Rather a frenetic week, but a highly enjoyable one. A flying visit to Jarndyce in Great Russell Street to deliver a book (end up buying two and thus breaking the First Lady’s rule that for every book coming into the house two must leave it). Pick up a copy of the latest Jarndyce catalogue – a monumental feast of Charles Dickens material – over 1,400 items – no less than twenty-seven autograph letters, a Great Expectations in cloth and so, so, much else – still drooling over this. Brian Lake and his team are to be congratulated. Magnificent. This is bookselling at the very highest level.
A pleasant Sunday at the Ephemera Society fair. Spot a number of ABA members scouting around. Simon Beattie, who rather unsportingly asks me not to publicise these events further – he doesn’t want the competition alerted. Another chat with Valerie Jackson-Harris (Quadrille) who readily agrees to give us a talk on collecting ephemera in the new series of seminars next year. Rather overwhelmed by the amount of material she has on offer, but buy some of those lovely examples of mid nineteenth-century fancy stationery with steel-engraved views. Have a chat with Deborah Coltham. Speak to the always affable Richard Ford. Brief word with Tony Heath.
Stumble upon a fabulous map of London in the Great Exhibition year of 1851 – a highly stylised map with some deliberate simplification and straightening of the streets (almost a remote precursor of the London Underground map) decorated all over with little pictures of the principal buildings. It was designed by William Alfred Delamotte (d.1872) – an interesting artist hopelessly confused in all the published accounts with another William Delamotte (1775-1863), probably his father. Sad to discover that this Delamotte died in Islington Workhouse – and shamed to discover that the man who lithographed the map (a J. or T. Meyer) doesn’t have an entry in British Map Engravers. I buy the map quickly before anyone else spots it. Pretty rare – no copies listed on COPAC (although the British Library does have a copy in the Crace Collection and so does the British Museum). There is a fully zoomable image on the British Library website, if you wish to see the whole thing. I still know nothing about Meyer, but to judge from some of the idiosyncratic spellings, he was not a native English speaker.
Seriously tempted by a Spooner map-game, but moving on, I find Roger Knowles with his eclectic mix of historical documents and bits and pieces. Have to buy a German print of Swansea captioned Swansea in England – the perfect gift for any Anglophobe Welshman.
And with it a lovely engraving (complete with puffing engines and a man with a red flag) of Greenwich Railway station – a contemporary (1841) view of the terminus of London’s earliest railway, the world’s first suburban railway and one of the world’s oldest stations.
Wednesday brings an ABA Council meeting so I see all my hardworking colleagues. And then on a merry note we adjourn to the ABA Christmas party. Delighted there to present a cheque to Roger Treglown for his ten years of running the Chelsea Book Fair, a Fifty-Years a Bookseller badge to Robert Kirkman, and an Honorary Membership to that doyen of the book world, Anthony Hobson. A very good evening all round – thank you Pom Harrington (Peter Harrington) for the hospitality – and lots of interesting discussions with the assembled members.