undated, but will be a reprint from about 1900. The light brown book with the white Art Nouveau image of a woman is undated but will also be around 1895-1900, and the right hand image on the bottom row is from 1906.

The first edition of 1876 had six spectacular chromolithographs as illustrations, as did the reprint of 1906. Most of the editions published in the intervening years have no illustrations, black and white illustrations or a single frontispiece only.

All of these Routledge editions have a text block of 512 pages, the same page count as the Miles and Miles edition. The inscription on the title pages of every Routledge edition that I have seen has the same description of the author’s background as the Miles and Miles edition; “(Late) H.M. Indian Navy, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Member of the Royal United Services Institute.”. I have found no editions of this book issued by any other publishers during the period 1876 to 1910. This allows us to say that the Miles and Miles edition is derived from the Routledge plates, but does not particularly help us with its date of publication.

UPDATE on April 21st 2020. I have recently been able to examine the text block of the 1880 edition, shown in the red binding in Figure 6 above. It matches exactly the text block of the Miles and Miles edition of Captain Cook’s Voyages. This Routledge edition of 1880 will be the 4th Routledge printing, following editions, actually impressions, of 1876, 1878 and 1879. The Routledge book has a chromolithographic frontispiece, and the text block is of a much crisper and higher quality printing than the Miles and Miles edition. It was printed by Charles Dickens and Evans, Crystal Palace Press.

A clue to the date of the Miles and Miles Captain Cook’s Voyages

On the top of the title page of my copy of the Miles and Miles edition of Captain Cook’s Voyages is an ownership signature for Doris Kenyon written in ink (Figure 2 centre). It is repeated on the free front end-paper (ffep), together with a date in the same hand Aug 23, ’99. I tentatively interpret this to be 1899, rather than 1999, as the inscription is in neat writing using a pen and nib, not a ballpoint pen. This is consistent with the report by Janine Barchas of another copy of the Miles and Miles edition of Mansfield Park in the British Library with an inscription dated 1900. Janine Barchas suggested that the Lever Brothers books printed from the Routledge stereotype plates were produced between 1890 and 1897. This would imply a date of 1897 to 1899 for my copy of the Miles and Miles edition of Captain Cook’s Voyages.

I have tried to search for Doris Kenyon in family history records, but without details of where she lived, or whether Kenyon was her maiden or married name, and with no clue as to a possible birth date, other than before 1899, or is it really 1999?, there was very little hope of any positive identification. My simple search on Ancestry.com revealed dozens of possible Doris Kenyons in the UK and almost as many in the USA. I decided to stop looking.

A brief note on the author Charles Rathbone Low (1837-1918)

Charles Rathbone Low, was a author who specialised in writing about naval topics, both factual and fictional. He served as an officer in the British Indian Navy and wrote the standard history of that organisation, History of the Indian Navy, 1613-1863 , which was published in 1877, the year after his Captain Cook’s Voyages. The earliest book I can find by him is his Tales of Naval Adventure, a novel for juveniles published in 1857. He seemed to stop writing fiction by 1875, and spent the rest of his career writing military history and biography. Routledge published two of his best selling books: The Great Battles of the British Navy (1872) and Great Battles of the British Army (1908). Below is a brief biographical fragment on him from WorldCat.org:

“Charles Rathbone Low, like so many servants of the East India Company, came from an Anglo-Irish ascendancy family, with estates in county Galway. His grandmother was a daughter of the 4th Viscount Boyne, his grandfather served in H.M. 76th Foot, his father was a Major in the Bengal Native Infantry, and he himself married the daugher of a General. Charles was born at Dublin on 30th October 1837. He entered the East India Company’s Indian Navy in 1853 and saw active service against pirates.”

from The WorldCat.org “Identities” entry for Charles Rathbone Low.

In the next posting, Price and Provenance 6, I will examine the Miles and Miles edition of Macaria in more detail.


Updated 21st April 2020

Price and Provenance 4

Mansfield Park published by Miles and Miles

In the previous two posts, we examined the identity and provenance of the two editions of Mansfield Park, both published by Routledge, shown in the left hand and central panel of Figure 1 below. In this blog I am examining the Miles and Miles edition shown in the right hand panel of Figure 1, which was established in Price and Provenance 2 to be published between 1900 and 1906.

There was no helpful information printed in the Miles and Miles edition to help with the establishment of a firm date, unlike the situation with the two Routledge editions. However, we do find a prize label on the front paste down. It is shown in Figure 2 below, along with the title page and the top board again.

The label is for a prize for regular attendance given by the Primitive Methodist Sunday School at Pye Nest, Halifax to Gladys Briggs in 1906. The label is signed by two superintendents, John Brearley and A. Mitchell Bell, and by the secretary, Fred Lacey. This is a wealth of information that can help us to work out where and when the book was awarded. As in the previous examples, I am showing the process which I use for this sort of investigation.

The first thing to note is that the date, 1906, written at the top of the label gives us the latest possible year of publication for the book, and confirms the suggested range 1900 – 1906. Now let’s look for the place where the prize was given.

Halifax

Firstly, we need to establish exactly which Halifax this is, as there are several places called Halifax such as:

  • Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Halifax, Queensland, Australia
  • Halifax in Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia in the USA.
  • and probably several others as well.

Pye Nest

Fortunately, Pye Nest gives us the answer as this. Pye Nest was an outer south-west suburb of Halifax in Yorkshire in the last part of the 19th and first half of the 20th century. The area is now found between the A58 Halifax – Rochdale Road, bounded by the River Calder to the south and the A646 Skircoat Moor Road to the east. Already, in the first years of the 20th century, the area was beginning to lose its original name and identity and was being subsumed into the neighbouring suburb of King’s Cross. Pye Nest does still exist, and the name is retained today by a cluster of road names in the area, such as Pye Nest Road (A4162) and the residential streets Pye Nest Drive, Pye Nest Gardens, Pye Nest Avenue, Pye Nest Grove and Pye Nest Rise. The following section of a map for Halifax (Figure 3) from 1907 shows the Pye Nest area.

Figure 3. Pye Nest, Sowerby Bridge and SW Halifax in 1907

The name Pye Nest supposedly originated from magpies roosting in a small wood on the site, and there is a large park to the west still called Crow Wood Park. The name Pye Nest was given to a famous country house built on the site in 1767 for the Edwards family by the noted York architect John Carr. The last member of the Edwards family died in 1932 and the house was demolished in 1935. Fortunately, there is an impressive engraving of the house published in 1855.

Figure 4. Pye Nest House in 1855

Halifax was an important wool industry town throughout the 18th and 19th centuries and the first part of the 20th century. It had many wool and worsted mills which employed thousands of workers, who lived in areas like Kings Cross and Pye Nest.

Primitive Methodist Sunday School

In towns like Halifax in the north of England, Methodism, which had been effectively founded by the brothers John and Charles Wesley in 1738, became very popular among the mill workers between 1760 and 1820. The Primitive Methodist movement was founded in 1810 as a breakaway from the mainstream Wesleyan movement, particularly in the mill town areas of Yorkshire and Lancashire. Their first chapel or church was opened in 1811 at Tunstall, Staffordshire.

The Primitive Methodists held that the mainstream Wesleyans had strayed from the purity of the original tenets of the movement, as expounded by the Wesley brothers. In Halifax, by the beginning of the 20th century, there were several Primitive Methodist churches, several traditional Wesleyan Methodist Chapels, and breakaway groups like the Methodist New Connexion movement mentioned in Price and Provenance 3. This was largely resolved by a coming together of all the different Methodists to form The Methodist Church of Great Britain in 1932.

All branches of Methodism in the UK have embraced education, particularly of the children of factory workers. The Methodist Sunday Schools were providing much more than religious education; they were teaching basic literacy to children at a time well before the Education Act of 1870 mandated primary school education up to the age of 12 for all children. The Sunday School was particularly important, as many children were working for the other six days of the week.

Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church

The Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church was founded relatively late in the history of the movement. The foundation stone of the church had the date 27 July 1901 engraved on it, and the church started its activities in 1902. The church was built at 1 Edwards Road, which runs between Pye Nest Road and Upper Washer Lane. Its position is indicated by the yellow marker pin on the map in Figure 3. It no longer operates as a Methodist Church, and from 1996 has been the Pye Nest Day Nursery. The Calderdale Records Office holds the register of marriages recorded at the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church from 1925 to 1965. Presumably, the church continued to operate within the mainstream Methodist movement after the amalgamation of 1932, until at least 1965. A History of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church, 1902-1932 was written by a John Brearley, but I have not been able to find a copy.

As a book collector, I have always taken an interest in prize books, and have noticed that the Methodist Church, in all of its sub-denominations, has been very active in the giving of prizes for attendance and performance at its schools, particularly its Sunday Schools. I will now continue in this blog to see what can be found about the people identified on the prize label.

Gladys Briggs

Gladys Briggs was the recipient of the Miles and Miles Mansfield Park as a prize for attendance in 1906. It seems at first sight like a handsome book, due the ornately decorated binding, but the print quality and paper quality is rather poor. I estimate that the book would have cost one or two shillings, which is the normal range for prize books at that time.

Gladys Briggs seems a reasonably uncommon combination of names, but a search on Ancestry.com for women and girls called Gladys Briggs living in the Halifax region between 1901 and 1911, the dates of the two closest censuses to the award of the prize, yielded quite a few candidates: I list the main ones here with their birth year and quarter from the registration records, derived from both the census data and birth registers. Note that, typically, birth registration occurs sometimes in the same quarter as the actual birth and sometimes in the following quarter.

  1. Gladys Edith Briggs, b Q3, 1892 in Halifax.
  2. Gladys Mary Briggs, b Q3 1895 in Bradford but living in Halifax in 1911.
  3. Gladys Briggs, b Q4 1895 in Halifax.
  4. Gladys Briggs, b Q1 1896 in Halifax
  5. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1896 in Halifax
  6. Gladys Briggs, b Q3 1897 in Halifax
  7. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1898 in Halifax
  8. Gladys Briggs, b Q3 1898 in Halifax
  9. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1900 in Sowerby Bridge, a town about 2 km SW on Pye Nest Road
  10. Gladys Briggs, b Q2 1900 in Halifax

The age range of these ten girls called Gladys Briggs ranges from 6 to 14 years. Surprisingly, there were no records that I could find for anyone called Gladys Briggs born between 1885 and 1890, and living in Halifax between 1901 and 1911. There were several born after 1900, whom I discounted as being infants in 1906.

I next looked at matching the birth records with the addresses in the two censuses and found that they lived quite widely distributed across the Halifax urban area. None of them lived in Pye Nest, but the closest was number 4 in the table above, who lived the same address in Kings Cross in 1901 and 1911, 8 Ackroyd Terrace Kings Cross. Ackroyd Terrace is a small cul-de-sac that is less than 200 metres from the site of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist church. Ackroyd Terrace was possibly named for James Ackroyd and Co., a long established wool and worsted mill in Halifax. A later owner, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Ackroyd was a noted citizen of Halifax in the later 19th century, and there is a statue of him in front of All Saints Church which is still there today.

The next nearest candidate was the Gladys Briggs (9) born in Sowerby Bridge. She lived about 2km from the Pye Nest church, but probably would have attended church or chapel in Sowerby Bridge.

I decided to investigate Gladys Briggs (4) of 8 Ackroyd Terrace in greater detail.

Gladys Briggs (4) was born on 25th October 1895 in Halifax. She was the youngest of the six children of Miles Briggs (1861-1945) and Mary Ann Briggs nee Broadbent (1862-1935); both of her parents were descended from Methodist families and both were buried in the Methodist section of the Calderdale cemetery. In the 1911 census, the 15 year-old Gladys was living at home at 8 Ackroyd Terrace with her parents and her 19 year-old sister Annie Louise Briggs (1891-1962); Gladys was described as a Long Wool Weaver and Annie as a Comb Minder, both working in a Wool Factory. Their father was described as a Joiner and Carpenter.

In 1916, Gladys Briggs was training as a nurse at the Leeds Township Infirmary in Beckett Street, where she was living in the nurses’ quarters. She was certified as a nurse in 1920 at Leeds, and remained working and living at the Infirmary until 1923. On 16th March 1923, she was registered as a fully qualified nurse by the General Nursing Council. This is very useful in tracking her movements, as she had to re-register as a nurse every three years, and each new registration records her current residence and gives her name and her date of original registration.

In 1925, she was working as a nurse in the Crossland Moor Infirmary in Huddersfield, and by 1928, she was back in Halifax, working as a nurse and living with her parents at their new address 38 Undercliffe Terrace, Kings Cross. This is only 400 metres from 8 Ackroyd Terrace. She remained living there with her parents until her mother’s death on 14th August 1935. By 1937, she had moved to south-eastern London, living at Flat 1, 159 Woolacomb Road, Kidbrooke in Greenwich, still registered as a nurse. In the 1939 small census, she was still living in the flat, which she shared with a Mary Hannah Sutcliffe. Gladys was described as a Sanitary Inspector and Mary as a Health Visitor.

Gladys remained at the same address, still registered as a nurse until her death on 16th June 1943 at the Lambeth Hospital in Southwark, at the age of 47. I don’t know the cause of her death, but it is known that the Lambeth Hospital was hit on several occasions by bombs during World War II, and that, as a consequence, more than 20 staff members were killed between 1940 and 1944. I would need to see her death certificate to investigate this further.

Her body was returned to Halifax, where she was buried in the same Methodist cemetery as her mother on 19th June 1943. Her father was buried there two years later in 1945. When probate was granted on Gladys Briggs’ estate, the executors were Mary Hannah Sutcliffe and Gladys’ brother George Briggs. I have not been able to find any photographs of Gladys Briggs. The closest I can get is a small picture (Figure 5) of her older sister Ethel Broadbent Briggs (1882 -1938).

Figure 5. Ethel Briggs

I have been able to trace the Briggs family back through four more generations to a James Briggs, who was baptised on 30th October 1758 at Ripponden in Yorkshire, a small village to the south-east of Halifax. In fact, most of Gladys Briggs’ ancestors lived in the small villages and towns of Ripponden, Greetland and Elland which are all within 5 km of each other, and are 3 to 5 km to the south or south-east of Halifax. Presumably it was the prospect of work in the mills and factories which drew them into the bigger town of Halifax. Many were weavers. presumably working individually in their villages before they became factory hands. You can see from their inability to sign their own names on their wedding banns or certificates that many of them were illiterate. I can’t tell if Gladys Brigg’s parents were able to sign their wedding papers in 1882, as the certificate was not available on line. They were born a little too early to get the full benefit of the 1870 Education Act, and lived in small villages in their childhoods.. Gladys’ grandfather, Edwin Briggs signed his marriage certificate in 1858 with a cross, whereas his wife, Mary Ann Thomas, could sign her own name. Both Edwin and his son Miles Briggs were brought up in the village of Greetland, but Mary Ann lived in Halifax. Gladys Briggs must have been literate, or else she could not have become a nurse.

We can never know what Gladys thought of Mansfield Park, nor even whether she read it. There is, however, another name, C. Marsh, written with a black ball point pen on the ffep of the book. There is no other information on C. Marsh; one can only conclude that he or she owned the book after Gladys Briggs, presumably sometime after 1946, when the ball point pen was first available in the UK. I bought the book from a dealer in Brighton, Sussex in 2015.

John Brearley, Superintendent of the Pye Nest Sunday School

John Brearley was the one of the superintendents to sign the prize label. I mentioned earlier a the history of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Church written by a John Brearley. Surely, these two men must be the same John Brearley. There were seven men called John Brearley living in Halifax between 1901 and 1911, but this time, we have an extra aid to his identification. The 1911 census of the UK was the first one to be filled in and signed by each head of household. Since we have John Brearley’s signature on the prize label, then a comparison of the signature on the label with the signatures on the 1911 census forms, which can be viewed on line, will allow us to identify the correct John Brearley.

When I went through this process, there was one very clear match, and that was John Brearley (1868 – 1944), a hairdresser living at 68 Kings Cross Road Halifax. He was from a Methodist family and married to Annie Elizabeth Culpan (1872-1938), also from a Methodist family. His parents lived at Spring Edge, a street within 250 metres of the Pye Nest Primitive Methodist church, and 68 Kings Cross Road, where he lived from 1901 until 1916, was less than 500 metres away from the Pye Nest chapel. It was also on the direct tram route to the church. This was not without hazard, as in 1907 there was a tram accident on Pye Nest Road, when a tram overturned, killing three passengers.

John Brearley’s address from 1916 until 1938 is not known. From 1938 until his death in 1944, he lived at 1 Plane Tree Nest, about 250 metres north of the Pye Nest church. I have no doubt that this is the John Brearley who signed the prize label.

There is a surviving memorial to this family. John and Annie Brearley had two sons. The eldest, Cyril, married and moved to Preston in Lancashire where he died childless in 1966. Their younger son, Eric Brearley (1905-1997) did not marry, and lived his whole life in Halifax. He gained local fame as a keen cyclist and supporter of cyclists and their clubs, and is remembered by a memorial that stands next to one of the main cycling paths in Halifax.

Figure 6. Memorial to Eric Brearley

A Mitchell Bell, Superintendent of the Pye Nest Sunday School

“A Mitchell Bell” seems like a relatively easy name to find, even though the gender is not clear. A simple search on Ancestry.com for this name for a person living in Halifax between 1901 and 1911 only yielded one result. Arthur Mitchell Bell (1868-1944) was a Head Teacher of Textiles who was living at 56 Stanley Road, Halifax in 1911. His signature on his 1911 census return, which he signed in full as Arthur Mitchell Bell, is an excellent match with the “A Mitchell Bell” signature on the Mansfield Park prize label.

Arthur Mitchell Bell was born on 1st May 1868 in Churwell in Yorkshire, which was a village between Morley and Leeds, as the illegitimate son of Mary Ann Bell and John Mitchell. His name on his birth registration was given as Arthur Bell. John Mitchell and Mary Bell married on 25th December 1868 in Churwell and had another son, Hartwell Mitchell, who was born there in mid 1869. Both Hartwell Mitchell and Arthur Bell were baptised on 16th January 1870 at Morley, Yorkshire, and even though his parents were now married, Arthur was baptised as Arthur Bell against his mother’s name as illegitimate, while his younger brother was simultaneously baptised against his father’s name as the very next entry in the church register.

John Mitchell, who was a coal miner, was killed along with 33 others, in a gas explosion in the Ackroyd Brothers Colliery at Morley on 7th Oct 1872.

Arthur Bell was calling himself Arthur Mitchell Bell by 1891, and in 1901 was a textile teacher at a School in Churwell. He was married 8th August 1903 at the Prospect Methodist Chapel at Holbeck, a suburb of Leeds, and he must have moved to Halifax, between 1903 and 1906, when he was a superintendent of Pye Nest Primitive Methodist Sunday School. He lived the rest of his life at Halifax and was buried there on 3rd January 1944, in the same Methodist cemetery as Gladys Briggs, about six months after her.

Fred Lacey, Secretary of the Pye Nest Sunday School

Fred Lacey was born in Halifax on 30th December 1883 to Harry and Mary Ann Lacey. He was baptised on 25th May 1884 in the parish of St James in Halifax. In the 1891 census, the family was reported to be living at 11 Joy Street, Skircoat, Halifax, in the Parish of St Paul’s, which was within one km of the Pye Nest church. The family moved to Bradford and was reported there in the 1901 census, but was back in Halifax by the time of the 1911 census. Fred Lacey was living with his parents in Bradford in 1901, but was not back in Halifax with them in 1911. In fact, by October 1906 he had emigrated to Pennsylvania in the USA, via Ontario in Canada. He lived the rest of his life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he died on 22 Dec 1963.

Fred Lacey’s tenure as secretary of the Pye Nest Sunday School must have been very short if he had been living in Bradford in April 1901 and had moved to the USA by October 1906. He also was only 23 years old in 1906. However, he was the only Fred Lacey in the area at the time, and he recorded himself as a Methodist from Halifax on two later US census forms. All of this suggests that the presentation of the book to Gladys Briggs must have occurred earlier in 1906 than October. One possibility could be at the end of the school year in June 1906, but I have no real evidence for that.

So, in conclusion, I hope this shows how part of the story of a particular community of more than 100 years ago can be gleaned from an investigation of a simple book prize plate. From my perspective, this adds a great depth of human interest to collecting old books.


Price and Provenance 3

Researching Provenance

Having established as much as possible from the printed information in books, the next step is to use information left in books from previous owners. This is most commonly from ownership inscriptions, bookplates, gift inscriptions or prize and award labels. But rather than just focusing this step on the book itself, particularly on the dating of a book, I like to follow up with an investigation on who, exactly, the previous owner was. Where and when did they live? What was the circumstance of their acquisition of the book? As examples of my approach, we will return to the three editions of Mansfield Park that I examined in part 2 of this blog.

Where to look for ownership information

Normally, we look at the blank pages bound into the front of the book or sometimes the back of the book for evidence of previous owners. We call the pages bound in before the text block the preliminaries, often abbreviated as “prelims”. The first page, which is glued down to the front board of the binding is called the “paste down end paper”, although it is now more frequently called the “front paste-down” The next blank page is called the “free front end paper”, often abbreviated as “ffep“. At the back of the book, the equivalent pages are called the “rear paste down” and the rear free end paper”. The other places where inscriptions commonly occur are on the title page, on the half-title page, if present, or on the recto page which has the frontispiece on the verso. The half-title page is found between the ffep and frontispiece and the title page and usually has the title of the book printed on it and sometimes the name of the series that the book forms a part of, is such is the case. Half titles were very common in the 19th century and less common in the 20th century. Sometimes, prelim pages may be missing from the book. This is often because a previous owner has wanted to remove the name or inscription from a earlier owner. This desire also can result to a small piece being cut from the prelim page, generally the ffep, to remove the name of a previous owner. I strongly disapprove of this practice and of the removal of bookplates!

If we examine the Routledge “The Ruby Series” copy of Mansfield Park from 1876 shown in the left panel above, we find that there is a ffep, a half-title page which reads MANSFIELD PARK, a frontispiece and a title page, shown in the previous blog. However, there are no inscriptions, bookplates or labels, so we really can not find out anything about previous owners. One should note that the end papers are a dark brown colour, which would not carry a legible inscription unless it were written in a very light colour or in white.

The Routledge Mansfield Park in the central panel, which was shown to be a reprint of Gilson E62 from 1903-1906 in the previous blog, has white end-papers, no half-title, a frontispiece and a title page. However, it also has a hand written gift inscription on the front paste down Figure 2.

The inscription reads “Presented by The Managers of the M.N.C. Sunday School Westwoodside to George Henry Maw May 20 – 1906.”

This inscription is almost ideal in terms of investigating the provenance of the book. Firstly, the date is precise, 20th May 1906. This means that the book must have been printed and published prior to this date. This confirms the idea that the book was published between 1903 and 1906. It is also interesting to note that 20th May 1906 was a Sunday. (You can look this up on an online perpetual calendar.) This is not surprising as the book was presented by a Sunday School.

The other two things that occurred to me when I first saw this inscription was that the place identified, Westwoodside, is unambiguous and, perhaps, an unusual place name. Secondly, George Henry Maw is a precise, full name and Maw is an unusual family name. It is much harder to trace the provenance of a book that is inscribed ” To Fred from his favourite Auntie” – I do possess a book with exactly this inscription.

Typing “Westwoodside” into Google returns the Wikipedia entry for Westwoodside as the first item listed. It reveals that “Westwoodside is a small village in North Lincolnshire, England. It is situated within the Isle of Axholme and 7 miles (11 km) north-west from Gainsborough.” In the map of the Isle of Axholme below (Figure 3), it can be seen that the “Isle” is in fact a tract of low lying farmland that sits between the River Don to the west (not shown) and the Trent to the east. In fact, the Isle of Axholme can best be thought as occupying a triangle defined by Doncaster (Yorkshire), Scunthorpe and Gainsborough (both in Lincolnshire).

Map of the Isle of Axholme
Figure 3 Map of the Isle of Axholme

What is the M.N.C. Sunday School?

The book was presented by the “M.N.C. Sunday School Westwoodside.” Typing this phrase into Google returns an article on Alexander Kilham and Epworth. The first sentence of the article states “Alexander Kilham the founder of the METHODIST NEW CONNEXION was born in Epworth in 1762, and the family business was sackcloth weaving.” You can see Epworth on the map above, a few km to the north-east of Westwoodside. M.N.C. is clearly Methodist New Connextion, a breakaway form of Methodism that spread from Epworth to nearby villages like Westwoodside. The article also has two pictures. The second one, shown below in Figure 4, shows the M.N.C. chapel at Westwoodside, together with its congregation in 1905! The image was from a contemporary postcard which has survived.

Figure 4. MNC chapel Westwoodside, Lincolnshire 1905.

Could one of the men or boys in this picture be George Henry Maw?

I have found a second picture of the Westwoodside MNC chapel on another postcard, undated but clearly of the same period (Figure 5).

Figure 5

George Henry Maw

Approaches to Family History Research

In order to find out more about George Henry Maw, we need to enter the realm of family history research. I use several of the commercial websites for this, including The Genealogist, Findmypast.com and Ancestry.com, as well as the free site Family Search which is run by The Church of the Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). All of these sites are easily found online.

My preference is Ancestry.com which I have been using for more than a decade to research my own family history. It also proves to be an invaluable tool in researching authors and previous owners of books. It does involve an annual subscription, but you can often also access it if you join a local genealogical or family history society.

To start the search, you enter what you know. I entered that George Henry Maw was male, alive in 1906 and living in Westwoodside, Lincolnshire, UK. I guessed an approximate birth date of 1890 plus or minus 10 years, selected the UK data set and hit the search button. Unfortunately I had erroneously typed MAY instead of MAW in the family name box, so I found a whole lot of George Mays! This shows that you need to be precise to get the search to work properly.

Once I had succeeded in entering MAW, the search immediately found George H Maw in the 1901 UK census. He was a thirteen year old, living in Westwoodside with his parents Gervase W and Mary J Maw and his younger siblings Frances A Maw aged 11 and Horace W Maw aged 3. The family was living in Nethergate, Westwoodside in the Parish of Haxey.

The same family was still all living in Westwoodside in the 1911 census, where the names are given fully as Gervase William and Mary Jane Maw with their children George Henry 23, Frances Alice 21 and Horace William 14. George Henry Maw is described as a House Joiner. In the 1891 census, the family were reported to be living in the hamlet of Graizelound, about 1 km south-east of Westwoodside and 500 metres south of Haxey. In this census, George was 3 and had an older sister, Bertha, aged 5. Further online research, which took me about 2-3 hours to complete, revealed a fairly complete view of the life of George Henry Maw. I summarise the main points below.

George Henry Maw was born on 22nd August 1887 in the parish of Haxey, Lincolnshire to parents Gervase William Maw (1863 – 1947) and Mary Jane Maw nee Hather (1867 -1935). He was at least the fourth generation of his farming family to be born in that area, starting with his great grandfather, another Gervase William Maw (1792 – 1847). George Henry Maw’s marriage to Lillie Oates, the daughter of David and Emma Oates, a farmer and his wife living in Westwoodside, was registered in the 2nd quarter of 1913 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. They had two children, Albert Horace Maw, born 1st February 1915 and Elsie Maw born 3rd December 1917. In 1939, George and his family were still living in the Isle of Axholme rural district, where George was described as a farmer and grocer. George Henry Maw died on 18th October 1972. His wife Lillie Maw nee Oates, who had been born on 8th June 1883, died on 1st May 1977. They both appeared to have lived their whole lives together in Westwoodside and are buried together near there (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Grave of George Henry and Lillie Maw

George Henry Maw’s two children both married in Lincolnshire; Albert Horace Maw (1915-1998) to Sara H Campion and Elsie Maw to a Mr. Williamson. I have been unable to tell if either of these couples had children.

If we back to look at the picture of the MNC chapel and community in 1905, there are five or six young men who could be the then 18 year old George Henry Maw. Unless an authenticated photograph of him can be discovered, I do not expect to be able to identify him in the group picture.

Two other interesting things occurred to me. Firstly, he was presented with the book at the age of 18 or 19, which seems a little bit old to be a Sunday School pupil. Secondly, I can find no record of any military service in the first world war for him. He would have been 26 years old in 1914 and would have been expected to join the forces. However, he may have become a farmer following his marriage in 1913 to the daughter of a farmer, noting that he was reported to be a farmer in 1939. Farming was a reserved occupation in the 1914-1918 period. That may have saved his life.

Another thing that I don’t know is when the book left the Maw family. Was it at the death of George or his wife? Did the book pass on to one of his two children? What I do know is that I bought the book in 2010 from a well known dealer, who specialises in editions of Jane Austen. He works from Northampton in England, which is about 100 miles (160 km) to the south of Westwoodside.

I will look at the provenance of the Miles and Miles copy of Mansfield Park in the next installment of this blog.


Price and Provenance 2

What are these three editions of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen?

This is an example of how to establish the identity and provenance of books. In this part of the blog I am concentrating on the precise identification of books. I am going to compare these three books and then look at each in detail to see what we can learn about its origin. In the next posting, I will demonstrate how to investigate their provenance.

Here (Figure 1) are three different editions of Mansfield Park, all published more than 50 years after the first edition, which was published in 1814 in London by John Murray in three volumes. Only the left hand book has any extra information on the front of the binding, properly called the top board. In the upper cartouche is the phrase “Inestimable Stones Unvalued Jewels” and in the lower cartouche the phrase “The Ruby Series”. Inestimable Stones Unvalued Jewels is a quotation from Shakespeare’s play Richard III Act 1 Scene 4: “Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels, All scatter’d in the bottom of the sea“.

We can often roughly date a book by examining the appearance, style, materials and quality of the binding. All three books are cloth bound in predominantly red cloth, with two of them decorated with gilding. The Ruby Series binding is in a geometric style that is suggestive of the 1860-1880 period. The central book has an Art Nouveau look to it, and the style of the dress of the woman shown reading is Edwardian, which suggests a date range of 1900 – 1910. The right hand book with its ornate floral design suggests the broader late Victorian and Edwardian period of 1875 – 1910. All of these opinions are entirely subjective and represent my feeling on first seeing the books.

The next thing to do when examining any book is to look at the title page to see what information is present, and, all too often, what information is missing. On the three title pages, which are reproduced below (Figure 2), you can see that two of these books were published by George Routledge and Sons, while the third was published by Miles and Miles. None of the title pages cites a publication date. Here are the three title pages:

All three books are clearly editions of Mansfield Park published in London. After the title, all three pages repeat the same text ‘ BY JANE AUSTEN Author of “Northanger Abbey,” “Persuasion,” “Emma” etc, etc’, with some slight differences in fonts and cases. It is quite unusual for exactly these same three books to be cited in the same way; indeed, it is much more common for Austen to be cited as the author of Pride and Prejudice and/or Sense and Sensibility on title pages of the other Austen novels.

The left hand and central books are both published by George Routledge and Sons, with some differences in the address. In the left hand book, Routledge’s address is given as The Broadway Ludgate, followed by New York: 416 Broome Street. In the central book, the address is given as Broadway House, Ludgate Hill with no New York address. The central book also has an ornamented capital R device, obviously a colophon or logo for the publisher. The right hand book is published by Miles and Miles at Foresters’ Hall Place, Clerkenwell Road EC. The close similarity of the printed text concerning the author suggests that all three books are related.

The next thing to examine is the page count of the text of the novel, normally called the “text block”, and to have a look at the appearance of the text. The left hand book has a text block of 288 pages, whereas the central and right hand books both have text blocks of 443 pages. The first page of each text block is shown in Figure 3 below.

It is quite clear from Figure 3 that the two editions published by Routledge look different, but that the text block of the Miles and Miles edition seems to be exactly the same as the Routledge edition in the central panel, both in terms of page count, decoration and appearance. It is hard to get a proper impression of the quality of the pages from the images, but both the paper and print quality of the Routledge edition in the central panel is superior to both of the other two editions. How should we proceed from here?

Other relevant printed information

If we look at The Ruby Series edition of Mansfield Park, there are three other helpful pieces of printed information that can be found. These are a frontispiece, the printer’s details and some pages of publisher’s advertisements. These are shown in Figure 4 below.

The frontispiece is a fairly low quality wood engraving. It is disfigured by a large horizontal black ink smear, which is a printing defect that runs through the heads of the man and the woman. There are no artists’ names nor is there a date on the frontispiece image. This is disappointing, as we can often find both an engraver and and artist name in book illustrations. Dates are rarer, but can sometimes be found in illustrations. However, illustrations are not always original images made for a particular book; they can often be recycled and reused.

The last page of the text block, shown in the central panel of Figure 4 above, indicates a page count of 288 pages. Also, as is often the case, the last page of the text block bears the name of the printer. In this case, it is “Woodfall and Kinder, Printers, Milford Lane, Strand, London, W.C.” which is printed at the bottom of p.288. This information is often useful because the printer’s relationship with the publisher, the form of the name of the printing company and the address of the printer all may be associated with particular date ranges. In this case, we know from the Library of Congress records that this was the address for Woodfall and Kinder from 1865 to 1887.

Publisher’s advertisements in books can be very revealing. In this case there is some frustration, as it seems that the publisher’s advertising block of four leaves may be incomplete, as after the unnumbered first advert page, the following page numbers are present; 4,13,14,19,20,29,30. The page shown in the right hand panel of Figure 4, p.4, is the verso of the first advert page, suggesting that the publishers printed advertising pages that were extracted from a larger document. The most useful entry in the advert block is the entry two thirds of the way down the page shown in Figure 4, which reads “Routledge’s Every Boy’s Annual for 1876”. Annuals, by their nature are produced every year, so this entry strongly suggests the period 1876-1877 for the publication of The Ruby Series.

The other Routledge edition of Mansfield Park shown in the central panel of Figure 1 above also has a frontispiece and a block of advertisements, which are shown in Figure 5 below.

The frontispiece is a photographically produced half tone image that has an artist’s name, Sydney Carter, in the lower right hand corner. The picture shows Edward Bertram riding with Mrs Crawford, an incident from Chapter 7 of Mansfield Park. The frontispiece has no date. The decorated capital ‘R’ colophon for Routledge first appears on the title page of Routledge and Sons publications in 1903, and appears consistently on their publications until 1920. There is a four page block of publisher’s advertisements bound at the end of the text block. It consists of advertisements for books in Routledge’s Popular Library and Routledge’s Popular Poets, all of which were priced at 3/6. (three shillings and sixpence). An investigation of the book titles in the advertisements show that these items were first published by Routledge in the 1880s and 1890s.

There is also a printer’s name and address printed on the verso of the title page. It reveals the printer to be “London and County Printing Works, Bazaar Buildings, London, W.C.” This refers to the printer L. Upcott Gill, who worked at this address, which is in Drury Lane. There is evidence for the firm operating at that address at least between 1902 and 1907, including the printing of a book for Routledge in 1903.

When we consider the Miles and Miles edition of Mansfield Park, the situation is both much simpler and less helpful. There is no frontispiece present nor any other illustrations, there is no printer identified and there is no block of advertisements. So, where should we go from here?

Consult the Experts or Ask a Friend?

At this point, it is generally best to look at what is known about different editions of Jane Austen, and what is known about the two publishers, George Routledge and Sons and Miles and Miles. We now need to consult the most reliable bibliographic sources available. Another useful approach can be to consult WorldCat on line, which gives listings of holdings of books in thousands of libraries around the world. This can be a convenient way to access the Library of Congress and The British Library. For this investigation, I am going to stick to the standard bibliographies which provide far more detail. However, you do need to have access to copies of them. One of the essential elements of book collecting is to build a practical and working bibliographic library, appropriate to your collecting needs.

There are four bibliographic sources for Jane Austen. These are by Michael Sadlier (1888-1957), the authority on the publication of literature in 19th century England. His XIX Century Fiction: A Bibliographic Record, Constable, London 1951, based on his own collection, is the best general authority on 19th century publications. More specific and detailed bibliographies of Jane Austen were published by Geoffrey Keynes (1887-1982) Jane Austen: A Bibliography. Nonesuch Press, 1929 and Robert Chapman (1881-1960) Jane Austen: A Critical Bibliography Oxford University Press 1969. The current standard authority is David Gilson (1938-2014) in his massive A Bibliography of Jane Austen, 2nd edition, Oak Knoll Press, Newcastle, Delaware, USA , 1997.

The identification system used by Gilson is a combination of a letter which represents a class of publications, followed by a number which identifies the edition within that class, with the numbers assigned in chronological order. The letter and number codes are as follows in the 1997 edition:

  • A1 – A9 Original UK editions
  • B1 – B7 Original US editions
  • C1 – C249 Non-English translations
  • D1 – D13 Editions published by Bentley
  • E1 – E425 Later editions 1838 -1976
  • F1 – F24 Minor works by Austen
  • G1 – G7 Austen’s letters
  • H1 – H50 Dramatisations
  • J1 – J14 Continuations and completions
  • K1 – K20 Books owned by Jane Austen
  • L1 – L48 Miscellaneous
  • M1 – M1814 Biography and Criticism

When we consult Gilson, and similarly with Sadlier, Keynes and Chapman, the first thing to note is that there is no mention of Miles and Miles as a publisher of Jane Austen. However, there is quite a lot of detail on George Routledge in Gilson. Routledge published different inexpensive editions of Jane Austen, starting in 1849 with Sense and Sensibility recorded as Gilson E12 and Pride and Prejudice as Gilson E13. The publisher’s name and address on both of these is given as George Routledge and Co., Soho Square. These two titles reappeared in several reprinted editions throughout the 1850s.

Gilson also noted a 288 page edition of Mansfield Park published by George Routledge and Co., Farringdon Street; and 18 Beekman Street New York dated 1857 (Gilson E23). He noted that E23 was reprinted by Routledge in 1876 as a part of The Ruby Series, which Gilson recorded as E44. Gilson also noted that E44 was bound in a blue daisy-patterned cloth, with no date on the title page. The publisher’s details were given as George Routledge and Sons, The Broadway, Ludgate; New York 416 Broome Street. He also noted that the British Library copy had four leaves of publisher’s advertisements bound in. He also stated that E44 had a wood engraved frontispiece which depicted Edward Bertram and Mary Crawford on the park seat at Sotherton. From the list shown below, 416 Broome Street was the New York address for Routledge from 1866 – 1881.

I think the identity of my Ruby Series Mansfield Park is now clearly established as Gilson E44, published in 1876 in an alternative binding to that described by Gilson.

Gilson reports later editions of Austen printed by George Routledge and Sons, including all six novels in 1883, which included a 433 page edition of Mansfield Park (Gilson E61). These 1883 editions were all undated on the title page, but showed the publisher’s address as Broadway, Ludgate Hill; New York, 9 Lafayette Place. Gilson mentions that several of the 1883 editions of Jane Austen published by Routledge have been recorded by other researchers as reprinted by George Routledge and Sons in 1898 and 1899 as “The Steventon Edition”.

I have three of “The Steventon Edition” volumes of Jane Austen published by George Routledge and Sons in my personal library. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of “The Steventon Edition” of Mansfield Park. The bindings and title pages are shown below (Figure 6.) This are clearly Art Nouveau style bindings. The phrase “The Steventon Edition” appears blind stamped just above the gilded titles.

My copies of Sense and Sensibility and Emma shown in Figure 6 above both have frontispieces that are clearly stylistically very similar to that shown for the Routledge Mansfield Park in Figure 5. They are all signed Sydney Carter, all produced by the same photographic halftone process and all have the same style of caption. Sadly, the Northanger Abbey/Persuasion in Figure 6 has apparently lost its frontispiece.

The title pages in Figure 6. are all similar but have some slight differences. None of these “Steventon” editions have the decorated R colophon on the title page. The other Jane Austen titles cited following the author’s name are printed slightly differently, and the addresses on the Emma and Northanger Abbey/Persuasion are given exactly as on the Mansfield Park in Figure 5 Broadway House, Ludgate Hill, whereas the address on the Sense and Sensibility is given as Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Manchester and New York. The “Manchester and New York” printed on the Sense and Sensibility is indicative of a publication date from 1892 to 1897. The other two books were probably published in the period 1900-1902.

For more details on how to identify the publication date of books published by George Routledge, go to my George Routledge Publisher page.

From the images of the first page (Figure 7), the style of these three books closely matches the styles of the Miles and Miles Mansfield Park and the Routledge Mansfield Park in the centre of Figure 2. If we look at the text blocks of these three Steventon editions, we find they are 379, 444 and 448 pages for Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Northanger Abbey/Persuasion respectively. This exactly matches the page counts for the 1883 Routledge editions of these titles recorded by Gilson as E60, E63 and E64. The printer for these books is identified as “Woodfall and Kinder, Printers, 70-76 Long Acre, London, W.C.” According to the Library of Congress, this is the address for this printing firm from 1888 to around 1900.

George Routledge the publisher

What do we know abut George Routledge the publisher? Fortunately, the company records for George Routledge, who lived from 1812 to 1888, have survived, and are held by University College London. Inspection of these records reveal how the description of the company and its addresses changed over 100 years. They are summarised in the following list: The numbers in brackets are the street addresses, which sometimes were printed in full, but often the number was omitted.

  • 1836-1843 George Routledge 11 Ryders Court, Leicester Square, London
  • 1843-1851 George Routledge and Co., (36) Soho Square, London
  • 1852-1858 George Routledge and Co., Farringdon Street
  • 1858-1859 Routledge, Warnes and Routledge, (2) Farringdon Street
  • 1860-1864 Routledge, Warne and Routledge, (2) Farringdon Street
  • 1865 Routledge, Warne and Routledge, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1865-1866 George Routledge and Sons, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1866-1878 George Routledge and Sons, The Broadway Ludgate
  • 1879-1886 George Routledge and Sons, Broadway Ludgate Hill

From 1854 to 1886, the address of the New York office was often printed below the London address. From 1887 to 1902, New York address no longer appeared on the title pages. All of the years from 1887-1890 start LONDON | George Routledge and Sons. and from 1890 onward LONDON | George Routledge and Sons Limited.

  • 1887-1888 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Glasgow and New York
  • 1889-1892 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Glasgow Manchester and New York
  • 1892-1897 Broadway, Ludgate Hill | Manchester and New York
  • 1895-1902 George Routledge and Sons Limited, Broadway Ludgate Hill
  • 1900-1911 George Routledge and Sons Limited, Broadway House, Ludgate Hill
  • 1903-1925 London | George Routledge and Sons, Limited |New York E.P. Dutton and Co.
  • 1912-1925 London | George Routledge and Sons, Limited | Broadway House 68-74 Carter Lane E.C.

The New York addresses are shown below.

  • 1854-1859 18 Beekman Street. New York
  • 1859-1864 56 Walker Street. New York
  • 1864-1866 129 Grand Street. New York
  • 1866-1881 416 Broome Street. New York
  • 1881-1886 9 Lafayette place New York
  • 1887-1902 New York (American only publications will still use 9 Lafayette Place)
  • 1903-1945 New York: E.P. Dutton and Co.

For more details on how to identify the publication date of books published by George Routledge, go to my George Routledge Publisher page.

From all of these considerations, it seems clear that the Routledge edition of Mansfield Park shown in the central panel of Figure 1 must be a reprint of the 1883 Routledge edition described by Gilson as E62. The Steventon editions are also reprints of the 1883 editions, probably printed between 1892 and 1900. My Mansfield Park with the woman reading on the cover is almost certainly another, later reprint of E61, printed between 1903 and 1906, because of the evidence of the title page style and the printer and publisher’s addresses. As will be seen in Part 3 of the blog, there is another piece of evidence which supports this.

How can we identify the Miles and Miles edition, which is lacking in any evidence other than the name and address of the publisher and the style of the binding and the text block. Fortunately for me, Janine Barchas in her excellent “The Lost Novels of Jane Austen” published in 2019 by Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA , has explored the origin of the Miles and Miles editions of Jane Austen. In chapter 2, Professor Barchas relates an impressive account of how the stereotype printing plates, which were created by Routledge and Sons for their 1883 editions of Jane Austen (Gilson E60 -E64) were sold or leased to other publishers to produce cheap editions of the books. She shows how Lever Brothers, soap manufacturers at Port Sunlight in Cheshire, UK, issued at least 100 titles from stereotype plates between 1890 and 1897, which included a copy of Sense and Sensibility in her own possession, and copies of Pride and Prejudice which are all clearly printed from the Routledge stereotype plates of 1883.

Janine Barchas has also identified that several books on the Lever Brothers list were also published by Miles and Miles in at least three binding styles, one described as The Marguerite Series, another as The Sundial Series and a third unnamed series which corresponds to the Miles and Miles binding of my Mansfield Park shown in Figure 1. She also identified the use of these same stereotype plates to produce even shoddier and cheaper looking editions by other publishers including Standard Authors, The Londoner Press and John Heywood Ltd of Manchester. Clearly a range of different publishers have had access to the same stereotype plates to produce cheap editions of Jane Austen in the period 1890 to 1905, perhaps even to 1910.

Finally, Janine Barchas noted that The British Library has a copy of Mansfield Park, published by Miles and Miles, tentatively dated to 1900 by an inscription. All of the above leads me to believe that my Miles and Miles edition of Mansfield Park is another reprint from the Routledge stereotype plates of 1883, printed some time between 1900 and 1906. For more on Miles and Miles see Price and Provenance 5.

The conclusions for the dating of all three of my editions of Mansfield Park are summarised in Figure 8 below. For an account of the establishment of provenance and prior ownership of these and other related books, please refer to the following section of the blog Price and Provenance 3.


Revised and updated 21 April 2020.


Price and Provenance 1

An Approach to the Investigation of Books

Introduction

This is the starting point for a series of posts about how to find out information about any particular copy and any particular edition and printing of an old book. As a book collector, these have been topics of great interest to me, so I thought that it might be useful to share and document some of my approaches, methods and findings. I call this series “Price and Provenance” as it is often quite difficult to find out how much an older book initially cost and also who has owned it previously. Both are issues of some interest to a serious book collector. I am taking different editions of the novels of Jane Austen as my starting point for this series of posts, partly as it reflects one of my main collecting interests, and partly as I have quite a few interesting editions to discus.

New books

Let’s start with the situation of new books. It is obviously so much easier to document the price, nature and provenance of a new book. You go to your local bookshop, or if you must, look at online vendors. Whichever way you choose, you browse around the available stock, choose your book, pay your money and take your purchase home so it can join the family of your previous purchases.

Virtually all new books today carry excellent documentation of what they are. Externally, books generally will have a removable price sticker that humans can read and also often a machine readable price bar-code. For most of the 20th century, the price was recorded on the front inner, lower corner of the dust jacket, often below a diagonal line which invited the discerning gift giver to remove the price with a pair of scissors. Dust jackets that have been mutilated in this way are generally referred to as “price-clipped”.

Books will have a title page, which will tell you the book title, author and publisher, generally in that order as you read down the page. It used to be that, through most the past 500 years, the date of publication appeared at the foot of the title page. Today, more often than not, the title page will not have the date of publication printed at the bottom. You will now have to turn the page to find it.

Now for some nomenclature which I will try to introduce gradually through these posts. We call the front of a leaf in a book or right hand page as we view an opened book the “recto” and the rear of that page, normally appearing on the left hand side of an opened book, the “verso.” So, if you look on the other side, the verso, of the title page of a new modern book, you will see a whole lot of detail which gives you a full description of the book. There will be a dated copyright statement, the date of publication, and the full name and address of the publisher, often with addresses of that publisher in multiple countries. Books published in the USA will have a statement about registration with the Library of Congress. In the UK, the equivalent is a statement about a CIP catalogue number registered with the British Library, and in Australia, where I live, there will be an equivalent statement with regard to the National Library of Australia. Towards the bottom of the page the details and address of the printer are usually given.

The details of the edition of the book also generally appear on the verso of the title page. Some times the statement will be simply “First Edition” ; other times it might say “Third impression” or it might read something like “First published in 1963, reprinted 1964 (twice), 1965, 1966”. More recently, this has been codified into a line of numbers. It generally looks like this:

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

or this: 1 3 5 7 9 8 6 4 2

But is may also look like this: 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

All of these tell you that the book is the first impression (printing) of the first edition. If however the line of numbers should look like this:

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

you are dealing with the second impression of the first edition, and you will find with each new impression, a further digit is removed. For some blockbusters, the publishers just print a number by itself to indicate the impression.

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

In modern books, you will also find the ISBN number. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. These started in 1965 as a nine-digit Standard Book Number which in 1967 became the International Standard Book Number. The format was officially established as an international standard in 1970 when a ten-digit ISBN was adopted; the earlier nine-digit numbers were updated by the addition of a leading zero. New books displayed the ten-digit ISBN, as a printed number or as a bar-code from 1970 until 2007 when the ISBN standard was redefined as a 13 digit number. While most countries adopted the ten-digit ISBN in 1970, the UK persisted with the nine-digit format until 1974. Most book readers will be familiar with the appearance of the 13 digit ISBN bar-code format shown below:

200px-EAN-13-ISBN-13.svg

Without going into the full complexities of the ISBN system, the principle is that each book should be uniquely identified, just as a URL uniquely identifies a Web page. The structure of the ISBN is built from several elements: a three-digit prefix, currently 978 or 979 known as the EAN (European Article Number), the language and or country of publication, publisher and book details. The final single digit is a technical check-sum. The elements are separated by blank spaces or by hyphens. Different formats of books (hardback, paperback, e-book) each get their own individual ISBN.

Identification and provenance of older books

For any book published before 1970, there is no ISBN, so as collectors, we have traditionally concentrated on the identification of the precise edition, printing or binding of any given book, either from inspection of the book itself, or by recourse to catalogues and bibliographies. Much less effort has been expended on understanding provenance, with the exception of the identification and collection of desirable “Association” copies of books. By Association copy, we mean a book which has been previously owned or inscribed by someone of importance, either to the book itself, or its subject matter or sometimes just by the personal fame of the associated person.

In her recent excellent book “The Lost Novels of Jane Austen”, (Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2019, ISBN 978-1-4214-3159-8)  Professor Janine Barchas explores the topic of the provenance of hitherto unregarded, cheaper editions of the novels of Jane Austen as valuable evidence in the understanding of how the popularity of this major author was spread by the publication of editions that were accessible to the broad general reading public. Many of the books that she examined had escaped inclusion in the standard bibliographies.

Professor Barchas also uses the information of prior ownership, in combination with family history research techniques, to rediscover some of the countless unrecognised readers of Jane Austen from the past. This approach has been a facet of my book collecting practice for the past decade or so. In a series of follow-up posts, I will share some of the findings of my exploration of provenance and the previous history of the books in my collection. My first examples, like Janine Barchas’ work, will involve Jane Austen. Here are three copies of Mansfield Park which I will be exploring first.

Read the next posting to learn more about these three books.


Christmas Books

Books about Christmas that are of interest to collectors.

There have been many books written and published about and for Christmas. Here are a few of my personal favourites, with a brief commentary on them and some background on Charles Dickens and Christmas.

Charles Dickens is often credited with the invention of  “The Traditional Christmas”, but most who have looked at this issue would agree that Dickens is mainly responsible for the general popularity of the notion of the “Traditional English Christmas”. The combination of the family-centered celebration of Christmas, together with fun, feasting, drinking and above all a sense of Goodwill Towards All Men has come to epitomise the Dickensian Christmas. But where did all this come from, and how did Dickens know about it?
One interesting fact is that a book was published in London in 1836 called The Book of Christmas by Thomas K Hervey. The book, which was a collection of English Christmas customs, was illustrated by Robert Seymour. 

The Book of Christmas 1836

We know that Charles Dickens knew Robert Seymour, as in 1836, that same year, Dickens had been hired by the publishers Chapman and Hall to provide the text for a series of sporting illustrations to be drawn by Seymour. This project eventually became The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, which propelled Dickens from obscurity to instant fame. Sadly, Seymour only provided the first few illustrations for the book, as he committed suicide soon after the start of Pickwick. Some, rather unkindly, have suggested that it might have been working with Dickens that drove him to his sad fate! 

Charles Dickens was by no means the first author to look back nostalgically at the traditional English Christmas. The American author Washington Irving wrote several short pieces describing various scenes from Christmas in England. These were based on his personal experience of spending Christmas in a fine old country house close to Birmingham in Warwickshire. These writings first appeared in Washington Irving’s The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., which was first published in installments during 1819 and 1820. The most pleasing edition of these sketches about Christmas in England is Old Christmas, which was published by Macmillan in 1876, and is gloriously illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. This book was intended to be a Christmas present, and it still makes a fine seasonal gift. In 1877, Bracebridge Hall, a companion volume of Irving’s sketches in the same setting was published by Macmillan, also featuring wonderful illustrations by Randolph Caldecott. These two books are shown below in their original bindings.

Old Christmas, Macmillan 1876Bracebridge Hall, Macmillan 1877

Although there are two memorable Christmas “episodes” in Pickwick, the great Dickens Christmas book was certainly A Christmas Carol, published by Chapman and Hall in December 1843. The genesis of the book was the rather poor sales of the serial parts of Martin Chuzzlewit, in the middle of 1843, which was causing some distress to Dickens and his publisher. After threats to reduce Dickens’ income in light of the poor sales, he was encouraged to produce a successful book for the Christmas market of 1843. After much walking and worrying, it was probably a visit in early October to Dickens’ older sister Fanny in Manchester, where she lived in fairly straitened circumstances with her husband and crippled son Fred, that gave Dickens the inspiration for A Christmas Carol. He started writing the book in mid October and presented the finished manuscript to his publisher on December 2nd. The first edition of  6000 copies was published on 19th December and was sold out in four days at 5 shillings each. The manuscript of A Christmas Carol has survived and is in the Pierpoint Morgan Library in New York. The library published a fine facsimile of the manuscript in 1993, which allows you to read the text in Dickens’ handwriting, with all of his erasures, amendments and edits, side by side with the printed text.
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A Christmas Carol 1843Facsimile of the first page of the
manuscript of A Christmas Carol 1943

A first edition of A Christmas Carol costs $10,000 – $25,000 today. Ironically, Dickens was disappointed in the financial return that he got from A Christmas Carol. His publishers had forced him to take the financial risk with the publication, but because Dickens had insisted on high-quality end-papers, a high-quality binding, and above all, four hand coloured lithographs as illustrations, and a coloured title page, the production costs of the book consumed most of the earnings so that Dickens only made a few hundred pounds from the project, rather than the thousands that he had expected. This was in spite of the fact that A Christmas Carol sold out twelve editions before Christmas 1844. Never again in his lifetime did Dickens publish a book which contained coloured illustrations. 
Fortunately for the book collector with a modest budget, a nice facsimile edition of the first edition of A Christmas Carol was published by Chapman and Hall in 1926. This can still be found for purchase for a reasonably low sum, often below $100.

Dickens published four more Christmas books, but none of them are thought to be comparable to A Christmas Carol in quality, and they certainly have not been as popular with the general reader. Here they are in the original bindings.

The Chimes
1844
The Cricket on the
Hearth 1845
The Battle of Life
1846
The Haunted Man
1848

The five Christmas Books of Charles Dickens have been published together many times as a collection in a single volume, starting with the first collected edition published in 1852 by Chapman and Hall in a rather undistinguished pale green blind-stamped cloth binding. A much more attractive edition is the one published by Chapman and Hall in 1869 shown below, which was the last edition of the collected Christmas Books that was published in Dickens’ lifetime. As in most of the combined editions of the Christmas Books, the illustrations are all printed without colour, presumably to contain the high costs of production which beset the early editions of A Christmas Carol.

Christmas Books Charles Dickens
Chapman and Hall 1869

 Many other fine editions of A Christmas Carol have been published with new illustrations by many of the greatest book illustrators. Among my favourites are those illustrated by Arthur Rackham, arguably the doyen of English book illustrators; the edition illustrated by Harold Copping for the Religious Tract Society, the quirky edition illustrated by Ronald Searle in 1961 and the fine edition illustrated by Michael Forman for the Folio Society in 2003.

Arthur Rackham
1915
Michael Foreman
2003
Harold Copping
1920
Ronald Searle
1961

More recently, Cedric Dickens, Charles Dickens grandson, published Christmas with Dickens in 1993 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of A Christmas Carol. Cedric tells the reader exactly how to organise a Dickensian Christmas celebration. He tells the reader how to serve a traditional Christmas dinner, with traditional Christmas drinks, interspersed with five selected readings from A Christmas Carol. My copy formerly belonged to the wife of an Australian High Commissioner to London, and is signed by Cedric who praises the successful Dickensian Christmas Dinner that she held, based on the book!

 

Christmas with Dickens, 1993

Christmas is, of course, a major religious festival, and unsurprisingly, many books have appeared telling the story of the birth of Christ. My favourite of these is The Christmas Story, which was published by the BBC in 1968. The text of the book has been taken directly from the New Testament in a form simplified for children. However, the real appeal of the book is in the great illustrations by Charles Keeping. Keeping’s illustrations were commissioned by the BBC to accompany the text for a filmed version of the book that was shown on the popular children’s program, Blue Peter.

A Christmas Story, 1968

For those of us who live in Australia, the greatest conundrum about Christmas is how to celebrate it in what is often the sweltering heat of the southern hemisphere summer. Not very much snow to be seen at all! The best book that I know which tackles this is Bush Christmas, a book that was published in 1983 to accompany the remaking of a film, Bush Christmas, that had first been released in 1947. The original film had starred the immortal Australian character actor Chips Rafferty, and concerned the theft of a champion horse from a family, and told how the horse was recovered and the thieves captured by the courage and ingenuity of a group of children. The 1983 remake tells the same story and features a child actor in her first film, the fourteen-year-old Nicole Kidman! 

Bush Christmas, 1983

The title of the film is drawn from the poem, A Bush Christmas, by C J Dennis, first published in the Melbourne Herald newspaper in December 1931. The book prints the text of Dennis’ poem and also has collected together many early accounts of Christmas in the heat and hardship of 19th century Australia, as well as presenting bush ballads about Christmas, as sung by The Bushwackers, a popular band of the 1970s and 1980s in Australia.


Travel writing is often published in the form of a compendium of traveller’s tales. My favourite Christmas version of this genre is A Traveller’s Christmas, a fine collection of short pieces about Christmas and travel selected by Sue Bradbury and published in 2006 by The Folio Society in a typically high-quality production that features illustrations by Paul Slater. There are many examples from writers of many languages and different cultures, largely around the theme of Christmas spent far from home. My favourite accounts are those of Kipling in India and Robert Falcon Scott in Antarctica, along with accounts from mariners rounding Cape Horn and several from battlefields and war-ravaged lands. 

A Traveller’s Christmas, 2006

The English book illustrator, Raymond Briggs has produced many fine books over the last fifty years. Four of them have a particular relevance to Christmas. These are The Christmas Book by James Reeves (1968), Father Christmas (1973), Father Christmas Goes on Holiday (1975) and The Snowman (1978). These latter three titles are all authored and illustrated by Briggs, although it should be noted that The Snowman is wordless. Briggs’ Father Christmas is a rather grumpy old man but as the story unfolds, his grumpiness becomes increasingly appealing. The original story of The Snowman in the book does not feature Father Christmas, but the filmed version of 1982 does include an encounter with Father Christmas. Both Father Christmas and The Snowman have won multiple awards.

Father Christmas
First edition 1973
The Snowman
Puffin edition 2013

I thought I would finish with two satires on Christmas. The first is Hogfather by the late and very lamented Sir Terry Pratchett. This is his 20th novel in the Discworld series, published in 1996, and tells a tale of the disappearance of The Hogfather (Father Christmas) at Hogswatch (Christmas), due to the plotting of an assassin, and how the Hogfather’s duties are taken up by Death, before the situation is resolved by Death’s granddaughter. I know that this is a great oversimplification of the plot… so go and read the book. If you prefer films, the BBC version of 2006 features the late Ian Richardson as the VOICE OF DEATH (Pratchett fans will understand the capitalisation.)

Hogfather, 1996

My final choice is a children’s book, but is it? How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss, the pseudonym of Theodor Geisel, was published in New York by Random House in 1957 and like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, has never been out of print. The story is presented as a simple picture book, in which the tale is told of a bad character, the Grinch, who tries to stop Christmas by stealing things related to Christmas. On another level, the book is really Geisel’s protest about the over-exploitation of Christmas by commercial interests. Geisel liked the Grinch so much that his car number plate was GRINCH.

Many editions of this book have been published during the last sixty years. Here are three editions, with the original of 1957 on the left, a Jim Carrey film tie-in version from 2000 in the centre, and a more recent edition on the right.

195720002008

Ironically, many people today will know the story due to the various commercial film, TV and recorded sound versions that have been made. 

A nice trivia question for you all could be “What do Boris Karloff, Jim Carrey, Zero Mostel, Walter Matthau and Benedict Cumberbatch have in common?” 

Answer… they have all performed the voice of the Grinch.
Happy Christmas reading!  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Here is a list of the books mentioned in this blog post.
The Book of Christmas by Thomas K Hervey, William Spooner, London, 1836

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens  First edition, Chapman and Hall 1843 Facsimile, Chapman and Hall 1926

Manuscript Facsimile, Pierpoint Morgan Library 1993

 

Editions of A Christmas Carol with illustrations by:

Arthur Rackham, Heinemann, 1915,

Harold Copping, Religious Tract Society, 1920

Ronald Searle, Perpetua, 1961

Michael Forman, Folio Society, 2003


Christmas with Dickens by Cedric Dickens, The Belvedere Press, 1993

The Chimes by Charles Dickens, Chapman and Hall, 1844

The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens, Bradbury and Evans, 1845

The Battle of Life by Charles Dickens, Bradbury and Evans, 1846

The Haunted Man and The Ghost’s Bargain by Charles Dickens, Bradbury and Evans, 1848

Christmas Books by Charles Dickens, Chapman and Hall, 1869

Old Christmas by Washington Irving, Macmillan 1876

Bracebridge Hall by Washington Irving, Macmillan 1877

The Christmas Story illustrated by Charles Keeping, BBC, 1968

Bush Christmas edited by Dobe Newton, Tombola publishing, 1983

 A Traveller’s Christmas, compiled by Sue Bradbury, Folio Society, 2006

Father Christmas by Raymond Briggs, Hamish Hamilton, 1973

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, Puffin 35th anniversary edition, 2013
Hogfather by (Sir) Terry Pratchett, Gollancz, 1996

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss (Theodor Geisel), Random House 1957              ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

1938 Rebecca: Daphne Du Maurier

1938 REBECCA: Daphne du Maurier

Dame Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989) was a best-selling author of romantic and macabre stories, novels and plays. Many of her best works, particularly those with a Gothic inspiration, have been the subject of successful films, such as Jamaica Inn, The Birds, Don’t Look Now and most famously Rebecca.

Rebecca was du Maurier’s most successful book, being reprinted multiple times and selling 3 million copies by 1970. It starts with one of the most famous first lines in literature. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” The line is spoken by the “second Mrs de Winter, the narrator of the story, whose given name is never revealed. The book contains the classic gothic character, Mrs. Danvers the housekeeper of Manderley, and has many close parallels to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. The Alfred Hitchcock film version (1940) went a long way to establishing the enduring fame of Rebecca.

There are thousands of copies of the many impressions of the early English editions of Rebecca published by Gollancz in the standard house yellow dust wrapper. The true first impression of the first edition was 20,000 copies. It is shown below and is the one that collectors want.

Return to the Gothic Novel list

1959 Psycho: Robert Bloch

1959 PSYCHO: Robert Bloch

Psycho now tends to mean the famous film by Alfred Hitchcock made in 1960 with Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. The famous “murder in the shower” scene with the electrifying music of Bernard Herrmann remains an iconic series of images in popular culture.

The film is based on the book Psycho by Robert Bloch (1917-1994), which was published in New York by Simon and Schuster in 1959 and in London by Robert Hale in 1960. Block had a long history of writing tales with supernatural content and was part of the circle of H.P. Lovecraft and a regular contributor to Weird Tales. He wrote hundreds of stories and more than 30 novels during a long career which started in 1935. Late in his life he wrote The Jekyll Legacy, a sequel to Stephenson’s famous novel.

First editions of Psycho are becoming increasingly hard to find. Collectors would be happy with either the American or English first edition. The New York edition in very good condition in dust wrapper will cost around $1000; the London edition about half that price. Both of these books are shown here.

London edition, 1960
New York edition, 1959

Return to the Gothic Novel list

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Beginners Guide to Collecting Books

What makes a book collectible?

I am often asked by non-book collecting friends what makes a book collectible and how can you tell if a book is valuable. Here are some thoughts on these matters.

Firstly, for a book to be collectible, there needs to be someone out there in the world who desires to own it! That may seem obvious, but really is the sine qua non of any collecting. Similarly, one may ask what is a particular book worth, and one rather obvious answer is “Whatever someone in the marketplace for books is prepared to pay for it!”
For instance, a book dealer may have a rare volume displayed in his or her shop with a price tag of say $500 on it, but if the book has been unsold in the shop at that price for 5 years, then who is to say that it is worth the price on the tag?

If we dig a little deeper into these issues, the four major determinants of “worth”, which may not be the same thing as “value” or “price” are form, content, rarity and condition. Lets consider these four issues in turn.

Form

By form, I mean the physical presentation of the book. Is it a hardback or paperback? Is it a first edition or a reprint? Is it printed or published by a desirable firm? Is it in an attractive or elegant binding? Is it illustrated? Is it signed by anyone special, such as the author, illustrator or a significant previous owner? Does it have an interesting, well designed or famous bookplate? Some of these issues is worthy of some consideration.

Hardback or Paperback

Generally speaking, hardback, or more properly, ‘cased’ books are more collectible than paperbacks. There are many reasons for this. Most books are first published in a fully bound and cased format, at a relatively higher price, before they are then reprinted as a less expensive paperback in card covers, often with the gatherings of the pages glued to a back-strip, in what is misleadingly called ‘perfect bound’. Most paperbacks that one sees are perfect bound. In recent years, in an attempt to contain costs, large format first edition ‘trade paperbacks’ have been published at the same time as an equivalent fully cased hardback first edition. Here in Australia, for instance, in the 21st century, most first edition novels are only available as trade paperbacks, when in the UK and USA they are often published as both hardbacks and trade paperbacks. Often it is then only the trade paperback that is exported from the UK to Australia for retail sale.
Cased books for the last almost 200 years have been bound within board covers that are covered with a substance that can be labelled or decorated. The coverings were traditionally types of animal skins, leathers of various types, or vellum. In the early 19th century, book cloth was popularised as a cheaper and durable alternative to animal products.

Since the later part of the 19th century, cased books have also been covered by paper wrappers called a dust wrapper or dust jacket. These were initially disposable, plain paper covers to protect the printed pages before they were cased by a book binder, or to protect them on the journey between the publisher and the retail bookseller. As the years went by, the dust jackets were seen as a useful, if perhaps ephemeral part of the book, which could also be decorated and so be useful in the marketing of books. For the collector of Modern First Editions (however defined), the dust jacket is a highly desirable if not essential component of the book for it to be deemed complete and collectible.
Some paperbacks are highly prized and collectible, particularly certain books which were only published in paperback format, or books from certain paperback publishers, such as Penguin, Albatross, Tauchnitz and Pan.

First editions

Everyone knows that first editions are very collectible and are often highly desired. But if you give this a little thought, it does require some explanation. One thing that you can be sure of is that every book that has ever been published has existed as a first edition. Indeed, the vast majority of books, once published in their first edition, have probably failed to sell sufficiently well, and so have never been  reprinted or re-issued! So why the importance of first editions?  Collectors will generally say that the first edition is the first appearance of the book and as the initial form of the book that the world ever sees, it has a particular power and importance beyond the raw text. They will also say that the first edition also represents the author’s freshest and new ideas and inventions. However, the first appearance of a book, which is strictly the first state of the first impression of the first edition ( I will explore these terms more in a following blog) in the original publisher’s binding and dust jacket will often contain errors (known in the book collecting world as points) that are most commonly introduced by the printer, but sometimes by the editor or the binder. Thus the earliest form of the book may not represent the author’s true intentions, and it may be later states that correctly reflect the text as presented in the author’s manuscript.

Bindings

Generally, the original publisher’s binding of  a book is the most desired form. However, from the earliest times, it has been quite common for books to be given different bindings after their purchase, that are often more ornate and attractive than the publisher’s binding. Sometimes, particular book buyers or collectors had a preferred or personalised form of binding that they always applied to their books. Some private, public and school libraries also adopted this practice. From  early Victorian times, it was quite common to replace the publisher’s cloth binding with a half or quarter bound casing that used different leathers and boards, often with marbled end papers. On occasions, the publishers themselves produce a limited number of copies of a book that are bound in higher quality, more expensive bindings. 


In mid to late Victorian times, many publishers adopted more highly decorated cloth styles, with the use of impressed or embossed gilt designs or coloured cloth decorations, sometimes on beveled or more elaborately incised boards. All of these superior Victorian cloth bindings are very collectible in their own right. In addition the cheap ‘yellowback’ bindings of crime and sensational novels of the late Victorian and Edwardian age are also now highly collected.

From the early years of the twentieth century, books were mostly bound in cloth which had become very plain and undecorated, particularly after World War One. As the cloth became plainer, so the dust jackets gradually became more highly decorated. In the Art Deco period, from the early-1920s until the end of the thirties, an expectation of elegantly decorated dust jackets began to become the norm for high quality books. For some crime fiction and thrillers, some of the dust jacket decorations became quite lurid and sensational. There are collectors out there for all of these. A few authors even designed their own dust jackets, Evelyn Waugh with ‘Vile Bodies‘ and Ian Fleming with ‘Moonraker‘ are two famous examples, and Len Deighton designed a few decorated Penguin covers in the 1960s.

Signed books

Names or signatures in books can add to their desirability. However, it does matter whose name and signature it is. ” To little Freddy  from Auntie Nell, Xmas 1984, XXX “, scrawled across the title page of any book with purple broad tip Texta pen will almost certain detract from the books desirability. 

However, a copy of the James Bond book ‘Dr No‘, neatly signed “Ian Fleming” on the end-paper would be desirable. If it were inscribed “Peter, here is my latest book; your brother Ian” it would probably be more desirable. If it were to be signed “to Sean Connery from Ian Fleming, loved your performance”, it would be very highly desirable. I’m sure that you get the idea.  Certainly a plain signature, probably written en masse for a bookstore appearance, is probably less desirable that a dedication to an unknown person, and certainly less desirable than a dedication to a famous person or a person who has some significant relationship to the book. 
Ownership signatures from famous, previous owners of the book, neatly written on an end-paper are also highly desirable. In this regard, a copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, with Sir Winston Churchill’s ownership signature would be desired by all collectors of war books or Churchilliana.

Bookplates

Bookplates are the often decorative labels pasted onto the end-papers of books to assert ownership. Many people had personalised bookplates designed for them and the presence of a discreet and tasteful book plate does not generally lessen the desirability of a book; if the bookplate is particularly well designed, or sufficiently grotesque  and unusual, or if it belonged to a famous or significant person, then it probably adds to the desirability of the book.

Content

Content is a fairly straight forward matter to consider in book collecting. By content, I mean the text and the illustrations (if any). 

Text

If the book is a classic or prize winning or ground-breaking work, then it will be intrinsically more desirable. For most authors, there are one or a few stand-out titles which are the most collected. For George Orwell for instance, I think that everyone would identify “Animal Farm” and “1984” as his most desirable books. On the other hand, almost anything by Charles Dickens, Jane Austen or the Brontes would be very desirable.
The nature of the text is also important. Most collectors prefer the detective fiction of Dorothy Sayers to her religious works; similarly, the Narnia books and the three space fiction novels of CS Lewis are more collected than his academic or religious books. Most collectors would rather have Rider Haggard’s “King Solomon’s Mines” or “She”, rather than his scarce first book, “Cetewayo and his White Neighbours”, or his later books on farming. 
Charles Darwin’s “On The Origin of Species” probably is a unique book in its profound impact on human ideas and life. Any copy of this text has some interest to collectors, from the first edition of 1859 down to the many modern reprints that have appeared since.

Illustration

Illustrated books also have a content collectibility over and above the written text. Many books have been published in un-illustrated first editions, which, after the book’s success as text has been established, are re-issued in lavishly illustrated and finely bound editions that many collectors crave. For collectors of English books, the golden age of book illustration is generally held to be the period 1875 to 1914.
I personally have collected editions of the Alice books of Lewis Carroll illustrated by many illustrators over the last hundred years or so. Although the original illustrations in the first editions of 1865 and 1871 were famously and iconically created by Sir John Tenniel, many famous illustrators have produced wonderful illustrations since then. In a future blog, I will discuss these books and illustrations.

Rarity

Rarity is determined by a number of factors. Age is certainly one, and although old books are not necessarily highly collectible, there is no doubt that age will have an effect on survival of any book, and so will affect rarity.
The size of an edition is also a key factor. The first edition of the first book by an unknown author is usually published in very small numbers, as the publishers want to limit their risk of losses. If the book is successful, then the publisher can print more copies and issue new editions, according to the book’s popularity. Nowadays, if a film is made of the book, new editions are published to take advantage of the marketing of the film.
An interesting recent example of the first book phenomenon is offered by the Harry Potter books of J K Rowling. The first book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone” (1997), as the first book by an unknown author, was published in a standard small first UK hardback edition of 500 copies in laminated boards, along with a paperback edition of a few thousand books. 300 of the 500 hardbacks were sold to the English School Library system, where they will have been read to destruction, leaving only 200 copies for book collectors. These now attract massive prices, around $50,000, in specialist book auctions. Copies signed by Rowling will cost even more.
The second book “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (1998) and third book “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (1999) were both published in UK hardback first editions of about 10,000 copies each. These are also highly collected and quite expensive, generally costing around $1000 , depending on condition and issue, rising to $7500 if they are signed by the author.
By the fourth book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire“, (2000), the Harry Potter phenomenon had well and truly taken off. The first UK hardback edition numbered one million books! Although these are still collectible, they are easy to find, and not very expensive. The same is true for the last three books, published in massive first editions and therefore relatively common and easy to find. Interestingly, the first UK hardback edition of the first James bond book “Casino Royale” (1953) is also very rare and highly desirable, due to a small edition being printed (about 4500 books), of which half went to the UK Public Library Service and were read to destruction… a similar story to the first Harry Potter book.

In a parallel story,  the first edition of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species“, was published by John Murray on 24th November 1859 in a first edition of only 1250 copies of which 1170 copies were available for sale. 500 of these were purchased by Mudie’s Library and all of the rest were pre-sold before publication, mainly due to the intense interest in the subject at the time. Many ended up in institutional libraries, so that the number of copies in private hands, which are those that tend to become available to the rare book trade, was very limited. A first edition can still sometimes be offered for sale in 2015, but it will cost around $250,000. A copy famously sold for around this price on the 150th anniversary of its publication in 2009.

Condition

Condition is the final factor that I will consider here. Book collectors want the best possible condition of any book that they want to collect. The book should ideally be complete, in the original binding and dust jacket, with no marks, tears, scribblings, sticky tape scars, water or light damage, library detritus or stains. It should ideally look like a brand new copy of the book on the day of issue, before it has been read.
This Ideal is not always attainable, and so the more scarce and desirable a book is, the more collectors will compromise on condition. Small stains and small repaired tears and creases in the dust jacket are often acceptable. All illustrations must be present in an illustrated book, but looseness of tipped-in illustrations can be acceptable and can be easily repaired. The title page must be present and all of the text must be present, but some people will accept the loss or disfigurement of the free front end paper (the blank page often found at the front of a book, before the title page). Looseness or defects in the binding, usually found in the “gutters”, the region where the pages are attached to the boards, are grudgingly acceptable to most, and the absence of tissue guards, the protective tissues for illustrations, particularly frontispieces are common and also generally acceptable.
Foxing, the appearance of brown stains due to a mould within the paper is common and also acceptable if not too severe. (A well known comical book on book collecting, illustrated by Ronald Searle, is famously titled “Slightly Foxed, but Still Desirable”, echoing the description often given in book dealer’s catalogues.)
Not surprisingly, the older a book is, the more damaged and worse for wear it is likely to be. Most collectors will accept this and take a pragmatic view of this issue. Thus I expect a much higher standard for my Terry Pratchett first editions, all of which were published after 1983, than my Charles Dickens first editions, all of which were published between 1834 and 1870.

Chris’s Book Blog Site

This is my attempt to create a web presence about Old and Rare Books and Book Collecting. It is an entirely personal viewpoint and represents my own views and tastes, and so will reflect my own collection and collecting interests. I will try to link to useful resources and devise original posts that may be of interest to some book collectors out there.

My collecting tastes are very catholic but are generally in the area of English and children’s literature from the 19th and 20th centuries. Wow, (I hear you say), that’s a huge scope. Yes it is, but I narrow it by collecting authors who I enjoy and like, books that I admire for their form as well as their content, and some particular areas of English writing, including some travel writing by favourite authors, and detective and crime fiction by authors who use this genre to explore particular times, places and cultures.

I am also an avid collector of Penguins, now going for 85 years. I will try to gather together here some useful information, ideas and sources for Penguin collectors.