Monday, 16 August 2010

Not every month of the year

In my last post I quoted a comment made by Peter Opie in his Accession Diaries

It took me some time before I realised that 'rare books are common.' I probably acquire an item or two which is unique, or almost unique, every month of the year.

Opie may have acquired a unique item every month of the year, but I certainly don't. So today's arrival is the cause for some celebration. It is my seventh unique Haywood item in sixteen years of collecting.


This rather battered and unattractive book is a German translation of twelve (of the 24) books of Eliza Haywood's Female Spectator (1744–46). As you can see from the following part-title, books 1–6 of this translation (Die Zuschauerin) were published in 1747 and Books 7–12 in 1748.


Each of the twelve Books had the imprint "Frankfurt und Leipzig"; through the general title gives the credit to Johann Wilhelm Schmidt in Hanover and Göttingen. Possibly the "Frankfurt und Leipzig" refers to the famous book fairs, at which this book was sold.

In my Bibliography of Eliza Haywood this translation appeared as Ab.60.14. I use the past tense because, as you can see, the unique copy illustrated here, now in my hands, and soon to go into a box, is dated 1753.


Consequently, the three copies that I located of Ab.60.14 are now listed under Ab.60.14a: First German edition, first issue, and this new arrival is listed under Ab.60.14b: First German edition, second issue. *NEW*


As well as being rather battered and unattractive, this copy is missing the final leaf and, unlike the first issue (as I must now call it), it has no frontispiece and foreword. Whether it ever had them is likely to remain a mystery, at least until I can find another copy.

But I can't really complain about the condition, or the price: in my (very limited) experience, when unique items come your way, they rarely do so in copies on crisp, creamy paper, with wide margins, bound in crimson leather, with gilt edges and decoration: they tend to look exactly like this: like they only just survived, like it was a battle to survive.

In my mind books like this seem like the lone soldiers we see so often in films, the ones who stumble out of the mud and smoke of battle, with clothes torn, hair awry, smeared in muck, bandaged, limping, looking at the corpses on all sides with glassy eyes, only to collapse from exhaustion in front of the camera.

This is the sort of book that makes you feel virtuous for taking it in, for protecting it, rather than proud of it's beauty and value.

And on that rather melodramatic note, it is into the moving box for Die Zuschauerin!

[UPDATE: 2 July 2016: After all my pictures disappeared again I decided to give up on external hosts for large versions (1000px) of my image files and, for now on, will stick with the smaller images (500px), which Blogger is prepared to host.]

1 comment:

Doc-in-Boots said...

I do like the analogy to the lone soldier. It is a book that has experienced life - I have a fondness for these volumes.