New 'Just Catalogued' Page, A Collecting Story & more...
Joslin Hall Rare Books, ABAA
office at joslinhall.com
Wed Apr 7 08:59:03 EDT 2004
The Book Elves are finally enjoying a bit of spring as temperatures
outside the Cataloging Cave are finally making it up to 50 degrees on a
(semi) regular basis, and all the snow has disappeared from the daffodils.
The beach chairs have been put away though, at least until May, after
that incident last week when Eddie, Ralph and Suzie got caught while
sunning themselves in their beach-wear by that sudden snow-squall...
fortunately there's not much a little hot tea with honey and tickets to a
September Red Sox/Yankees game won't fix.
But before they got caught by the sudden weather change, they finished
putting together a new "Just Catalogued" page which we have now thawed
out, dried off, and just posted on the website-
This time we have a selection of art and antique-related books, including
silver, jewelry, ceramics, glass, some forgery-related items including
some on the Thomas J. Wise forgeries, and more!
Also, don't forget that our new printed catalog- "(Almost) Ready for
Spring" is now available. If you would like a free copy, please send us
your mailing address.
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To finish off today, I have a short story about collecting from Thurman
Hood's 1933 book "Letters of Robert Browning, Collected by Thomas J.
Wise". I came across this story about Wise's lust for the rare Browning
pamphlet "Pauline" while cataloging our copy of Wise's 1886 reprint of the
pamphlet. Wise, a noted bookseller, bibliographer and eventually a famous
forger of "Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets" was a huge Browning fan.
"Mr. Wise was a young worshipper at the great man's shrine. He soon became
a friend, and, as a member of the Browning Society, often called on Sunday
afternoons... Mr. Wise has served as central treasurer of Browning lore,
the untiring helper of Browning biographers and scholars."
He goes on-
"In the year 1884 Mr. Wise first met Robert Browning; and one of his
visits to the poet was an exciting one. Dr. Furnivall, a friend of both,
went along with him to 19, Warwick Crescent. Browning was in a front room
on the ground floor destroying letters and papers. He had dragged from the
top of the house an old leather trunk that had once belonged to his
father, and was dipping into it. Mr. Wise, to his horror, saw letters of
Carlyle go into the fire and a lot of Browning's own early verses... Out
from the old trunk came two precious copies of the original edition of
'Pauline'. 'If I had asked Browning for one of them I am convinced he
would have given it to me,' Mr. Wise has declared. 'But I let the chance
"On leaving the Browning house, he told Dr. Furnivall how keen he was to
get the book. The good Furnivall was amused at the thrill his friend had
got at a glimpse of such a prize in duplicate. 'Write to Browning,' he
said, 'and ask him for one of the copies. Offer in return to give to a
charity any sum he thinks just'.
"Delicacy held back Thomas J. Wise, but the story does not end here. A few
days later, James Dykes Campbell invited him to dine at his flat in Albert
Hall Mansions. Browning was the only other guest. After dinner Mr. Wise
and his host sat and smoked, while Browning, who did not smoke, was making
a leisurely tour of the bookshelves of the room. 'I see you have
everything here of mine,' he said to Campbell. 'No,' replied Campbell, 'I
still lack "Pauline".' 'Oh, that gap can soon be filled!' exclaimed
Browning. 'The other morning I came across two copies of it. One of them
will be sent to you tomorrow'. Here again was a god-sent chance for Mr.
Wise to ask for the other. But again he let it slip.
"Next day, after much wrestling of spirit, he took Dr. Furnivall's advice
and wrote to Robert Browning. But he was too late. Browning had already
decided to give the other copy to his son."
Mr. Wise did eventually get his copy of Pauline after a long hunt, and for
a considerable price. Browning inscribed it for him-
"I see with much interest this little book, the original publication of
which can hardly have cost more than has been expended on a single copy by
its munificent Proprietor and my friend -Mr. Wise"
and, luckily enough, we have a copy of Wise's 1886 reprint of the pamphlet
on our Just Catalogued page-
JOSLIN HALL RARE BOOKS, ABAA
Fine books of the 16th-20th centuries
Post Office Box 516
Concord, Massachusetts 01742 USA
telephone (617) 492-5367
email <office at joslinhall.com>;
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