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Rivendale Press

A Bibliography of Unauthorised American Editions of The Tale Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Ian Hodgkins & Co Ltd., ABA, PBFA
1 Clifton Villas, Springfield Rd, Uplands, Stroud, Glos GL5 1TP, UK
Telephone and fax: 01453-755233 e-mail: enquiries@ianhodgkins.com

Ian Hodgkins Dr John Turner of Aberystwyth University in Wales has had access to six substantial private collections to enable him to compile a detailed record of these unauthorised editions. No such record has existed hitherto. In the Introduction he explains how The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first issued privately in a total of 450 copies by Beatrix Potter and was then published by Frederick Warne in 1902. Obtaining copyright in the USA at that time was fraught with difficulties, particularly for foreign publishers. Warne failed to comply with the formalities and the book entered the public domain in the USA. The book became immediately, and has remained ever since, a huge commercial success throughout the world.

Between 1904 and 1980 (the cut off date for this bibliography) about 80 publishers issued their own versions of the story and the bibliography contains over 300 entries. In many cases the text and/or illustrations did not follow Potter's originals and others were credited as the author and illustrator. Some books are to be regarded as derivatives of the well-known story. Where possible, information is given about the publishers and the relationships between them. Full bibliographical details are given about each book, with variations noted. There are indexes of titles, authors and illustrators.

An essential guide for any devotee of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit and of illustrators of children's books during this period.

In cloth boards, pp vii, 220, on Amber Preprint 100gsm acid free paper with 8 pages of colour photographs on 115gsm gloss art FSC. Limited to 600 copies. 38/$60

Other new books published by Ian Hodgkins & Co Ltd.
Beatrix Potter: a bibliographical checklist by Jane Quinby, 450 copies 29.50/$45
Beatrix Potter Papers at Hill Top by Leslie Linder, 450 copies 15/$24
Trade terms on all above: 25%. Postage at cost.

They have also issued a free catalogue offering for sale, individually priced, 300 of the above unauthorised American editions of The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

Out of Print & Into Profit -
A History of the Rare & Secondhand Book Trade in Britain in the 20th Century

Published by the British Library and Oak Knoll Press.
Edited by Giles Mandlelbrote.

ISBN 0 7123 4920 0

This rather grandiose title reveals that the book was commissioned by and published for The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association to celebrate its centenary. This quite easily could have been a standard, slightly stuffy and perhaps boring account of the last 100 years since the ABA's inception. But it is not, it is brave, entertaining, informative and a compelling account.

The book, complete with notes and an index, superbly edited, and illustrated runs to 414 pages and is made up of a series of essays by twenty members of the ABA divided into four sections -

Buying: How the Trade Acquired its Stock
Selling: How the Trade Sold Books
Creating Fashions and Changing Tastes
Personalities: A Trade of Individualists

Frank Herrmann's essay, 'The Role of the Auction Houses', the first in section one, is revealing and well written. The history and development of the leading auction houses and the description of many famous sales is fascinating. He is also not afraid to delve into the shadows and deals with the matter of 'rings' clearly and impartially whilst painting a picture of an age still remembered by some.

The second section is highlighted by two brilliant essays: Michael Harris's 'The London Street Trade' and H. R. Woudhuysen's 'Catalogues'. This was the era of selling books from a barrow and the plethora of tables and shelves on the street outside bookshops. Harris invokes wonderful memories of bargain books and the sheer quantity available - indeed he states that "as late as the 1960s it was said to be possible to maintain a business at no cost, simply by removing the piles of discards lying outside auction houses". I can remember, only 10 years ago the auctioneer at an Oxford auction house announcing - "Gentleman, I apologise in advance but the skip is not available today". The essay 'Catalogues' describes the whole process, including discussions on single author catalogues, personal notes, printing and who actually did the cataloguing! This informative and often amusing account perfectly describes the essence of catalogues: "The excitement of receiving new catalogues is perhaps matched only by the peculiar heartache of reading or rereading old ones, which has all the pain and some of the pleasure of revisiting old love letters...".

In section three I particularly admired 'Patterns of Collecting and Trading in 'Modern' Literature' by Angus O'Neill. The subject is explored by looking at the increase in specialisation, the influence and impact of bibliographical scholarship and the renewed interest in condition, binding and provenance.

In the last section 'Booksellers' Memoirs: The Truth about the Trade' by Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly and 'Defending and Regulating the Trade: A Hundred Years of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association' by Anthony Rota are two essays that stood out. Anthony Rota's account - a history of the ABA as an organisation is clearly and honestly written dealing with Constitutional change, the Ring, representing the trade's interests and educating the public and training booksellers. 'Booksellers' Memoirs' makes a commendable effort to relate the history of the trade through written accounts by bookdealers, but as most bookdealers have always liked a story nearly all accounts are full of tales - most apocryphal.

Also it must be noted that Richard Ford has assembled a wealth of knowledge in Appendix 4 - Twentieth-Century Rare and Secondhand Book Trade Archives: A Survey.

This volume consists of some great essays and a few weaker ones but it is an honest and fitting tribute to our trade and the many photographs reveal a recent past that is quickly being forgotten in this "modern" age.

I have heard from a reliable source that the book has sold quickly and supplies may well soon be exhausted - so go and buy a copy, settle down in a comfortable chair and read about the history of our book trade and the people who made it possible. But be aware this book will take time to read.

Victoria Hyde-Greene


The Supino Henry James Collection

The greatest American collector of literary material in our time was Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis who devoted his life to collecting the work of Horace Walpole. Before he died he had everything Walpole ever wrote - books, letters, journals, catalogues, poems - deposited in his Walpole collection at Farmington, Connecticut.

The American former investment banker David J Supino is, as a single-author collector, not quite as omnivorous but he is in the same league. He has in his collection everything (well, as near to everything as makes no difference) that Henry James published in book-form from the time of his earliest books until 1921, five years after the writer’s death.

Supino’s collection covers not only American and British appearances but also colonial and continental editions. He is the first collector to make a systematic study of the 19th century paperback editions of James from the publishing company of Tauchnitz.

Like Lewis, Supino is not merely a collector. He is also a bibliographical scholar. He has now published a book from his own pen, a superb catalogue raisonné, Henry James: A Bibliographical Catalogue of a Collection of Editions to 1921. He is to be congratulated on the scrupulous thoroughness with which his self-imposed task has been discharged. If his catalogue has a limitation for the researcher, it is that it does not, except in one instance, deal with magazine publication.

And to get one more niggle out of the way, the index to the volume has been compiled so that names of publishers and other individuals mentioned in the catalogue are placed in between the titles of James’s works, making access to them via the index laborious. If you look up James’s most reprinted work, The Turn of the Screw you discover to your astonishment that it is not in the index at all. The reason for this is that it did not appear as the title of a book by Henry James before 1921, a fascinating comment on the belated appreciation of his work by the general public. It would have been more helpful to have had two indexes, one for individuals and institutions, another for books “James, Works”. In the latter index you would then have found an entry, “The Turn of the Screw, see The Two Magics” because it was in a volume fronted by that now forgotten tale that the great one first appeared in 1898.

But let me turn now to some of the many benefits to be derived from this book. The most startling, representing, surely, a great leap forward in bibliography, is Supino’s inclusion of dust-jackets in his physical descriptions. These have been entirely ignored by previous bibliographers such as Leon Edel and Dan H Laurence. For instance, when Julia Bride first appeared in a separate edition in 1909 it had a dust-jacket ‘…with a large pictorial panel on the front cover, printed in grey with a tinge of orange, replicating the frontispiece. This pictorial panel is framed by a narrow white frame which is larger at the bottom and in which enlarged area printed in black is: “JULIA BRIDE by Henry James [in sans serif]”’.

Supino devotes as much attention to a dust-jacket, where one has survived, as he does to a binding. He has researched the whole history of the dust-jacket in the 20th century, how it changed from being a way of preserving the binding into becoming a marketing device. His observations on jackets and bindings are supported by a handsome selection of colour illustrations. Nowadays we tend to read James in a livery designed to catch the eye of the casual buyer. The Victorians read him, as Supino shows, in sober fine-ribbed blue and red cloth bindings. Does this striking difference of the shell affect the reader’s appreciation of the story inside it? Discuss.

Supino deals at length with several bibliographical problems such as the sequence of the various collected and “collective” editions of James’s work. He has much to say about the puzzling printing history of The Portrait of a Lady and in an Appendix he deals with the question of the order in which the book texts of the novel appeared, backed by a consideration of the serialised parts in Macmillan’s Magazine, following earlier research into this by Simon Nowell-Smith. In another Appendix he recalls that egregious character of the American publishing scene in James’s time, J R Osgood whose sheets of James’s texts sometimes turn up in books from other publishers.
James once said that one day his buried prose would “kick off its tombstones”. That happened in the latter half of the last century. Now his bindings and dust-jackets have kicked off their tombstones as well.

Anthony Curtis

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