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gather into one volume, or rather portfolio, every portrait, let us say, of a certain celebrity that has ever been published, one would possess a valuable storehouse for reference purposes; and such a volume, from its completeness, would be invaluable in the British Museum. But these limits are too narrow for the true Grangerite. He desires a wider field of action. So he embarks upon a task which he can never hope to complete. Though he labour all his life there will always be some one or more engravings that he has failed to secure; and so far from being 'invaluable,' his collection becomes merely of passing interest. As a book it is, of course, grotesque.
The fate of most of these collections is probably the same. So long as the binding remains in good condition they are ensured a niche on some neglected shelf; but once the marks of age or wear and tear manifest themselves their fate is sealed. They come speedily into the hands of those booksellers who deal also in prints, and beneath such ruthless hands the labour of years is undone in a few minutes. At least it is pleasant to think that the poor pages, separated for so many years, come together again if only for a few hours before they reach the paper-mill!
Whether the sober-minded collector whose pride is the well-being of his books is justified in adding a frontispiece and, say, half-a-dozen nice engravings to a book that he appreciates, is a
moot question. Doubtless the correct view is that books should not be meddled with by amateur book-producers, that both publisher and author know best what is most fitting for the volume they produce, that any book which has been tampered with internally in any way becomes a monster and is to be avoided. But this brings up again the old question, . May we not do what we like with our own volumes ?'
Personally we are of opinion that the judicious and extremely moderate adornment of certain books is justified by the result. There is no doubt that the insertion in an unillustrated volume of travel of, let us say, six engraved plates depicting scenes mentioned in the text, adds a charm to the volume and enhances both its appearance and the pleasure of its perusal. Similarly the addition of an authentic portrait to a biography certainly lends an added interest, whilst the addition of a map is often of the greatest assistance to the reader. But that books should be mutilated, torn apart, and stuffed with play-bills, lottery-tickets, and the like, no sane book-lover will admit.
There are some books that seem to ask for illustration. Who has handled the three folio volumes which comprise the first edition of Clarendon's History of the Rebellion' without feeling that by rights they should contain fine mezzotint portraits of the chief actors in that great drama ? But they must be mezzotints, mark you-mere line-engravings would be out of place among those bank-note paper leaves with their handsome greatprimer type. This question of seemliness, too, must be considered carefully ere we add a single plate to any volume. Not every engraving, however beautiful in design and impression, is at once suitable to every book that treats of the subject it depicts. That the illustrations be contemporary with the text goes without saying. No one would be so foolish as to insert modern ‘halftone' illustrations in a seventeenth-century book.
That heading “Extra-illustrated,' so dear to certain booksellers, must send a shudder through many of the discerning readers of their catalogues. Books that are extra-illustrated should be avoided by the collector on principle. There is something fantastically egotistical in seeking (by those who have no knowledge of book-production) to‘improve' the work of other men whose business is the making of books. There can be no necessity for it; the author is quite sure to have added the illustrations that are requisite for the volume. It is only books that were published without illustrations that we are justified in attempting to embellish. Illustrations in a book are invariably a question of the author's and publisher's tastes ; the cost of their production is not usually an allimportant item : it is the setting up of the type, the paper, and the binding that count-not the illustrations,
It was the fashion in the early decades of the last century to issue volumes of engravings suitable for illustrating the works of contemporary writers, such as Byron and Scott: and these illustrations can be used when you have your editions rebound. There is no particular merit about the greater part of them, but they depict incidents described in the text, so at least they are apposite. Each to his taste; we for our part need no second-rate illustrations to help us visualise the glories of Childe Harold or Don Juan; and we have long since confined our Grangerising to the sparing addition of finely engraved portraits to biographical volumes.
'In the name of Christ all men I pray,
(Written in Latin hexameters at the end of
the Leechbook of Bald.)
HERE can be no subject of such
prime importance to the collector as the housing of his books. In most cases the books themselves
have small say in the matter, for a certain room in the house is allotted to them without any consideration as to its suitability for storing books, and there they must abide, making such shift as their possessor shall determine. This must always be the case where their owner is in lodgings or in any temporary abode, where it is not considered worth while going to the expense of putting up permanent shelves for his books. But, after careless handling, there is