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Oct. I. 1906

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Colt 1906

hane Lund


In attempting to add some prefatory notes to the present volume the picture in Punch recurs to me of the costermonger who was urged by a ‘pal' of his to reply to the rinatory threats of a by-standing foe. “Give it 'im, Bill !” said the friend. “How can I ?” replied Bill ; "e's used up all the best words!” Similarly, in the Prefatory Notes to Volume 2 all my best words appear to have been used up, and there seems to be nothing left to say. The present volume has been arranged upon precisely the same plan as the former, and what was said in elucidation of the system of its production applies equally to this one. There is therefore really nothing to do in that connexion but to refer subscribers to the previous volume.

There is however one matter to which attention may be fittingly given during the interval between the close of one auction-season and the commencement of another, viz., the compilation of sale-catalogues; and if my strictures upon

various forms of apparent carelessness: innumerable inaccuracies of expression : sins, both of omission and commission : should seem severe, the criticised are asked to believe that the animadversions are not unfriendly ones, and should endeavour to realise-as, doubtless, they did in boyhood when their fathers “larruped "them---that it is all for their own good. They may even, if they digest any suggestions which an experience of cataloguing of forty years' duration enables me to make—they may, I repeat,

, hope to look forward to that increase of remuneration which more valuable services should entitle them to at the hands of those to whose interests they are devoted. With which stimulating observation let us pass on to the matter in hand.

One who cares for his occupation at least as much for its own sake as because it is a means of income-earning may be excused regret at being forced daily to notice absurdities at which bibliography-loving angels might weep. Cataloguers of books are presumably--at least, they should be-men of education, but when they dignify adverbs, common-nouns, and other minor parts of speech with capital letters, and when punctuation is evidently to them an unknown art, they refute the assumption. A cataloguer who ascribes the works of Benjamin Disraeli to “ Lord Disraeli ”instead of to the Earl of Beaconsfield simply does not know his business, nor does the other who catalogues the works of Lord Herbert of Cherbury as being by Lord Herbert Cherbury, and and places the entry under "Cherbury" instead of " Herbert." Similarly, Sir Francis Bacon was constantly dubbed “Lord Bacon ” until I called attention to the fact that Bacon was only his name, and Verulam his

barony, and while most cataloguers have now purged themselves of this heresy there are still one or two who cling to it. A brief course of training at the College of Arms would really seem to be part of the necessary equipment of a book-cataloguer. When a binding is described as being “covered in rich gilt floreate ornaments ” you know that the meaning of words is being disregarded, and that the preposition "withis intended. What are stated to be "gilt leaves

are not gilt leaves at all ; it is merely that the edges are gilt. We are told that a previous copy of some book or other has “fetched ” such and such a sum in the past, and although it is true that as a dictionary definition the term is correct it has a commonplace association with the idea of fetching and carrying which the equally good but infinitely better-sounding term realize does not possess. Some volumes are said to have gauffré edges, not gantired edges, or, better still, the correct spelling of the Anglicised form of the word---gauffered. Even the orthography of the French word is incorrect, with its superfluous f. There is apparently a fine confusion in the minds of cataloguers with regard to so elementary a matter--regulated by absolute authority-as the sizes of books. One example, from many, is the édition de luxe of Shakespeare's Works, edited by Howard Staunton, 15 volumes, 1881, described in one sale-room this year as being “imperial 8vo.” and placed among the octavos, and in another room stated to be " 4to" and placed among the quartos, while in some catalogues quartos and folios are all lumped together under the head of Folio, to the utter mystification of all but experts.

In one instance a whole page of octavos were headed ‘QUARTO.' The attribution of works to imaginary authors is no uncommon occurrence. Thus the name of Pierce Egan is constantly being given as that of the unknown author of Real Life in London, although attention was drawn to the error in B.A.R. in July, 1905. The work that Egan wrote was the Life in London, and its success caused an anonymous imitation to be published in the following year. A glaring instance of such faulty cataloguing occurred in a sale this season, as follows :

Field](N[at.]) The Fatal Dowry, a Tragedy, 1032. Now, Massinger was the principal author of this play, and, according to the Biographia Dramatica, he was “assisted” by Field. The volume should therefore have been entered under Massinger. It is true that a note states that Field was “part author,” but the unfortunate principal is altogether ignored. The key to the error is that Field was a Shakespearian actor, and nowadays it is the fashion to lug-in Shakespeare, head and shoulders, wherever possible, irrespective of the niceties of cataloguing. Lowndes properly places The Fatal Dowry among Massinger's Works, with merely a cross-reference

under Field referring to Massinger. Again, anything in the shape of system is utterly lacking in the selection of heads under which entries are made, as the following examples show. The Cabinet of Genius appears variously under Cabinet, Tavlor, and Shelley, the latter being the name of the illustrator. The Book of Common Prayer printed by the Essex House Press will appear at one time under Essex and at another time under Book. The Nuremberg Chronicle is catalogued under Chronicon, Chronicle, Nuremberg, and Schedel (the author). In one catalogue we get the following :

Boswell (James) Life of Dr. S. Johnson 1791 while in another section of the same catalogue perhaps, another copy, described by a different cataloguer, appears as

Johnson (Dr. S.) Life by James Boswell, 1791.
Either method has its merits, but at least there should be uniformity, based
upon the balance of advantages. Five more 'awful examples' must suffice.
The following are from recent catalogues :-

Chapman (George) Whole Works of Homer, 1616
Ward (W.) Secretes of Alexis of Piedmont, 1568
Dyce (Alexander) Works of George Peele, 3 vols., 1828
Higins (J.) Mirour for Magistrates, 1587

Cruikshank (G.) Poems by the Knight of Morar. The two translators (Chapman and Ward), the editor (Dyce), the publisher (Higins), and the illustrator (Cruikshank) are deliberately entered as being the authors of the respective works, while in the last case the very name of the author—Sir William Fraser-is omitted. It is futile to reply that the names are headings If they were headings the surnames only would be given, followed by a period. Further, Higins should not have been Higins at all, but Higgins. Such uncalled for inexactness is, in short, an unmitigated nuisance to the searcher. He never knows under what heading to look. It is quite easy to understand a book being placed under the most attractive heading, but let it be a heading, and not a construction of a sentence which, if correct in grammar, means nothing but an untruth The avoidance of such pitfalls is easy because it merely requires that capacity for taking pains which is said to be the essence of genius.

Another needed reform is a recurrence to the use of plain English in all descriptive matter, for our catalogues are catalogues of English sales, and only our own language should be used when once the title has been transcribed. At present the first edition of a Latin work becomes an Editio Princeps ; of a French work, the Première Edition; of an Italian work, the Prima Edizione or Edisione Originale ; and so on ; much, probably, to the bewilderment of book

In this way

sellers who do not happen to be linguists, In one case an English book is described as being an Editione Royale, whatever that may mean. Editione is not a French word, nor yet to be found in any other language, while royale means a tuft of beard under the lower lip! It is true the term has a pretty, sonorous sound, but-- like the heading which a bookseller once attached to a copy of the Gesta Romanorum,' viz., “Roman Jests’-it appears to be merely the offspring of an inventive mind. One cataloguer went out of his way to state that a book is “ première edition Elzevirienne sous cette date.What he meant to say was that it was “the first Elzevir edition of that date," but probably his French was ailing and he decided to give it an airing.

Instances are frequent of worthless autographs and ex libris being stated to be on the fly-leaves or in other parts of old books — Marv Jones, June 10, 1661 ; or Thomas Smith, 1590, &c., as the case may be as if the importance of the copy might thereby be enhanced. Space is not wasted in B.A.R. by the repetition of such statements, but when an autograph or an ex libris exists which represents commercial value it is carefully recorded.

Over-cataloguing is a constant sin of commission ; the elaboration of unimportant minutiæ ; a taking of one's subject too seriously, and only of good for the printers, if not positively misleading to the purchasers. we find the old stamped vellum covers described as being stamped with portraits of reformers, etc., as if they had been specially designed for the particular copy in question, whereas, as we all know, such stamps were used for books of all classes of subjects. Whether it is worth while stating that a volume which sells for £ 1 8s. has “bronze ornamental end papers,” and that in a book of but moderate value there is “a small worm-hole in one blank margin ”; or to devote three whole lines to trifling defects in another that realizes £ 1 16s., is a matter of opinion. Finally, cataloguers should remember Disraeli's dictum as to being intoxicated with the exuberance of one's own verbosity. Some among them surely spread themselves out to achieve a fine flow of language, whether it mean anything or nothing. Why not learn, once for all, that in the written word conciseness spells strength, and elongation weakness. Their methods are those of the fish-fag, who, to strengthen her vituperations, uses two negatives and so makes an affirmative. Apart from their methods, however, I am bound, in justice, in concluding this section of the Prefatory Notes, to say that in some respects the work of the compilers of auction-catalogues is admirable. I mean in the matter of notes, the patience, industry, and research in the compilation of which are often beyond all praise, are of invaluable service to the bibliographer, the bibliophile, and the bookseller ; and entirely count for righteousness.

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