Not Peevish

How to OpenI was accused recently of having been a little peevish in certain recent posts here on the blog.  Well, quite possibly, although I’d prefer to be labelled with a full-on “grumpy” or a dyspeptic “tetchy”  than a merely petulant-sounding “peevish”. Some booksellers do let the side down badly with their cataloguing and cribbing from each other, but in the spirit of the season my twelve-page rant about nonsensical and non-existent issue points on the first edition of “Dombey & Son” will remain largely unwritten.  At least the naming and shaming part.   Suffice it to say that internet booksellers (and there are many) who think that the depiction of Captain Cuttle’s hook on the wrong (left) arm in the title-page vignette is the mark of some mythical first issue are bibliographically in the zombie class.  Has anyone ever seen a copy where the hook is on the right (right) arm?  Anywhere?  At any time?  Ever?   Captain CuttleWithout recourse to trick photography, show me if you have.  And while we are at it, show me a copy of the first edition that doesn’t read “aint” for “ain’t” on page 14; show me a copy that doesn’t have the spelling “fidgetty” on page 26; show me a copy that doesn’t read “Delight” for “Joy” on page 284 – these aren’t even points, let alone issue points.  There are only four genuine variations in the text of “Dombey” – and no-one has ever adduced any evidence whatsoever that even these have any significance at all in establishing a sequence of issue.  Prove to me that the dropped “if”, the spelling “capatin”, or the missing page number pre-date anything else you might find and were corrected in a second issue.   Where is the evidence? There is none.  Because it really rankles when this kind of gibberish costs me a sale, which it sometimes does and did very recently.  Peevish?  I’m downright cantankerous, testy, crabby, crotchety, grouchy, fractious and disagreeable.

Bottom of the class and detentions all round for those guilty of the Captain Cuttle howler.  Time all round to get out our “ABC for Book Collectors” and read again what it says about issues, states, points, issue-mongers and point-maniacs – and specifically in the case of Dombey what it says about “balls” and “dropped letters and numerals”.  And read it again and again and again until we understand it.  And here, especially for those in detention, is a basic lesson on how to open a book (Kindle-users may also find this useful).

Ella Iris OK – seasonal bah-humbug bit out of the way, and let me tell you why I am actually as far from peevish as a man of a certain age can ever reasonably get.  Our family life has been gloriously enriched by the birth of our first grandchild – here she is, the utterly captivating Miss Ella Iris Worms.  Jessamy & EllaAnd then on top of that the total surprise of the wholly unexpected arrival home for Christmas of our prodigal Australian daughter – and here they are, aunt and niece together.  Joy unconfined here at Tooting Towers.  A very Merry Christmas to you all and all your families.

About Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

Laurence Worms has owned and run Ash Rare Books since 1971. He represented the antiquarian book trade on the (British) National Book Committee from 1993 to 2002 and has been six times an elected member of the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. He was largely responsible for drafting the Association’s Code of Good Practice first introduced in 1997 (and its recent update), served as Honorary Secretary of the Association from 1998 to 2001 and as President from 2011 to 2013. He is a former member of the Council of the Bibliographical Society and continues to serve on the Council of the London Topographical Society. He writes and lectures on various aspects of the history of the book and map trades, and has lectured at the universities of Cambridge, London, Reading and Sheffield, as well as at the Bibliographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the Warburg Institute, the National Library of Scotland and at Gresham College and Stationers' Hall. Published work includes the compilation of fourteen ‘lives’ for the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography”, a number of articles for “The Oxford Companion to the Book” and the chapter on early English maps and atlases for the fourth volume of “The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain”. Essays on the British map trade are also appearing in “The History of Cartography” published by the University of Chicago Press. His long-awaited “British Map Engravers”, co-written with Ashley Baynton-Williams, was published to critical acclaim in 2011. He also contributed the numerous biographical notes to Peter Barber’s hugely successful “London : A History in Maps”, co-published by the British Library and the London Topographical Society in 2012.
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