LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Well, it felt like a story at the time, and not without a whisper of magic. Celtic magic. Book collectors, after all, are irrepressible raconteurs. For every book in their collection, there is a backstory to spin. Here is one of mine:
The UK Guardian has picked up on one of the most significant archival discoveries of recent times; a first folio with hundreds of annotations by John Milton, possibly one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times.
It's hard to know where to start with a book like this. Perhaps this way. I saw it listed in a catalogue and bought a single copy to see if I liked it. I wasn't twenty pages in before I ordered another 20 copies most of which I gave to friends and clients. I'm now on my second lot of 20 copies. If anybody wants to know what Antiquarian booksellers are really like you can find out in this wonderful book, a book which exists almost by accident.
"In just over a month, Budapest will welcome you in beautiful summerly autumn colors. The bridges over the Danube will glow in darker but vividly warm colors, walks in the Castle District, on the cobbled streets of Buda are the most pleasant at the end of September. The still warmish evenings in the uniquely restored but still romantically dilapidated ruin pub, Ankert, guarantees merriment. The autumn delicacies and delicate horses can give you a kind of entertainment in the Lázár Equestrian Park that you have never experienced before. And finally, cruising on the waves of the our treasure-river, the Danube, will soothe all turbulences of the soul while good company and the pleasures of the table will make you feel at home in Budapest."
"Born in the mind of John Randle at the age of 14 when he first entered his school's press room, the Whittington Press started life in a disused gardener's cottage in 1971. Its first book, Richard Kennedy's A Boy at the Hogarth Press, was printed on weekends during 1971-1972 on an 1848 Columbian." An audio interview by Nigel Beale
Fabrizio Govi has published a work very similar to the PMM: "I classici che hanno fatto l'Italia proposes an ideal library of Italian authors from the Quattrocento to the present. These "classics that have made Italy" are a representative selection of Italian books - absolute masterworks, pioneering works in all fields, bestsellers of their times.
This article was first published on the website of Archives Fine Books in Australia, member of ANZAAB and affiliated to ILAB. It is published here with the permission of the author Dawn Albinger and shows the integrity of our trade. Taking our book sleuthing to a new level in 2017…
How we cracked the cold case of a book missing from the rare books department of a major institution.