« AnteriorContinuar »
to-day. As regards works of reference on this subject, we have already dealt with such books in our chapter on the Books of the Collector.
20. Early Romances, too, will tax your exchequer somewhat, heavily, for these glorious folio and quarto examples of early Early woodcut engraving are eagerly snapped Romances. up whenever they appear in the market. One of the finest collections of these fascinating volumes in recent times was that amassed by Baron Achille Seillière. A portion of it was sold at Sotheby's in February 1887. Most of these treasures were exquisitely bound by the great French masters of book-binding, and the sale of 1147 lots realised £14,944, an average of about £13 a volume. Yet it is safe to assert that the same collection to-day would fetch more than double that amount. The first folio edition (Lyon, 1477) of Honoré Bonnor's ' L'Arbre des Batailles' realised only £30. At the Fairfax Murray sale in 1918 the quarto Lyons edition (1510) made £130. The Lisbon edition of ‘Le Triomphe des Neuf Preux'(1530) brought £83. The same copy at the Fairfax Murray sale realised £135. A second portion of this fine collection afterwards came under the hammer in Paris, and realised similar prices.
1 The portion of the Sudbury Hall Library sold at Sotheby's in June 1918 realised £20,201, ios. There were 526 lots, an average of more than £38 a volume.
There is a numerous bibliography. Mr. A. Esdaile's ‘List of English Tales and Prose Romances' was published by the Bibliographical Society in 1912, as was Mr. F. W. Bourdillon's • Early Editions of the Roman de la Rose.' The second edition of W. J. Thom's 'Early English Prose Romances' appeared in three small octavo volumes in 1858, whilst Quaritch's Catalogue of Mediæval Literature, especially the Romances of Chivalry' was issued-large octavo-in 1890. Mr. H. L. D. Ward's Catalogue of Mediæval Romances in the British Museum,' in three volumes, was completed in 1910. For foreign romances Lenglet du Fresnoy’s ‘Bibliothèque des Romans,' is useful. The Comte de Tressan's *Corps d'Extraits de Romans de Chevalerie,' published in twelve volumes in 1787, has exquisite plates by Marillier. It is an interesting compendium of all the most famous romances of chivalry. The Early English Text Society has published a large number of old English romances both in verse and prose.
22. Facetiae, Curiosa — a somewhat broad subject which would include Chapbooks, Broad
Facetiae, sides, Jest Books, as well as those
Curiosa. works which treat of Gallantry' and subjects generally not alluded to in polite society ! The literature upon all these topics is so large that it is impossible to attempt a résumé of it here, but you will find a very useful bibliography
in the fourth volume of the 'Cambridge History of English Literature,' pages 514 to 536. Carew Hazlitt's 'Fugitive Tracts' (1875) and Studies in Jocular Literature' (1890) are both useful ; and Mr. G. F. Black has recently (1909) printed a bibliography of Gipsies. Witchcraft, sometimes classed under this heading, we shall deal with when we consider the Occult.
23. Works upon the Fine Arts are, like books on Architecture, chiefly illustrated. Doubtless such books are collected generally by
by Fine Arts. students and craftsmen, but under this heading must be included books on gems, ancient statuary, and ceramics, cameos, rings, and the like. There is a large number of works which treat of these from the sixteenth century onwards, and many are to be had for a few shillings.
A PLEA FOR SPECIALISM—(Continued)
‘Like ships before whose keels, full long embayed
In polar ice, propitious winds have made
70 most of us it matters but little
what becomes of our books when we are dead. We garner them for our own use and benefit absolutely,
and when we are gone they may well be distributed among other book-lovers for aught we care. No doubt a considerable zest is
added to collecting in the case of First Editions.
those lucky ones who, being established in the land, purpose to lay down' a library for their posterity. In such cases almost invariably there must be a thought of future value. It is but natural. Whether he lay down wine or books no man is so foolish as to lay down trash. Such schemes, however, do not always result in that success which their
owner intended. Like wine, the value of books may 'go off.'
There are two classes of books, however, that he who is wealthy enough to lay down a library may acquire with perfect assurance. They are, in fact, gilt-edged securities. One is the original editions of famous Elizabethan and early Stuart authors, the other, the more estimable incunabula. Just as the population of the world increases yearly, so every year there are more and more book-collectors, and, consequently, more competition to acquire rarities. Every day, too, the chances of further copies coming to light are more remote. Books are not everlasting, and there will come a time when the only fifteenthcentury volumes in existence will be those treasured in velvet-lined boxes and glass cases.
There can be little doubt that in fifty years' time a collection of Beaumont and Fletcher's or Massinger's plays in the original quartos will be worth not merely double its present value, but quadruple and more. Then there are the famous prose authors of the early Stuart period, such as Bacon, Barclay, Robert Burton, Daniel, Donne, Drayton, Shelton, and even the prolific Gervase Markham, to mention only a few. All these are good investments, as regards their first editions, for your children's children.
As regards the first editions of more modern authors we are on much more delicate ground.