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this plate to be found in Singer's Select Poets' had been soaked off and lined' to give it the appearance of a genuine impression mounted, and then bound in.
And these mutilations are not the only things of which the collector must beware. Early in the history of books, the reputation that hall-marked the publications of certain famous presses became a source of envy to less fortunate printers. Type and imprints were soon counterfeited, and the fine editions of the Classics printed at Venice by the great Aldine press were reproduced at Lyons and elsewhere. In this matter of forgery and pirated reprints, you will find Gustave Brunet's ‘Imprimeurs Imaginaires et Libraires Supposés' of value. It is a catalogue of books printed with fictitious indication of place or with wrong dates, an octavo volume published in 1866.
These things, however, cannot be learnt at once, and it is only by the continual study of catalogues and bibliographies that one comes to know them. Needless to say, however, all reputable booksellers will take back a work which is discovered to be imperfect, provided that the volume be returned without delay.
Books, like those who gave them birth, are of all conditions ; but from the collector's point of view they may be divided conveniently into five classes. To the First Class belong those volumes which are described by booksellers and auction
eers as 'fine copies. Ever since their publication they have been in the possession of wealthy men, often peers, and (sometimes like their owners !) have passed their lives for the most part undisturbed amid luxurious surroundings. They are invariably richly bound, often in historic bindings, and are clean and fresh inside. Frequently they are sumptuous works and presentation copies, and they always command high prices. In a word, they are aristocrats among books. They are not necessarily rare volumes, though frequently they are large-paper copies, and for the true collector they do not offer so much attraction as the Second Class, in which we place those books that are more eagerly sought after. These are generally rare books, such as incunabula and the higher class English literature of the seventeenth century, and are to be found in the libraries of wealthy collectors who are also learned men. They are always well bound and in good condition, though sometimes they have their headlines shaved, occasionally they are slightly imperfect, or have been cleaned and repaired. But they are always desirable books, and evoke spirited bidding whenever they appear in the auction-room.
Class Three comprises the great army of what may be termed 'middle class books. They are bound usually in half-bindings, when they are not in the publisher's cloth, and are good, clean, sound, copies of such works as county histories, antiquar
ian books, sets of the learned societies' publications and of standard authors. They are such stable and solid books as you will usually find in the libraries of the well-to-do middle classes. In short they are gilt-edged securities, and command a steady price in the market.
To Class Four may be assigned the volumes contained in the average second-hand bookseller's shop in this country. They are the ôc molloi among books, and for the most part they include the more frequent and more modern English works. Usually they are quite desirable copies, though frequently they lack a portrait or other plate, sometimes they have a torn or mounted title-page, or other imperfection. They are generally in cloth or calf bindings which are almost invariably somewhat decrepit, being either rubbed or perished, or cracked at the joints. They are dusty and rather unkempt, and fox-marks are common, for such volumes have passed through many hands and have not always been accorded the care that is due to good books. But it is here that one comes across books ‘in the original boards uncut,' and, if expense be no object to you, you may often raise such purchases to a higher class.
Books in Class Five are the outcasts of the book-world, being those decrepit volumes which stack the bookstalls and barrows in the larger towns. They are the weedings of auction sales and shops, books that are not worth cataloguing by the dealer. Like human beings they have drifted through life with all its vicissitudes, knowing many masters and earning the gratitude of none. And so at length, deprived even of a home, they find their way into the streets, where they are soon reduced to wreckage.
At first sight it would seem that they owe their situation to their quality, both intrinsic and extrinsic—that they are valueless either as literature or as specimens of book-production, or that they are imperfect or odd volumes. In many cases this may be true, but in general it is not so. The wrecks of handsomely produced books of highclass literature are common on the bookstalls and barrows, as all collectors of modest means are aware. They owe their situation chiefly to inconsiderate handling and to the carelessness of their successive owners.
As to the practice of inserting illustrations in books that are published without them, 'Grangerising,' as it is called, it is perhaps best left alone. At first sight there appears to be small harm in providing, let us say, a volume of travels or the description of a town with an appropriate engraved frontispiece, or adorning your biography of So-and-so with a portrait. But the temptation to overstep the bounds of seemliness is so great that it is seldom the collector stops at a mere frontispiece. In most cases
the Grangerite quickly loses all self-control, and develops an acute mania for embellishing his volume with all and every print upon which he can lay his hands, apposite in the slightest degree to the subject of the book. Every year the salerooms witness these monstrosities. Biographies issued in a single volume are 'extended' ('rended asunder' would be a better term) to fifteen or twenty volumes by the insertion of hundreds of engravings depicting every place mentioned in the text and every man or woman that the subject of the biography ever met. We have seen an octavo volume multiplied into twenty-five folio ones in this fashion, the leaves being inlaid to suit the size of the huge portraits and views stuffed into the disjointed sections of the wretched book. Nor is it only engravings that are used, Play-bills, lottery-tickets, tradesmen's advertise, ments, autograph letters, maps, charts, broadsides, street ballads, bills even, all are grist for the Grangerite's mill.
It is a singularly futile hobby, and it is certainly a pernicious form of bibliomania, for it is responsible for the destruction of many good books. Whether its devotee imagines that any one is ever going to wade through his twenty monstrosities, turning, perhaps, six illustrations between page and page of text, we have not discovered. His completed labours form a compilation about as valuable as a scrap-book. If it were possible to