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Title: The Confessions of a Collector
Author: Hazlitt, William Carew, 1834-1913
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Page 192, for _Anderton_ read _Anderson_.








    My Antecedents--How and Whence the Passion came to Me--My
    Father's People--And My Mother's--My Uncle--His Genuine
    Feeling for what was Old and Curious--A Disciple of Charles
    Lamb--Books My First Love--My Courtship of Them under My
    Father's Roof--My Clandestine Acquisitions--A Small
    Bibliographical Romance--My Uncle as a Collector--Some of
    His Treasures--His Choice, and how He differed from My
    Father--An Adventure of the Latter at a Bookstall--
    Bargains--The Author moralises upon Them--A New View--I
    begin to be a Bibliographer--Venice strikes My Fancy as a
    Subject for Treatment--My Want of Acquaintance with It--Mr
    Quaritch and Mr Ruskin do not encourage Me--I resolve to
    proceed--I teach Myself what was Requisite to enable Me to
    do so--Some of My Experiences--Molini the Elder--The London
    Library Forty Years Ago--What became of My Collections for
    the Work--Preparing for Another and Greater Scheme,                  1


    I survey the Ground before I start--I contemplate a New
    British Bibliography--Richard Heber--His Extraordinary
    Acquirements--His Vast Library--His Manuscript Notes in the
    Books--A High Estimate of Heber as a Scholar and a Reader--
    He eclipses all Other Collectors at Home and Abroad--A
    Sample or so of His Flyleaf Memoranda--A Few very
    Interesting Books noticed--A _Historiette_--Anecdotes of
    Some Bargains and Discoveries by Him and His
    Contemporaries--The _Phoenix Nest_ at Sion College--
    Marlowe's _Dido_--Mystery connected with the Library at Lee
    Priory--The Oldest Collections of English Plays--A Little
    Note about Lovelace--Heber's Generosity as a Lender--His
    Kindness to Dyce--Fate of His Rarest Books--How He obtained
    some of Them--The Daniel Ballads and Their True History--
    Result of a Study of _Heber's Catalogue_ and other Sources
    of Knowledge--The _Handbook_ appears--Mr Frederick Harrison
    and Sir Walter Besant pay Me Compliments,                           19


    The _Handbook_ of 1867 and Its Fruits--Mr Henry Huth--His
    Beneficial Influence on My Bibliographical Labours--He
    invites Me to co-operate in the Formation of His Library--I
    edit Books for Him--He declines to entertain the Notion of
    a Librarian--My Advantages and Risks--A Few Heavy Plunges--
    A _Barnaby's Journal_--A _Book of Hours of the Virgin_--The
    Butler MSS.--Archbishop Laud--Montaigne--Mr Huth answerable
    for My Conversion into a Speculator--The Immense Value of
    the Departure to My Progress as a Bibliographer--A Caxton
    from the Country--Why I had to pay so Much for It--Mr
    Huth's Preferences--His _Americana_--Deficiencies of His
    Library gradually supplied--His Dramatic Series--Beaumont
    and Fletcher and Ben Jonson--Mr Huth a Linguist and a
    Scholar--His First Important Purchase--Contrasted with
    Heber--The Drawer at Mr Quaritch's kept for Mr Huth--His
    Uncertainty or Caprice explained by Himself--His Failing
    Health becomes an Obstacle--The Fancy a Personal One,               41


    Literary Results of My Acquaintance with Mr Huth--The New
    _Bibliography_ in Progress, and the 1867 Book gradually
    superseded--Some Other Literary Acquaintances--George
    Daniel--John Payne Collier and Frederic Ouvry, His
    Son-in-Law--The Millers of Craigentinny--'Inch-rule'
    Miller--He purchases at the Heber Sale by Cartloads--My
    Efforts to procure Particulars of all the Rare Books at
    Britwell--I let Mr Christie-Miller have One or Two Items--
    An Anecdote--Mr Miller's London House formerly Samuel
    Rogers's--His Son--Where They are all buried--The Rev.
    Thomas Corser--His Fine Library--What It cost and what It
    fetched--His Difficulties in Forming It--Whither Much of It
    went--My Exploits at the Sale--Description of the House
    where the Books were kept--Mr Corser's Peculiar Interest in
    My Eyes--His Personal Character--The Sad Change in the Book
    Market since Corser's Day--Mr Samuel Sanders--A Curious
    Incident--Mr Cosens, Mr Turner and Mr Lawrence--Their
    Characteristics--Some Account of Mr Cosens as He gave It to
    Me--His Line of Collecting--My Assistance requested--A Few
    of His Principal Acquisitions and Their Subsequent
    Fortunes--Frederic Locker--His Idiosyncrasies--His Want of
    Judgment--His _Confidences_,                                        57


    Mr Henry Pyne--His Ideas as a Collector, and My Intercourse
    with Him--His Office One of My Regular Lounges--His
    Willingness to Part with Certain Books--I buy a Pig in a
    Poke, and It turns out well--Mr Pyne's Sale--A Frost--I buy
    All the Best Lots for a Trifle--The Volume of _Occasional
    Forms of Prayer_ and Its History--Pyne's Personal Career
    and Relations--His Investigation of the Affairs of a Noble
    Family--The Booksellers--Joseph Lily--His Sale--His
    Services to Mr Huth--The Daniel Books in 1864--Daniel's
    Flyleaf Fibs--The Event an Extraordinary _Coup_--The Napier
    First Folio Shakespear knocked down and out at £151--Why
    some Books are Dear without being Very Rare--F. S. Ellis
    and the Corser Sale--My Successful Tactics--He lends me Sir
    F. Freeling's Interleaved _Bibliotheca Anglo-poetica_               73


    My Transactions with Mr Ellis--Rarities which came from
    Him, and how He got Them--Riviere the Bookbinder--How He
    cleaned a Valuable Volume for Me--His Irritability--A
    Strange Tale about an Unique Tract--The Old Gentleman and
    the Immoral Publication--Dryden's Copy of Spenser--The
    Unlucky _Contretemps_ at Ellis's--A Second Somewhere Else--
    Mr B. M. Pickering--Our Pleasant and Profitable Relations--
    Thomas Fuller's MSS. Epigrams--Charles Cotton's Copy of
    Taylor the Water-Poet's Works--A Second One, which
    Pickering had, and sold to Me--He has a First Edition of
    _Paradise Lost_ from Me for Two Guineas and a Half--
    Taylor's Thumb Bible,                                               93


    Mr John Pearson--Origin of Our Connection--His Appreciable
    Value to Me--He assists, through Me, in Completing the Huth
    Library--Lovelace's _Lucasta_--The Turbervile--The
    Imperfect Chaucer--The Copy of Ruskin's Poems at Reading--
    The Walton's _Angler_--Locker and Pearson--James Toovey--
    Curious Incident in Connection with Sir Thomas Phillipps--
    Willis & Sotheran--Two Unique Cookery Books--Only Just in
    Time--The Caxton's _Game and Play of the Chess_--A Valuable
    Haul from the West of England--A Reverend Gentleman's MSS.
    _Diaries of Travel_--The Wallers--Lamb's _Tales from
    Shakespear_, 1807--The Folio MS. of Edmond Waller's Poems--
    An Unique Book of Verse--A Rare American Item--The
    Rimells--I take from Them and sell to Them--Some Notable
    _Americana_--The Walfords--An Unique Tract by Taylor the
    Water Poet--John Russell Smith and His Son--My Numerous
    Transactions with the Latter--Another Unknown Taylor--John
    Camden Hotten--I sift His Stores in Piccadilly--The Bunyan
    Volume from Cornwall--John Salkeld--My Expedition to His
    Shop on a Sunday Night, and Its Fruit--A Rather Ticklish
    Adventure or Two--Messrs Jarvis & Son--My Finds There--King
    James I.'s Copy of Charron, dedicated to Prince Henry--The
    Unknown Fishmongers' Pageant for 1590--The Long-Lost
    English Version of Henryson's _Æsop_, 1577,                        108


    Messrs Reeves & Turner--My Literary Work for the Firm--My
    Advantageous Acquisitions Here--Cheap Rates at which Rare
    Books were Formerly Obtainable--The Large Turn-over of the
    Business--Wake of Cockermouth--An Unique Wynkyn de Worde--A
    Supposed Undescribed Shakespear in a House-Sale at Bognor--
    Tom Arthur--The Wynkyn de Worde, which I secured for
    Another Shilling--Arthur and Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle
    Hill--The Bristol Book Shops--Lodge's _Rosalynd_, 1592--Mr
    Elliot Stock--My Literary Work for Him--One Volume
    Unexpectedly Productive--Mr Henry Stopes--My Recovery for
    Him of a Sarum Breviary, which belonged to an Ancestor in
    Queen Mary's Days--His Wife's Family and Sir Walter Scott--
    A Canterbury Correspondent and His Benefits--Two More
    Uniques--A Singular Recovery from New York--Casual Strokes
    of Good Luck in the Provinces--The Wynkyn de Worde at
    Wrexham--A _Trouvaille_ in the Haymarket--Books with
    Autographs and Inscriptions--A Few Words about Booksellers
    and Publishers,                                                    128


    At the Auction-Rooms--Their Changeable Temperature--My
    Finds in Wellington Street--Certain Conclusions as to the
    Rarity of Old English Books--Curiosities of Cataloguing and
    Stray Lots--A Little Ipswich Recovery--A Narrow Escape for
    some Very Rare Volumes in 1865--A Few Remarkable Instances
    of Good Fortune for Me--Not for Others--Three Very Severe
    'Frosts'--A Great Boom--Sir John Fenn's Wonderful Books at
    last brought to Light--An Odd Circumstance about One of
    Them--The Writer moralises--A Couple of Imperfect Caxtons
    bring £2900--The Gentlemen behind the Scene and Those at
    the Table--Books converted into _Vertu_--My Intervention on
    One or Two Occasions--The Auctioneers' World--The
    'Settlement' Principle--My Confidence in Sotheby's as
    Commission Agents--My Three _Sir Richard Whittingtons_--_A
    Reductio ad Absurdum_--The House in Leicester Square and
    Its Benefactions in My Favour--Change from the Old Days--
    Unique A.B.C.'s and Other Early School Books--the Somers
    Tracts--Mr Quaritch and His Bibliographical Services to
    Me--His Independence of Character--The British Museum--My
    Resort to It for My Venetian Studies Forty Years Ago--The
    Sources of Supply in the Printed Book Department--My Later
    Attitude toward It as a Bibliographer--The Vellum
    Monstrelet and Its True History--Bookbinders--Leighton,
    Riviere, Bedford, Pratt--Horrible Sight which I witnessed
    at a Binder's--My Publishers--Dodsley's Old Plays--My Book
    on the Livery Companies of London--Presentation-Copies,            150


    As an Amateur--Old China--Dr Diamond of Twickenham--
    Unfavourable Results of His Tutorship--My Adventure at
    Lowestoft--Alderman Rose--I turn over a New Leaf--Morgan--
    His Sale to Me of Various Objects--The Seventeenth Century
    Dishes--The Sèvres Tray of 1773--The Pair of Japanese
    Dishes--Blue and White--Hawthorn--The Odd Vase--My Finds at
    Hammersmith--Mr Sanders of Chiswick and his Chelsea China--
    Gale--The Ruby-backed Eggshell--A Recollection of Ralph
    Bernal--Buen Retiro and Capo di Monte--Reynolds of Hart
    Street--The Wedgewood Teapot--The _Rose du Barri_ Vases--My
    Bowls--An Eccentric Character and His Treasures--
    Reminiscences of Midhurst and Up Park--The Zurich Jug and
    My Zurich Visitor--The Diamond Sale,                               188


    The Stamp Book--A Passing Taste--Dr Diamond again--An
    Establishment in the Strand--My Partiality for Lounging--
    One of My Haunts and Its Other Visitors--Our Entertainer
    Himself--His Principals Abroad--The _Cinque Cento_ Medal--
    Canon Greenwell--Mr Montagu--Story of a Dutch Priest--My
    Experience of Pictures--The Stray Portrait recovered after
    Many Years--The Two Wilson Landscapes--Sir Joshua's
    Portrait of Richard Burke--Hazlitt's Likeness of Lamb--The
    Picture Market and Some of Its Incidence--Story of a
    Painting--Plate--The Rat-tailed Spoon--Dr Diamond smitten--
    The Hogarth Salver--The Edmund Bury Godfrey and
    Blacksmiths' Cups--Irish Plate--Danger of Repairing or
    Cleaning Old Silver--The City Companies' Plate,                    215


    Coins--Origin of My Feeling for Them--Humble Commencement--
    Groping in the Dark--My Scanty Means and Equally Scanty
    Knowledge, but Immense Enthusiasm and Inflexibility of
    Purpose--The Maiden Acquisition Sold for Sixteenpence--The
    Two Earliest Pieces of the New Departure--To whom I first
    went--Continuity of Purchases in All Classes--Visit to
    Italy (1883)--My Eyes gradually opened--Count Papadopoli
    and Other Numismatic Authorities--My Sketch of the Coins of
    Venice published (1884)--Casual Additions to the Collection
    and Curious Adventures--Singular Illusions of the
    Inexperienced--Anecdotes of a Relative--Two Wild
    Money-Changers Tamed--Captain Hudson--The Auction-Thief--A
    Small Joke to be pardoned,                                         235


    My Principal Furnishers--Influence of Early Training on My
    Taste--Rejection of Inferior Examples an Invaluable
    Safeguard--I outgrow My First Instructors--Necessity for
    Emancipation from a Single Source of Supply--Mr Schulman of
    Amersfoort--His Influential Share in Amplifying My
    Numismatic Stores--My Visit to Him--The Rare _Daalder_ of
    Louis Napoleon, King of Holland--My Adventures at Utrecht
    and Brussels--Flattering Confidence--In the Open Market--
    Schulman's Catalogues--MM. Rollin & Feuardent--Their
    English Representative--Courtesy and Kindness to the
    Writer--Occasional Purchases--The Late Mr Montagu--
    Discussion about an Athenian Gold _Stater_--An Atmospheric
    Experiment--My Manifold Obligations to Mr Whelan--Mr
    Cockburn of Richmond allows Me to select from His English
    Collection--I forestall Mr Montagu--Messrs Spink & Son--
    Their Prominent Rank and Cordial Espousal of My Interests
    and Wants--Development of My Cabinet under Their Auspices--
    My Agreeable Relations with Them--Their Business-like
    Policy, Liberality and Independence--The Prince of Naples--
    We give and take a Little--The Monthly _Numismatic
    Circular_--The Clerical Client,                                    257


    The Coin Sales--My Stealthy Accumulations from Some of
    Them--Comparative Advantages of Large and Small Sales--The
    Disappointment over One at Genoa--The Boyne Sale--Its
    Meagre Proportion of Fine Pieces--My Comfort, and what came
    to Me--Narrow Escape of the Collection from Sacrifice to a
    Foreign Combination--Trade Sales Abroad--A New Departure--
    Considerations on Poorly-Preserved Coins--I resign Them to
    the Learned--I have to Classify by Countries and Their
    Divisions--My Personal Appurtenances--Suggestions which may
    be Useful to Others--The Great Bactrian Discovery--Extent
    of Representative Collections of Ancient Money--Antony and
    Cleopatra--Adherence to My own Fixed and Deliberate Plan--
    The Argument to be used by Any One following in My
    Footsteps--Advice of an Old Collector to a New One,                284


    Literary Direction given to My Numismatic Studies and
    Choice--The Wallenstein Thaler--The Good Caliph Haroun El
    Reschid--Some of the Twelve Peers of France who struck
    Money--Lorenzo de' Medici, called _The Magnificent_--Robert
    the Devil--Alfred the Great--Harold--The Empress Matilda--
    Marino Faliero--Massaniello--The Technist thinks poorly of
    Me--My Plea for the Human, Educating Interest in Coins--The
    Penny Box now and then makes a Real Collector--How I threw
    Myself _in Medias Res_--First Impressions of the Greek
    Series--My Difficulty in Apprehending Facts--Early
    Illusions gradually dissipated--What Constitutes a Typical
    Greek and Roman Cabinet--And what renders Great Collections
    Great--Redundance in Certain Cases defended--Official
    Authorities except to My Treatment of the Subject--Tom
    Tidler's Ground--The Technical _versus_ the Vital and
    Substantial Interest in Coins--My Width of Sympathy
    Beneficial to Myself and likely to prove so to My
    Followers--Outline and Distribution of My Collection--
    Autotype Replicas and Forgeries--Romantic Evolution of
    Bactrian Coinage and History--Caution to My
    Fellow-Collectors against Excessive Prices for Greek
    Coins--Wait and Watch--Mr Hyman Montagu and His Roman Gold,
    and the Moral--The Best Coins not the Dearest--Our National
    Series--Its Susceptibility to Eclectic Treatment--A
    Whimsical Speculation--An Untechnical Method of Looking at
    a Coin--A Burst Bubble--The Continental Currencies--Their
    Clear Superiority of Interest and Instructive Power--The
    Writer's Attitude toward Them,                                     304


    The Question of Condition considered More at Large--How One
    most Forcibly Realises Its Importance and Value--Limited
    Survival of Ancient Coins in Fine State--Practical Tests at
    Home and Abroad--Lower Standard in Public Institutions and
    the Cause--Only Three Collectors on My Lines besides
    Myself--The Romance of the Shepherd Sale--Its Confirmation
    of My Views--Small Proportion of Genuine Amateurs in the
    Coin-Market--Fastidious Buyers not very Serviceable to the
    Trade--An Anecdote by the Way--The Eye for State more
    Educated in England than Abroad--American Feeling and
    Culture--What will Rare Old Coins bring, when the Knowledge
    of Them is more developed?--The Ladies stop the Way--
    Continental Indifference to Condition--Difficulties
    attendant on Ordering from Foreign Catalogues--Contrast
    between Them and Our Own--_D'une Beauté Excessive_--
    Condition a Relative Term--Its Dependence on
    circumstances--Words of Counsel--Final Conclusions--Do I
    regret having become a Collector?--My Mistakes,                    331

Confessions of a Collector


    My Antecedents--How and Whence the Passion came to Me--My Father's
    People--And My Mother's--My Uncle--His Genuine Feeling for what was
    Old and Curious--A Disciple of Charles Lamb--Books My First Love--My
    Courtship of Them under My Father's Roof--My Clandestine
    Acquisitions--A Small Bibliographical Romance--My Uncle as a
    Collector--Some of His Treasures--His Choice, and how He differed from
    My Father--An Adventure of the Latter at a Bookstall--Bargains--The
    Author moralises upon Them--A New View--I begin to be a
    Bibliographer--Venice strikes My Fancy as a Subject for Treatment--My
    Want of Acquaintance with It--Mr Quaritch and Mr Ruskin do not
    encourage Me--I resolve to proceed--I teach Myself what was Requisite
    to enable Me to do so--Some of My Experiences--Molini the Elder--The
    London Library Forty Years Ago--What became of My Collections for the
    Work--Preparing for Another and Greater Scheme.

When one makes in later life some sort of figure as a collector, it may
become natural to consider to what favouring circumstances the entrance on
the pursuit or pursuits was due. In the present case those circumstances
were slight and trivial enough. Although I belonged to a literary family,
none of my ancestors had been smitten by the bibliomania or other cognate
passion, simply because at first our resources were of the most limited
character, and my grandfather was a man of letters and nothing more. He
was without that strange, inexplicable cacoethes, which leads so many to
gather together objects of art and curiosities on no definite principle or
plea throughout their lives, to be scattered again when they depart, and
taken up into their bookcases or cabinets by a new generation. This
process, broadly speaking, has been in operation thousands of years. It is
an inborn and indestructible human trait.

The earliest vestige of a feeling for books among us is unconnected with
Collecting as a passion. My great-grandfather, the Presbyterian or
Congregational minister, had his shelf or two of volumes, mostly of a
professional cast. We hear of the _Fratres Poloni_, five stupendous
folios, brimful of erudition--books which seem, to our more frivolous and
superficial and hurrying age, better suited to occupy a niche in a museum
as a monumental testimony to departed scholarship--books, alas! which
those blind instruments of the revolutionary spirit of change, the paper
mill and the fire, draw day by day nearer to canonisation in a few
inviolable resting-places, as in sanctuaries dedicated to the holy dead.
They will enter on a new and more odorous life: we shall look awfully upon
them as upon literary petrifactions, which to bygone ages were living and
speaking things.

The Rev. W. Hazlitt was, nevertheless, a man of unusually generous
sympathies for his time and his cloth; he could relish secular as well as
sacred literature, and his distinguished son thought better of him as a
letter-writer than as a preacher. But neither engaged in the pursuit of
books otherwise than as practical objects of study or entertainment. There
was nothing 'hobby-horsical,' to borrow Coleridge's expression, about the
matter. Hazlitt himself secured, as he tells us, stall copies of favourite
books or pamphlets, devoured the contents, and then probably cast them
aside. This I take to have been Shakespear's plan. I cannot believe the
great poet to have been a bibliophile like Jonson. He merely recognised in
other men's work material or suggestion for his own.

I conclude that with my father and the Scotish blood of his maternal
progenitors, the Stoddarts and Moncrieffs, a certain share of taste for
antiquities, or, at any rate, for memorials of the past in a literary
shape, was inherited by the Hazlitts. My immediate paternal ancestor, the
late Mr Registrar Hazlitt, undoubtedly possessed a strong instinctive
disposition to form around him a collection of books. He was emphatically
acquisitive almost to the last; and had he been a richer man, he would
probably have left behind him a fairly good and extensive library. My
father was deficient in knowledge and insight--I might add, in judgment.
He bought the wrong copies, or he allowed the right ones to be massacred
by a pagan binder; but he was a book-lover. The nucleus of his collection
had been a set of Hazlitt's works, a few volumes given to him by Miss Lamb
and others, and, of course, his own publications.

His alliance by marriage to the Reynells introduced another stage in our
bibliographical evolution. My mother's brother, Mr Charles Weatherby
Reynell, of whom I have so much to say elsewhere, was not only a
book-buyer on a modest scale, but a gentleman with a vague, undefined
liking for anything which struck him as quaint and curious--a coin, a
piece of china, a picture, a bit of old painted glass, a Chippendale
chair--it hardly signified what it was; but books had the first place, I
think, in his heart, and he knew a good deal about such as he had
purchased, and thought a good deal about them too, albeit they were, as
copies, hardly calculated for the meridian of the fastidious connoisseur.
In short, my relative was a disciple of the Lamb school; he selected for
merit rather than condition, and his _petite bibliothéque_ was part of his
very being.

My father and Mr Reynell may be regarded as my bibliographical and
archæological sponsors, and they have to answer for a good deal. Instead
of becoming a distinguished civil servant, a prosperous trader, or a
successful professional man, they contributed, I maintain, to mould me
into what I was and am--a bibliographer, a collector, an antiquary.

Books, as they were my father's only, and my uncle's chief, paramours,
were my first love. My father often laid out money on them, when I am now
sure that he could ill afford it, and when the hour of pressure arrived,
it was the books to which we had to bid farewell. How many I have seen
come and go, while I was a boy under my father's roof--successive copies
of the same favourite work, or little lots of different volumes. Stibbs's,
opposite Somerset House, and next door to the _Morning Chronicle_ office,
is almost the earliest shop of the kind which I remember; a second was
William Brown's, originally on the same premises. These two establishments
witnessed the flux and reflux of many a brown paper parcel sent home in a
moment of impulse, and launched on its backward voyage at a lower
quotation in some financial dilemma--a contingency too frequent in the
days before relief arrived in the shape of an official post.

I am haunted in all my maturer life by a feeling of remorse, that on two
or three occasions I was betrayed into making foolish investments on my
own authority, when neither my father nor myself could properly defray the
expense. But the _lues_ which was, in due course, to assume such enlarged
dominion over me, and to branch into so many channels, was already an
active agency; and my visits to the shop in the Strand, kept by Mr Brown,
bore mischievous fruit in one instance at all events, when I secured for
24s. a set of Singer's _Select Early English Poets_, in boards, uncut. My
father was terribly concerned, not knowing where this sort of fancy was
likely to end; but he recognised, perhaps, his own teaching, and
eventually the Singer was bound by Leighton in half-blue morocco. It was a
beautiful little set, I thought, and brand-new in its fresh livery. The
day came when we had to say good-bye to it--not to it alone; and I should
have wished never to behold it again. I did, however; I met with it at an
auction; it was faded, thumbed, disreputable. I had not the courage to
touch it; it was no longer mine. I mused as I left the place upon its
career and its destiny, and it made me really sad.

I have spoken of Mr Reynell as one of my teachers or masters. He was a
person who had a genuine love for our older literature, and enjoyed even
better opportunities than my father of indulging it. But his purchases
were sparing and desultory, and he never attained any distinction as a
collector. He had not studied the subject, and he never became wealthy
enough to secure the services of competent advisers. In fact, his want of
knowledge rendered him distrustful of counsel. The result was that he
accumulated, during a very prolonged life, a singular assemblage of
nondescript property, of which the really valuable proportion was
infinitesimal. It was perfectly fortuitous, that he had picked up an
exceedingly rare _Psalter_, in rather ragged state, for 25s., which at his
sale, a year or two back, Mr Quaritch deemed worth £24, and a folio _Roman
de la Rose_, which fetched a good price, and cost him the same moderate
sum. As a rule, he invariably, from want of training and fine instinct,
bought the wrong article, or, if the right one, in the wrong condition. He
had not the eye of George Daniel, R. S. Turner, or Henry Huth, for form
and fitness. Yet he was my instructor in a degree and a sense, and many
delightful talks we have had about old books, which one or the other of us
had seen or admired. He always listened with interest to my stories of
adventures up and down the book-world, of which some are reserved for a
future chapter; but he felt his inability, I concluded, to enter into the
field with stronger competitors, and he usually returned to the
contemplation of his own humble appurtenances with a sense of contentment,
if not of superiority.

He was totally different from my father in his ideas about books. He did
not, in general, care for the modern side, unless it was a first edition
of his life-long friend Leigh Hunt, of Hazlitt, or of some other author to
whom he was personally attached. On the contrary, my father never
cultivated the older editions or original copies. The best standard text
was his line. I had from him a little anecdote which shews him in the
light of a book-hunter; but then it was for an immediate and isolated
literary purpose. While he was engaged about 1840 in editing the works of
Defoe, he tried to procure a copy of the _Account of the Apparition of Mrs
Veal_, and went, among other likely resorts, to Baker of Old Street, St
Luke's. That individual derided the notion of finding such a rarity; and
my father, turning away, cast an eye on Baker's twopenny box outside.
There what should he disinter but the identical pamphlet, and he takes
twopence out of his pocket, which he hands to the boy, and puts the prize
into it, which he carries home in triumph. It was the only bargain of
which I ever heard him speak. He was not that way built. I sometimes wish
that my experiences had not been infinitely more numerous.

The seeking and winning of bargains constitute an attractive pursuit and
an equally attractive topic. You have the power of regaling your less
fortunate or unpractical acquaintances with the strange chances, which
enabled you to become the master for a trifle of such and such treasures
and you gain confidence in your continued good fortune,--

  'When a fool finds a horse-shoe,
  He thinks aye the like to do.'

It has sometimes appeared to me, however, that the general public looks
with modified respect on this class of venture, more especially as it does
not share the profits; and what is absolutely certain is, that the whole
system of treating literature from a commercial point of view is narrowing
and lowering, and tends to harden, if not to extinguish, that fine
sensibility which is proper to the bibliophile. Since I was led by a union
of circumstances to look upon rare books as a source of advantage, I have
grown sensible of a change for the worse in my nature; yet, I think, only
so far as the bare ownership is concerned. The volumes which I loved as a
younger man are still dear to me; I keep them in my mind's eye; they
stand in no peril at my hands of being degraded into _goods_ or _stuff_; I
do not hold them, because the outlay or capital which they represent is
far more than I can afford to lock up; and in the nature of things I have
to content myself with being the recipient of the difference, if not of
feeling, that I appreciate the book and know its history better than the
man to whom it passes from me.

I should be truly ashamed if I had to confess that with the actual
proprietary interest in the literary or bibliographical rarities which I
have had through my hands during the last forty years my substantial
affection for the subject-matter and the authors began and ended.
Thousands of precious volumes, which might be mine, if I had been
otherwise situated, are merely as a question of form and pecuniary
arrangement in the British Museum, in the Bodleian, or in some private
library; they are one and all before me at any moment, when I choose to
summon them. I remember how they are bound, and the story which each
tells; but they are in the keeping of others. Should I be happier, were
they in mine?

My father was one of the oldest members of the London Library in St
James's Square, and I long availed myself of his ticket to frequent and
use that highly valuable institution. I consider that this circumstance
tended importantly to stimulate and confirm my natural bookish propensity.
For whatever besides I have been and am, my central interest, as well as
claim to public consideration, is associable with the cause of our earlier
vernacular literature. I shall be able to demonstrate with tolerable
clearness by-and-by that I have through my quiet, and in a manner
uneventful, career busied myself with several other topics, not to mention
those which lie outside such an undertaking as the present; but my friends
seem to have agreed that it is as a bibliographer that I most distinctly
and emphatically pose. I shall argue that point no further.

What is more relevant is that at the London Library I met with Smedley's
_Sketches from Venetian History_, which I perused with enjoyment as a
novice, and that this acquaintance led to others and to an exchange of
ideas with people about the subject and its position in English
literature. With no resources of my own, and with very slight aid from my
father, I set to work and collected material. My imperfect knowledge of
languages was a stumbling block. When I waited on Mr Quaritch in Castle
Street and laid bare my ignorance of Italian by asking for Cicognara's
work on _Fabrics_ instead of _Buildings_, that distinguished personage
tellingly reproved me by suggesting that the first thing for me to do was
to learn Italian.

My perseverance, however, was indomitable. I had set my heart on writing
about Venice. It was enough. I did not, as Mr Quaritch observed, know much
about Italian. I had never seen the place. When I wrote to Mr Ruskin
respectfully soliciting helpful suggestions, he left my letter unanswered.
What could be done? Why, I borrowed the few works which were to be found
at our library, bought some which were not, and for others I sent to Italy
through Molini. I taught myself French and Italian, and the Venetian
dialect. I studied all the views of the city which I could find, and I
brought out my first rough draft in 1857, when I was three-and-twenty.

An amusing illustration of my early faculty of inspiring confidence in the
minds of those with whom I dealt was afforded by the perfect trust of
Molini in my solvency and his unwillingness to allow my father any credit,
while the latter actually discharged both my obligations and his own. The
elder Molini was himself of Venetian origin, and of a family which gave
more than one Doge to the Republic; he always impressed my fancy as the
ideal of a decayed Italian grandee. Not only his appearance, but his
deportment, was that of a gentleman. He served me excellently well; but
true it is that, in spite of his ducal ancestry and exalted traditions,
there was the Lombard beneath and not far from the surface. The
representative of Doges, this sovereign prince by inheritance and blood,
was the only man who ever charged me interest on an overdue account.

As to my book, it is familiar enough that it was reprinted in 1860 by
Messrs Smith, Elder & Co., and is viewed as the standard English work on
the subject, so far as it goes. But I contemplate a third and greatly
improved edition, which will carry the narrative to the end. My
collections for the task are now in the library, to which I partly gave,
and partly sold, them a generation since. They included a copy of the much
overestimated _Squittinio della Liberta Veneta_, published at Mirandola in

There are very few now living who recollect, as I do, the library as it
originally appeared, when Mr Cochrane was curator, and the institution
occupied only the upper part of the house in the Square. I was not a
personal subscriber till 1869; but I had the complete range of the shelves
_jure patris_, and my loan of an unlimited number of books for an
unlimited term was never called in question. I have kept volumes at our
house for three years uninterruptedly. In those days there were fewer
members, and the demand for the class of publications which I required was
extremely limited.

One of the staff at the library, a subordinate dignitary, used to dabble a
little in books on his own account, and occasionally offered me his
purchases. I think that his more distinguished colleagues gradually
learned to do the same. But the first-indicated individual, I remember
very well, once had on sale a set of fourteen volumes of some neglected
publication, for which he submitted a proposal of eighteenpence. He
resided at Hammersmith, while I was at Kensington, and I am sure that I do
not exaggerate when I say that he carried this merchandise half a dozen
times between his abode and St James's Square before I agreed to take the
lot off his hands. I thought of Corporal Nym and the lute-case.

I was even now beginning to be multifarious and polygonal. I have sketched
out in my _Four Generations of a Literary Family_ my apprenticeship to
bibliography. The starting-point was about 1857, when Mr Bohn produced his
revision of the _Manual_ of Lowndes, 1834, of which Mr F. S. Ellis used to
speak as a very creditable performance for a drunken bookseller. My haunt
in St James's Square again befriended me. I met with the Heber Catalogue,
Herbert's _Typographical Antiquities_, and such like. I was unconsciously
shifting my ground; yet it was to be long enough before the new departure
took form. I allowed myself ample time to ruminate over the matter, to
reconnoitre, and to make notes. A copy of the augmented and revised
Lowndes became my memorandum book.

The original meagre sketch of the Venetian work had introduced me to Mr
Russell Smith the publisher, who undertook it on my father agreeing to
contribute to the cost. I acquired the habit of frequenting Smith's shop
in Soho Square; I bought a few trifles from him, and in 1858 he took my
commission for a book at the Bliss sale--Lord Westmoreland's _Otia Sacra_,
1648--for which my father, to his consternation, learned that I had to
give nearly £9. The copy was in the original calf binding, and was one of
the very few which were entirely perfect. It was my earliest purchase at
an auction. 1858-9-60 passed away--the second edition of the _Venetian
History_ appeared--and I, after sundry experiments, finally resolved to
cast my lot in with antiquarian literature as an editor and a

It is not my present mission to enter into detail respecting my
innumerable experiences of a normal character in connection with
publishers and booksellers. These are matters of no permanent value or
interest to anyone. I have had, in common with the majority of folks
similarly situated, my sorrows, my disappointments, my wrongs and my
triumphs. _Luctor et Emergo._ I have known what it has been to be unfairly
abused and perhaps unfairly commended. I have kept myself proudly and
wilfully apart, and under circumstances, of which no other person has ever
comprehended or measured the difficulties, I have held my ground, although
once or twice the keel of my dingy has grazed the rocks.


    I survey the Ground before I start--I contemplate a New British
    Bibliography--Richard Heber--His Extraordinary Acquirements--His Vast
    Library--His Manuscript Notes in the Books--A High Estimate of Heber
    as a Scholar and a Reader--He eclipses all Other Collectors at Home
    and Abroad--A Sample or so of His Flyleaf Memoranda--A Few very
    Interesting Books noticed--A _Historiette_--Anecdotes of Some Bargains
    and Discoveries by Him and His Contemporaries--The _Phoenix Nest_ at
    Sion College--Marlowe's _Dido_--Mystery connected with the Library at
    Lee Priory--The Oldest Collections of English Plays--A Little Note
    about Lovelace--Heber's Generosity as a Lender--His Kindness to
    Dyce--Fate of His Rarest Books--How He obtained some of Them--The
    Daniel Ballads and Their True History--Result of a Study of _Heber's
    Catalogue_ and other Sources of Knowledge--The _Handbook_ appears--Mr
    Frederick Harrison and Sir Walter Besant pay Me Compliments.

I soon learned to divide into two camps, as it were, the authorities
available to a student of our earlier literature. There were books like
those of Dibdin, Brydges, Park, Beloe, Hartshorne and Lowndes, and the
auction catalogues, on the one hand, and on the other there were Herbert's
_Ames_, Ritson's _Bibliographia Poetica_, and Collier's _Bibliographical
Catalogue_, to be reinforced presently by Corser's _Collectanea
Anglo-poetica_. These two classes were widely different and immensely
unequal. I began by drawing a line of distinction, and by depending for my
statements on the second group and type rather than the first. But as I
discerned by degrees the difference in too many instances between the
books themselves and the account of them in works of reference, and as I
studied more and more, at my leisure from other employments, the Heber and
a few more capital catalogues, revealing to me the imperfections in the
treatment of the whole subject, I commenced, just in the same way as I had
done in the case of Venice, revolving in my thought the practicability of
improving our bibliographical system, and placing it on a broader and
sounder basis.

The London Library copy of the _Heber Catalogue_ bears unmistakeable
traces of my industrious manipulation in years gone by. I conceived a
strong regard for that extraordinary, that unique collection and its
accomplished owner. Of his private history I have heard certain anecdotes,
which indicate that his life was not a very happy one, nor the end of it
very comfortable; but as a scholar, as a bibliographer, and as a
benefactor to the cause which he so zealously espoused and on which he
lavished a noble fortune, he was a man to whose equal I am unable to

I turn again and again to his sale catalogue, and amid much that is dry
and monotonous enough I am never weary of perusing the notes, chiefly from
his own pen, where he places on permanent record the circumstances, often
romantic and fascinating, under which he gained possession of this or that
volume. Remarks or memoranda by Mr Payne Collier and others are
interspersed; but the interest seems to centre in those of the possessor,
which make his personality agreeably conspicuous, and have always struck
me as elevating him above the ordinary standard as a collector, if not as
entitling him to the highest rank among those of this or any other
country. For when we compare his stupendous accumulations of literary
memorials of all ages and regions, in print and in manuscript, with those
of Harley, Grenville, Miller, Beckford, Spencer, Huth and others, and then
set side by side his conversance with the subject-matter in so many
cases, and the purely amateurish feeling and grasp of his predecessors,
contemporaries, and successors in a vast preponderance of instances, how
can we fail to perceive, and forbear to acknowledge, his claim to the
first place? I have mentioned elsewhere that Heber was partly instrumental
in saving the library of George III. from being sold by the Prince Regent
to the Czar.

The _Bibliotheca Heberiana_, in thirteen parts, is a work which it is
impossible to open at any page without encountering some point of interest
or instruction; but undoubtedly the second, fourth and eighth portions
contain the notices and information likely to be most attractive to
English and English-speaking persons, and it entered not immaterially into
my earlier life to study and utilise what I found here. No class of
anecdote can be more enduringly valuable in the eyes of the bibliophile
than those with which the work under consideration is so unstintingly
enriched, and I may not be blamed for exemplifying and justifying by some
typical specimens my estimate of Heber's scholarship and energy. If there
is a less agreeable side to the question, it is the feeling of regret, in
examining the catalogue, that he should not have restricted himself to
some range, instead of embracing the entire world of letters, instead of
aiming at centralising universality. In Heber book-collecting was not a
taste, but a voracious passion. His incomparable library, to a private
individual deficient, as he was, in method and arrangement, was of
indifferent value; as a public one, if he had chosen to dedicate it to
that object, it would have proved a splendid monument to his name for all
time, especially if the very numerous duplicates had been exchanged for
remaining _desiderata_.

My jottings in corroboration of my view are, however, almost exclusively
derived from those sections of the catalogue devoted to an account of the
early English literature, in which the collection was so marvellously
rich. Since this is merely a sort of introductory feature in my little
undertaking, and I was desirous of affording some samples of one of my
bibliographical primers, I do not deal with technical detail, but limit
myself to literary _adversaria_, and to Heber's own personal remarks about
his possessions, as distinguished from those of the compilers of the

Under 'Bevis of Hampton,' Heber notes, 'For an account of the Romance of
Bevis see Ritson's _Dissertation_, prefixed to his _Metrical Romances_,'
and he copies out what is found there. To his copy of the edition of
_Boethius_ in English, printed at the exempt Monastery of Tavistock in
1525, he appends a long memorandum, stating that he had bought it at
Forster's sale in 1806 for £7, 17s. 6d., imperfect and ill-bound, and had
afterward completed it from a second, which had belonged to Ratcliff and
Gough. He refers us to Robert of Gloucester, the _Harleian Catalogue_, and
other authorities, states that Lord Bute gave £17, in 1798, for Mason's
copy, and estimates his own at about £50. It fetched £63. It might now be
worth £250.

On Churchyard's _Discourse of the Queenes Maiesties Entertainment in
Suffolk and Norfolk_, there is this commentary: 'This must have been
printed in 1577-8, because Frobisher returned from his last journey while
this book was printing. I have another copy of this tract, corresponding
minutely throughout with the present, except in the dedication.... The
Address to the Reader differs also, but merely in the Typography.' Of
Dekker's _Bellman of London_, 1608, he says, 'I have compared this edition
with that of 1612, which corresponds exactly, except that six pages of
introductory matter are prefixed, and four pages of canting terms are
subjoined, entitled "Operis Peroratio."' To the 'O Per Se O' of the same
writer he has attached a still more elaborate account of the readings of
various impressions. He appears to have compared all the editions in his
hands with remarkable attention and interest.

When we come to Gascoigne's _Posies_, 1575, there is a historiette which
seems well deserving of reproduction: 'This interesting copy of G.
Gascoigne's Poems, diligently read and copiously be-noted by his
contemporary, Gabriel Harvey, came from the ancient and curious Library of
the Parkers of Browsholme, hereditary bow-bearers of Bolland forest under
the Dukes of Buccleuch. In the first instance, my friend, Thomas Lyster
Parker, merely proposed to arrange, beautify and enlarge the family
collection, for which purpose he called in Ford the bookseller to his
assistance, who gave the greater part of the volumes new Manchester
liveries instead of their old, time-worn coats, in which they had
weathered centuries under the domicile of their protectors. Subsequent
events induced Mr P. to dispose of the whole; a few of the Caxtons were
distributed in London to Lord Spencer and others at considerable prices;
but the bulk was sold to Ford, from whom I purchased the present and
several more. The Manchester shears have, I fear, somewhat abridged the
margins. I prize the volume as no ordinary rarity--it affords a curious
average sample of the manner in which G. H. recorded his studies in the
margins of his books, his neat handwriting, his various learning, his
quaintness, his pedantry, and above all his self-satisfied perseverance.'

Gascoigne's Works, 1587, Heber made a receptacle for collations with other
texts, and I may be pardoned for breaking through my own rule by appending
a remark by a former owner, George Steevens, 'This volume of Gascoigne's
Works was bought for £1, 1s. at Mr Mallet's, _alias_ Mallock's, _alias_
M'Gregor's sale, March 14, 1766. He was the only Scotchman who died in my
memory unlamented by an individual of his own nation.

On the flyleaf of Googe's _Eglogs_, 1563, is a composite note by Steevens,
Heber and the cataloguer. Heber, alluding to Steevens's remarks, says, 'Mr
Steevens had never looked into Thomas Rawlinson's cat., part vii., sold at
London House, March 1726, where a copy occurs (perhaps indeed the present
one) among the Poetæ in 8vo. See also Ballard's cat. of Mr T. Britton,
Small-coal man, 1714-15, No. 353.' The _Temple of Glass_, by Lydgate,
evoked the following: 'I believe there are three editions of this
tract--I. The present in Caxton's types; II. An edition by Wynkyn de
Worde; III. An edition by Berthelet, of which there was a copy in
Pearson's collection, bought by Malone, and left by him to Bindley, at
whose sale it was bought by James Boswell.' Just below occurs the entry of
Berthelet's impression, with a memorandum by Boswell, 'The price, £4, 18s.
0d., which this volume had been previously sold for, is marked above. On
the 21st of Jan., 1819, I purchased it for £40, 10s.!!!' But as it had
been left as a legacy by Mr Malone to Mr Bindley, at whose sale I bought
it, I scarcely know how to estimate the _pretium affectionis_ of a book
which was at once a memorial of two such dear and respected friends. At
Heber's sale the copy fetched £14.

A singular assemblage of _Penny Merriments_, published between 1621 and
1675 (Heber Cat. iv., 1743) bears this interesting note of _provenance_,
'This curious collection belonged originally to Narcissus Luttrell, and
passed with the rest of his valuable Library to Mr Edward Wynne of
Chelsea, on whose decease it was sold by auction at Leigh & Sotheby's,
March, 1786 (see cat., lot 23). Mr Baynes was the purchaser for £3, 8s.
0d., and bequeathed the poetical and romantic portion of his Library to Mr
Ritson, at whose sale I bought it.'

We enter on a different atmosphere and line of culture, when we scan
Heber's note on a small metrical tract by 'Playne Piers' on the clergy,
printed secretly in the time of Henry VIII., and mis-described by some
authorities as in prose: 'If Maunsell had examined it with due attention,
he must have perceived that a large portion of the text (though not the
whole) is written in verse, and runs into loosely-accentuated rhyming
stanzas and couplets. To say the truth, I am more than half-disposed to
ascribe the authorship to the famous W. Roy, of whose poem, _Rede me and
be not wroth_, the present composition reminds me both in sentiment and
measure. It is worthy of remark that G. Steevens's copy of the first
edition of that poem (now in my possession) is bound exactly uniform, and
being of precisely the same dimensions, they probably were united in one
cover till he separated them. It is plain that he attached equal and
considerable importance to both, having bestowed on each his best russia
binding, with his initials on the sides, and inscribed his autograph on
the back of title and at the foot of the last leaf--infallible signs of
his especial favour.'

In the case of a Caxton of extraordinary beauty, the _Hoole Lyf of Jason_,
Heber gives an account of the copies known to him, and concludes that his
own, in the original binding of oak covered with calf, and with many rough
leaves, is the finest. It had been Watson Taylor's. Another very beautiful
one occurred at the Selsey sale in 1871, and fetched £670, Mr Walford
desiring to see how far Mr Quaritch would go and seeing accordingly. He
was fortunate enough, however, to have it taken off his hands by Mr
Ellis, who sold it to an American, I believe, for £800.

Heber, as we all know, was a general scholar, and was at home in foreign
no less than in English books. He observes of a very early _Roman de la
Rose_: 'This Edition is executed in the Characters of Ulric Gering, the
earliest Parisian Printer, and is very scarce. There is said to be a copy
in the Public Library at Lyons. See Delandine's catalogue. Gering
exercised his art from 1470 to 1520, in which year he died. The present is
neither one of the earliest nor latest efforts of his press--perhaps about
1480. It has signatures, but neither catchwords nor numerals. It has also
many grotesque woodcuts. The execution and presswork very clear and

Of the romantic accident which threw Robinson's _Golden Mirrour_, 1589,
into Heber's hands, I give an account in the Handbook, where I also shew
that the author belonged to Alton in Cheshire. Briefly, Rodd the
bookseller found the volume of Elizabethan tracts, this included, at a
marine store dealer's on Saffron Hill about 1830, and being put into the
scales it was found to be worth _fourpence threefarthings_. Rodd sold it
to Heber for £50. It was a glorious haul, yet not so good as that of
Warton the historian, who picked off a broker's board at Salisbury for
sixpence the 1596 edition of _Venus and Adonis_, bound up with several
other pieces of equal or even greater rarity. Those were halcyon days,
were they not? But how much the cost governs the appreciation! What comes
to us cheap, because no one else wants it, we hold cheap, and that is the
history of many of the early bargains.

The _Phoenix Nest_, 1593, contains the ensuing flyleaf matter: 'I gave Mr
Isaac Reed five Guineas for this very scarce book in the summer of
1802.--R. H....' Heber enters into very careful detail as to the authors
of the several poems, and where some of them appear in other books. The
copy was uncut, and sold at his sale for £31, 10s. I accidentally
discovered another very fine one at Sion College, bound up at the end of a
common volume, and pointed it out to the librarian, the Reverend Mr
Milman, who did not seem to be very strongly impressed by the
communication. Had it been a sermon worth twopence, he might have felt

Of _Pierceforest_, of which he possessed the edition by Giles Gourmont,
1531-2, in folio, Heber speaks as follows: 'This is a Romance of great
Character, value and merit. Mr Warton, upon whatever authority, asserts it
to have been originally written in verse about 1220, and not till many
years afterwards translated into prose, an assertion which cannot be
confirmed; no MS. of any Metrical Romance under that title appearing to be
anywhere extant, and indeed it is probable that he confounded
_Pierceforest_ with _Perceval_. It is, however, believed to be one of the
oldest prose Romances extant, and is mentioned by Caxton in his _Book of
the Ordre of Chyvalry_.'

A volume by Spenser receives this perhaps somewhat out-of-date notice; but
it demonstrates the habit of Heber in regard to all classes of works of
importance in his possession: 'This is the first edition of Spenser's
_Shepheard's Calendar_, and _of extraordinary rarity, not to be found in
the most distinguished libraries_. Mr Todd was obliged to take a journey
to Cambridge to obtain a sight of a copy. The subsequent editions in 4to
are rare and valuable, but far less so than the present....'

We have to go back a long way, and cross the sea, before we reach the
_patria_ of the next sample, the _Historia Naturalis_ of Pliny, printed by
Jenson in 1469, in rich old blue morocco, from the library of Camus de
Limari, at whose sale in 1783 it fetched 3000 livres. Heber has inscribed
a MS. note on the flyleaf to this effect. The book sold at his sale for
£31, 10s.

We return home at the next specimen, which is Gosson's _Playes Confuted in
Five Actions_ in the same volume with Lodge's _Reply to Gosson_, and a
third tract relating to the theatre. Mr Heber notes: 'The present vol.
contains only 3 out of a remarkably curious collection of 8 pieces, bound
together soon after the publication of the latest, somewhere about 1580.
This may be ascertained by the antiquity of the handwriting, which exactly
records them all, on the reverse of the title-page of _Playes Confuted_.
So late as 1781 they all remained together in Mr Beauclerc's collection
(see cat., 4137), with the exception of Gascoigne's _Delicate Diet for
Drunkards_. They seem afterwards to have passed into Mr Nassau's library,
who divided them into 5 different vols., which are now all in my

'As to Gascoigne's _Delicate Diet_, it is, I apprehend, the same copy
contained in G. Steevens's collection of Gascoigne's Works, now in my
possession--in fact, no other is known.' It was on that account,
presumably, that the copy sold at Heber's sale for £27, 16s. 6d.

The history of Marlowe's _Dido_, 1594, must not be repeated here, as it is
already printed in the _Handbook_. Nobody has ever seen the elegy by Nash
on Marlowe, mentioned by Warton. The copy of _Dido_ given by Isaac Reed to
George Steevens, and bought at Steevens's sale in 1800 by Sir Egerton
Brydges, was transferred by the latter to Heber, at whose sale it produced
£39. The Duke of Devonshire's, which had previously been Kemble's, cost
Henderson the actor _fourpence_.

A good deal of mystery surrounds the Lee Priory collection, which seems to
have at one time contained many dramatic rarities of the first order,
most, if not all, of which eventually found their way to Heber. Henry
Oxenden of Barham, near Canterbury, is known to have owned in 1647 an
extraordinary assemblage of old English plays, bound together in six
volumes, and comprising the _Taming of a Shrew_ (not Shakespear's), 1594,
_Ralph Roister Doister_, _Hamlet_ (1603), and other precious remains. What
became of them, there is no record; but it has sometimes occurred to me
that they might have gone to Lee Priory. At Lord Mostyn's, at Gloddaeth in
Carnarvonshire, there is a second series of volumes; but of the contents I
have no personal knowledge. To return to the Heber _Dido_ for a moment, it
may be permissible to transcribe Steevens's note: 'This copy was given me
by Mr Reed. Such liberality in a collector of Old Plays is at least as
rare as the rarest of our dramatic pieces.--G. S.'

Now and again, of course, Heber is misinformed, or his information has
been superseded, as where he alludes to Shakespear's Henry the Fourth,
1608, as a first-rate rarity. His copy sold for £12, 12s. In the note
about it he takes occasion to mention that Steevens bought many of the
books of the Rev. J. Bowle, whom Gifford called 'the stupidest of
two-legged creatures,' but who had a very curious library, of White.

But Heber's insight into the contents and merits of his books is
admirable. In his copy of Tatham's _Ostella_, 1650, he draws our attention
to the author's Ode to Lovelace on his journey into Holland, and adds,
'It must have been written before his marriage. The Prologue on the
removal of the Cockpit has not been hitherto noticed, and on the next page
is a mention of a Play called "The Whisperer; or, what you please," of
which this is the only record.'

These extracts might be indefinitely extended; but in a volume not
intended for merely bibliographical purposes the foregoing citations may
suffice to establish Heber's intelligent and painstaking treatment of his
books and to explain the stress which I laid on his _Catalogue_ in my
younger days as one of the leading resources in an attempt to remodel, on
an improved and enlarged plan, our national stores.

So long as the original gatherer lived, his books were at the service of
all who approached him with a legitimate aim, and more particularly at
that of the scholar and the editor. We repeatedly hear from Mr Dyce how
greatly he was indebted to Heber for the means of completing his texts of
the early dramatists and poets, of whose works the original copies were
often nowhere else to be found. Heber was the warm friend and helper of
the men of letters of his time, and deserves to be classed among them.
Many of his rarest volumes unfortunately passed into hands where they
still remain, and where they are not so readily available. I am thinking
of the Britwell and other closed private libraries, of which the
proprietors are indifferent to literature or jealous of intrusion. The
zealous bibliographer blesses them both, and prays for the music of the

A careful survey of the _Heber Catalogue_ leads to the conclusion, from
the immense number of rarities there offered for sale for the first time,
that the owner succeeded in obtaining a notable proportion of his early
books direct from the trade or from private sources by that most powerful
of inducements--the known willingness to pay promptly and well for
everything brought to him. The note to Thorpe the bookseller, enclosing an
order on his bankers for £200 for the Ballads, of which the Daniel volume
was merely a selection, is still extant; the money seems to have reached
Thorpe's hands before the purchase left them, in consequence of Heber
being from home; even he speaks there of being ashamed of himself for his
extravagance, and he asks the vendor whether it was the inheritance of
the Stationers' Company. He was not aware that the lot came from
Helmingham Hall through Fitch of Ipswich, and that it had been milked by

My association with the London Library and gradual contact with the
British Museum, with collectors, and with the book trade, tended to
stimulate a natural affection for old books, while it gradually and, at
first, unconsciously gave to the movement a bibliographical and commercial
direction. I conceived in my mind, apart from any collateral matters, a
grand literary scheme. I saw before me all that former men, Heber
included, had achieved toward a BRITISH BIBLIOGRAPHY; and I determined to
combine and collate the whole, and make it the nucleus of a New Work. The
result was the appearance in 1867 of the _Handbook of Early English

I made not only the British Museum, and the Oxford and Cambridge
libraries, but Sion College, South Kensington, and Lambeth, pay me toll. I
did not at first attend personally at Lambeth; but the present Bishop of
Oxford, who was then librarian, copied such titles as I indicated to him,
and his Lordship, I have to say, was very accurate, and wrote a very
clear hand. I always found Dr Stubbs extremely kind and obliging in this
way. Maitland was before my time.

I did not consider at the time that I had much ground for being ashamed of
this performance; it was undeniably a long advance on my precursors; that
I had a great deal to learn and unlearn was an experience to be gained by
degrees, and at more or less casual opportunities; and it will become
necessary to enter into some particulars of the circumstances which led
and enabled me to undo piecemeal my maiden essay, and to build up from the
ruins such a colossal structure as, on its near completion, no other
civilised country can boast of possessing.

Thirty years have passed away. The Handbook has become only one of a

In the _Hazlitt Memoirs_ I judged it to be high time to expose the
ingenious strategy of the Rev. Canon Ainger and Mr Alexander Ireland in
respect to my Lamb and Hazlitt labours. I have been, as a rule, fairly
reticent and forbearing in these cases, and have refrained from appealing
to the press. But I procured the insertion in two journals of protests
against the assumption of Mr Frederic Harrison that a bibliography of
English history was a novel project, and the apparent claim of Sir Walter
Besant, as I infer from a paragraph in the _Globe_, to the rectification
of the Whittington legend. I ought to be pleased that so illustrious a
personage as Sir Walter thinks so humble an one as myself worth such
flattering recognition. Peradventure, if I should reproduce my work, I
shall be charged with having borrowed my statements from a great author
and scholar.


    The _Handbook_ of 1867 and Its Fruits--Mr Henry Huth--His Beneficial
    Influence on My Bibliographical Labours--He invites Me to co-operate
    in the Formation of His Library--I edit Books for Him--He declines to
    entertain the Notion of a Librarian--My Advantages and Risks--A Few
    Heavy Plunges--A _Barnaby's Journal_--A _Book of Hours of the
    Virgin_--The Butler MSS.--Archbishop Laud--Montaigne--Mr Huth
    answerable for My Conversion into a Speculator--The Immense Value of
    the Departure to My Progress as a Bibliographer--A Caxton from the
    Country--Why I had to pay so Much for It--Mr Huth's Preferences--His
    _Americana_--Deficiencies of His Library gradually supplied--His
    Dramatic Series--Beaumont and Fletcher and Ben Jonson--Mr Huth a
    Linguist and a Scholar--His First Important Purchase--Contrasted with
    Heber--The Drawer at Mr Quaritch's kept for Mr Huth--His Uncertainty
    or Caprice explained by Himself--His Failing Health becomes an
    Obstacle--The Fancy a Personal One.

The appearance of the _Handbook_ introduced me to the late Mr Henry Huth,
and gave me the free range for years of his fine library, with the
incidental advantage of assisting in its enlargement, and in the
preparation of the catalogue. I had written to Mr Huth in the winter of
1866, soliciting the title and collation of a unique book in his hands,
and he wrote back, furnishing the information not quite correctly, but
stating that he was always, when in town, at home on Sunday afternoons.
This slight incident produced a ten years' intimacy, and was instrumental
in inaugurating a new era in my bibliographical career.

It was when I had reached the letter K in the alphabet that I added Mr
Huth to my acquaintance, and thenceforward my book, as it appeared in
parts, reflected in its pages the beneficial fruit of weekly visits to
that gentleman's house, and his friendly co-operation in an enterprise
which more or less interested him personally.

Our constant intercourse and my widening knowledge of certain classes of
books, for which we had a common liking, naturally led to Mr Huth, in the
most delicate manner, suggesting after a while, that he should be obliged
if I would let him hear of any with which I might meet; and during many
years I was in the habit of sending to him single volumes or parcels which
fell in my way, and which he had the option of rejecting if he did not
care for them, or they happened to be duplicates. I very soon, too,
persuaded him to allow me to carry out small literary undertakings for
him, for the sake of distributing the very limited number of copies
printed among his friends and my own. I became sensible of the
inconvenience and awkwardness attendant on the completion of his library,
as it involved commercial relations distasteful to us both, and I
ventured, as soon as I could, to propose to him a yearly allowance for my
help and advice. This idea he was unwilling to entertain, however, because
he thought that it would involve something like my domestication on the
premises, and the library, as usual, was almost personal to himself. I
therefore most reluctantly continued to add to his collection on my own
terms, and, with the books which I edited for him and for the publishers,
and the general exercise of my bibliographical experience elsewhere, I was
in a position to develop by steady degrees my large, yet still rather
loosely-defined, project for a general catalogue of early English

My _Handbook_ was brought to an end in 1867, about a twelvemonth
subsequent to the fortuitous meeting with Mr Huth. But every day, when the
more powerful motive for book-hunting existed, seemed to do its part in
opening my eyes to the illimitable magnitude of the field on which I had
entered, and in compelling me to pass my pen through some article which I
had been tempted to borrow from a secondary authority. In other words, the
_Handbook_ was no sooner bound, than I began to convert a considerable
proportion of it into waste-paper.

My relations with Mr Huth were, on the whole, as agreeable as they were
advantageous. Many and many a rarity in his catalogue passed through my
hands, and even when he acquired books elsewhere, he grew into the habit
of asking me to go and look through them before they were sent home. My
improving familiarity with his tastes and wants placed me in a favoured
position, when I stumbled on items in the book-shops and the sale-rooms.
Sometimes I had to incur rather formidable risks, and to buy for the
library very expensive works, subject to them being approved, and merely
on the certainty that they were not duplicates, and were clear
_desiderata_. Such was the case with the extraordinary copy of George
Turbervile's _Poems_, 1570, in the original sheep binding, as clean and
spotless as when it left the first vendor three centuries prior, and
nearly the only one known. John Pearson, of York street, Covent Garden,
had obtained it of a retired dealer at Shrewsbury for £30, and he asked me
£105, with the proviso that it was not returnable as imperfect. I collated
it on the spot, and F. S. Ellis very kindly and liberally lent me the
money to pay for it. Luckily Mr Huth took to it, and gave me fifty guineas
for my trouble. It is one of the chief Elizabethan gems in a library
abounding in them.

I remember being in Boone's shop, in Bond Street, one day, and seeing
there a marvellous and matchless copy of Brathwaite's _Barnaby's Journal_,
almost uncut, and beautifully bound in red morocco. Boone demanded £18,
18s. for it. I put it in my pocket. The following Sunday I saw Mr Huth,
and inquired what sort of a copy of Barnaby he had. He replied that his
was as good an one as could be desired, and he opened the case where it
lay, and handed it to me. I took mine out, and handed it to him. He
smiled. Of course, there was no comparison. His went as a duplicate to
Lilly. He did not judge Boone's dear at twenty-five guineas; it would
bring twice that sum now.

I was so much accustomed to frequent the booksellers, and I was so well
known and trusted that I overlooked the circumstance, in my earlier
visits to Bond Street, that I had not dealt quite so regularly or largely
there as elsewhere, and one day when Boone shewed me a fine _Book of
Hours_, of which the price was £150, I coolly placed it under my arm, and
walked out of the place, with an intimation that I should like to have it.
I suppose that the firm was reassured when I called, a day or so after,
and gave them my cheque for the amount. We became very good friends, and I
took several things off Boone's hands for Mr Huth. The _Hours_ I have just
mentioned was bound in old velvet; and the owner rather unwisely, as I
thought, let Bedford give it a new morocco livery.

One offer on the part of this house to me I was unable to entertain--the
Butler MSS. formerly in the hands of the poet's editor, Thyer, and
containing matter not printed by him. Boone spoke of £250; but I declined.
What became of them, I never heard; they were not sold with his stock.

His retirement destroyed a link between the old school and the new. He had
many curious stories to relate about those whom his uncle and himself had
known--about Libri and Dibdin. He (the younger B.) was fairly shrewd and
experienced, but thoroughly straightforward. I recollect picking off his
shelf one morning an old tract of no particular value, but, as it
happened, not in the British Museum, to which I transferred it, bearing on
the title the unrecognised autograph, _W. Bathon_; it was the copy which
belonged to Archbishop Laud, when he occupied the See of Bath and Wells.

There was a somewhat parallel incident at the sale of Lord Selsey's books
at Sotheby's in 1871. I took down from a shelf at random an old Italian
book, and perceived at the foot of the title the signature of Montaigne
the essayist. I instantaneously closed it, and put it back, for I saw Mr
Toovey approach. I waited to see it sold; it fell to me at 2s. F. S. Ellis
came into the room a moment after, and heard of the find. He explained to
me that he had a Montaigne client, and wished me to let him have my
bargain, which I surrendered for a consideration.

I consider Mr Huth answerable for my conversion from a pure amateur into a
commercial speculator in books. He was the prime mover in producing the
change in my views and arrangements--one which certainly responded to my
convenience in working out my great project as a bibliographer, by
supplying me in the interval, where the direct practical result was _nil_,
with ways and means, rather than to my natural feeling, which would have
kept me outside the market as a buyer and seller. My unconquerable and
boundless ambition to become the creator of an entirely new
bibliographical system, so far as the early literature of Great Britain
and Ireland was concerned, reconciled me, to some extent, to the
unwelcome, though profitable, labour of utilising for my own purposes the
stores which I accumulated and distributed from year to year, commencing
with that which immediately succeeded my introduction to Mr Huth.

I had already fulfilled that gentleman's own express desire, that I should
co-operate in the extension of his library in the direction which I was
beginning to study in earnest; but my first notable achievement was a
purchase which found another destination. Jeffreys of Bristol sent me up,
in the winter of 1868, a beautiful copy of Caxton's _Golden Legend_,
wanting sixteen leaves, which were supplied from one by Wynkyn de Worde.
It was an edition of which the Althorp copy was the only perfect one
known. The owner asked £85. I hardly understood why he sent it to me, as
I had never had any transaction with him. It was on a Friday. I called at
B. M. Pickering's the next morning, and casually stated that I had had
such a book offered to me, and that I intended, on the Sunday, to name the
matter to Mr Huth, who did not then possess the volume. Pickering begged
to see it first; he came down to my house the same evening, and took it
away under his arm at £150. If it had not been for John Pearson persuading
Jeffrey to raise his price, I should have had it £40 cheaper. Mr Huth
subsequently procured another imperfect copy, and at my request Lord
Spencer very kindly forwarded his own to London to enable a facsimilist to
complete both.

Mr Huth had some very strong preferences--favourite authors and topics.
Anything by Wither or Quarles, with curious woodcuts, on an educational
theme, or in exceptionally fine state, was sure game. He did not care for
theology, unless it was by such a man as Fuller or Jeremy Taylor; and of
folios he was shy, in the absence of a valid reason; there were so many
which it was imperative to tolerate, commencing with the four Shakespears.
To _Americana_ he became at last a convert, but I knew him when he put
the question--a pertinent question, too--what he had to do with that sort
of book? Henry Stevens, however, and then others, made the interest
clearer to him, and he gave way till, in the end, he was master of a
fairly good collection, including such capital features as Hariot's
_Virginia_, 1588, and such unique _morçeaux_ as Rich's _News from
Virginia_, 1610. I was fortunate enough to enter on the scene, when in
numerous respects his shelves were very deficient, and when some of the
leading poets of the seventeenth century were conspicuous by their
absence. He had not, at the time I refer to, even Beaumont and Fletcher,
or Jonson, or Carew, or Lovelace, by way of example. As I run through his
catalogue, I notice hundreds and hundreds of volumes which he had been
quietly and patiently waiting to receive from someone, as he never went in
quest of anything in his life, beyond calling at Lilly's, Ellis's, or
Quaritch's, on his way home; and nearly all his dramatic acquisitions,
except the quarto Shakespears and other rarities from the Daniel and
Charlemont sales in 1864-5, were late additions, obtained for him by
myself, as scarcely a second individual would have dreamed of him not
having them, or being willing to take them. All his Shirleys, Massingers,
Fords, and the rest, came to him at prices which, compared with current
figures, make them appear almost nominal. Massinger's _Virgin Martyr_,
1622, cost him most; for B. M. Pickering charged me £7, 7s. for the copy,
and I have not met with another since that time.

His Beaumont and Fletcher, 1647, which has been lately trotted up to a
startling figure by the Americans, cost me 30s. and is one of the finest I
ever saw; one leaf was torn, and a second copy was bought for £1 to make
the defect good. In the same way his Ben Jonson, 1616-31, the most
complete one in existence, with a duplicate title and a cancel leaf, was
obtained from Stibbs for 36s. It had been Colonel Cunningham's, and was
spotless in the original calf binding.

Mr Huth was not a Heber; but he liked to look into his books, and of many
he had a fair knowledge. He was a linguist and a scholar, and was led by
the circumstances of his origin (his father being a German and his mother
a Spaniard) to contract a partiality for the literature of those two
countries. The ancient Spanish romance, the early German book with
woodcuts, were well represented. One of the former, in its pristine
stamped livery, was among his earliest purchases, when he frequented Payne
& Foss's establishment with his brother Louis, just toward the close of
the career of that distinguished firm, which supplied Heber and his
contemporaries--Grenville, Hibbert, the Freelings, and others--and the
price was £8. It might at present be £80, if Mr Quaritch were in the right

Although Mr Huth cannot be said to have been a mere amasser of old books,
without an interest in their characteristics and literary value, it is
curious that he never, so far as I am aware, inserted a MS. note of any
kind in a volume, or his autograph, or a bookplate or _ex libris_. He
seemed to shrink from asserting his personality in these respects, and was
so far the reverse of Heber, whose memoranda accompanied thousands of the
items in his immense library, and manifested his earnestness and
indefatigability in obtaining and perpetuating information--nothing else.
Of conceit or pedantry no one ever had less.

Toward the last, while the catalogue was in course of preparation by Mr
F. S. Ellis and myself, an unpleasant _contretemps_ produced a coolness
between Mr Huth and the writer, and I saw nothing farther of him, although
we occasionally corresponded down to the period of his death in 1878, the
melancholy circumstances of which I have narrated in my _Four Generations
of a Literary Family_. He made additions to his library rather languidly
in later years; but he bought here and there to fill up gaps or otherwise,
and some of the entries belonging to the earlier letters of the alphabet
form an appendix to the above-mentioned work. There used to be a little
drawer at Quaritch's, where any book thought to be acceptable to Mr Huth
was deposited day by day against his arrival about five in the afternoon.
Once it was an unique tract of _King Edward the Fourth and the Tanner of
Tamworth_, for which he was asked £16, 16s., and he held it up between two
fingers, and exhibited it to an acquaintance with him as rather a dear
pennyworth. But he took it, and at the same time he rejected an equally
unique and far more curious metrical account of the martyrdom of two
churchmen in the time of Henry VIII., which the British Museum was glad
enough to secure. As he has said to me frankly enough, it was a toss up,
whether he bought or did not buy; of course it was a mere fancy, and it is
only a piece of history at present that one or two of the booksellers,
acquainted with his peculiarity, passed on volumes now and then from one
to the other, and what had not pleased in King Street, caught the fish in
Garrick Street at an advanced quotation.

Mr Huth was not only vacillating in his pursuit of books, and so missed
many which he ought to have secured, but his health began to fail some
time prior to his decease, and he was either abroad or in a frame of mind
unequal to the discussion of literary questions and the transaction of
unnecessary business. His library, as it appears from the printed
catalogue, is a very different monument from that which he might have
left, had he been more consistent or been more willing to repose
confidence in others. The precious volumes, which went elsewhere through
his periodical apathy or indisposition, are barely numerable, and it was
the more to be regretted, since the outlay was immaterial and the grand
_nucleus_ was there.

I suspect that the cause of wavering was one which is common to so many
collectors in all departments, and leads in a majority of instances to
the abrupt dispersion of the property. I allude to the almost ostentatious
indifference of relatives and friends to the treasures, unless, perhaps,
they are pictures or china, which a man gathers round him. In this
instance £120,000 had been expended in books, MSS., drawings and prints,
and the worthy folks who came to the house, what did they know about them?
what did they care? A man might well hesitate and wonder whether there was
any good in persevering with a hobby personal to himself.

I do not know whether Mr Huth suspected me of extravagance in the purchase
of curiosities, but I remember that he one day, at Prince's Gate, when we
were together, rather gravely, yet with his usual gentleness, observed
that it was very important to husband one's resources--to use his own
phrase. He entered more with me than with any other stranger into trivial
and ordinary matters; and apropos of expenditure I recall his allusion to
the habit of some of his clerks in the city laying out a larger sum on
their luncheons than he did. Possibly they went home, not to dinner, but
to tea. I have mentioned in _Four Generations of a Literary Family_
farther particulars of Mr Huth, which I of course do not here reproduce.
I recollect being at Prince's Gate one Sunday, when Professor ---- called,
and began to eulogise the palatial residence, the splendid book-room, the
noble cases, and so forth; and I at once saw that he was making our host
rather uncomfortable by his _gaucherie_. On some pretext I induced the
Professor to accompany me, when I took my leave, and I am sure that Mr
Huth was grateful. I do not know that I grudged Huth anything, for he was
worthy of his fortune. Perhaps I was a little envious of his knowledge of
the notes of birds, which he told me that he possessed, and of which I
have the most imperfect and inaccurate idea. I judge that he was reticent
even to his family about his affairs, for, after his sudden death, his
widow, to whom he left everything, found to her surprise, I was told, that
there was more even than she had expected. So that he had acted up to his
own maxim. A man may be frugal with £100,000 a year as he may be with the
thousandth part of it--more so indeed, as there is a so much wider


    Literary Results of My Acquaintance with Mr Huth--The New
    _Bibliography_ in Progress, and the 1867 Book gradually
    superseded--Some Other Literary Acquaintances--George Daniel--John
    Payne Collier and Frederic Ouvry, His Son-in-Law--The Millers of
    Craigentinny--'Inch-rule' Miller--He purchases at the Heber Sale by
    Cartloads--My Efforts to procure Particulars of all the Rare Books at
    Britwell--I let Mr Christie-Miller have One or Two Items--An
    Anecdote--Mr Miller's London House formerly Samuel Rogers's--His
    Son--Where They are all buried--The Rev. Thomas Corser--His Fine
    Library--What It cost and what It fetched--His Difficulties in Forming
    It--Whither Much of It went--My Exploits at the Sale--Description of
    the House where the Books were kept--Mr Corser's Peculiar Interest in
    My Eyes--His Personal Character--The Sad Change in the Book Market
    since Corser's Day--Mr Samuel Sanders--A Curious Incident--Mr Cosens,
    Mr Turner and Mr Lawrence--Their Characteristics--Some Account of Mr
    Cosens as He gave It to Me--His Line of Collecting--My Assistance
    requested--A Few of His Principal Acquisitions and Their Subsequent
    Fortunes--Frederic Locker--His Idiosyncrasies--His Want of
    Judgment--His _Confidences_.

My bibliographical pursuits and exigencies, setting aside my concurrent
literary ventures, themselves sufficiently numerous and onerous to have
employed a person of average application, had the inevitable effect of
making me more or less intimately known to most of the persons who in my
time have studied or possessed books. My commerce was with the holders as
well as with the buyers and sellers of them. On the one hand I had to face
the problem of Life, and on the other that of Title-taking. Of my purely
literary work, which is not unknown to a few, I may say that the
proportion of _pot-boilers_ is not unreasonably large; it might have been
larger, had I not chosen as an alternative to turn to account my
conversance with old books as a _moyen de parvenir_, but during all the
term of my relationship with Mr Huth I was incessantly engaged in storing
up notes on the volumes, which came and which went, against an opportunity
for publication. That aim and my contributions to literature, such as the
_Venetian History_, the Warton, the Dodsley, the Blount's _Tenures_,
united to constitute my compensation for the rather distasteful ordeal of
espousing the commercial side. The bibliographical toil was enormous, for
the few hundreds of articles, which Mr Huth and others acquired, were a
mere handful in comparison with the mass which I gradually digested into
my system, and reduced to form and method.

I judge it to be the most intelligible plan, with a view to tracing my
somewhat peculiar and anomalous career in connection with books, china,
coins and other objects of general interest, to proceed, after furnishing
the previous sketch of Mr Huth and my participation in his experiences as
a collector, with some account of certain other individuals who influenced
me and proved more or less valuable as instruments for carrying out my
central and cardinal policy.

George Daniel of Canonbury and John Payne Collier were practically before
my time; but I corresponded with the latter on literary subjects, and
Daniel I occasionally met in the street or in the sale-room. With
Collier's relative, Frederic Ouvry the solicitor, I had some transactions;
but I found him an undecided and capricious sort of person, who had
evidently imbibed from Collier a tincture of feeling for the older
literature without having any solid convictions of his own. The best part
of his library consisted of books which he had purchased from his
connexion by marriage, and which the latter had obtained more or less
accidentally in the course of his prolonged career. Ouvry, however, did
not get all. For in a note to myself, Collier expressly says that his
unique copy of Constable's _Diana_, 1592, was exchanged by him with Heber
for 'books he more wanted.' It was he who lent me the fragment of _Adam
Bel_, _Clym of the Clough_ and _William of Cloudisle_, more ancient and
correct than Copland's text in the British Museum, for my _Early Popular
Poetry_, 1864, before I met with the second and yet more curious and
valuable one of 1536 in the hands of the late Mr Henry Bradshaw, which I
collated for my _Early Popular Poetry of Scotland and the Northern
Border_, 1896.

The name most directly and intimately associated with that of Mr Heber, in
a bibliographical sense, is that of Mr William Henry Miller of
Craigentinny, near Edinburgh, a gentleman who amassed a fortune by
occupations outside his profession as a solicitor, and whom we find
bidding at least as early as 1819 for books of price against all comers.
Mr Miller made it his speciality to take only the finest and tallest
copies, and he thence gained the sobriquet of _Inch-rule_ or _Measure_
Miller, because he invariably carried with him the means of comparing the
height of any book with which he met against his own; and if the new one
had a superior altitude, out went the shorter specimen to make room for
the more Millerian example. At the Heber sale, this gentleman saw his
opportunity, and used it well. The bibliophobia had set in; prices were
depressed, so far as the early English poetry was concerned, and Thorpe
the bookseller, under his instructions, swept the field--the Drama, the
Classics, and the Miscellanea he left to others. Nearly the whole of the
rarities in that particular division, set forth in the second, fourth,
sixth and eighth parts of the catalogue, fell to Mr Miller; and of many no
duplicates have since occurred. The purchaser must have laid out
thousands, and have added to his collection positive cartloads.

He died in 1849. Of his successor, Mr Samuel Christy, the hatter of
Piccadilly, who assumed the name of Christie-Miller, I saw comparatively
little; but I used to hear odd things about him from David Laing and from
Riviere the bookbinder. In my ardour for organising my own _Bibliography_
on an enlarged and exhaustive footing, I jesuitically availed myself of
the periodical consignments of books to Riviere for binding; and, with the
leave of the latter, took notes of everything in his hands. Mr
Christie-Miller himself vouchsafed me a certain amount of information,
and from David Laing I derived many other particulars about the Britwell
library, so that with these channels of help and light, and others in the
shape of occurrences of duplicate copies of recent years, I flatter myself
that there is very little in that rather jealously-guarded repository
which I have not put on record in print or in MS.

I have been guilty of extending the Miller library only in two or three
instances. The late proprietor coveted more than one volume which he saw
in my possession; but I always gave Mr Huth the preference, and as a rule
that gentleman never let a good thing go begging. I must relate an amusing
episode, which happened in connection with Mr Christie-Miller about 1872.
I had called at John Pearson's in York Street, and found him from home;
but I waited for him on the doorstep, and presently he arrived with two
folio volumes under his arm. I asked him what he had got there. 'Why,'
said he, 'two lots which were sold separately to-day at Sotheby's as "Old
Newspapers, etc."' And he handed them to me, as I stood by him outside his
shop. I glanced at the contents, and inquired how much he expected for
his purchase. He said, 'If you will take the volumes now as they are,
twelve guineas.' I did. Riviere broke them up, bound the seventy
black-letter ballads in a volume, which I sold to Mr Miller for £42, and
returned me the residue, a collection of penny _Garlands_, which went to
the British Museum, and some rubbish, which dropped into my waste-paper

Christie-Miller owned the house in St James's Place which had once been
classic ground as the residence of Samuel Rogers. I went there two or
three times, and met his (Miller's) wife and son. The latter was a mild
youth, who had been educated at high-class schools and a university, and
who had (like his father) an imperfect acquaintance not only with
literature but with grammar. He was phenomenally ignorant and dull, like
his parent. All three at present lie seventy feet beneath the ground, near
Holyrood, where a monument has been erected to their memory. If the
ferocious Socialist hereafter disinters the remains of haughty and
purse-proud book-collectors of former times, he will probably not dig down
low enough to find the bones of the Millers.

A personage far more in sympathy with Mr Heber was the Reverend Thomas
Corser, of Stand, near Manchester, whose acquaintance it was my honour to
enjoy from about 1862 to the time of his death. I have taken occasion
elsewhere to explain how it was that Mr Corser and myself were bound
together in a measure by a community of interest apart from books. While
he was as zealous and genuine an enthusiast as Heber, and regarded his
acquisitions as something better than shelf-furniture, he was in one
important respect totally different from his great predecessor who, as a
man of large fortune, had only to decide on purchases and to refer the
vendors to his bankers. Mr Corser, on the contrary, was a man of very
limited resources, and found it a difficult task now and then to keep pace
with the _desiderata_ submitted to his notice by the booksellers and
auctioneers. I know as a fact that at the Bright sale in 1845, which must
have marked a comparatively early stage in his bibliographical career, he
was obliged to pay five per cent to the agent (Thorpe or Rodd), who bought
for him; and his bill was not far from £1000. Altogether his fine and
interesting library cost him, as he told me, £9000; and it realised about
£20,000, chiefly owing to the competition of the British Museum, Mr Huth,
and Mr Miller. The national collection made a splendid haul--far better
than it would have done, had Mr Huth been better advised. As it was, I
secured at my own risk a large number of lots at very high prices, which
his agent Lilly had overlooked, or did not duly appreciate. I bought
personally, as well as through F. S. Ellis, to the value altogether of
£2000 or £3000, and Ellis subsequently congratulated me on my dexterity in
giving my commissions to him, and thus removing one of my most formidable
competitors. He instanced one lot, which thus went to him at 2s., and for
which he would have given £3, 3s.

The Rectory at Stand was a small, detached house near the church, and had
no suitable accommodation for such an assemblage of treasures as Mr Corser
gradually accumulated within its walls. Nearly all the bedrooms, as well
as reception-rooms, had book-cases or cupboards crammed with volumes. I
paid repeated visits here, and enjoyed the free range of everything which
I desired to examine, provided that my excellent friend could put his
hand on it. He had to light a candle on one occasion to hunt for a Caxton
in a bedroom cupboard; and latterly, when he was disabled by paralysis,
poor fellow! and unable to help me, I had to search as best I could for
this or that book or tract, of which very possibly no second copy was to
be seen anywhere in the whole world except in that secluded parsonage.

I cherish, with a gratification never to be lessened or forgotten, the
memory of this delightful intercourse with one whose people had known my
people in the days gone by, and who, besides being a collector of old
books, had made himself a master, like Heber, of the contents; and who, as
a younger man, enjoyed the genteel recreation of angling, and in his
maturer life relished good wine and good talk. When I think of the Rector
of Stand, and look at most of the circle which at present constitutes the
book-collecting world, and governs the market, I perceive the difference
and the fall! And just at this moment the Almighty-Dollar type rules the
roost, and makes its caterers and agents look big and reckless at sales,
and the disciples of the old-fashioned school, to which Mr Corser
belonged, button up their pockets and retire.

One of the last men who collected books for their own sake, and not from
mere ostentation and purse-pride, was the late Mr Samuel Sanders, who, as
he informed me, had been a buyer from his youth, and who bequeathed his
extensive collections to one of the Colleges. I knew him very slightly.
But, not long before his death, I was in the room at Sotheby's and
expressed to a stranger my regret at having missed the day before an
unique Wynkyn de Worde, of which I lacked the true particulars. It was Mr
Sanders, and he apprised me that he was the purchaser through Mr Quaritch,
and would bring up the volume for my inspection next day, which he
accordingly did.

My gallery of bibliographical acquaintances is not deficient in variety.
During a more or less brief period, I saw a good deal from time to time of
Mr F. W. Cosens, Mr R. S. Turner and Mr Edwin Lawrence. Of the two latter
I have little more to say than I have noted down in another publication. I
used to meet Mr Turner at Mr Huth's. His line of collecting was, on the
whole, a little outside my speciality or specialities, and Mr Lawrence was
mainly associated in my mind as a member of a literary club to which I
sometimes went as my father's guest. He was a subscriber to some of my
literary enterprises, and I thence learned that he was F.S.A., as those
letters accompanied his signature not only in his communications, but in
his cheques. He was, like Turner, an ill-hung man; but I have understood
that he was very kind and generous, and I know that he was a first-rate
judge (like Turner again) of what was the right article, both in books and
in other cognate matters.

Mr Cosens was altogether different. He was self-educated and self-helped.
His practical conversance with literary affairs was almost _nil_; but he
was willing to take a good deal on credit, and had a natural leaning
toward letters and art. He introduced himself to me, as Lawrence indeed
had done, and invited me to assist him in a scheme which he had rather
vaguely formed for collecting together the MSS. remains of our early poets
and verse-writers. I was instrumental in procuring for him a tolerably
voluminous body of this sort of material, as Mr Huth was indifferent to
it, and among much that was of inferior account, from the incessant
absorption of valuable MSS. by public libraries, Mr Cosens succeeded in
obtaining a fair number of interesting and even important items,
particularly an ancient codex on vellum of the _Prick of Conscience_, and
a volume of Elizabethan lyrics, which I bought at an auction, unbound, and
for which Mr Christie-Miller gave me some Roman parchment to enable
Riviere to clothe it in a becoming style. This book contained _Amoris
Lachrymæ_ and other poems by Nicholas Breton, printed in his _Bower of
Delights_, 1591. Boone valued it at £60, but I gave £16 under the hammer,
and I thought £45, under the circumstances, not extravagant. Its
subsequent history is curious enough. When the Cosens MSS. were sold by
Sotheby, the cataloguing was so well done that what I had got for £16 I
had knocked down to me for as many shillings, and the lot is now, I
believe, in Great Russell Street. Again, thanks to the auctioneer's clever
manipulation, the old vellum MS. bought at the Corser sale by Ellis for
£70, sold by him to me for £105, and by me to Cosens for £157, 10s., fell
to me at £24. It has found its probably final resting-place in the

Frederick Locker, or, as he subsequently became, Locker-Lampson, was a
gentleman to whose bibliographical side I have devoted a fair share of
space in the _Four Generations of a Literary Family_. During a few years,
and prior to the preparation and issue of his privately-printed catalogue,
I saw a good deal of him, and he became the channel for some of my
acquisitions which Mr Huth did not require, or when the latter was in a
less eager humour for buying.

Locker was very partial to certain books. He aimed at getting all four
editions of Davison's _Poetical Rhapsody_, and he succeeded. Over the
first one of 1602 he made a tactical blunder by letting one bookseller
understand that he wanted the volume when it accidentally occurred, and
giving his commission to another. It was a very poor copy indeed, and cost
him £60, plus ten per cent. That of 1611 came to him dear enough, too. I
had changed Mr Huth's copy, which was not satisfactory, for a beautiful
one in the original vellum wrapper, and had the duplicate at £6. I sold
it to Ellis for £12, and he charged Locker £21. The latter upbraided me,
who had no knowledge of his views, with making him pay £9 more than was
necessary! He always struck me as a most unfortunate purchaser; and there
was about him a flaccidity, which made him appear inconsistent and
insincere. He gave an exorbitant price for a most wretched imperfect copy
of Barnfield's Poems, 1598, and he actually paid highly for two copies of
_England's Helicon_, 1600, both wanting the last leaf, and both otherwise
indifferent. Surely these old books, to be interesting and desirable,
should be fine and complete. The mere text, where there is no extrinsic
feature, such as a signature or a bookplate, you can have in a five
shilling or a fivepenny re-issue. Yet Locker found some one to sing the
praises of the Rowfant books in strains--well, significant of a _quid pro
quo_ for recent experience of friendly hospitality.

This gentleman, however, was in his best days as a collector a genuine
enthusiast, and might have been occasionally seen at an early hour walking
up and down on the pavement, awaiting the arrival of some bookseller, in
whose brand-new catalogue had appeared a nugget to his taste. This phase
of the book-fancier's career, by the way, has its curious side. Such a
thing has been known as for the publisher of a list of old books to lard
and season it with a few excruciating rarities which had yet to be
acquired, and to bring to his door fasting all the competitors for such
matters within a radius or telegrams from the more remote--with a common

Locker's _Confidences_, which he made almost a parade, in referring to
their future appearance, in characterising as a publication of absolute
necessity posthumous, was, if one may compare small things with great, as
perfect a disappointment as the Talleyrand _Memoirs_, so anxiously looked
for, and at last printed, only to create a murmur of surprise at the
almost total absence of interest and point. The contents of the Locker
volume might have been imparted to the public with the most complete
immunity from consequences in the writer's life-time--they are
phenomenally mild and neutral. From my personal impression of the
distinguished individuals with whom the author of _London Lyrics_ was
connected or associated, I should not have dreamed of him so thoroughly
missing the mark, and leaving us a legacy so flat and commonplace.


    Mr Henry Pyne--His Ideas as a Collector, and My Intercourse with
    Him--His Office One of My Regular Lounges--His Willingness to Part
    with Certain Books--I buy a Pig in a Poke, and It turns out well--Mr
    Pyne's Sale--A Frost--I buy All the Best Lots for a Trifle--The Volume
    of _Occasional Forms of Prayer_ and Its History--Pyne's Personal
    Career and Relations--His Investigation of the Affairs of a Noble
    Family--The Booksellers--Joseph Lilly--His Sale--His Services to Mr
    Huth--The Daniel Books in 1864--Daniel's Flyleaf Fibs--The Event an
    Extraordinary _Coup_--The Napier First Folio Shakespear knocked down
    and out at £151--Why some Books are Dear without being Very Rare--F.
    S. Ellis and the Corser Sale--My Successful Tactics--He lends me Sir
    F. Freeling's Interleaved _Bibliotheca Anglo-poetica_.

At a lower level than the individuals above mentioned, yet still on a
basis which made it possible for me to render them subservient to my
all-engrossing design, were Mr Henry Pyne, Assistant Commissioner of
Tithes, and two or three minor characters, with whom my contact was

Mr Pyne entered far more conspicuously and materially into my
bibliographical and personal history than any person save Mr Huth. I
formed his acquaintance while the _Handbook_ was on the stocks, and he
assisted me to the extent of his power by placing at my disposal his
collection of English books, printed not later than the year 1600. He had
begun by adopting a wider range; but circumstances led him to restrict
himself to the limit laid down by Maitland in his _Lambeth Catalogue_. I
worked very hard at Mr Pyne's office in St James's Square, and at his
private house, at the stores he had brought together on this rather
hard-and-fast principle; to me, as a bibliographer, the extrinsic merits
of the copies were immaterial, and I owed to my estimable and
thenceforward life-long acquaintance the means of rendering my
introductory experiment of 1867 less empirical and secondary than it would
otherwise have been. I cannot turn over the leaves of the volume without
identifying many and many an entry with Mr Pyne and his unwearied kindness
and sympathy, and in all cases where the book was eminently rare I have
cited him as the owner of the copy which I used.

Our relationship grew into intimacy, and as his official functions
appeared to be light and unexacting, his spacious room at the Tithe
Office was my habitual halting-place on my way home from town. He shewed
me any fresh purchase, spoke of what he had seen or heard, and discussed
with me points connected with my current literary affairs. I thoroughly
appreciated our intercourse, which was less constrained and formal than
that with Mr Huth, and I regarded Mr Pyne as my benefactor in his way to
an equal extent. The financial strength of the former placed him in a
position which was not altogether natural, although I am far from thinking
that he failed to fill the rank, to which his wealth entitled him, with
dignity and judgment. It was, indeed, due to Mr Huth's half involuntary
self-assertion, as a man of great fortune, that we at last fell out, as it
was not my cue to yield even to him beyond a certain point, and I had had
reason to complain of the mode in which he conducted the editorship of his
catalogue, a proceeding whereby he was the sole loser. With Mr Pyne I was
at my ease. We never had a word of difference or the shadow of a rupture
all the years I knew him.

I have noticed Mr Pyne's law made for himself in regard to his choice of
books; but he had kept some of those which lay outside the strict
chronological barrier, and they were long under the charge of a bookseller
in King William Street, Strand. It was in the full flood of Mr Huth's
collecting fancy, and it occurred to me one day to ascertain from Mr Pyne,
if possible, how it stood with the property. He said that he was
meditating the sale of the boxful to someone. What did it contain? He
could not recollect exactly, but there were Civil War tracts, some pieces
of earlier date, and so on. How much did he propose to get for them? This
he also could not resolve. I had no conception whatever of the nature and
extent of the parcel, but I offered him at a venture £15, 15s., and he
accepted the sum.

It was a downright little find. Sixty rare pamphlets went to Mr Huth at as
many guineas; the British Museum purchased several; and a literary coal
merchant, who had just then been providentially inspired with an ardour
for the monuments of the Civil War period, gave me £20 for the refuse. But
Mr Pyne was once or twice tempted by my offers for books in his own
series, and I had from him, among others, _The Prayer and Complaint of the
Ploughman unto Christ_, 1531, and Gervase Markham's _Discourse of
Horsemanship_, 1593. I gave him £21 for the first, just double what it had
cost him. They were both for Mr Huth.

Pyne informed me one morning at his office, when I called as usual, that
at a shop in Marylebone Lane he had seen Cocker's _Decimal Arithmetic_,
1685 (first edition), marked eighteenpence. I went, and bought it. It was
a very fine copy. The portrait belongs to the _Vulgar Arithmetic_.

The anti-climax was reached when Mr Pyne's library came to the hammer some
years since. It was a two days' sale at Sotheby's; the books were poorly
described, the trade was not eager for them, and the British Museum had no
funds. My own hands were rather tied by a temporary circumstance; but the
opportunity was not one to be thrown away. I gave a long string of
commissions to a bookseller whom I thought that I could trust, and he got
me at nominal prices all the rarest lots, comprising a few of the gems in
the English historical series, and some absolutely unique. I cannot divine
how it so chanced; but about £16 placed me in possession of all I wanted.
One item my agent missed, and I had to hunt down the acquirer, who gave
it up to me at a trifling advance. The Museum soon afterward came into the
usual grant, and gave me £116 for what they wanted--nearly everything. I
met Professor Arber at the institution in Great Russell Street just after
the transfer, and he deplored the loss which the national library had
sustained by not bidding for such desiderata. He did not hear from me at
that time that they were all in the building. Perhaps he discovered the
fact subsequently.

There was one article in the Pyne auction, of which the simple-minded
cataloguer had as correct an estimate as Messrs Reeves & Turner, who sold
it to my friend. I had seen it in the booksellers' list at £10, described
as a quarto volume, two and a-half inches thick, in vellum; but I was not
just then in a buying humour; and it passed into other hands. But it was
the identical collection of _Occasional Forms of Prayer_ of the time of
Elizabeth, in spotless state, with the autograph of Humphrey Dyson on
nearly every title-page, which had been missing ever since Dyson's time,
and which Reeves had picked up somewhere in Essex. I sent a commission of
twenty-five guineas for it, and obtained it for £4, 6s. The present was
one of my most striking experiences. Where the leading buyers were on
those eventful days I cannot even dream.

Mr Pyne used to say that there were three prices for old books--the
market, the fancy, and the drop one--and I imagine that his taste, if not
his resources, led him to espouse the last in great measure, so that he
never became master of many volumes of first-rate consequence. He told me
that the rise in the figures for rare early literature at the Bright sale
in 1845 drove some of the existing collectors out of the market. What
would they think, if they were now among us, and witnessed £2900 given for
two imperfect copies of Caxton's Chaucer?

Pyne had had varied experiences. As a young man, he resided at Gibraltar,
and he told me that he had there an intrigue with a Spanish beauty, the
unexpected advent or return of whose husband necessitated her lover's
desperate leap out of the window. One of his daughters married our
Resident in Cashmere, and she was, when I met her in London, regretting
the rule by which all presents from the native princes had to be given up
to Government, as once, on her return home, the Rajah sent a messenger to
meet her with an oblation of a gold teapot.

My old acquaintance had gone into the intricate affairs of the Mostyn
family of Mostyn and Gloddaeth, and declared that he found them hopeless.
Lord Mostyn owned the moor on which the town of Llandudno was subsequently
built; and I have mentioned that he owned a splendid library and
collection of antiquities. But when I was last at Gloddaeth, even the
flower-garden was farmed. His lordship borrowed £400 of my father-in-law,
and repaid him in garden tools.

It always impressed me as a curious trait in Pyne that he possessed so
slight a knowledge of the world. He gravely informed me one day, when we
were together, that he had gone to a saleroom in quest of an additional
book-case, and that a dealer approached him with an offer of his services.
He explained his object, and pointed to the article he had come to view.
The dealer begged to know his pleasure touching the price, and he named
six guineas; and he said to me with affecting simplicity: 'A most
extraordinary coincidence! the thing fetched just the money.' Of course
it did.

There have been very few book-buyers of the last and present generation of
whom I have not known something, but our correspondence was, as a rule,
purely bibliographical or incidental. Of the booksellers with whom I have
mixed I have already specified the Boones. The other principal houses were
those of Joseph Lilly, Bernard Quaritch, F. S. Ellis, B. M. Pickering,
John Pearson and his successors, Messrs J. Pearson & Co., and Willis &
Sotheran. My transactions with the Wallers, the Rimells, the Walfords,
Reeves & Turner, Edward Stibbs, John Salkeld, and some of the provincial
dealers, have also been a source of combined pleasure and profit. I may
affirm one thing with confidence, that if I have been asked a price for an
article, I have always paid it, and that I should not be accused of
procuring books or MSS. below their value, because I happened, perhaps, to
have gained a wrinkle more about them than the vendor.

When I first encountered Lilly it was as a simple amateur. I was at that
time--about 1863 or 1864--purchasing rare old books, for which my late
father unexpectedly discovered that he had to pay; I made my _début_ in
this charlatan-like course at a shop in Lombard Street, kept by a Mr
Elkins; but I never offended again. Lilly then had a place of business in
Bedford Street, and when I contracted my humble liability with him, and
accidentally brushed elbows with Mr Huth once or twice, neither of them
foresaw how strongly I should influence the library of the latter, or how
I should find it practicable to select from Lilly's shelves many scores of
rare volumes with a view to their translation to his own particular client
through me. For, apart from Mr Huth, I do not think that in his later
years Lilly had a large circle of customers, and I know that more than
once he has begged Mr Pyne on a Saturday afternoon to buy something of
him, as he had not sold a single volume during the week. This might have
been a joke; but there are not many jokes without a substratum of truth.

Lilly was a bluff, plain-spoken, imperfectly-bred man; but I always found
him civil and obliging, and he lent me any book which I required for
editorial or other purposes without hesitation. He compiled his
catalogues with no ordinary care, and would often take a pleasure in
pointing out some little discovery which he had made about an edition or
copy of an old writer. He presented me in 1869 with a bound collection of
these, and they contain a variety of useful notices. He was no scholar or
linguist, yet it was said of him that, if he had a Hebrew or Sanscrit
book, he seemed to know whether it possessed value or not. He left behind
him a large stock, which was publicly sold, and of which I was a purchaser
here and there. It struck me as a curious trait in a man who had much
natural shrewdness that he allowed many volumes of the rarest character to
remain on his shelves, when they might have been with very slight trouble
converted into money. Under the hammer they commanded prices which paid
homage to the departed owner's supposed capability of placing everything
to the best advantage; the trade hung off a good deal; and Lilly was not
popular, besides. The British Museum wanted nearly all that I bought.
There was one very early volume of prayers, printed on vellum, for which
Lilly had asked £12, 12s.; it came to me at £4, 12s., and I might, if John
Pearson had not suspected it to be something valuable, have had it for
half that amount. But the odd feature about the matter was that, although
I submitted it to Mr Blades, and to everyone else likely to be able to
tell me, no one could say where it was printed. The Museum gladly gave me
the sum which its former proprietor had justly deemed it worth without
finding anybody to agree with him.

The Daniel sale in 1864 and the Corser one, the latter spread over two or
three seasons (1868-70), represented the most profitable and conspicuous
incidents in Lilly's career, as they supplied the material, each in its
way, which most largely helped to raise the library of his principal, Mr
Huth, to the rank which it occupied, and still occupies in the hands of a
son. The Daniel books had been collected under specially favourable
circumstances. They were selected at leisure during a period of over
thirty years from auction-room and book-shop, whenever an item, which
struck their proprietor's practical instinct as a safe and desirable
investment, occurred; and some of the most important--the quarto
Shakespears, the unique chapbooks, and the Elizabethan poetry, were
secured just when a marked depression had set in--Dibdin's Bibliophobia,
which was to the Bibliomania what the anti-cyclone is to the whirlwind;
while not a few highly remarkable lots--

    The Ballads

    The quarto edition of the _Book of St. Albans_

    The _Lucrece_, 1594,

    The Chester's _Love's Martyr_, 1601,

besides others, no doubt, were obtained _sub rosâ_ by a mysterious
strategy, at which Daniel would darkly hint in conversation with you, but
of which you were left to surmise for yourself the whole truth. The
general opinion is, that he procured them through Fitch of Ipswich, whose
wife had been a housekeeper or confidential servant of the Tollemaches,
from Helmingham Hall, Bentley, the Suffolk seat of that ancient family.
But when I consider the numberless precious volumes, which have dropped,
so to speak, into my hands, coming, as I of course did, at a far less
auspicious juncture, I arrive at the conclusion, not that Daniel bought
freely everything really valuable and cheap, but that he must have had
abundant opportunities, as a person of leisure and means, of becoming the
master of thousands of other literary curiosities, which would have
brought him or his estate a handsome profit by waiting for the return of
the tide.

This gentleman improved the occasion, however, so far as his acquisitions
went, by making flyleaves the receptacles of a larger crop of misleading
statements than I ever remember to have seen from the hand of a single
individual; let us charitably suppose that he knew no better; and the
compiler of his catalogue must be debited with a similar amount of
ignorance or credulity, since there probably never was one circulated with
so many unfounded or hyperbolical assertions, from the time that Messrs
Sotheby & Co. first started in business. If the means are justified by the
end, however, the retired accountant had calculated well; the bait, which
he had laid, was greedily swallowed; and the prices were stupendous. It
was a battle _à l'outrance_ between the British Museum, Mr Huth, Sir
William Tite, and one or two more. But the national library and Mr Huth
divided the _spolia opima_, and doubtless the lion's share fell to the
latter. The Museum authorities can always wait.

Mr Huth did not want the first folio Shakespear, 1623, as he had acquired
at the Gardner sale in 1854 a very good one in an eighteenth-century
russia binding, not very tall, but very sound and fine. The Daniel one,
which went to Lady Coutts at over £700, came from William Pickering, and
cost about £200, as I was informed by a member of the Daniel family. It
thoroughly jumped with the owner's idiosyncrasy to pronounce his copy,
whenever he spoke of it, as the finest in existence, which it neither was
nor is. One of the best which I have seen was that sold at Sotheby's for
Miss Napier of Edinburgh through the recommendation of Mr Pyne aforesaid,
who admonished the lady to put a reserve of £100 on it. This was wholesome
advice, for it was put in at that figure, and the only advance was £1 from
a member of a solid ring opposite to myself, who had looked in from
curiosity to see how the bidding went. At £101 it would have fallen a prey
to the junto; it was in the old binding; it only wanted the verses; the
condition was large, crisp, and clean, the title-page (which had been
shifted to the middle for some reason, and was said in the catalogue to be
deficient) immaculate; and I was prompted to say £151. Angry and
disconcerted looks met me from the enemy's line, and I weighed the
utility of pursuing the matter. At £151 it became the property of six or
eight gentlemen, and I understood that the ultimate price left £400 behind

But the volume even in perfect state is not very rare. It is merely that,
in common with the first editions of Walton's _Angler_, the _Faëry
Queene_, the _Pilgrim's Progress_, _Paradise Lost_, Burns, and a few more,
everybody desires it. The auctioneers have a stereotyped note to the
effect that the first Shakespear is yearly becoming more difficult to
procure, which may be so, but simply because, although fresh copies
periodically occur, the competition more than proportionately increases.
There is a steadfast run on capital books, not only in English, but in all
languages--ay, let them be even in Irish, Welsh, Manx, or Indian

I personally attended the Corser sales, although Mr Ellis held my
commissions for all that I particularly coveted. I was therefore a
spectator rather than an actor in that busy and memorable scene; I now and
then intervened, if I felt that there was a lot worth securing on second
thoughts, not comprised in my instructions to my representative. The glut
of rarities was so bewildering, that I got nearly everything which I had
marked. It was before the day, when Mr Quaritch asserted himself so
emphatically and so irrepressibly, and John Pearson was not yet very
pronounced in his opposition. I had therefore to count only on Lilly and
Ellis, apart from the orders of the British Museum through Boone. By
employing Ellis I substantially narrowed the hostile competition to two,
and Lilly was not very formidable beyond those lots which Mr Huth had
singled out, nor Boone, save for such as he was instructed to buy for the
nation at a price--not generally a very high one. The Britwell library
just nibbled here and there at a _desideratum_, and had to pay very
smartly for it, when it traversed me.

Lilly, Ellis and myself (when I was there) usually sat side by side;
neither of them knew what my views were till some time afterward. But I
occasionally stood behind. There was an amusing little episode in relation
to a large-paper copy in the old calf binding of Samuel Daniel's _Civil
Wars_, 1595, with the autograph of Lucy, Lady Lyttelton. Two copies
occurred in successive lots, the large paper first; the others did not
notice the difference in size, till I had bought the rare variety, and
then Lilly, holding the usual sort of copy in his hand, and turning round
to the porter, asked him to bring the other. But he was of course too late
in his discovery. Mr Corser had given £20 for the book, which was knocked
down to me under such circumstances at £4, 6s., and at the higher rate,
one endorsed by the excellent judgment of the late proprietor, it passed
in due course to Mr Huth.

One of my direct acquisitions at this sale was the exceedingly rare volume
of Poems by James Yates, 1582; there were two copies in successive lots;
and I suggested that they should be sold together. The price was £31; but
most unfortunately they both proved imperfect, so that my hope of
obtaining a rich prize for my friend's library was frustrated. By the way,
the copy given by Mr Reynardson to the public library at Hillingdon about
1720 has long gone astray.

Lilly did not actively interfere in the book-market subsequently to the
dispersion of the Corser treasures. I confess that, if I had had a free
hand, I should have bought far more than he did; and if it had not been
for my personal offices, the Huth collection would have missed many
undeniably desirable and almost unique features in the Catalogue, as it
stands. Mr Huth himself was not very conversant with these matters, and
his leading counsellor had much to learn. I retain to this hour a foolish
regret, that I permitted Mr Christie-Miller to carry off anything, but I
am sufficiently patriotic to be glad, that the British Museum was so
successful. I have in my mind's eye the long rows of old quarto tracts as
they lay together, while Mr Rye, the then keeper, was looking through them
preparatorily to their consignment to a cataloguer; and I felt some
remorse at having been directly instrumental without his knowledge in
making many of them costlier. Poor Mr Huth was not prosperous as an
utterer of _bons-mots_. The only one I ever heard him deliver--and it was
weak to excess--was that he had bought at the Corser auction a good dish
of Greenes.

I apprehend that it was not so very long prior to this signal event in my
bibliographical history, that I had regular dealings with F. S. Ellis,
then in King Street, Covent Garden. I invariably found him most
well-informed, most obliging, and most liberal. While I was finishing my
_Handbook_, he volunteered (as I have said) the loan of Sir Francis
Freeling's interleaved _Bibliotheca Anglo-poetica_, on the blank pages of
which Freeling had often recorded the sources, whence he procured his rare
books at a very different tariff from that prevailing in Longman & Co.'s
catalogue. It may not be generally known that this eminent collector,
whose curious library was sold in 1836, enjoyed through his official
position at the General Post Office peculiar facilities for establishing a
system of communication with the authorities in the country towns, and he
certainly owed to this accident quite a number of bargains (as we should
now esteem them) from Dick of Bury St Edmunds. I must not repeat myself,
and I have already transcribed from the volume above-mentioned several of
Freeling's memoranda in my own publication of 1867.


    My Transactions with Mr Ellis--Rarities which came from Him, and How
    He got Them--Riviere the Bookbinder--How He cleaned a Valuable Volume
    for Me--His Irritability--A Strange Tale about an Unique Tract--The
    Old Gentleman and the Immoral Publication--Dryden's Copy of
    Spenser--The Unlucky _Contretemps_ at Ellis's--A Second Somewhere
    Else--Mr B. M. Pickering--Our Pleasant and Profitable
    Relations--Thomas Fuller's MSS. Epigrams--Charles Cotton's Copy of
    Taylor the Water-Poet's Works--A Second One, which Pickering had, and
    sold to Me--He has a First Edition of _Paradise Lost_ from Me for Two
    Guineas and a Half--Taylor's Thumb Bible.

Ellis after a while penetrated my pharisaical duplicity in acquiring from
him and others, to keep my pot boiling at home, while I amassed material
for my barren bibliographical enterprise, every item calculated to fit my
purpose; he now and then resisted my overtures; but as a rule he gave way
on my undertaking to pay his price. I owed to him a large number of
eminently rare volumes, of which he did not always appreciate the full
significance. I could specify scores of unique or all but unique entries
in the Huth Catalogue, which filtered through me from this source, and
ministered to my leading aim--not the earning of money so much as the
advancement of bibliographical knowledge.

Some of these prizes came to hand in a strange and romantic manner enough.
Two young Oxonians brought into the shop in King Street the copy of
Withals' _Dictionary_, 1553, which was not only unique and in the finest
condition, but which settled the question as to the book having been
printed, as the older bibliographers declared, by Caxton. A correspondent
at Aberdeen offered Sir David Lyndsay's _Squire Meldrum_, 1594, and
Verstegan's _Odes_, 1601, both books of the highest rarity, and the
Lyndsay unexceptionable, but the other horribly oil-stained. I exchanged
the Withals for twenty guineas, and the remaining two for thirty more. The
first was in the original binding, and it was not for me to disturb it;
but the Scotish book and the _Odes_ I committed to Riviere. He made a
grimace, when he examined the latter, and asked me if I was aware how much
it would cost to clean it. I assured him that that was a point which I
entirely left to him, and he restored it to me after a season in morocco
with scarcely a vestige of the blemish. He informed me that he had _boiled
the leaves in oil_--a species of homoeopathic prescription; and I
cheerfully paid him seven guineas for his skill and care.

He was a capital old fellow, originally a bookseller at Bath, and was
constantly employed by Christie-Miller and Ouvry. He was ambidexter; for
he executed a vast amount of modern binding for the trade, and was famous
for his tree-marbled calf, which I have frequently watched in its various
stages in his workshop.

He was a trifle irritable at times. I had given him an Elizabethan tract
to bind, and on inquiring after a reasonable interval it was not merely
not done, but could not be found. I called two or three times, and Riviere
at last exclaimed: 'Damn the thing; what do you want for it?'--pulling out
his cheque-book. I replied that I wanted nothing but my property, bound as
ordered; and he was so far impressed by my composure, that he said no
more, and eventually brought the stray to light.

At the Donnington sale in Leicestershire, when the old library removed
from Moira House, Armagh, was brought to the hammer, there was in a
bundle a particular pamphlet entitled _The Eighth Day_, 1661, an ephemeral
poem on the Restoration by Richard Beling, of which Sir James Ware had
descended to the grave without beholding a copy. In fact, no one else had.
This precious _morçeau_ found its way to a stall-keeper in London, who
confidently appraised it at one shilling. He had occasional proposals for
it, but they never topped the moiety; and he at last carried it to Edward
Stibbs in Museum Street, and told him that, if he could not get his price,
he would burn it. Stibbs behaved in a truly princely manner by handing him
half-a-crown. In a day or two Ellis called, saw the prize, and gave £2,
2s. for it. I happened to catch sight of it on his counter, and he forced
me to rise to £12, 12s.--it was intended as a prohibitive demand; but I
was not to be intimidated or gainsaid. Mr Huth did not offer a remark,
when I sent it to him in the usual way (with other recent finds) at £21.
What is its true value?

An odd adventure once befell Ellis without directly affecting me. He
mentioned to me that an old gentleman had called one day, and had bought a
copy of Cleveland's Poems at six shillings. He paid for it; and shortly
after he returned, and beckoning Ellis aside, as there was a third party
present, he demanded of him with a very grave air whether he was
acquainted with the nature of the publication, which he had sold to him.
As Ellis hardly collected his drift, and seemed to await a farther
disclosure, he added, 'That is a most indecent book, sir.' Ellis expressed
his sorrow, and engaged to take it back, and reimburse him. 'Nothing of
the kind, sir,' rejoined his visitor; 'I shall carefully consider the
proper course to pursue;' and he quitted the premises. When he reappeared,
it was to announce that after the most anxious deliberation he had burned
the immoral volume!

Samuel Addington of St. Martin's Lane, of whom there is some account in
_Four Generations of a Literary Family_, formed his collections, as a
rule, wholly from direct purchases under the hammer. He had no confidence
in his own knowledge of values, and liked to watch the course of
competition. It was his way, and not altogether a bad one, of gauging the
market, and supplying his own deficiencies at other people's expense. But
Addington occasionally bought prints of his friend Mrs Noseda, on whose
judgment he implicitly relied, and now and then he took a book or so of
Ellis. I was in the shop in King Street one day when he was there, and
Ellis succeeded in fixing him with £150's worth of MSS. Of course, it was
all whim; and the money was a secondary matter. He pulled out his
cheque-book on the spot, and paid for the purchase.

We had many a chat together, and he was obliging enough in one or two
instances to lend me something in his possession for myself or a friend. I
never heard the origin of his career as a collector. He was somewhat
before my time. But I ascribed his peculiarly fitful method of buying to
uncertainty as to the commercial aspect and expediency of a transaction;
for of real feeling for art or literature I do not believe that he had a

When I was talking to Ellis in King Street one day, an individual strongly
pitted with small-pox presented himself, and asked for a catalogue. He
said in a tone, which suggested the presence of a pebble in his mouth,
that he was 'Mr Murray Re-Printer.' This person was the predecessor of
Professor Arber in his scheme for bringing our earlier literature within
the reach of the general reader, who as a rule does not care a jot for

Of course it would be idle to pretend that I monopolised the innumerable
curiosities, which Ellis was continually having through his hands. I did
not even see the copy of Spenser's Works, 1679, Dryden's MSS. notes, which
he sold for £35 to Trinity College, Cambridge, having got it at an auction
for £1, where it was entered in the catalogue without a word; nor did I
venture to stand between Mr Huth and him in the case of the miraculously
fine copy in the original binding of the romance of _Palmendos_, 1589,
which Mason of Barnard's Inn brought in by chance. Mr Huth unfortunately
re-clothed both that and the Withals in modern russia.

Mason unwisely relinquished his employment as a brewer's actuary for the
book-trade, and that, again, for a yet worse one--drink. Many valuable
volumes passed through his hands, and he afforded me the opportunity of
taking notes of some of them.

I was once--once, only I think--so unhappy and so _gauche_ as to incur the
serious displeasure of my estimable acquaintance, and it was thus. Dr
Furnivall happened to enter the place of business with a volume in his
hand, which he was going to offer to the British Museum on behalf of the
owner, Mr Peacock of Bottesford Manor, and without reflection I tried,
standing on Tom Tiddler's ground, to dissuade him from his project in the
hearing of Ellis, and to let me have the refusal for Mr Huth. It was a
beautiful little book, _The School of Virtue_, the second part, 1619, and
unique. To the Museum it went surely enough; and I was upbraided by Ellis,
perhaps not undeservedly, with having thwarted him in his own intended
effort to intercept the article _in transitu_ with the same view as
myself; and I apologised. He was terribly ruffled at my indiscretion; and
I was sorry that I had perpetrated it.

Dr Furnivall is my nearly forty years' old friend. He is associated in my
recollection only with two transactions, both alike unfortunate: the one
just narrated, and a second, which was more ludicrous than anything else.
I had seen on his table at his own house a remarkably good copy of
Brathwaite's _Complete Gentlewoman_, 1631, and I thought of Mr Huth. I
knew Furnivall to be no collector, and I suggested to him that, if he did
not urgently require the Brathwaite, for which he had given 6s., I would
gladly pay him a guinea for it, and find him a working copy into the
bargain. He pleasantly declined, and I was astonished the next morning to
receive from him a fierce epistle enjoining me to restore to him instantly
the book, which I had taken. I contented myself with writing him a line,
to intimate that I had not the volume, and that I thought when he found
it, he would be sorry that he had expressed his views in such a manner. I
heard no more from him, till, a few days subsequently in my absence, he
called on me, and asked to see my wife, and to her he declared his extreme
regret at what had occurred, and announced the discovery of the lost
treasure underneath a pile of papers, where he had probably put it
himself. The affair was not exactly a joke; but it was just the kind of
impulsive thoughtlessness, which distinguishes my eminent contemporary,
and to which I dare say that he would readily plead guilty. I made no
secret of the business; and it produced no substantial difference in our
relations. I understood, rightly or wrongly, that he had gone so far as to
advertise the supposed larceny; but I treated the matter with stoical
indifference, and I believe that we have shaken hands over it years upon

I used to see at Ellis's the late William Morris. He was then in the prime
of life, and I recollect his long curly black hair. I do not think that he
had yet imbibed those socialistic ideas, which afterward distinguished
him, and which one is surprised to find in a person of considerable
worldly resources--in other words, with something to lose. I bought a copy
of his _Earthly Paradise_, when it first came out; but beyond the smooth
versification, and correct phraseology I failed to discern much in it. I
have often seen Morris stalking along with his rod and bag in the vicinity
of Barnes.

Of his typographical and artistic styles I own that I had a very
indifferent opinion, for they seemed to me to be incongruous and
unsympathetic. They did not appeal to my appreciation of true work. I
regarded them as bastard and empirical; they might do very well for
wall-papers. I must not be too sure; but I should imagine that any one,
who is familiar with the early printed books illustrated by engravings of
whatever kind, would be apt to take the same view. The graphic portion of
Morris's publications is intelligible, however, and sane; one can see what
is meant, if one does not agree with the treatment. It is not so utterly
outrageous as Mr Beardsley's performances.

There were two other personages, with little in common between them, whom
I met in King Street--George Cruikshank and Mr A. C. Swinburne. I have
come across the latter elsewhere; but Cruikshank whom my grandfather had
known so well, a short, square-set figure, who once entered the shop,
while I was there, it was not my fortune to behold on more than that
single occasion.

I had started as a bookman nearly soon enough to meet William Pickering
himself; but with his son, B. M. Pickering, when he opened a small shop in
Piccadilly, my intercourse was prompt and continuous. He was a man of
rather phlegmatic and unimpressionable temperament, but thoroughly
honourable and trustworthy. My earliest dealings with him were on my own
personal account, while I cherished the idea, that I might take my place
among the collectors of the day, and I obtained from him a few very rare
volumes, including a copy of _England's Helicon_, quarto, 1600, which he
had found in a bundle at Sotheby's in 1857, shortly after the realisation
of £31 at the same rooms for one at the Wolfreston sale. He gave £1 for
this but it was not very fine, and like the Wolfreston and every other
known copy, except Malone's in the Bodleian, wanted, as I subsequently
discovered, the last leaf. Pickering had it washed and bound in brown
morocco by Bedford, and charged me £18, 18s. for it. Perhaps the most
remarkable purchase which I ever made in this direction was a copy of
Richard Crashaw's Poems, in which an early owner had inserted a MS. text
of upward of fifty otherwise unknown epigrams by Thomas Fuller. Pickering
marked the volume 15s., and said nothing about the unique feature. Dr
Grosart printed the collection from this source.

My relations with the younger Pickering were almost equally divided in
point of time into two epochs: from 1857 to 1865, when I bought for
myself, and thenceforward till the date of his death, when I added him to
the number of those who assisted me in carrying out, through Mr Huth and a
few others, my interminable task of cataloguing the entire _corpus_, with
very slight reservations, of our early national literature. Pickering
never objected to let me become the medium for filling up gaps in the Huth
library from his periodical acquisitions; I paid him his price; and I
paid it promptly, as I did all round.

Our maiden transaction was a very humble one. It was a copy of a little
tract called _A Caution to keep Money_, 1642, and it was a sort of
experiment. I had to give 5s. for it, and at the same not very extravagant
figure it went to my acquaintance. He eyed it rather wistfully; the low
price was somewhat against it; but he accepted it, and fortunately or
otherwise he did not take its counsel practically to heart. But I
discovered the futility of allowing cheapness to appear as a
recommendation in the case of one, who knew comparatively little of the
selling value, and to whom cheapness was not the slightest object. The
pamphlet in question was the pioneer of many scores of articles of the
highest rarity and interest, which found their way through the same
channel to the ultimate possessor. Among them was a curious copy in the
original calf binding with many uncut leaves of Taylor the Water Poet's
works, 1630, formerly belonging to Charles Cotton the angler; it had come
from the Hastings library at Donnington, and I paid Pickering £30 for it.
A second one, which I had of him, was the only example containing
anything in the nature of a presentation from the author, whose autograph
is of the rarest occurrence; but unfortunately in this case the memorandum
was written by the recipient. The folio Taylor is one of those books,
which has unaccountably fallen in price of late years; and certainly it is
by no means uncommon.

I was almost invariably on the acquiring side. Once I sold Pickering, as I
have already related, a Caxton, and at another time a first edition of
_Paradise Lost_, 1669, in the original sheep cover. I had seen the latter
at a shop in Great Russell Street, of which the rather impetuous master,
when I put some query to him, seemed undecided, whether he would let me
have the book after all for £2, 2s., or throw it at my head. He did the
former, and an American agent begged me as a favour to let him pay me
double the money, which, as I thought him to be in jest, I declined. I
subsequently parted with it to Pickering for £2, 12s. 6d., which was about
the prevailing tariff thirty years since. I may take the present
opportunity of mentioning that it was at the same emporium in Bloomsbury,
that a later occupant apologised to me, in tendering me a beautiful uncut
copy in sheep of Taylor the Water Poet's _Thumb Bible_, for being so
unreasonable as to want 14s. for the Jeremy Taylor, as he took it to be. I
forgave him, and Mr Huth was very pleased to have the volume.

Pickering had, like his father, a singular weakness for accumulating
stock, and laying up imperfect copies of rare books in the distant hope of
completing them. Yet he held his ground, and gradually enlarged his
premises, till they were among the most spacious at the West End. Poor
fellow! he lost all his belongings in an epidemic, and never recovered
from the shock.


    Mr John Pearson--Origin of Our Connection--His Appreciable Value to
    Me--He assists, through Me, in Completing the Huth Library--Lovelace's
    _Lucasta_--The Turbervile--The Imperfect Chaucer--The Copy of Ruskin's
    Poems at Reading--The Walton's _Angler_--Locker and Pearson--James
    Toovey--Curious Incident in Connection with Sir Thomas
    Phillipps--Willis & Sotheran--Two Unique Cookery Books--Only Just in
    Time--The Caxton's _Game and Play of the Chess_--A Valuable Haul from
    the West of England--A Reverend Gentleman's MSS. _Diaries of
    Travel_--The Wallers--Lamb's _Tales from Shakespear_, 1807--The Folio
    MS. of Edmond Waller's Poems--An Unique Book of Verse--A Rare American
    Item--The Rimells--I take from Them and sell to Them--Some Notable
    _Americana_--The Walfords--An Unique Tract by Taylor the Water
    Poet--John Russell Smith and His Son--My Numerous Transactions with
    the Latter--Another Unknown Taylor--John Camden Hotten--I sift His
    Stores in Piccadilly--The Bunyan Volume from Cornwall--John
    Salkeld--My Expedition to His Shop on a Sunday Night, and Its Fruit--A
    Rather Ticklish Adventure or Two--Messrs Jarvis & Son--My Finds
    There--King James I.'s Copy of Charron, dedicated to Prince Henry--The
    Unknown Fishmongers' Pageant for 1590--The Long-Lost English Version
    of Henryson's _Æsop_, 1577.

I first met with John Pearson, if I remember rightly, when he had a room
at Noble's in the Strand. He had sent me his catalogue, and I went to buy
a small London tract, for which he demanded £3, 3s., because it had all
the three blank leaves; it was in fact a speech delivered to King James I.
on his entry into the City in 1603 by Richard Martin of the Middle Temple.
Mr Huth sent it to Bedford, who removed the leaves, which constituted the
feature; but I did not see the mischief, till it fell to my lot to
catalogue the piece years afterward. My good friend was very tiresome and
difficult in these small matters, which in bibliography are apt to become
great ones. I obtained for him a bipartite volume by Ben Jonson,
comprising the description of James I.'s reception in London and his
previous entertainment at Althorp, in 1603-4, at two different points, and
explained to him the desirability of having them bound together, as the
latter portion was named on the first title. They went to Bedford, I
suppose, without a word, and were clothed in separate jackets.

Pearson became another of my coadjutors. His intelligence, energy, and
good fortune did me excellent service. He dealt of course with many other
persons, both here and in America; but a handsome proportion of his prizes
passed through me to Mr Huth. The latter at that period--in the
seventies--still lacked some of the most ordinary _desiderata_ of a
collection, which was beginning under my auspices to assume a more general
character than it possessed, when I entered on the scene in 1866. Even
Lovelace's _Lucasta_, of which I purchased of Pearson George Daniel's copy
for £3, 3s., Carew's Poems, 1640, of which I met with a beautiful specimen
on thick paper in the original binding for 21s., and many others, were
absent. It was Pearson's object to come to the front, and I perhaps did my
part in making him known to my patron, who eventually added his shop to
his places of call, and inspected the articles, which the proprietor and I
had agreed to lay before him as suitable and deficient.

The Turbervile above noticed was my most signal gain from this quarter. I
shall never forget Pearson's exultation, when I acceded to his proposal;
he seemed, as he cried, 'I have made £75 by it,' as if he would have leapt
over the counter.

His commercial transactions became sufficiently wide and lucrative, and
all my purchases of him did not go to Mr Huth. A curious little piece of
luck befel me in the case of a Chaucer wanting the end, which he had kept
for years, and at length sold to me in despair. The next week Reeves &
Turner obtained a second of the same impression by Thomas Petyt, _wanting
the commencement_. Reeves let me take out the leaves I required for a
trifle. I never experienced from Pearson any deficiency of
straightforwardness, except that once Mrs Noseda and he had, I think, a
joint hand in passing off a facsimile frontispiece of Taylor the
Water-Poet's Works, and I was the victim. I said nothing, but, like the
Frenchman's jackdaw, thought the more. He was an exceptionally shrewd and
vigilant character, and nearly broke Lovejoy of Reading's heart by getting
from his assistant an uncut copy of Ruskin's poems for a shilling during
Lovejoy's absence. But Pearson paid the price, which the fellow asked. I
was in the shop, when he had just received through a third party a lovely
copy of Walton's _Angler_, 1653, in the pristine binding for £14 plus £3,
10s. to the bringer. The last copy in the market in precisely the same
condition brought successively £310 and £415. Someone tells me that in
both cases the buyer and the seller was one and the same party. Poor
Walton! like Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespear, and our other Great Ones, he
has been converted into _bric-à-brac_. To your millionaire amateur it does
not signify whether it is a book or a tea-pot or a violin, if the price is
high enough--better still, if it is higher than was ever given before.
That is his intelligent seeing-point. In the present instance the holder
of the Walton, if the above-named view be correct, did not meet with a
customer so enthusiastic as himself. He was a trifle too much _in

Pearson was almost the introducer of those stupendous prices for really
first-rate books or rarities in book-form, which have now gone on
ascending, till it is hard to tell where they will stop. Frederic Locker
told me that he had asked him fifty guineas for a prose tract by Southwell
a few years anterior in date to any recorded. Why not five hundred? With
Pearson's successors I have had many years' pleasant acquaintance. _Verbum
sap._ The volumes, which have changed hands on that ground, would form a
library and a fine one.

With the late James Toovey I never had a single transaction. But Mr Huth
often spoke of him and of the _Temple of Leather and Literature_, as his
place of business in Piccadilly was jocularly called from Toovey's
predilection for old morocco bindings. I do not pretend to know what was
the exact nature of this business; but it must have been a very profitable
one. Ordinary bookselling made only a small part of it. I always took
Toovey to be a Jew, till I found that he was a Catholic; and it was a
laughable circumstance that, when the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps of
Middle-Hill had to be valued, he was the very person selected to perform
the task, although Phillipps had laid down in his will that the house
should never be entered, nor the books examined, _by Mr Halliwell or a

Willis & Sotheran's in the Strand was known to me by tradition. My father
had bought books of Willis in early times, when the latter was in Prince's
Street and in the Piazza, before he joined Mr Sotheran. The shop in the
Strand united with Pickering's and one or two more to supply me with a
handful or so of curiosities, while I remained what is termed an
_amateur_. Later, it was one of the marts, to which I regularly resorted
with advantage in quest of the wants of Mr Huth or the British Museum. An
old-established business, it mechanically attracted year by year an
endless succession of private parcels and single lots, which generally
rendered the monthly catalogues remunerative reading. It is more than a
quarter of a century ago, since I received one of these lists at
Kensington, and spied out two unique items in the shape of _Cookery Books_
of the Elizabethan period at 10s. 6d. each. I was on the top of the next
omnibus going Londonward, and entered the premises with a nervous
uncertainty not legible on my countenance. I applied for the lots; _they
brought them to me_; they were in splendid state; I clapped them in my
pocket, and I left the place with a lightened heart. I met some of my
friends, who were coming in, as I walked out, and I guessed their mission.
How sorry I was for them! Mr Pyne was one. There came into my thoughts a
saying of Mr Huth's elucidatory of the success of his firm: 'We do not
profess,' quoth he, 'to be cleverer than other folks; but we get up
earlier in the morning.'

Mr Huth owed his copy of Caxton's _Game of Chess_ to Willis & Sotheran. An
individual brought it into the shop, and offered it for sale. It was in
vellum, but wanted A i. and A viii., the former a blank leaf. What the
firm gave, I never heard; but when Lilly approached them on behalf of Mr
Huth, the demand was £1000. It is always wise to start with a margin. The
ultimate figure was £300. It was the second edition, of which Trinity
College, Cambridge, the Duke of Devonshire, and Lord Tollemache, have
perfect copies.

It was the buyer (Francis), whom Willis & Sotheran employed about 1860, to
whom we were all indebted for discovering at or near Plymouth the unique
tragedy of _Orestes_, 1567, which went to the Museum, and for a duplicate
of which Payne Collier safely offered at the time fifty guineas, and the
equally rare copy of Drayton's _Harmony of the Church_, 1610, which was
acquired by Mr Corser, and at his sale by Mr Christie-Miller. I have not
heard that the West of England has of recent years yielded many such finds
as it formerly did. It was long a profitable hunting ground.

Speaking of Drayton, of whose early editions it has fallen to my lot to
secure several at different times, I am reminded that in Willis &
Sotheran's 1862 catalogue appeared that eminent writer's _Tragical Legend
of Robert Duke of Normandy_, 1596, of which only three copies are known;
the volume turned out on examination to want a leaf; but luckily in
another list issued by the firm there was a second example misdescribed as
_Drayton's Poems_, which, though elsewhere imperfect, supplied the
immediate deficiency; and the duplicate, which had served me so well, was
wasted. I had been about the same time disappointed by missing at a shop
in Old Bond Street (not Boone's) the _English Ape_, 1588, in the original
binding at £2, 12s. 6d.; and curiously enough the house in the Strand
purchased it, bound it in red morocco, and put it in a subsequent monthly
circular at £5, 5s. I had to stretch my purse-strings, and go to the
higher figure.

I have elsewhere given Willis himself credit for introducing me to a small
literary commission, which if it did not yield much money, did not entail
much labour. The only other experience of the same class afforded me the
labour without any result. It was a parson of independent fortune, who
called me in for my opinion on certain _Diaries of Travel_, which he had
written, and which he thought (most correctly) in need of editorship. The
negotiation came to nothing, and so did my fee. It was not my province to
inform the reverend gentleman that his MSS. were waste-paper, nor would
the mention of his name be of any utility. He was unconsciously one of
those sempiternal caterers for the paper-mill, whose unprinted effusions
generally figure in the auctions among the bundles in the wane of the
season, and they resemble in their inevitable doom the processions through
the streets of the drover's charges on their way to our shambles. Let us
pray that from the pulp of this holy man's _derelicta_, swept out by his
executors, something worthier and more durable may evolve.

There is quite a group of minor or secondary dealers, whose absolute rank
to me was indifferent, and from whom it has been my fortune in the course
of my career as a bibliographical huntsman to bring away spoils of the
chase neither few nor unimportant.

An odd case of rather shallow misrepresentation occurred, when I went to
an emporium in Conduit Street in search of a copy of Stapylton's
_Musoeus_, 1647. It was marked 5s. 6d. in the catalogue, but, said the
owner, 'that is a misprint for 15s.' I put down the larger sum, merely
inquiring how the odd sixpence crept in!

The Wallers of Fleet Street, originally next to Saint Dunstan's Church,
subsequently higher up, had known my grandfather. The younger was my more
particular acquaintance, and helped me to many choice items. I recollect
that I refused a spotless copy of Lamb's _Tales from Shakespear_, in old
sheep, 1807, for 7s. 6d., which Waller assured me that Mr George Daniel
had seen, and estimated at a guinea; and I regret this more than I
congratulate myself on the acquisition of an unique folio MS. of Edmond
Waller's Poems, which his namesake had got from a furniture sale for one
shilling, and let me have for fifty, of an unknown impression of _A
Description of Love_, 1629, tenderly and mercifully swaddled between two
imperfect books in a volume, and itself (the sole thing of value) as clean
as a new penny, and several other ungratefully forgotten blessings. It was
to the Waller volume that the last editor of the poet was indebted for the
unprinted and otherwise undescribed dedication to Queen Henrietta Maria,
of which I furnished the earliest notice an age since to _Notes and
Queries_. By the way, I must not overlook the matchless copy in boards
uncut of the _Papers relating to the Colony of Massachusetts Bay_,
published at Boston, 1769, for which I tendered Waller 5s., and for which
an American house gave £8.

I had not much to do with the Rimells and the Walfords. The former put in
my way two or three rarities, and I furnished them with a couple of
valuable _Americana_ for the Carter-Brown library at New York. The books
which I associate with this firm are Philipot's Elegies on the Death of
William Glover, Esquire of Shalston in Buckinghamshire, 1641, which cost
me 4s., and Gardyne's _Theatre of the Scottish Kings_, 1709, both alike
scarce to excess. Of neither are more than two copies known, and the
Grenville one of the second is mutilated. Mr Christie-Miller would have
been glad to possess the Philipot; but it went to the national library;
the Gardyne passed into the Huth collection.

The Walfords were instrumental in enabling me to track out a pamphlet by
Taylor the Water Poet relative to a murder at Ewell in 1620, of which I
had been on the scent for years, and of which a copy at last occurred in a
huge pile of miscellanies at Sotheby's tied up together at the close of a
season. I found that Walford was the buyer; and when I waited on him, it
turned out that it was a commission. For whom? Well, a customer in
Scotland. But he did not want the account of a transaction at Ewell! Well;
he would write, if I would name my price. I offered 10s. The tract came
up; I took all the particulars; and the Museum relieved me of it at £4,
4s. No duplicate has ever been seen, I believe.

John Russell Smith was one of my earliest publishers. I became acquainted
with him in 1857 in that capacity, and continued to do literary work on
his behalf down to 1869. I subsequently purchased a large number of old
books of him and of his son, Alfred Russell Smith, through whose hands
passed some very rare articles less highly appreciated by him than by
myself. Which was the truer estimation, I do not know; but Smith now and
then ingenuously stated to me that a lot in the catalogue, which I
selected, had been ordered over and over again. Such was the case with
the _Book of Measuring of Land_, by Sir Richard de Benese, Canon of Merton
Abbey, printed at Southwark about 1536 by James Nicholson, priced 15s. in
the original stamped binding, and Henry Vaughan the Silurist's _Thalia
Rediviva_, marked 25s. Smith said one morning that a party had sent him
three tracts, which he shewed me, and wanted 25s. for the lot; and he
should expect 5s. for his trouble, if they would suit me. 'Very well,'
said I. But the party advanced to 30s. and Smith by consequence to 35s.
Still I was agreeable; and at that figure they became mine. Two of them
were by Taylor the Water Poet, one unique--the original narrative of his
journey to Bohemia, 1620; and it was, as so many of these exceedingly rare
items often are, in a perfect state of preservation.

I once went through Hotten's stores in Piccadilly, and found nothing but
the copy which Mr Huth had, of Wither's _Psalms_, printed in the
Netherlands, 1632, in unusually fine condition, and marked 15s. Hotten had
from Cornwall, in a volume, Cowley's Poems set to music by W. King, 1668,
and Bunyan's _Profitable Meditations_, the latter unique, and now in the
British Museum. I somehow missed that; but I bought the Cowley; it is the
identical one described in the Huth catalogue. Hotten had a curious
propensity for marking his old books at figures, which might denote the
exiguity of his profit--or the reverse. He would not ask 18s. or a guinea,
but 19s. 6d.

There was a constitutional and aggravating proneness on his part as a
publisher to the pursuit of a tortuous path in preference to a straight
one; and I am afraid that he took a certain pride in trying to outwit or
overreach his client. Most unwillingly I had in the case of a small book,
which he took, to involve him in two bills of costs from his sheer
perversity in regard to his engagements; and the curious, but unfortunate
sequel was that his successors, in taking over the interest, repudiated
their balance of liability, and exposed themselves to a farther
superfluous outlay. What was a poor author to do?

When he was in Orange Street, Red Lion Square, I saw a good deal of John
Salkeld, a north-countryman, whom I always found perfectly satisfactory
and reliable. He never had occasion to carry out the practice on me, as I
was a most exemplary paymaster, especially in those cases, when I thought
that the money was at once an object and an encouragement; but Salkeld
often spoke to me of less punctual clients at a distance, whom he should
like to _hug_. My most notable adventure in connection with him was the
result of a catalogue, which he sent to me, so that I got it the last
thing on a Saturday night. There was a Wither's _Emblems_, Daniel's
_Works_ and _Panegyrick_ in a volume on large paper, and one or two other
matters. They were not very cheap; but they were worth having, thought I.
I knew that Salkeld resided over his shop, and on the Sunday evening I
walked up to town from Kensington, proceeded to Orange Street, found my
man at home, and carried off my plunder in triumph. What charming books
they were! For no better a copy of the Wither Mr Huth had paid Toovey £40.
Both wanted the pointers to the dial.

Like so many other of my doings in the book-market, the solitary
experience which I had of a person named Noble was with an immediate eye
to Mr Huth. He (Noble) had come into possession of a handful of scarce old
English tracts, including a volume containing several by Lady Eleanor
Audley, a very rare item in the series of George Chapman's poetical
works--his _Epicede on Prince Henry_, 1612, absolutely complete with the
folded engraving, and Joshua Sylvester's Elegy on the same personage, so
difficult to procure in such condition as Mr Huth always desired. These
treasures I converted for Noble into cash, and was immediately afterward
favoured with a casual suggestion elsewhere, which led me to take them to
Riviere to be measured for new coats, except the Lady Audley volume, which
I deposited at Great Russell Street. I had paid Noble £2 for it, thinking
it must be worth £3; but before I reached Bloomsbury, I thought that it
might not be too dear at £7, 7s.

The only other misadventure of the kind--if it may be so termed, as no
unpleasant consequences ensued--was in connection with a book, which some
one stole from Stibbs in Museum Street, and sold to Salkeld, who sold it
to me. I was apprised by the original owner that he had traced it to my
hands; but I pointed out that I had purchased it in good faith in open
market, and for the rest I referred him to the Trustees of the national
library, where it had found a resting-place.

Messrs Jarvis & Son succeeded during my acquaintance with them in
stumbling upon a variety of bargains and prizes, which I usually
appropriated. One was a splendid copy of Greene's _Pandosto_, 1592, the
only known one of that of 1588 in the Museum being imperfect. A second
acquisition was the copy, which had belonged to James I. of the long-lost
first edition of Lennard's translation of Charron _De la Sagesse_,
dedicated to PRINCE HENRY; and a third was a singular metrical tract by
John Mardelay, Clerk of the Mint to Henry VIII. called _A Rueful Complaint
of the Public Weal to England_, printed under Edward VI., and completely

There was a remarkable coincidence between this Mardelay piece and an
equally unique little volume by Thomas Nelson, 1590, which I purchased
elsewhere about the same time, that both were folded in a precisely
similar manner, as if the old owner grudged the space, which they occupied
in a drawer or a box. They were perfectly clean and very much as they had
left the printer's hands. The Nelson was the hitherto undiscovered pageant
of the Fishmongers under the mayoralty of John Allot, Lord Mayor of
London, and Mayor of the Staple, and was six-and-twenty years anterior to
any of which the company was aware. It was not published, but privately
issued to members. I held this to be a great find, and I reproduced the
text in the _Antiquary_, before I parted with the original to the Museum.
The printer could not make out the meaning of _staple_, and in the first
proof put _steeple_.

There was one more striking episode in my temporary contact with Jarvis &
Son. I saw in a catalogue of miscellaneous books sold at Sotheby's in 1890
a lot, which fixed my attention as a bibliographer. It was the English or
Anglicised version of Henryson's _Æsop_, printed at London in 1577, and of
which David Laing, in his edition of the old Scotish poet, 1865, speaks as
having been seen by him in the library of Sion College, when he visited
that institution about 1830. He mentions that he wished to verify
something at a later date, and that the volume had disappeared. I found on
inspection that this was the identical book, no other being known
anywhere, and I bought it under the hammer for £6, and let Jarvis & Son
have it for £12, 12s. They sold it to Lord Rosebery. It had probably been
a wanderer above half a century, since it quitted the College in the
pocket of some divine of elastic conscience or short memory.


    Messrs Reeves & Turner--My Literary Work for the Firm--My Advantageous
    Acquisitions Here--Cheap Rates at which Rare Books were Formerly
    Obtainable--The Large Turn-over of the Business--Wake of
    Cockermouth--An Unique Wynkyn de Worde--A Supposed Undescribed
    Shakespear in a House-Sale at Bognor--Tom Arthur--The Wynkyn de Worde,
    which I secured for Another Shilling--Arthur and Sir Thomas Phillipps
    of Middle Hill--The Bristol Book Shops--Lodge's _Rosalynd_, 1592--Mr
    Elliot Stock--My Literary Work for Him--One Volume Unexpectedly
    Productive--Mr Henry Stopes--My Recovery for Him of a Sarum Breviary,
    which belonged to an Ancestor in Queen Mary's Days--His Wife's Family
    and Sir Walter Scott--A Canterbury Correspondent and His Benefits--Two
    More Uniques--A Singular Recovery from New York--Casual Strokes of
    Good Luck in the Provinces--The Wynkyn de Worde at Wrexham--A
    _Trouvaille_ in the Haymarket--Books with Autographs and
    Inscriptions--A Few Words about Booksellers and Publishers.

My much-respected publisher and acquaintance, Mr Reeves, of the firm of
Reeves & Turner, was in business in St Clement's Churchyard, when I first
met with him about 1873. He succeeded Mr Russell Smith as my publisher,
and acted as my agent for some books, while others he entrusted to my
editorship. The most important in the latter category were the Dodsley and
the Montaigne, to the latter of which I contributed only the Introduction,
my father revising the text for me, and seeing the proofs, as I was at
this juncture extremely busy with all sorts of ventures, and was, above
everything else, intent on a new bibliographical departure. Thousands of
volumes had been in my hands during the last few years, had answered my
questions, and had gone on their way, leaving me wiser and not poorer. The
toll, which they paid me, had placed me in a position to pursue a vast
Quixotic undertaking; and I had no other means of executing it.

Messrs Reeves & Turner's premises were a favourite haunt of
bargain-hunters in days gone by. Mr Reeves frequently attended outside and
country sales, and bought many private lots; and every morning certain
members of the trade made the place their first destination. I am not
going to allege that I never participated in the advantages myself; but my
gains were occasional and accidental; although I was long an habitual
caller at the shop, the necessity for consulting Mr Reeves about some
current literary affair making such visits imperative.

I have noticed the somewhat strange absence of perception and training
which led Reeves to sacrifice an incalculable amount of valuable property,
constantly passing through his hands in former years, and often going to
others, who knew better how to turn it to account, where I describe the
unique collection of _Occasional Forms of Prayer_ of the reign of Queen
Elizabeth, and the statement of the sagacious cataloguer that the volume
containing them was so many inches thick. But it was ever so. There was no
discrimination. At one time I bought an important first edition of
Heywood, 1605, for half-a-guinea, and a theological tract worth a couple
of shillings was marked at the same price. They had only just come in, and
not to draw undue attention to the Heywood, I tendered a guinea for the
two. On another occasion, a lovely little copy of Donatus _De Octo
Partibus Orationis_, an unknown ancient impression, four leaves, octavo,
fell to me here at 4s. But I should make too long a story, if I were to
set down all the _trouvailles_, which I owed to my excellent friend's
omission to employ a capable assistant, or to look into these details
himself, I might grow monotonous, unless the circumstances happened to be
salient or peculiar.

Reeves, when he was in business in St Clement's Churchyard, must have for
some years done an enormous volume of trade, for he shewed me one day in
the early eighties his bank-book, where it appeared that in a year he had
paid in £21,000, exclusively of small amounts, which were used as cash.
Yet sadly too little came of all this exhausting labour. He parted at too
trivial a profit; he was too eager to turn over; and his assistants have
told me that he often sold out of the open window for sixpence, items
which had cost a couple of shillings. The auction-room in Chancery Lane
did not, it is to be feared, contribute to his welfare. No man, however,
was more honourable or trustworthy. He once remitted £50 to a person, of
whom he had purchased a lot of books, on finding them more profitable than
he had expected. Someone spoke of him to me as 'a nobleman who dealt in
books'--an improvement on Johnson's definition of Tom Davies.

Wake of Cockermouth, a member of the Society of Friends, who deals in
every conceivable and inconceivable object of curiosity, but is a highly
deserving and industrious man, sent me on one occasion at £4, 10s. a tract
of six leaves from the press of Wynkyn de Worde--the _Stans puer ad
Mensam_ of Sulpitius. It was an edition of 1515, earlier than any on
record, and the British Museum paid me £12, 12s. for it. The curious part
was that some months later Reeves had a very bad copy of the Grammar of
the same author from the same press--a thick volume in quarto, marked £6,
6s., and I took a note of it, and left it. Wake, shrewdly calculating that
as I had given £4, 10s. for the little tract of six leaves, I could not
hesitate to take this one of at least sixty at £10, 10s., bought the lot
on speculation, and reported it to me. I returned him my thanks. His
deduction was arithmetically, but not bibliographically, accurate.

I had put into my hands at Reeves's one day the catalogue of a house-sale
at Bognor, There was a single lot in it: 'Shakespeare's Poems, 8º, 1609.'
No such book was known; yet it was perfectly possible that it might have
been printed. Reeves thought that it might be worth my while to go down,
and inspect it. I did, and had a day at the seaside. The volume was a
Lintot! The auctioneer apologised; but he did not offer to defray my
travelling expenses.

There are many among us, who remember Arthur in Holywell Street. He was a
singular character, and had been a porter, I think, at one of the
auction-rooms. My purchases of him were very numerous; and they were
always right and reasonable, or I should not have been his client. He left
£400 to Mr Ridler his assistant, who, called in Reeves to appraise the
stock, and obtained it within that amount. While Arthur was in business,
there was a grammatical tract in English printed by De Worde in his
catalogue at £3, 3s. I went in to ask for it, and Ridler said that I could
not have it. 'Is it out of the house?' I enquired. 'No,' said he; 'but it
is put aside for a gentleman, who always gives me something for myself.'
'What does he give you?' said I. 'A shilling,' quoth he. 'I will give you
two.' The lot left the shop in my pocket.

I acquired several curious articles from Ridler himself. He was, as a
rule, reluctant to sell anything except through the catalogue. But he made
an exception in my favour by pulling out of a drawer on one occasion a
very fine copy of the very book which Wake of Cockermouth had previously
offered me; and I agreed to give £8, 18s. 6d. for it. It is now in the
Museum. In a second case he sold me, with a stern proviso that it was not
returnable on any account whatever, a defective copy of John Constable's
Poems, printed by Pynson, 1520, which nearly completed the Museum
one--only two copies, both imperfect, being known! The Constable was bound
up with a foreign tract of no value in such a manner as to mystify our
good friend.

He no longer honours me with his catalogue. I ceased to find much in my
way, and perhaps I was not worth the postage. Ridler it was, who once
signalised a volume as 'difficult of procuration.'

It was Arthur who had the only copy ever been with the colophon of
Slatyer's _Paloealbion_, 1621; he got it for a few shillings of Lazarus in
the same street, and sold it to Sir Thomas Phillipps of Middle Hill for
£15, as Ridler informed me many years ago.

The last mad freak of Phillipps was the transmission of an order to Arthur
to send him one of his catalogues _en bloc_. Some of the lots had been
sold; but the remainder was duly shipped to the Broadway, Worcestershire;
and a pretty parcel of rubbish it must have been! This is
_book-scavengering_. You only require a besom and a purse, and a block of

With the exception of Jeffreys and George of Bristol and Wake above named,
I have not known much of the provincial dealers. Jeffreys sent me the
_Golden Legend_ by Caxton, as I have said, and a few other rare things,
and with George my transactions were limited to just one. Mr Pyne had
returned from these parts, and had seen at Jeffreys' or Lasbury's (as he
thought) Lodge's _Rosalynd_, 1592, at £3, 10s., bound up with an imperfect
copy of Lyly's _Euphues_. _He declined it_, but on his arrival home he
reconsidered the matter, and wrote to the wrong man. I dropped in, just as
he was deliberating whether it was worth while to write to the right one;
but he concluded by giving up the volume to me. I had to pay £5 for it,
George stating that a party had assured him it was quite worth the higher
sum. I did not dare to dispute the point; I bound the Lodge, for which Mr
Huth gave me £42, and let Mr Pyne have the Lyly. The only other copy
known of the _Rosalynd_ is in the Bodleian, and the single antecedent
impression (1590) exists in an unique and imperfect one. The book, as it
is familiar to most people, has the foundation-story of _As You Like It_.

The mention of that drama reminds me that Rosalind and Rosaline were
rather favourite names with our early poets. Spenser introduces Rose
Daniel, the writer's sister, into his _Faëry Queen_ under that
designation, as he had done another lady in his _Shepherd's Calendar_.
Shakespear himself has Rosaline in _Love's Labours Lost_ and _Romeo and
Juliet_, and Thomas Newton wrote a poem no longer known beyond its
registration in 1604, entitled: _A pleasant new History; or, a fragrant
Posie, made of three Flowers: Rosa, Rosalynd, and Rosemary_.

I edited a few small books for Mr Elliot Stock, and had the opportunity of
taking notes of one or two very rare volumes in that gentleman's private
library. I met in the shop one day my friend M----, who told me that he
had come to buy the new English translation of the _Imitatio Christi_. I
expressed surprise. He explained that it was to give away. I still
expressed surprise. 'Well,' said he, 'you see it is the fine style.' I
had thought that that lay in the original Latin; but I scarcely presumed
to hint such a thing. I passed for one who had long laboured under a very
grave misapprehension, and who was at length undeceived.

I did not grow very rich out of Mr Stock's commissions; they were, as I
have mentioned, little undertakings; perhaps they did not sell very
well--I fancy that the general editor of the series gave me to understand
that his own contributions were the only ones which did. But one of
them--the _Old Cookery Books_, introduced me to a city gentleman, whose
library I assisted in completing. He was a very good fellow, who had been
spoiled by companies and company-mongers. He had conceived, before I met
him, the design of collecting everything in all languages relative to
fermented liquors and the processes of their manufacture. He was not
fastidious as to condition, though he preferred a good copy to a bad one;
and I left his shelves fuller than I found them. He unconsciously made up
the deficiency in Mr Stock's cheque; and my researches on his behalf were
bibliographically useful to me, as they brought under my notice a variety
of pamphlets and other ephemerides illustrative of a by no means
uninteresting topic. Besides, he threw in my way editorial work worth £700
or more.

A rather curious incident evolved from our temporary acquaintance.
Quaritch had in his catalogue just then a Sarum service-book, which
purported to have belonged in Queen Mary's days to one _L. Stokes_; I
looked at it; and I saw that the name was _Stopes_, and I concluded that
the old proprietor was the same Leonard Stopes who printed an _Ave Maria_
to the Queen in or about 1555. The book also bore the signature of his
brother, James Stopes. Leonard was of St John's College, Oxford. The point
was, that my casual correspondent was Henry Stopes, and was a descendant
of Leonard or James. He was hugely delighted by the discovery; and he
purchased the _Breviary_.

It was his wife, a very pleasant and accomplished Scotish lady, daughter
of Mr Carmichael, clerk to Sir Walter Scott as Sheriff-Depute, who wrote
the almost superfluous confutation of the claims set up on behalf of Bacon
to the authorship of Shakespear's plays.

Had it not been for my intuitive surmise, that the inscription in the
volume was mis-rendered, a piece of family history, valuable at least in
somebody's eyes, might have been overlooked.

Bohn of Canterbury helped me to a good thing or two. That is a
neighbourhood formerly most rich in early English books; and a good deal
of obscurity hangs over certain incidents connected with the books once
belonging to Henry Oxenden of Barham and to Lee Warly, and to the hand,
which Sir Egerton Brydges seems to have had in obtaining some of the
rarest for the library at Lee Priory. A sale of the residual portion of
the Lee Warly collection took place _in situ_ many years ago, and a few
remarkable items found their way to Mr Huth, particularly Oxenden of
Barham's MS. _Commonplace Book_, 1647, in which the original proprietor
had written a list of his old plays bound up together in six volumes. I
copied out this inventory for the Huth catalogue; but it was one of the
numerous omissions made by Mr Ellis _to save space_. Bohn met with a fair
number of curious tracts, some of which he sold to me. Two of them were
_The Metynge of Doctor Barons and Doctor Powell at Paradise Gate_,
printed early in the reign of Edward VI. and in verse, and the _History of
King Edward the Fourth and the Tanner of Tamworth_, a black-letter ballad
in pamphlet form with woodcuts, both unique. Mr Huth declined the former,
God knows why, but took the latter.

Through the late Mr Sabin I once sent a couple of commissions to New York
for as many unique items, which had been sold at Sotheby's in 1856, a
little before my time, among the Wolfreston books. They were the _Cruel
Uncle_, 1670, the story of Richard III. and his nephews, and _A Map of
Merry Conceits_, by Lawrence Price, 1656. I secured the latter only for
£5, 5s., and it went to the national library. This was my sole
transatlantic experience in the way of purchases.

I have now and then of course laid my hand on a stray volume or so in some
unexpected corner, as when I was in Conway in 1869, I ran through a local
stationer's humble stock, and discovered Paul Festeau's _French Grammar_,
1685, a phenomenally rare book, of which I never saw more than two copies,
and those of different editions. It cost me sixpence and the labour. The
author was a native of Blois, where, says he, 'the true tone of the
French tongue is to be found by the unanimous consent of all Frenchmen.'
At another time, a bookseller at Wrexham had attended the house-sale of
the Rev. Mr Luxmoore's effects in the vicinity, and among the lots was
Richard Whitford's _Work for Householders_, printed by Wynkyn de Worde in
1533--the unique copy which had been Sir Francis Freeling's. The buyer had
marked this £3, 3s., without finding a customer; I basely offered him £2,
and he accepted the amount. It is the copy described in the Huth
catalogue. It reached Mr Huth through Ellis, who estimated it to me at

The Luxmoore books were represented to me as having been thrown out on a
lawn, and sold at random; and the same story was related of a second haul,
which I once made of a Mr Fennell in Whitefriars, including an unique copy
of Chamberlain's _Nocturnal Lucubrations_, 1652.

I have never been a stall-hunter. I do not rise sufficiently early; and,
sooth to say, it has grown by report a barren quest. At Brooks's in
Hammersmith, which I mention more particularly below, I would turn over
dreary lots of volumes which he had carted away from some house-sale for
a song; but I never laid out anything there or elsewhere. I always found
the cheapest books were to be obtained at the auctions, or at Mr
Quaritch's, or at Mr Ellis's. To be sure, Brooks once had uncut cloth
copies of the first editions of Tennyson's _In Memoriam_, _Maud_, and
_Princess_ at ninepence each, or two shillings the three; but I passed

A sensible proportion of my discoveries was thus turned to good account;
but such was not invariably the case. I have, on the contrary, now and
then ordered a book or books from a country catalogue, simply because it
or they were undescribed by me, and when I had done with them, I was often
obliged to be satisfied with reimbursing myself. Again, it sometimes
occurred that I transcribed the full particulars in a shop, and went no
farther. One of my latest adventures in this latter way was at Messrs
Pickering & Chatto's in the Haymarket, where I have always met with the
greatest kindness and consideration. On information received, as the
policeman says, I proceeded to the premises, and there, surely enough, I
found a dilapidated and imperfect copy, yet still a copy, of the First
Part of the First Edition of Johnson's _Seven Champions of Christendom_,
1596. The Second Part, 1597, was in the Heber sale from Isaac Reed's
collection, where it fetched 17s. But no trace of the First was
discoverable, till this one turned up, dog's eared, torn, and deficient of
three leaves at the end. It was in the original vellum wrapper, and must
have been reduced to its actual degradation by excess of affection or of
neglect. It has been my fortune to rescue from oblivion many and many an
item in our early literature, of which only just so much survived as was
absolutely needed to make out the story; and I have known cases, in which
it has been requisite to employ two or even three copies, all defective,
to accomplish this.

So far I have presented a sketch of my life-long touch with the collectors
of books and the dealers in them, and have shown that to a certain extent
I am entitled to rank in both categories, my own share in the commercial
side being due to the exigencies, to which I have adverted, rather than to
choice. I think it not improbable that during the period from 1868 to 1878
the regular trade might have been prepared to raise a handsome
subscription to send me and my family to a distant colony. Yet I exercised
an influence beneficial rather than the reverse on their businesses,
since I paid them their prices, and relieved them of large numbers of
volumes, which they might have kept on their shelves. There was a
jealousy, however, and a natural one.

Of books with autographs and inscriptions I have published in more than
one periodical rather copious particulars and varied examples, ranging in
date from the monastic era to our own days. I have generally found no
difficulty in judging as to the character of entries in books by private
owners; and considering the large number of surviving volumes which
contain matter of this kind, fabrications are certainly uncommon, as well
as fairly self-convicting.

Yet it cannot be a source of surprise, that the less experienced
book-hunter falls into occasional traps. It is so pleasant and so tempting
to be master of some copy which has once been consecrated by the fingers
of a king or a queen, or a king's lady, or a queen's favourite, or a
renowned soldier, poet, or whatever it may be, that we do not always pause
to weigh the decent probabilities, do we?

The worst thing of all to do is to trust to ordinary catalogues and
dealers of the commoner type. The latter have constantly by them specimens
of the libraries of Queen Elizabeth, Mary of Scotland, James I., with
imposing lateral, if not dorsal, blazons, and autograph attestations of
proprietorship or gift. An eminent member of the trade once offered me a
copy of May's _Lucan_, in which the translator, quoth he, had written,
'Ben Jonson, from Thomas May.' I recollect an early Chaucer with _Thomas
Randolph_ on the title; of course the vendor avouched it to be the
signature of the poet. Joseph Lilly had a black-letter tome with the name
_George Gascoigne_ attached to it, and advertised it as a _souvenir_ of
that distinguished Elizabethan writer; but unluckily the writer died,
before the book was printed. There was similarly more than a single W.
Shakespear just about the same period of time; but we have not come across
any sample of his cunning in caligraphy. Perhaps he _wrote_ better than
the dramatist. That excessively interesting _Florio's Montaigne_, 1603, in
the British Museum carries the impress of former appurtenance to our great
bard, and its history is much in its favour; but some question it (do not
some question everything?), not that the inscription belongs to a
namesake, but that it does so to a disciple of Mr Ireland junior.

As an illustration of the manner, in which one may be misled without
remedy by an auctioneer's catalogue, a copy of Cranmer's Bible, 1549, was
offered for sale a few years since, and, says the cataloguer, 'on the
second leaf occurs "Tho. Cranmer" in contemporary handwriting.' In fact,
some one at the time under the line of dedication to the Archbishop of
Canterbury had inserted his name, to shew who he was. But there was no
unwillingness on the part of the auctioneer's assistant--or the auctioneer
himself--to catch a flat. Alas! that the world should be so full of guile!

Henry Holl and myself were once parties to a mild practical joke on a
fashionable bookseller and stationer named Westerton near Hyde Park
Corner, who engaged to procure for his clients at the shortest notice any
books required. We drew up between us a list of some of the rarest volumes
in the English language, and one or the other took it to Westerton's,
desiring the latter to let him have them punctually the following day. We
did not go near the shop for some time after that, I remember. Of course
we never heard anything of our _desiderata_. The fellow woke up probably
to the hoax.

There is not the slightest wish on my part to disparage the qualifications
of the bookseller as a type; but it has always struck me as unreasonable,
looking at the large number of persons, whose subsistence is wholly
derived from this pursuit--and often a very good one, too--to represent
the calling as an indifferent and an uncommercial line of industry. For
there must be thousands earning livelihoods by it, although very few
realise the El Dorado of £500 a year, which I have heard Mr Quaritch cite
as a kind of minimum, which it is in the power of any poor creature to
make out of books. Moreover, it is to be recollected that many and many,
who have chosen the employment, would scarcely be capable of discharging
the duties of any other; it is recommendable for variety and liberty; and
it brings those engaged in it into contact with celebrated people and
interesting incidence.

_Imprimis_, as of every other calling, there are too many booksellers.
Within my memory their ranks have sensibly increased. They are not dealers
in the sense in which Mr Quaritch is one; their training has been slight
and superficial; and their stocks are of the thinnest and poorest quality.
Still, in town and country alike, they maintain a sort of ground, and when
you pass and repass their places of business, you wonder how they live,
and conclude that the occupation must be profitable even on the smallest
scale. For the bargain-hunter--from his point of view--there is nothing to
be got out of these outlying or minor emporia nowadays; the whole actual
traffic in valuable commodities centres in two or three London
auction-rooms and half-a-dozen West-End houses. For all the rest it is a
scramble and a pittance. I have almost ceased to look at ordinary shop
catalogues; and the stall was a thing of the past before my day. If I
wanted a cheap book, I should go to Mr Quaritch or to a sale-room. Your
suburban and provincial merchant in all kinds of second-hand property is

Much the same appears to be at present predicable of the publisher. He
tells you that it is a poor vocation, a slender margin for himself, yet
the number of houses devoted to the business was never greater, and of
some the experience and capital must be equally limited, as the printer
and paper-maker can tell you.

A curious, almost comic, side in the question of literary earnings, is the
habitual propensity for embracing one of two extremes. A. is coining
money; his publishers are all that a man could desire or expect; he has
taken so much in such and such a time from them on account of his last
book. You listen to his tale with jesuitical reticence; you have just
parted from a member of the firm, who has told you exactly how many copies
have been sold, and you can do the rest for yourself. B., on the contrary,
never makes any appreciable sum by his efforts; all publishers are rogues;
and the public is an ass. How much in both these views has to be allowed
for temperament and imagination? Perhaps B. does nearly as well as A.


    At the Auction-Rooms--Their Changeable Temperature--My Finds in
    Wellington Street--Certain Conclusions as to the Rarity of Old English
    Books--Curiosities of Cataloguing and Stray Lots--A Little Ipswich
    Recovery--A Narrow Escape for some Very Rare Volumes in 1865--A Few
    Remarkable Instances of Good Fortune for Me--Not for Others--Three
    Very Severe 'Frosts'--A Great Boom--Sir John Fenn's Wonderful Books at
    last brought to Light--An Odd Circumstance about One of Them--The
    Writer moralises--A Couple of Imperfect Caxtons bring £2900--The
    Gentlemen behind the Scene and Those at the Table--Books converted
    into _Vertu_--My Intervention on One or Two Occasions--The
    Auctioneers' World--The 'Settlement' Principle--My Confidence in
    Sotheby's as Commission-Agents--My Three _Sir Richard
    Whittingtons_.--_A Reductio ad Absurdum_--The House in Leicester
    Square and Its Benefactions in My Favour--Change from the Old
    Days--Unique A.B.C.'s and Other Early School-Books--The Somers
    Tracts--Mr Quaritch and His Bibliographical Services to Me--His
    Independence of Character--The British Museum--My Resort to It for My
    Venetian Studies Forty Years Ago--The Sources of Supply in the Printed
    Book Department--My Later Attitude toward It as a Bibliographer--The
    Vellum Monstrelet and Its True History--Bookbinders--Leighton,
    Riviere, Bedford, Pratt--Horrible Sight which I witnessed at a
    Binder's--My Publishers--Dodsley's Old Plays--My Book on the Livery
    Companies of London--Presentation-Copies.

I now proceed to speak a few words about the two auctions, with which I
have been familiar--Sotheby's and Puttick & Simpson's. Both these
distributing agencies repay careful study. You must consider the
circumstances, and bear in mind Selden's maxim, _Distingue Tempora_. The
rooms are very variable in their temperature. Now it is high, now low. It
is not always necessarily what is being sold, but what is being asked for.
For instance, just at the present moment there is a desperate run on
sixteenth and seventeenth century English books and on _capital_
productions, because a few Americans have taken the infection; they know
nothing of values, so long as the article is right; and therefore the
price is no object. It is merely necessary to satisfy yourself that your
client wants the book or books, and you may without grave risk pose at the
sale-room table and in the papers as a model of intrepidity. But the game
does not usually last very long; the wily American soon grows weary or
distrustful; and the call for these treasures subsides, and with it the
courage of the bidders. The market resumes its normal tranquillity, till
a fresh fad is set afloat with similar results. No prudent buyer loses
himself in these whirlpools. He watches his opportunities, and they
periodically recur amid all the feverish competition arising from
temporary causes.

At Sotheby's my finds have been endless. It is in those rooms that ever
since 1861, when I made notes at the Bandinel sale, I have figured as an
inevitable feature in the scene, when anything remarkable, either
bibliographically or commercially, has been submitted to the hammer; and I
have not often had reason to lament oversights on one score or the other.
When I have missed a lot, of which I desired the particulars for my
collections, it has illustrated my conviction of the immense unsuspected
rarity of a preponderance of the national fugitive literature. This
accident occurred in the case of a tract called _The Declaration of the
Duke of Brabant_ (Philip III. of Spain) _proffering a Truce with the
Netherlands_, 1607, and I have not since met with a second copy. It is
over twenty years ago. I have occasionally registered the title of a
piece, which I have found in the warehouse in the hands of a cataloguer;
and it was fortunate that I did so as regarded _A Farewell to Captain_
(afterward Sir Walter) _Gray_, on his departure for Holland, 1605, as the
article was never again seen. There has been a good deal of this sort of
miscarriage. Quite at the outset of my bibliographical career, the most
ancient printed English music-book, 1530, was bought for the British
Museum at the price of £80; it was only the _Bassus_ part with that to
_Triplex_ bound up at the end; and the cataloguer _had put it into a
bundle_. Attention was drawn to the mistake in time, and the lot was
re-entered with full honours. On the other hand, I have been repeatedly
indebted to Sotheby's staff for useful and valuable help. Mr John Bohn
never failed to point out whatever he supposed to be of service, and in
1891 Mr A. R. Smith shewed me a small volume printed at Ipswich by John
Owen about 1550, entitled _An Invective against Drunkenness_, so far known
only from Maunsell's catalogue, 1598.

In quite the earlier portion of my experience here occurred the disastrous
and destructive fire of 1865, which made a holocaust of the Offor library,
and proved fatal to much of Lord Charlemont's. It was a most fortunate
circumstance that just at the moment Halliwell-Phillipps had some of the
rarest of the Charlemont books on loan from the auctioneers at his private
house in Old Brompton, and they were thus saved.

I was away, when Mr Bolton Corney's books were sold at Sotheby's, and did
not see them. But one was returned by the buyer as imperfect; it was
Drayton's _Odes and Eglogs_ (1605), and was said to want two leaves. I
examined it, and found that it was complete, and had two duplicate leaves
with variations in the text. I bought it for £1, 11s., and sold it to John
Pearson on my way home for £8. 8s. A somewhat analogous incident befel me
at the Burton-Constable auction in 1889, where a volume containing the
_Theatre of Fine Devices_, 1614, the only copy known, and several other
rare pieces in the finest state, was sold with all faults, because a copy
of Wither's _Motto_, 1621, at the end, was slightly cropped. I left a
commission of £8, 8s. for this, and saw it knocked down for £1, 12s. I put
the Wither in the waste-paper basket, and divided the rest between the
British Museum and Messrs Pearson & Co. There were two other dispersions
of curious old books, which I may exemplify. At the Auchinleck sale the
prices were not low, but were extremely moderate, considering the
character of many of the early Scotish tracts there offered; but the other
instance, where a gentleman had with the assistance of John Pearson and
others formed a collection of early English poetry, making the
_Bibliotheca Anglo-poetica_ the nucleus, was a deplorable fiasco. Books
went for fewer shillings than they were worth pounds. I bought Drayton's
_Mortimeriados_, 1596, _clean and uncut_, which Mr Quaritch had acquired
for the late owner for £17, for 16s. No one particularly wanted that class
of books just at the moment, and the field was open to the opportunist.
The proprietor, who was living, must have been gratified. I never
witnessed a more thorough frost than this except at the Pyne sale already
described and at those of the dramatic libraries of Mr Kershaw and Dr
Rimbault, although I believe that the firm is steadfastly persuaded that
the most signal collapse, in recent times at least, was the two-days'
auction of Prince Lucien Bonaparte's philological stores, which realised
£70! The Kershaw and Rimbault affairs were rather notable as yielding a
large crop between them of old English plays, which were not in the Huth
library, and which dropped to myself at nominal prices. The slaughter of
Rimbault's property took place on a Saturday afternoon. I recollect the
buzz in the room, when Shirley's _Lady of Pleasure_ was carried to 14s. I
bought nearly everything worth buying.

Then there was the other side of the picture, as when the Frere, or rather
Fenn, books came to the hammer at Sotheby's in 1896. As nothing in the
before-mentioned auctions seemed too low, so nothing here seemed to be too
extravagant. There was a kind of mysterious halo round the affair. People
had heard of such books being in existence, and longed to put the report
to a practical test. Herbert, in his revision of Ames, had quoted Sir John
Fenn, the John Fenn Esquire of his day, as the owner of certain rarities,
of which nothing absolutely reliable was known. But the items really
material to myself amounted to no more than twenty, of which several were
mere verifications.

Mr Quaritch was in great form. He made himself master of all the principal
lots, as any one can do by bidding long enough. A copy of Herbert's
_Typographical Antiquities_ with an extra volume of original specimens,
of which the chief portion was of very slight significance, produced
£255. A volume of tracts, of which nearly all the title-pages had been
mutilated by Fenn for the sake of the printer's marks, and of which the
central interest lay in the first edition of Greene's _Groatsworth of
Wit_, 1592, fetched £80. The first might have been worth £40 and the
second (with the defects indicated) £15. A really valuable lot, which
belonged to Sir John Fenn, and which had gone somehow equally astray, was
subsequently offered for sale at another room, and brought £81. It was
Nicholas Breton's _Works of a Young Wit_ (1577), and was one of my
bibliographical _desiderata_. I took a full note of it of course, and
should have willingly gone to £42 as a matter of purchase. Mr Quaritch
trusted to the prevailing American boom, and was there to win the day
against all comers with the feeling that those who opposed him had with
him only a common market. Failing one or two wealthy enthusiasts, the
volume might lie on his shelves, so long as he lived, at that figure. This
is what Mr Quaritch himself has characterised as a species of gambling.
What is to be said or thought of the two imperfect copies of Caxton's
first edition of the _Canterbury Tales_ bringing in 1895-6 £1020 and
£1880 respectively? All that can be argued is, that the worth is
positively artificial, and that to the individuals, for whom Mr Quaritch
destines them, money is a drug or a form of speaking.

Then there was the second folio Shakespear which fetched the unheard-of
price of £540, and the third, to which I presently advert. The disregard
of precedents in such cases brings a certain type of early literature
within the magical circle of _objets de vertu_, when economic laws cease
to operate, and books seem to lose their true dignity in the hands of the
virtuoso. Beyond a certain financial altitude there are no _bonâ fide_

A sale, which might in its way deserve to be classed with the Frere-Fenn
one at Sotheby's, fell to the lot of the Leicester Square house in 1894.
It was bipartite, and rather on the incongruous principle discountenanced
in the Horatian _Epistle to the Pisos_. For the first division consisted
of MSS. and printed books formerly belonging to Thomas Astle the
antiquary, and chiefly relating to Suffolk, the Tower, and America; while
the second was a series of autograph letters, particularly a small parcel
addressed by Mottley the historian to Prince Bismarck between 1862 and
1872. The auctioneers looked on the day's sale as worth £150; it realised
four times as much. A single lot of _Americana_ brought £216. The Mottley
correspondence was highly interesting, and indeed important, and some of
the allusions were almost droll from their homely familiarity. The nine
letters were knocked down _en bloc_ for £60.

The first item in this remarkable series, written from Vienna, the Hague,
and London, found the Prussian statesman at a watering-place in the South
of France, and at that time the two men appear to have been well known to
each other; for Mottley subscribes himself 'Always most sincerely your old
friend;' and the next of 1864 starts with 'My dear old Bismarck.' There
was evidently much cordiality and sympathy. A good deal of pleasantry
arises out of some photographs of the great German's family and himself,
which were a long time in arriving. But a singular interest centres in a
letter of 1870, urging the desirability of mediation between the two then
belligerent Powers; it is marked _Private and Confidential_; and I do not
imagine that anything came of it.

The day's sale embraced another lot of a somewhat mysterious character, as
regarded a portion of the contents. I refer to two letters from Sir
Christopher Hatton in his own hand to a lady, couched in most familiar and
affectionate terms, and subscribed with the same fictitious signature as
Hatton employed in corresponding with the Queen herself.

It is so usual to associate the ownership of a library in middle-class
hands with a single generation--scarcely that very often--that events like
the Auchinleck, Astle, and Frere sales strike and impress us, and often,
indeed generally, produce results gratifying to the beneficiaries; and so
it was with the Berners Street and Way affairs. Volumes, which were known
to exist somewhere, at last emerged from their places of concealment. Mr
Swainson had bought many of his books at the sale of George Steevens in
1800; the Way lot belonged to about the same date. Among the latter were
such prizes as the original editions of _Arthur of Little Britain_ and
_England's Helicon_. The Berners Street business took place on the
premises; there was of course a settlement; and John Payne Collier, who
looked in, could get nothing. I was offered, some time after, a rare
little treatise, which I declined; and I subsequently heard a queer story
about a copy of it (? the same) having been removed from Joseph Lilly's
tail-pocket, while he was attending the auction. I put this and that

It was certainly much the same thing at the Osterley Park, Beckford, and
Fountaine sales. The quotations are suggestive of lunacy, not on the part
of the immediate purchasers, who are middlemen, but on that of the
ulterior acquirer behind the scenes. What could be more childishly
extravagant or absurd than 610 guineas for Henry VIII.'s _Prayer Book_ on
vellum, 1544, with MSS. notes by the king and members of his family? What
could be indeed? Why, the £435 paid for a third folio Shakespear, 1663-4,
with both titles--a book which has been repeatedly sold for £60 or £70,
and which the auctioneers misdescribed, as if it had been something unique
and unknown. The Beckford books realised perfectly insane prices, and were
afterward resold for a sixth or even tenth of the amount to the serious
loss of somebody, when the barometer had fallen. The Thuanus copy of
Buchanan's Poems, 1579, which was carried to £54, was offered to me in
October, 1886, for £15. Of course there have always been inflations of
value for special articles or under particular circumstances here and
elsewhere; and I must confess to an instance of _malice prepense_ at one
of the Corser sales at Sotheby's, when I made Ellis pay £100 for Warren's
_Nursery of Names_, 1581, by sitting next to Addington at the table, and
whispering in his ear the praises of the book and its fabulous rarity. He
left it at £99. There was no other competitor within a fifty-pound note's
distance. The Museum could not have gone beyond £30 or £35.

I stood behind Quaritch at Sir John Simeon's sale in Wellington Street,
and when it came to two lots, the first being the _History of Oliver of
Castile_, printed at York in 1695, and the second one of David Laing's
publications, I told him that if he would let me have the first, I would
not bid on the second. He was so amiable as to assent, and the almost
unique little volume fell to me at 7s. Unhappily some one else opposed him
for the Laing, which realised its normal value. I looked as grieved as I
could, when he good-humouredly turned round to inquire what he had got.

I have said that 1861 marked the date, when I graduated at Sotheby's as a
bibliographer. As a private buyer to a sparing and experimental extent I
had known that house since 1857, when I was baulked, as I have elsewhere
related, in my attempt to obtain an unique copy of the Earl of Surrey's
English version of the _Fourth Book of Virgil's Æneid_, which was unique
in a second sense--in being the only lot of value among a mass of rubbish.

The auctioneer's world is classifiable into two sections: Buyers and
Sellers. If you do not belong to one of these divisions, the profession
scarcely knows where you come in in the economy of nature. You enter into
the nondescript species. The man with the hammer views his commission as
the elixir of life, as the sole object, for which men and women are born
and exist; he has no other motive or seeing-point; and he does not expect
others to have it. Your friends, as a rule, estimate you according to the
house, in which you live, and the undertaker by the order, which he gets
for your funeral; but the auctioneer appraises you by your value to him as
a bidder at his table and by the marketable quality of the property, which
you leave behind. If it happens that you are only a scholar, occasionally
picking up a cheap lot, or a bibliographer, taking notes for the benefit
of others without profit and without thanks, he eyes you with a mixture of
commiseration and surprise, and has a private feeling, perhaps, that there
is a percentage somewhere. And so there is--in Fame, for which he cares
nothing except as an advertisement for his business; and it is natural
enough, that the staff takes its cue from the principal, and unless you
distribute _largesse_, sets you down as a troublesome nondescript.

I think that I am right in saying that it was the member of the firm of
Walford Brothers, who attended the sales, who was referring at the table
to the knock-out system, and Mr Hodge, who was in the rostrum, disclaimed
any knowledge of such a thing, whereupon says Mr Walford to him, 'You are
the only person who does not know about it, then.' The other day at the
sale of the Boyne coins nine continental dealers were counted--_confrères_
indeed. Had it not been for the English competition, the result would have
been absolutely disastrous.

Thus much may be confidently affirmed of Sotheby's. As commission-agents
they are implicitly trustworthy. I have had a long and large experience,
and where I have not been able, or have not deemed it politic, to attend
in person, I have found that I could depend on the discretion of the
auctioneer. Let one instance suffice. In 1882 there appeared in a
catalogue published by the firm _The Famous and Remarkable History of Sir
Richard Whittington_, octavo, 1656, a mediocre copy, but twenty years
earlier than any on record. I left a commission of five guineas, and the
lot fell to me at as many shillings. Only three copies are known, all of
different issues: and every one has been in turn mine. Two are now in the
British Museum; the other, from the Daniel sale, is in the Huth library.

There was an imperfect copy of the first edition of the _Paradise of
Dainty Devices_, 1576, in a catalogue issued by the firm in 1889. It was
described as probably unique, as wanting A 4, which had been supplied from
the next earliest edition in the British Museum, and as bound by F.
Bedford; it was further stated, that every possible search had been made
for a second copy without success. This was a tissue of romantic
inventions on the part, not of the auctioneer, I apprehend, but on that
of the ingenious and candid owner, who was rewarded for his pains by
seeing his property fetch £100!

Some time before, Mr Burt the facsimilist came up to me at the Museum, and
shewed me the copy, asking me whether I could refer him to another, whence
the missing leaf might be supplied. I did so; but he eventually took it,
not from the next earliest issue, which was not in the library, but from
that of 1596. Bedford was dead, when the volume was bound. I leave the
_judicial_ reader to sum up!

At one of the Scotish sales at Sotheby's--David Laing's, I think--Kerr &
Richardson of Glasgow bought against Quaritch at an utterly extravagant
price some specimens of old Scotish binding, but thought better of it
afterward, and the next morning Richardson went to Piccadilly, and offered
to lose the last bid, if Quaritch liked to have the book. 'No,' replied
the other; 'I thank you; I was mad yesterday; but now I have come to my
senses again.'

I have recorded in a previous page an anecdote connected with the Simeon
sale at Sotheby's. I may take the present opportunity of adding that Sir
John Simeon was a resident in the Isle of Wight, and a friend of
Tennyson, who met Longfellow under that roof. There is a curious story of
Wilberforce, when he was at Winchester, making one of a picnic party at
Simeon's, and, the guests strolling about, as they pleased, the bishop was
discovered sitting down in a field alone, with a handkerchief over his
head as a sunshade, one foot in a rabbit-hole, and in his hand a bottle of

To the house in Leicester Square I feel myself under considerable
obligations for acts of courtesy and kindness. In former years I bought
there rather largely; and it was very possible, even in a full room, to
obtain bargains, such as do not go many to the sovereign. I remember that
it was here that I got the Fishmongers' Pageant for 1590, a tract of the
utmost rarity, the _Merry Devil of Edmonton_, 1631, a prose version of the
story far scarcer than the play, and mistaken by some of those present for
it, till it was knocked down to me, and a volume of early pieces relating
to murders, accidents, and other cognate matters in the finest state.
There seemed to be no voice lifted up for them beyond a bid, which I could
easily cap. One of the most remarkable early grammars in the British
Museum occurred here, and fetched only 44s. although it was in the highest
preservation and wholly undescribed. Another work of this class, which led
to a certain amount of inquiry, was an _A B C_ printed on paper like linen
at Riga in Russian Poland for the use of the German children there, who
preponderate in number, about 1700--perhaps the oldest example of the
kind. It was very appropriately lotted with Thomas Morton's _Treatise of
the Nature of God_, 1599! The two did not bring more than 12s. The Riga
Primer was, I conclude, a find, as the British Museum sent down an
individual to my house to procure information about it and similar
productions in connection with some task which he had before him.

There was a singular little upheaval, so to speak, at Puttick & Simpson's
a few years ago, when certain tracts, so far known only from report or the
Stationers' Register, occurred. I took memoranda of them all, but somehow
omitted to bid for them. What became of the others, I do not know; but an
extraordinarily rare Elizabethan pamphlet respecting Edward Glemham, 1591,
fell to Mr Quaritch, and from him passed to me at 36s. My intimacy with
the market-value of these relics inspired my eminent acquaintance by
degrees with a distrust of me, and led to a cessation of his catalogues. I
own that I should have looked from such a quarter for greater magnanimity.
He sold me a small piece by Ralph Birchensha on Irish affairs, 1602, for
£6, 6s., less ten per cent. for cash, and subsequently wrote to demand for
what consideration I was willing to surrender it. But both purchases were
bespoken: the former for the British Museum, the latter for Mr Huth.

It was on this ground that I had the bad luck to fall into a trap laid by
myself. In some sale a copy of Dekker's _Belman of London_, 1608, occurred
in a volume in old vellum with the same author's _Lanthorn and
Candlelight_, bearing the same date as the first piece, and so far known
only in a re-issue of 1609. I committed the stupid and double blunder of
fancying that it was the former and less important article, which was
imperfect, and of suggesting to the auctioneers, that the book should be
sold with all faults. Even then I had to give £5, 2s. 6d. for it, and it
turned out that the missing sheet in the middle was in the _Lanthorn and
Candlelight_. I separated the two pieces, and sold the _Belman_ to Smith;
and the other, when I had kept it a twelvemonth or so in the vain hope of
completion, I handed over to the Museum. I just saved myself.

Nothing is much more remarkable than the jetsam, which chance brings up to
the surface here and in Wellington Street alike. Some of the rarest books
and pamphlets in our early literature have fallen under my eyes in
Leicester Square. Once it was a parcel, I recollect, including, among
others, Drayton's _Shepheard's Garland_, 1593; but the lots were
uniformly, in point of condition, hopeless; and I had to leave them to

But the most signal acquisition on my part was the series of the SOMERS
TRACTS in thirty folio volumes, which had belonged to the famous
chancellor, and had passed through several hands, but were still in the
original calf binding. This set of books and tracts comprised some of the
rarest _Americana_, especially the _Laws of New York_, printed there in
1693-4, and probably one of the earliest specimens of local typography. I
forget what I left with the auctioneers; but the price, at which the
hammer fell, was £61. A single item was worth double that sum; and there
were hundreds and hundreds. I spoke to Mr Quaritch after the sale, and
begged him to say why he had not bidden for the article. I apprehend that
he overlooked it--at all events its peculiar importance. What a lottery!

Now alike in Wellington Street and here all is changed. A new school has
arisen, and every article of the slightest consequence is carried to the
last shilling--and beyond. The highest bidder never despairs of finding,
when he gets home, somebody more enthusiastic or more foolish than
himself. I sometimes look round, while a sale is proceeding, and nearly
all the faces are strange. They are those of young men, who represent
firms, or who speculate on their own account. There are no cheap lots,
save to the preternaturally knowing or lucky.

I have reserved to the last the name, which should by right, perhaps, have
come first in order--that of Mr Quaritch, because he co-operated with me
in the enterprise, which constituted throughout my motive for mingling in
the commercial circle, and has enabled me to preserve from the risk of
destruction a vast body of original matter. Mr Quaritch cannot have
realised any appreciable advantage from publishing my _Bibliographical
Collections_ from 1882 to 1892; and he left me a perfectly free hand with
the printer, saying that his share of the business was to pay the bill and
sell the books. I waxed tired of the practical side, when I lost £140 by a
single volume of the series.

But, while he associated himself with me in a variety of ways, some more
mutually profitable than this one, our practical transactions were,
comparatively speaking, not so important or heavy as might have been
expected. Mr Quaritch used at one time to have cheap books as well as
dear; and I suppose that I gave the preference to the former. I saw a copy
of _Fortunatus_ in English in his window one day, marked 12s., and I went
in to buy it. He was just by the door, and when he learned my object,
'Ah,' said he, 'I have kept that book so long, that it is 15s. if you want
it,' and the higher figure I had to pay. There was never any remarkable
event in my life immediately identifiable with these classic premises. I
fear that I was suspected of knowing too much. I was not like the good
folks, to whom, when he had bought the first copy of the Mazarin Bible, he
exhibited an ordinary early printed specimen on their application for
leave to inspect the real article. They were just as happy and just as
wise. How many thumbs it saved!

I shall always cherish a sentiment of gratitude toward Mr Quaritch for his
valuable aid during a whole decade in putting it in my power to present in
instalments the fruit of my labour at the auction-rooms and elsewhere, and
in agreeing to defray the entire cost of the _General Index_ to a large
portion of it. I look forward to the possibility of carrying on the task
piecemeal, till it embraces the entire _corpus_ of our earlier national
literature in all its branches, each item derived from the printed
original, and illustrated by such notes as may appear desirable and

Thousands of new titles await the printer.

It was through this medium that Lord Crawford was pleased to honour me
with a proof of his lordship's catalogue of _Proclamations_, thinking that
it might be of service; but I had to return the copy with a message by the
same channel that the descriptions were drawn up on a different principle
from mine, and that I never accepted information at second-hand, if I
could possibly avoid it.

After what I had seen of Lord Crawford's bibliographical discernment, I
was rather distressed to hear that his lordship is regarded as one of the
best-informed men on the Board of Trustees in Great Russell Street. But
the qualifications of an _ex-officio_ member cannot be always

I conclude that it is, except among the general public, an open secret
that Mr Quaritch has been during quite a long series of years eminently
indebted for his success to the varied and extraordinary erudition of his
adviser, Mr Michael Kerny. Mr Quaritch was accustomed to say to me: 'I am
a shopkeeper; Mr Kerny is a gentleman;' and there was a degree of truth in
this remark. Yet the former is something more than _le grand marchand_;
his enterprise and pluck are marvellous; and they are the outcome, for the
most part, not of foolhardihood, but of genius. A man, who buys blindly,
soon reaches the end of his tether. That Mr Quaritch for divers reasons
has often made unwise purchases, and has missed his mark, may be perfectly
the fact; but in the main he has obviously struck the right vein; and he
pursues his policy season after season, witnessing the departure of old
clients (or, as he would rather put it, customers) and the advent of new
ones. He despises popularity, and has ere this given umbrage by his
_brusquerie_ to supporters of long standing and high position; and he
leaves them to do as they please to seek other pastures or to return to
their former allegiance. He is a striking example--the most striking I
have ever seen--of a man, who knows how to accommodate unusual
independence of character and conduct to commercial life.

The successive authorities in the Printed Book Department of the British
Museum have earned my cordial gratitude by their uniform deference to my
somewhat peculiar and somewhat exacting requirements. They soon formed the
habit, when it was found that I was an earnest and genuine worker, of
waiving in my favour, so far as it was consistent with reason and
propriety, the hard and fast rule of the establishment, and even under the
now rather remote and quasi-historical keepership of Mr Watts.

It was as a simple student that I in the first place sought the British
Museum, and in the old reading-room initiated myself in the learning
requisite to qualify me, as I imagined, for becoming the English
historian of Venice. I was self-complacently happy in the unconsciousness
of my own intense ignorance of the magnitude of the task and of the fact
that, at a distance of forty years, I should still have merely reached a
more advanced stage of my labours. It at any rate speaks for my
perseverance and resolution, that my interest in the topic is unabated,
and my desire and intention, to see the project of my youth completed on a
suitable and satisfactory scale inflexible.

I ventured into type in 1858 and 1860, and since then I have printed
farther instalments destined to fall into their places, when the time
arrives. But accident directed my steps and thoughts about the same time
into a different groove, and I turned my attention to book-collecting and
bibliography, at first vaguely and desultorily, and by degrees on a more
systematic principle; and cogent circumstances--that necessity for living,
which Dr Johnson ignored--finally drove me into the market as a
speculator. My conversance with old books was very special and defective;
of many classes I knew next to nothing; but I gradually gained a fair
insight into the value of those, for which I had contracted a personal
liking--the early poetry and romances--and I tried my hand as a hunter
for specialities. I naturally turned to the Museum as a channel; for I was
not acquainted with many of the booksellers, and I had yet to meet with Mr

It may not be, indeed is not, generally known, how wide a diversity of
persons offer their possessions or acquisitions to the national library.
There are great differences of opinion respecting the questions of rarity
and value, and the authorities are most unconscionably plagued by a host
of individuals of imperfect bibliographical attainments, who shoot parcels
of old volumes in Great Russell Street in the expectation of a more or
less rich harvest, in which they are apt to be more or less disappointed.
Here and there a real treasure is netted. The Bishop of Bath and Wells
brought a small octavo volume from Ickworth, comprising the _Prophete
Jonas_ and other tracts of singular scarcity and importance. A gentleman
from Woolwich introduced a quarto volume in old vellum of poetical
compositions of the middle of the sixteenth century, including the
_Scholehouse of Women_, the _Defence of Women_, the _Seven Sorrows that
Women have when Their Husbands be dead_, etc., with the autograph on a
flyleaf of 'John Hodge, of the Six Clerks' Office 1682.' Such prizes atone
for a vast amount of annoyance and rubbish.

But Mr Maskell, Mr Halliwell, Mr Henry Stevens, and myself have probably,
apart from purchases made direct from the sales and the shops, contributed
of late years most largely to supply _lacunæ_ in the Early English
Department, and supersede the three-volume catalogue.

At the Bodleian the late Dr Coxe and the Rev. Mr Madan have always done
their best to help me, and at Cambridge the late Mr Henry Bradshaw was a
host in himself. These relations, however, were purely bibliographical;
while those with the Museum were of a more mingled yarn, and my connection
with that institution, both as regarded printed literature and
manuscripts, was in fact part of the system, which I have above fully

I did a good deal _con amore_. A strange story reached me about a copy of
Monstrelet's Chronicles in French, printed on vellum, for which Mr
Quaritch was not willing to give as much as the owner desired, in fact
throwing discredit on the genuineness of the book. Whereupon it was
carried to Great Russell Street, duly inspected, and as to the price--the
authorities were prepared to hand over all the cash in hand, about £700.
Mr Quaritch was stated to have been very wroth, when he found that he had
missed the lot, and declared that his ground for scepticism was the fact
that the only copy in the market or likely to occur for sale was in
Russia; and he then learned for the first time, that the present one had
been obtained at St Petersburg. I called on Mr Garnett, and inquired what
were the actual circumstances, so far as the Museum was concerned; and it
appeared that the book did come from Russia, and consisted only of vols. 2
and 3; but the library already possessed vol. 1 (wanting one leaf only) in
an incomplete set formerly belonging to King Henry VII.; and the purchase
was arranged. The keeper referred to the accounts, and found that the
transaction took place in 1886, and that the sum given was £375.

My experiences of bookbinders have been tolerably manifold, and not exempt
from the sorrows, with which the employers of this class of skilled labour
are bound to become familiar. The earliest of my acquaintances was Mr
Leighton, who executed a great deal of work for Sir William
Stirling-Maxwell--in those days known as William Stirling of Keir. There
was a stupendous copy of Maxwell's _Cloister-Life of Charles V._,
published at a few shillings, which I understood Leighton to say had cost
with the illustrations and elaborate Spanish binding about £1000. I saw
the book in Brewer Street, but not the value. Leighton's speciality was
Spanish calf, as Riviere's was the tree-marbled pattern. I had a
considerable amount of work done for me here, while I filled the _rôle_ of
a collector on my own account in a humble degree. But when I had occasion,
at a later period, to put volumes into new liveries, and their condition
demanded nice handling, I employed Riviere, whom I found very satisfactory
and punctual. His place of business in Piccadilly adjoining Pickering's
shop was during years one of my not least agreeable resorts, and I
profited, with the concurrence of the principal, by the constant presence
on the premises of undescribed books or editions consigned for binding. Of
Bedford I saw very little. He was a true artist, and a very unassuming,
pleasant fellow, whom I occasionally visited at his address in or near
York Street, Westminster. My first call was in consequence of Mr Huth
having given me leave to take notes of some rare volumes, which were in
course of treatment. Bedford was more reliable than Riviere, who could
bind well, if he liked; but he sometimes left too much to subordinates.
Pratt, who had been a workman at Bedford's, was a respectable binder, but
an indifferent cleaner and mender, two very essential features, where the
slightest neglect or oversight may prove disastrous. It is trying to look
in casually, and perceive that the tender title-page of a quarto
Shakespear has parted with one of the letters of the poet's name or a
figure of the date, and that one of these is floating on the surface of a
tub of water; and such thrilling episodes have occurred.

If it is in some cases an advantage to take your acquisitions to a binder,
and have them separately clothed, it is in others, and perhaps for the
most part, one to buy ready-bound. It saves expense, delay, and annoyance.

Of my publishers I am scarcely entitled to speak in a volume devoted to
the collecting side beyond such works as directly arose from my pursuit as
a book-lover pure and simple between 1857 and 1867. But, when I look
closely at my professedly literary undertakings, I discern more or less in
nearly all of them a bibliographical spirit and training. My Venetian
labours included the formation of a fair representative collection of
books relating to the subject and a study of the MSS. within my reach. My
pronounced taste for method and minutiæ in early English literature
extended to Italy, when I was endeavouring to concentrate on the history
of the Republic all the direct and collateral light, which I was enabled
to gather from various sources; and the same thing may be truly predicated
of the commissions, which I executed for several publishers, beginning
with Russell Smith and Reeves & Turner. Mine have been chiefly
enterprises, where a knowledge of detail and a familiarity with extant or
available material were apt to prove of eminent service; and such was
especially the case with the _Early Popular Poetry_ and the _Dodsley_.
Disciples of the _belles-lettres_, who entertain less respect for the
extrinsic side or part of their tasks, may be wiser than myself; but it
strikes me, that it is difficult to do justice to a subject without
surveying the entire ground occupied by it.

Two very mortifying illustrations of the soundness of this view occurred
to me at different times. In my collected edition of Randolph, I collated
everything with the original editions except the _Aristippus_ and had the
satisfaction of discovering, when it was too late, that all but the first
issue were incomplete in many places, in one to the extent of omitting a
line. In my reconstructed and enlarged Dodsley, _in fifteen thick octavo
volumes, containing eighty-four dramas_, I have a table of _errata_ of
_thirty-six items_, many very trivial and even dubious; and of this total
_five-and-twenty_ occur in one play, which I neglected to compare with the
old copy deposited in an inconvenient locality, and gave from the
Shakespear Society's text. I attach greater blame to myself, that I should
have forgotten, when I reprinted in 1892 my Suckling of 1874, to set right
the stupid mistake in the song from 'The Sad One,' of _dawn_ for _down_.

I shall remain highly pleased, that I succeeded, in the volume entitled
_Tales and Legends_, in putting in type my long-cherished ideas about
Robin Hood and Faustus; and I adopted a sort of old-fashioned, vernacular
style throughout the book, apparently not unsuitable to the nature of the
topics treated. Both the stories just mentioned were there for the first
time presented in an English form and text agreeably to my view and
estimate of the facts relative to two of the most remarkable characters in
romance. The accumulation of absurdities round those heroes of the closet
and the stage prompted me, years and years since, to endeavour to reduce
the legends to a shape more compatible with evidence and probability. Yet
I am informed that some of the critics wondered, what the aim of the
volume was. It struck others, as well as myself, as fairly clear; indeed
the undertaking was strictly on recognised lines. But I had unfortunately
omitted to graduate as a specialist and to add myself to the roll of the

Another venture, which involved the writer in a slight temporary
_imbroglio_, was the monograph on the _Livery Companies of London_. I was
most unhappy in the season and circumstances of launching this work. It
was a tolerably hard six months' task, and I hurried it forward, inasmuch
as I knew that a rival scheme was on the stocks. Considering that it is a
big book with numerous illustrations supplied by the editor, it is perhaps
not much worse than it might have been, had it proceeded from a pen
writing _superiorum approbatione_. The rumour arose that, as soon as the
real work on the subject appeared, the attempt of an outsider would sink
into merited oblivion; but the real work did not appear, and its proposed
author had to content himself, in the presence of his disappointment, with
sending me an anonymous communication, based on erroneous intelligence,
that the word _Gild_ ought to be spelled with a _U_, as it is in
_Guildhall_, _Gild_ signifying _to face with gold_.

A far more serious misadventure, however, was occasioned by an unlucky
clerical oversight. In the account of the Cutlers' Company I stated that
there had been, many years before, a defalcation by the Clerk, whereas I
should have said 'by a clerk;' the wrong article and the capital letter
drew down on me the ire of the party, who still occupied the position of
Clerk to the Gild, and who pleaded damage to his reputation by the
misprint, pointed out to him by the frustrated compiler aforesaid. There
could be no sustainable plea of injury, and the large amount lost rendered
it obvious that there must have been neglect by superiors; but the
publishers thought it better to agree to cancel the leaf, which was done
in all copies unsold or recoverable. The Clerk was in fact the
responsible officer, and although he might have had no hand in the
misappropriation, he must have exercised a very imperfect control over the
accounts, to render such a thing possible.

Owing to the unlucky retention in my agreement for the Livery Companies'
book of certain clauses, I involved myself in an unpleasantness, which
made me anxious to get rid of the entire business. Accordingly, the moment
that I was advised by the firm, that they had (without previous
consultation with me as a royalty-holder) converted themselves into a
limited company, I solicited a cheque in settlement of all claims, and
obtained it. I have very possibly set a precedent, by which others might
not do ill to profit.

I know that to my more recent acquaintances and auxiliaries I must have
appeared rather niggard of presentation copies of my publications. But I
used to be generous enough in distributing such things, till I was
thoroughly disheartened and disgusted. Some stopped short of
acknowledgment; others might without much disadvantage have done the same.
I sent a privately-printed volume worth several pounds as a gift to a
reverend professor at Cambridge, and he wrote back on a card: 'Thanks.
Curious.' My former schoolmaster at Merchant Taylors had only to say that
I had left out a Greek accent in a quotation, and a female relative, after
two years' deliberation, apprised me that I was guilty of printing the
wrong article in a French maxim. When I forwarded to Mr William Chappell
direct as from myself an important volume edited for Mr Huth, he pointed
out to the latter, leaving me unrecognised, that I had made a slip in a
particular place. An official at the British Museum, who solicited one of
my books as a memorial, which would be cherished as an heirloom in his
family, forthwith passed it on to a bookseller, who priced it in his
catalogue at £12, 12s., and Mr Huth, till I explained the circumstances,
imagined that I was the culprit.


    As an Amateur--Old China--Dr Diamond of Twickenham--Unfavourable
    Results of His Tutorship--My Adventure at Lowestoft--Alderman Rose--I
    turn over a New Leaf--Morgan--His Sale to Me of Various Objects--The
    Seventeenth Century Dishes--The Sèvres Tray of 1773--The Pair of
    Japanese Dishes--Blue and White--Hawthorn--The Odd Vase--My Finds at
    Hammersmith--Mr Sanders of Chiswick and his Chelsea China--Gale--The
    Ruby-backed Eggshell--A Recollection of Ralph Bernal--Buen Retiro and
    Capo di Monte--Reynolds of Hart Street--The Wedgewood Teapot--The
    _Rose du Barri_ Vases--My Bowls--An Eccentric Character and His
    Treasures--Reminiscences of Midhurst and Up Park--The Zurich Jug and
    My Zurich Visitor--The Diamond Sale.

In crossing over from the literary to other fields, where I have
instructed and amused myself and a few others by my studies, I pass to
ground, where I occupy a somewhat different position--that of an absolute,
incorruptible amateur. I see clearly enough that, whatever advantage may
attach itself to the commercial side in these matters, the genuine
pleasure lies in purchasing for oneself, even if the price is here and
there such as to ensure loss on realisation; for there is the sense of
patronage and superiority. I never descended to petty transactions; but
where an appreciable amount was involved; I would far liefer have stood
aloof, or have acquired for myself. There was only the sovereign motive in
the background, which conquered my instinctive repugnance to the
conversion of literary monuments into a commodity and of my
hardly-acquired knowledge into a mint.

Outside Books, I have conceived, as I proceeded, and as I mingled with
other hobby-riders, an interest in such matters of secondary human
concernment as China, Coins, Plate, Postage Stamps, Pictures, and
Furniture. The two former have occupied in my thought a station not much
less prominent than that of literature; and as I abandoned the practical
inquiry into the first subject after ten years' devotion to it, I shall
commence by giving some account of my observations and experiences in that
particular market, which, like all others, offers its peculiarities and

There is hardly a triter remark than that we are slaves to our passions;
and the genuine collector certainly is unto his, whatever his line may be.
Where there are ample resources, it signifies less; but the servitude
presses very heavily on the more necessitous or more moderately endowed.
It is in vain to say that a man ought not to buy luxuries, if he cannot
afford them; he will have them, as another will drink alcohol or chew
opium. To secure something which he covets he is capable of pawning his
coat or 'dining with Duke Humphrey.' Had I been exempt from fancies, I
might have spared myself the ordeal of going into the highways and byways
in quest of that doubtful benefactor a publisher; I might have dispensed
with ingratiating myself with booksellers and bookbuyers; I might have
enjoyed the pleasures of reading and thinking amid some sort of _paterna
rura_. But as a citizen, who leaves London only for the sake of the
satisfaction which it yields to return to it (for your Londoner, if he
likes to see and _feel_ the country must _live in urbe_), I naturally
contracted certain pleasant and costly vices incidental to a metropolis,
and became an unthrift and through my unthriftiness a hireling. I often
resolve to break my fetters; but I lack the courage. The tastes, in which
I have graduated, have sweetened my life, and enlarged my vision, if they
have trenched a little on my freedom; and I even think that they have
tended to humanise me, and subdue a not too tractable temper to the harder
and sterner uses of the world.

I have not the least objection to avow that, when I accidentally acquired
in 1869 at Llandudno an example or two of Oriental ceramic art, I was
deplorably ignorant of the bearings and merits of the pursuit, and had, as
usual, no idea that I had embarked in one. A good-natured and
well-informed relative, who was always ready and pleased to serve and
flatter me, suggested that my Eastern porcelain was _Brom'ichham_. Of
course an English factory could not, in the first place, have produced the
things at the price. I received a good deal of encouragement and sympathy
from those near and dear to me just about this time; my extravagance was
censured; and my early insolvency considered probable.

Through my father I became acquainted about that time with Dr Diamond of
Twickenham House, the possessor of one of the most extensive and
miscellaneous assemblages of porcelain and pottery of all ages and
countries ever formed in this country. Who had first bitten the doctor, I
never heard; I found him, on my first introduction, the owner of a mass
of examples, good, bad and indifferent, of all of which, however
insignificant and obscure, he could tell you the pedigree and place of
origin. He had many other tastes; he was curious about photography, books,
pictures, prints, coins, and plate; his house was a museum, of which he
was the curator and showman; but I think that during the last years of his
life old china and plate kept the ascendancy.

My personal progress was at first leisurely, for I do not recollect that I
made any farther investments till 1872 when, happening to be at Lowestoft
where Alderman Rose, brother of James Anderson Rose, also a collector, was
then staying, he and I were equally seduced by the attractions of a shop
kept by a person named Burwood. It was extremely fortunate for the latter
that Rose and myself had nearly all our knowledge to learn; we bought
largely and not too well, and Burwood was so exhausted by the drain on his
stock, that he announced his intention of travelling down into
Herefordshire, in order to buy some very valuable bits reported to him
from a farmhouse in that rather distant shire. There was a second depôt in
the same watering-place, kept by an old man and his wife, with whom it
was a favourite phrase, when their stock ran low, to say that they must
'take a journey.' In short, I amassed a large hamper of ware on this
occasion, and brought it home. Diamond, as soon as he was apprised of my
new foible, exclaimed, 'God help him!' and I suspected that there must be
something in it, when I called at a place in Orange Street, Red Lion
Square, and ascertained that that and the Herefordshire farmhouse were

I soon made a second discovery, which almost discouraged me from
prosecuting the fancy any farther. Diamond had knowledge and feeling; but
I now saw that he was deficient in taste. I had naturally modelled my
small collection on his plan or want of plan; I fell in with one or two
dealers, who opened my eyes; and the Lowestoft cargo was thrown overboard.
A Jew named Moss had a whole tableful of crockery in exchange for a good
plaque of Limoges enamel of the earlier epoch. He once let me have at a
moderate price an old Sèvres plate painted with a pastoral scene, and with
a rich amethyst blue and gold festooned border. I continue to think
favourably of it. He brought it and a number of other pieces, all
rubbish, in company with a co-religionist, to my house at Kensington in
the evening. He was so discouraged by my frugal selection, that I lost
sight of him. He was not miserly in his warnings against his professional
contemporaries. This is a common trait.

I began to work on a new principle--to buy fewer and better things,
studying condition, to which the doctor was more or less insensible; and I
found myself about 1880 the owner, even on such a basis, of a multitude of
wares which threatened to compete in the early future with the Twickenham

This was all the more serious, so to speak, inasmuch as while I drew from
very few sources, the doctor was a mark for everybody, while he continued
to buy with zest and avidity. All sorts of people came to the high iron
gates, bringing every variety of article for sale; and few carried their
freights back. Even those who were on the list of private guests
occasionally shewed their good taste by drawing out of their
breast-pockets at dessert some object for Diamond's approval and purchase.
There was Major ----, one of Her Majesty's messengers, who was an
habitual offender (as I thought) in such a way. But in the eyes of our
common host the end in those days justified the means. It was all fish.

I dealt in chief measure with a house in Hanway Street (Morgan), Gale in
Holborn, Brooks at Hammersmith, and Reynolds of Hart Street, Bloomsbury. I
seldom left these tracks, and met there with only too much to tempt me.
Morgan sold me a few pieces of Sèvres and some very fine Oriental. It was
curious that, just after my purchase of three or four large porcelain
dishes, the 'china earth' of the Stuart era, a gentleman of old family
from Newcastle-on-Tyne looked in at Morgan's, and observing a broken
specimen of the same lot, mentioned that at home he had some precisely
similar, which had belonged to his predecessors since 1650. A very
beautiful Sèvres tea-stand of small dimensions, with a circumference
representing a tressure of six curves, has the marks of the maker, the
painter, and the gilder, and belongs to 1773; I gave him £23 for it;
Morgan tried to get the companion cup and saucer; but it brought £86; and
was bought, I think, by the late Mr Lawrence, F.S.A.

He had a rather prolonged and troublesome negotiation in one instance on
my behalf. The executors of some gentleman offered him a pair of superb
Japanese dishes, 24 inches in diameter and of a rare pattern and shape,
for £140. I declined them at that figure, and heard no more of the matter,
till he informed me that his correspondents had modified their views, so
as to make it possible for me to possess the lot for £85. I took them; and
the vendor has repeatedly applied to me, asking if I have the dishes
still, and care to part. He sold me a few other rather costly
articles--costly in my eyes.

Morgan initiated me in the true facts about Blue and White, and helped me
to steer clear of the blunders, which many of my contemporaries
perpetrated over that craze. I have a small cylindrical bottle, white and
ultramarine, which illustrates the matter as well as a dearer example, and
shews the pains which the Chinese took to prepare their paste and pigments
during the best period--the seventeenth century. Both are most brilliant,
and it is alike the case with Chinese and Japanese ware of this class,
that the ancient appears to a superficial or inexperienced observer more
modern than that made in our own time, of which the ground and the
decoration are faded and weak.

I likewise gained an insight from the same source into the mysteries of
Hawthorn, which seems to be rather Plum-blossom. I handled a goodly number
of specimens; but I encountered scarcely any, which awakened a very strong
interest. Really fine examples are of the rarest occurrence, and it is
still more difficult to obtain pairs of vases or jars with the genuine
covers or lids. They are generally false or wooden. Odd pieces are not
wanted. You must have either a couple or a set of two, three, five, six,
according to circumstances.

A collector had long cast a longing eye on a very beautiful vase in a
London shop, but would not have it, because it was odd. He kept a sharp
look-out for the companion, and at last he found it to his immense
satisfaction at Newcastle, and brought it up to town. On inquiry at the
dealer's there, he found that the latter, despairing of getting rid of his
piece, had consigned it to a friend at Newcastle in the hope of meeting
with a customer.

This was agreeable to the circular system, by which curiosities go the
round of the watering-places and spas in quest of homes. I saw a
Worcester jug at Bournemouth, which had visited nearly every resort in the
kingdom, and still awaited an admirer.

I very soon abandoned the idea about Lowestoft porcelain. Gillingwater in
his _History_ of the place (1790) merely mentions that they had clay,
suitable for making pottery, in the neighbourhood; but there was no
material for fine china. Very possibly certain pieces of Oriental were
shipped thither in the white, and locally decorated. But I have yet to see
an important example of so-called Lowestoft, which was not really of
Chinese origin.

At the place of business long kept by Brooks I was an habitual caller, and
used to meet Mr Sanders of Chiswick, whose collection of Chelsea porcelain
was probably one of the finest ever brought together. It comprised many
large examples in figures and _nefs_ seldom seen and of great importance.
It was Sanders, who related to me the anecdote of a singular find at
Antwerp of Chelsea figures in a confectioner's establishment. The
proprietor or his family once belonged to Chelsea, and had taken these
pieces with them as part of their trade fittings or decorations; and he
willingly exchanged them for others on payment of a reasonable difference.

Sanders and myself occasionally met also at Sotheby's. He must have been a
person of no mean resources; but his ways were mysterious, and his home, I
fear, uncomfortable. Perhaps he found the neighbouring Sign of the
Hoppoles more congenial for this reason; he found it, poor fellow, only
too much so.

I possess numerous memorials of my transactions with Brooks. He had,
besides china, occasional pictures on which I may have sometimes looked
with extravagant distrust; and he was in fact an omnivorous buyer and not
an injudicious one. I recall a tall Chelsea cup and saucer with a stalk
handle, painted with fruit, and marked in puce, which my good acquaintance
had obtained from a small house-sale in Chiswick--the sole treasure of the
establishment. It was in the finest state. 'They thought me a fool,'
remarked Brooks, 'because I gave £10, 10s. for it.' 'And what would they
say of the person,' I put to him, 'who took it of you at a profit?' He
grinned, and informed me that a medical man in the neighbourhood would
jump at it. This frightened me, and I closed with him at £14. I owed many
another prize to the same agency, particularly, in a small way perhaps, an
old Dresden plate with a crimson and gold border, painted with a bird and
foliage, the prototype of the Chelsea pattern, of which examples have
fetched £35. Brooks had this lying in a drawer, and one day I disinterred
it, and took it home at 25s. My Hammersmith man was not invariably so
discreet in his consumption of liquor as he ought to have been; and I have
to confess with some shame and contrition, that I priced, not for the
first time, a very fine Cambrian ware mug marked (as usual) in gold, when
he was a trifle festive, and he let me have it for 35s. He had two; the
other was badly cracked; and I saw it in another shop some time after,
valued at £7, 15s.

There were two examples of ceramic ware in his hands at different times,
protected and (as I thought) disguised by old black frames. I asked him to
take them out for me, that I might be satisfied as to their condition,
which he did. One was a Wedgwood plaque, light blue, with figures in
relief; the other an original Capo di Monte one, literally hidden under
accumulated dirt. It was of the second period, in the _alto relievo_
style, and represents the Bath of Diana, I believe. The sharpness of the
impression was a strong contrast to the modern copies from the moulds.
Brooks asked £6 for it; I took both.

He was _ultimus Romanorum_ in the sense that he left no successor in
Hammersmith with a stock of the kind worth regarding.

Brooks was an odd-looking small man, and he and his wife resembled Mr and
Mrs Johnson in the Vauxhall song. I once spoke to him of his _confrères_
in the trade, and as to his relations with them, more particularly in the
old china line, and his less explanatory than sententious rejoinder was:
'I knows them, and they knows me.'

Gale, who lived in Holborn, where I regularly visited him, was the brother
of the County Court judge. He was an intelligent fellow, but not very
speculative, nor did I ever, save once, carry away from him anything very
notable. He set before me, however, on one occasion a splendid pair of
ruby-backed eggshell plates painted with quails, and said that the price
was £6. I felt slightly nervous, lest he should have made a mistake; but I
agreed to his terms, asked him to pack the things up, and departed. I
nearly broke them by a collision on the pavement, but eventually landed
them in safety, calling _en route_ at Reynolds's in Hart Street, who told
me that a customer would give him £60 for them, if I would let him have
them at a figure below that. They are as thin and transparent as paper. It
may be just worth noting that a cup and saucer of Capo di Monte of the
first type, the paste opaque and the decoration Spanish, was sold to me by
Gale as Buen Retiro. It is painted in the same taste, and has the same
mark--_M_ for Madrid; but I have always regarded it as of Italian origin,
and as the work of the operatives who migrated from the neighbourhood of
Madrid to Capo di Monte. The real Buen Retiro resembles eggshell.

Ralph Bernal had formerly dealt with Gale, who was fond of narrating
anecdotes of the great collector's hesitation and nearness. There was a
particular Sèvres cup and saucer, which brought a heavy sum in his sale,
and which he got for £5, 5s., after a palaver with the holder of some
months' duration.

Reynolds allowed me to make his premises in Bloomsbury one of my regular
lounges. I did not altogether take a great deal off his hands, as he paid
attention to Wedgwood, bronzes, ivories, and jade, rather than to china;
and as I grew wiser, I also grew more exclusive, from a persuasion that
one or two subjects are amply sufficient for any single madman, especially
a rather poor one.

I have stated that my range of sources of supply was limited. I was now
and then attracted by an object in a strange window, and might go in, and
demand the figure expected. It was the height of the run upon Chelsea,
when I did so in Holborn, and the owner, in response to my appeal,
proceeded to disengage from a hook an old Chelsea plate valued by him at
£14, 14s. Unfortunately the poor fellow lost his balance, and let the
plate go; it was broken into I know not how many fragments. I shall never
forget his astonishment and dismay. What could I do? A neighbour of his
once fixed me with a Nantgarw plate, and was lavish in his eulogy. 'Why,'
he exclaimed, allusively to its lustrous brilliance, 'it laughs at you.'

My acquisitions at public sales have in thirty or more years been limited
to two: a Derby mug painted with a military subject, which I gave away,
and a large Dresden plaque in a rich frame, which occurred at Sotheby's
ever so long ago, when sales were occasionally held in the warehouse
downstairs. The piece was an exquisite copy of the painting by Rubens of
his second wife and their child on her knee. Although there was no picture
or china buyer present, it fetched £12, 12s., and F. S. Ellis pronounced
it a bargain at that figure. I verily trust it may be so (Ellis named such
an amount as £50); for it has hung in my study ever since, and owes me
some interest.

Time was, when the bijou tea-pot held me in bondage. I have two of that
very soft paste made at Mennecy in the department of the Seine, and a
third of the finest Dresden porcelain, painted with landscapes (even on
the lid), and with the spout richly gilt.

I was tempted, side by side with the Mennecy pieces, by a milk-jug with a
silver hinge of Sceaux-Penthièvre, of which the paste is also remarkable
for its softness. It was a factory conducted under the patronage of the
Duc de Penthièvre. Its products are very rare.

A Welsh clergyman obliged me with a present of a few specimens of china,
including a small octagon blue and white dish with _Salopian_ impressed in
large characters on the bottom. I value it the more, because the
authentic early Salopian is most difficult to procure, and it is the
fashion to ascribe to this manufactory the Worcester marked with an _S_.

I look upon the Nantgarw, of which I relate a trivial anecdote, the
Swansea, and the Colebrooke Dale groups, as rather cold, insipid, and
tawdry. The first-named is common enough in plates, dishes, and shaped
pieces; but I possess a cup and saucer most exquisitely painted in roses
with their stalks and leaves, but without a mark, which I have always
attributed to this source. I never saw another similar.

But I did take from Reynolds from time to time a few articles: a Wedgwood
tea-pot of solid green jasper, a small Chelsea dish of the Vernon service
with exotic birds and the gold anchor, a pair of _rose du Barri_
tulip-lipped Sèvres vases, 6 inches high, painted with cupids, and so on.
I deemed the tea-pot dear at £7; but the vendor, who had studied the
particular branch of the subject, reassured me by offering to buy it back
at any time at the same price; and he put this in the receipt--not to
great purpose; for he died years ago. For the Vernon dish he asked £20,
and took £11. The pair of _rose du Barri_ vases, which belong to the
Louis XVI. epoch, he picked up at a Lombard's for a trifle, and paid me
the compliment of charging me £10 for them. But their quality was
excellent, and in their gilding there was that free hand, which
distinguishes the early work, and is charming from its very informality.
The rich gold scrolls and foliage on either side do not correspond, as
they would in pieces of modern fabric.

I appear, as I look back, to have been thrown from my early manhood among
curiosity hunters and dealers. I was once very dead on the Bowl, when it
offered special attractions of any kind. I have one, which is _jewelled_
round the border inside and out, but of which the drawback is that it has
in the heel an extremely unconventional painting. The jewelling is in the
manufacturing process, and was imitated at Sèvres. A second came from
Scotland, and is remarkable for the presence of a Christian legend in the
base of the interior, derived from the teaching of the Jesuits in China. I
negotiated it at a marine-store dealer's at North End; but he thought so
well of it or of me, that he would not surrender it under £3, 3s. The most
expensive specimen I possess cost me £9. It has a turquoise ground, is
very richly decorated inside and out, is of large size, and of course
absolutely perfect. But I was vouchsafed the sight of one at Deal in the
hands of a private owner, for which a matter of £50 was expected. I
preferred my own.

The Palissy, Henri Deux, and other costly _faïence_ I never acquired.
There was a fellow at Hammersmith, named Glendinning, who had on sale
during countless years a specimen of Palissy, for which he suggested a
cheque for £250, and which was a palpable copy. This strange character,
who was a sort of commercial Munchausen, never wearied of spinning the
most outrageous yarns about the goods, which he had, or had had, for sale,
and would repeat conversations between the 'Prim'er' (Gladstone) and
himself, no doubt as thoroughly _bonâ fide_ as everything else about him.
The works of Correggio were to be seen only on his first floor; but you
might inspect copies in Trafalgar Square and the Louvre.

There was a pair of modern French decorative vases at this establishment,
said by the proprietor to have been obtained by him at the sale of the
effects of a great lady in Hyde Park, a _chère amie_ of His Majesty
Napoleon III. His Majesty, quoth my friend, paid eighty guineas for the
objects, which were manufactured expressly for his lady friend in 1869.
The vendor judged his purchase with all this imposing provenance rather
reasonable at thirty guineas; nor did I contradict him. I did not order
the vases to be sent home; but they arrived on approval; and there they
remained. I repeatedly invited him to fetch them away, as, however cheap,
they would not suit me at the price. He eventually sacrificed them and
himself, and his family, by accepting £7, 10s.

When I was at Midhurst in 1877, I had a glimpse of the splendid collection
of porcelain formed by the late Mr Fisher. I had arranged with a common
friend to go to Up Park, Harting, not far off, to view the Sèvres
purchased in or about 1810 by the Featherstonhaughs for £10,000, and which
is shortly to be dispersed under the hammer, because the heir is obliged
to strip the house to enable him to keep it up. Besides the china, they
had a great deal of plate, which was allowed, till the family was warned,
to lie about the house, and superb antique furniture. One of the
Rothschilds offered, I was told, £1500 for a single Florentine table. It
was something of the same kind, which a West End dealer found in a
lodging-house at Hastings, whither he had taken his family for the air,
and purchased for £500 after a prolonged negotiation with the landlady. He
sold it for £300 more.

I once obtained of Brooks a 4-inch vase with a _gros bleu_ ground and
painted with birds, without a mark, and sold to me as Worcester. I took it
to be Sèvres from the peculiar unctuous appearance of the paste and the
method of treatment; and I remain of the same opinion. Mortlock shewed me
two cups, asking me not to look at the marks, and to tell him what they
were. One was Sèvres and the other a Staffordshire copy. The paste and the
bird on the latter betrayed its origin.

It seems strange that the Sèvres of a certain epoch should be valuable
beyond all comparison with other porcelain, that of France included, and
that the modern manufacture, indeed the whole of this century's work,
should be so slightly esteemed. But the skill and taste lavished on that
of the Louis Quinze, or even Seize, period are immense. It is different
with Chelsea, Derby, and Worcester, of all of which you may have examples
of early date of poor, as well as of fine, quality. The Sèvres and
Vincennes seem to have been more especially destined for rich patrons.

Brooks was an excellent judge of china, and fairly reasonable. But he
sometimes, like most of us, committed mistakes, and sometimes overshot the
mark as to price and value. He long had on view a cup and saucer with the
gold anchor, which he had probably bought as Chelsea, and for which he
demanded £12. It was a _contrefaçon_ by the wily Flemings of Tournay. I
eyed with much longing a beautiful jug of Plymouth ware, but unsigned,
which he estimated at the same figure; but I deemed it too high, and
Brooks was not the man to give way as a rule. After his death, Reynolds of
Hart Street obtained the piece, and sold it to me for a third of the

With respect to Chelsea, Derby, and Worcester china it is necessary, as I
have just hinted, to be aware that much of the early work is of poor paste
and decoration, and that the date is not a guarantee or criterion. Of all
these factories there are abundant specimens of coarse execution and
cheap fabric, though undoubtedly of original and genuine character. The
Chelsea figure of Justice, 12 inches in height, is, for instance, of two
distinct types: the first very inferior to the later, which exhibits the
result of the introduction of Italian, perhaps Venetian, workmen. The mark
on this porcelain seems to be borrowed from Venice, and is common to the
ware made in that city.

Somehow--perhaps in exchange--Mr Quaritch had on sale in the seventies a
fine pair of old cylindrical Japanese jars, such as in the common modern
ware they use as stick or umbrella stands; I cast amorous glances at them;
but the holder demanded sixty sovereigns; and I retired. They were the
only objects of interest and value in the lot.

Her Britannic Majesty's Consul at Zurich had been advised by some one,
that I was in possession of an old Zurich jug mounted in silver, and
solicited leave to inspect it, as he was engaged on a history of the
porcelain factory at that place. I let him see my piece, which was not
silver-mounted, but was far more interesting and important, because it had
the original china hinge. My visitor averred that he had never met with
any similar example, and expressed his anxiety, if I cared to part with it
at any time, to become the purchaser. I mentioned that I had been foolish
enough twenty years before to give £6, 10s. for it. He stated his
readiness to pay £10, and would, I dare say, have doubled the offer; but I

While Waller the bookseller was still in Fleet Street, knowing me to be
interested in old china, he shewed me one day upstairs in his private
apartments a French cup and saucer, which had been given to him in Paris,
and which, according to the donor, had formerly belonged to that
misconstrued enthusiast Robespierre. It struck me, I own, as of somewhat
later date; it was uninscribed; and of course relics of this class are
unlike books in not carrying on their face any valid or satisfactory
evidence of their origin and prior fortunes. Waller meant kindly in
letting me see his curiosity, and I offered no comment. Credentials I
discerned none.

An unhappy acquisition here was one, which I owed to my indiscreet
interference with things, which I did not understand. I bought of Waller
for £5 a series of plaister casts of medals in a box, and subsequently
parted with the lot for precisely as many shillings. I fared nearly as ill
in a case, where I took of Stibbs of Museum Street a worm-eaten
xylographic block, which placed it in my power to convert five guineas
into two; and I fear that the buyer at the lower figure did not bless me.
It was some modern fabrication ingeniously executed on a riddled square of
ancient wood.

I saw the last of the Diamond collection, when it was offered at
Sotheby's. There was a considerable attendance; but the company was not a
strong one, nor was the property. The doctor had preferred _multa_ to
_multum_. There was a large mass of specimens, curious and quaint, and a
few handsome pieces, but nothing capital, no productions, which bore
accentuation. The affair was the converse of the Fountaine one, where the
quantity was limited, the quality magnificent, princely. Naturally the
quotations corresponded. The best price was obtained for a lot, which was
not in the category of porcelain or pottery. It consisted of a couple of
Gothic crowns of Victoria, 1847, which, as Diamond told me, had been
presented by Wyon to him, and which were in the original case. They were
proofs, but of the ordinary type, and they realised eighteen guineas. If
they had belonged to one of the rare varieties, that of 1847 with the
_décolletée_ bust, or the one dated 1853, they would have still been
extravagantly dear.

I remember Cockburn the Richmond silversmith mentioning to me that a
customer, who owed him £6, begged him as a favour to take the amount in
Gothic crowns, of which he handed him twenty-four unused. There was a
ridiculous notion, that the _graceless_ florin was rare, and Diamond
inquired about it of Hugh Owen, author of the monograph on Bristol china,
and cashier of the Great Western Railway. The following Sunday Owen came
down to Twickenham with a small cargo of them.


    The Stamp Book--A Passing Taste--Dr Diamond again--An Establishment in
    the Strand--My Partiality for Lounging--One of My Haunts and Its Other
    Visitors--Our Entertainer Himself--His Principals Abroad--The _Cinque
    Cento_ Medal--Canon Greenwell--Mr Montagu--Story of a Dutch Priest--My
    Experience of Pictures--The Stray Portrait recovered after Many
    Years--The Two Wilson Landscapes--Sir Joshua's Portrait of Richard
    Burke--Hazlitt's Likeness of Lamb--The Picture Market and Some of Its
    Incidence--Story of a Painting--Plate--The Rat-tailed Spoon--Dr
    Diamond smitten--The Hogarth Salver--The Edmund Bury Godfrey and
    Blacksmiths' Cups--Irish Plate--Danger of Repairing or Cleaning Old
    Silver--The City Companies' Plate.

I have to retrace my steps to Reynolds, because he was quite fortuitously
instrumental in inoculating me with a new weakness--the Postage Stamp. He
was a man in very indifferent health, and during two years or so was laid
up, so that he was unable to attend to his regular business, and beguiled
his leisure with a study of Wedgwood and philately. The former proved
sufficiently profitable to him, as soon as he was strong enough to attend
to work; the latter was a mere passing amusement, and fructified only to
the extent of placing him in possession of an album, formed by the
consolidation of a number of others purchased and broken up. This he had
by him, and did not propose to sell.

I remarked it on a shelf once or twice; the topic was beginning to awaken
interest; and I elicited from the owner, that he might be tempted by £50.
He was ultimately tempted by £16. There were about 3500 stamps; and the
collection has since been greatly enlarged and entirely rearranged. I
relinquished the pursuit, because I was advised that the liability to
deception was excessive, and there my book lies, a record of a foolish
passion. I sincerely believe, that Diamond had a finger in drawing my
attention to stamps; for he had an important collection, which he shewed
to me at Twickenham and which he sold, I understood, to a public
institution for £70.

The frequenters of the Strand, where it is a gorge toward St Clement's,
must recollect the morality in metal-work over the premises of a
stamp-merchant there. It represented a deadly combat between him and a
figure of more stalwart proportions personifying the evil genius of the
collector--the stamp-forger. This ingenious and impressive piece of
mechanism was illuminated at night, and attracted the attention, which it
so well deserved. But the police inconsiderately suppressed the spectacle,
merely because it blocked the traffic at a difficult point, endangered
human life, and was misconstrued into an advertisement.

I am persuaded that the sole chance of securing certain old issues in a
few series is the acquisition of a genuine collection, as it stands, and
the sale of the _residuum_. I made an effort in this direction one day
some time since at Puttick's; but the album contained a good deal that I
did not want, and some forgeries; and it fetched £66.

I mention it as a flattering mark of confidence on the part of Messrs
Sotheby & Co., that a very valuable album, which was to be sold in a few
days, was lent by them to me for the purpose of examination at my own
house. But I did not bid for it, after all.

My varied tastes necessarily brought me into relations with many
individuals, to whose superior training and experience I have been
indebted for much useful information and much entertaining anecdote. I
have during too large a proportion of my life played the part of a
lounger and a gossip. How much I should have to deduct from my career, if
I were to leave out of the reckoning the time spent in curiosity-shops!
Spent, yet not wholly wasted; for I hang the fruit to ripen, and it has
rendered some of my pages less dull and some of my statements less
imperfect than they might have been. Instead of being dependent on
book-learning, I have handled the objects, into which I proposed to
inquire, and have mixed with the wise men of the West, who had grown up
amid them.

At the English agency of Rollin & Feuardent of Paris I have passed, I
should think, months in the aggregate. I have had opportunities of
examining there antique jewellery, gems, bronzes, porcelain, medals,
coins; and there I have met men, who sympathise in my predilections, and
whom I have been enabled to emulate only at a distance--Canon Greenwell,
Sir John Evans, Mr Murdoch, Mr Montagu, Lord Grantley, and more. I have
seen a duke enter the room, hat in hand, to sell a bronze to the firm. I
have seen the _soi-disant_ representative of the Gonzagas of Mantua come
to arrange a small pecuniary transaction. I have passed on the stair a
Turkish gentleman, who might have been mistaken for the Grand Signior, on
his way down from turning something or other into currency. It was on
those very boards that Ruskin knelt to examine the Cypriot antiquities of

The effect and success of the great Montagu sale, now nearly completed,
were rather spoiled by the aim of the late owner at exhaustiveness; and
the result was that numerous lots occurred, containing coins in poor
state, which had been acquired for the sake of rare mint-marks. They not
only fetched, as a rule, little themselves, but exercised an unfavourable
influence even on other items, which happened to be in their
neighbourhood. If the collection had been restricted to fine examples, the
prices would have been much higher. How often and how long will it be
necessary to reiterate the warning that coin-fanciers cannot fall into a
more serious and costly error than the sacrifice of other considerations
to technical _minutiæ_, which do not strictly concern them in the way of

Montagu was rather weak or incomplete in British and Saxon, till he bought
Addington's collection _en bloc_. Mr Whelan mentioned to him one day,
that he ought to strengthen himself in this direction, and he spoke of
Addington. 'But,' said M. 'he would not sell, would he?' Whelan asked his
leave to put the inquiry; A. agreed; and the price was £7000, on which W.
took five per cent., and the vendor made him a present of £100. Montagu
subsequently parted with the Scotish portion to Mr Richardson for £2000.

Canon Greenwell most powerfully and favourably impressed me. He was a
churchman with the most liberal views and a scholarly archæologist. He was
very intimate with Mr Whelan, and stayed with him, when in town. We had
good talk over the topics, which interested us in common; but with Mr
Whelan himself my intercourse, spreading over many years, has been most
regular, as it has been most agreeable and instructive. He was born in the
business, and has been largely employed by the British Museum and by the
auctioneers as an expert. He of course attended some of the country sales,
and his experience could not fail to be singular. I called on his return
from Staffordshire. He had been unlucky on a visit to the same
neighbourhood; all the world was there, and heavy prices ruled. Undaunted,
he made a second attempt, and got an extraordinary haul of _cinque cento_
bronze medals, which went for about 30s. each. The auctioneer knew nothing
about them, and Whelan drew up an _extempore_ catalogue, by which they
were sold--mainly to him. His principals struck me at first, I confess, as
rather _laisser aller_ folks; but while they do not disdain petty traffic,
their profits chiefly arise from transactions, where there is a nabobish
margin of £1500 or £2000. It comes to what F. S. Ellis used to say, that
it is of no use to clear 100 per cent., if the amount is only
eighteenpence; nor is it a great deal better to do as Mr Quaritch has ere
now done, to lay out nearly £3000 on a volume, keep it a year or two, and
then sell it at £25 advance.

Whelan told me a funny story of a Dutch priest, who once smuggled 600
cigars into London. He related the affair to Whelan in this way in his
broken English. 'I bring over six hundred cigar. They ask me in English at
custom house, "you have any thing to declare?" I shrug the shoulder. They
ask me in French same thing. I shrug the shoulder. They ask me in Jarman.
I shrug the shoulder. They ask me in Hollands. I do same. Then they hold
up board with writing in six language. I shrug the shoulder again. "What
devil language," they say, "do this man talk?" and I go forth on my way.'

A few family portraits and miniatures descended to me by reason of two of
my foregoers having been artists; and one of the former, a likeness of
Hazlitt in oils by himself, met with a curious adventure. Before the
Exhibition of 1851 a sculptor borrowed it of my father on the plea that he
desired to execute a bust for that great event; and we lost sight equally
of him and it, till I received one day from Mr Frederick Locker a
catalogue of a sale at Christie's, where our long-lost picture formed a
lot, against which Locker had placed a mark, to draw my attention. I
represented the circumstances to the auctioneers, but finally bought back
the property.

I once purchased a couple of Richard Wilson landscapes in the original
frames, with the painter's initials and the date 1755; and I have dabbled
a little in water colours. But, on the whole, I have been only an
onlooker, with an hereditary feeling for art and a consciousness of total
incapacity for it.

I was at Althorp in 1868, just when Lord Spencer had acquired the portrait
by Sir Joshua of Richard Burke for £100; and I happened to be in
conversation with Mr Christie-Miller at St James's Place, when some one
delivered at the door as a present (I believe) an original drawing of the
Right Honourable Thomas Grenville.

Without being aware that the National Portrait Gallery possessed the real
likeness of Charles Lamb by Hazlitt, which had been purchased for £105, I
was led a few years since to go to Hodgson's rooms in Chancery Lane by the
entry in a catalogue of what was alleged to be the Lamb painting. My
father approved, subject to my opinion, of the purchase at £50 or so. I at
once dismissed the notion of bidding, because I felt sure, that there was
something wrong; and the late Mr Macmillan became its possessor at £60. A
visit to South Kensington and an interview with the curator of the
Gallery, where I beheld the fine, if rather bizarre, work itself,
confirmed my judgment and my distrust.

It is notorious enough, that the picture-market is a man-trap of the most
signal and treacherous character. Whatever may be true of books,
manuscripts, coins, or stamps, paintings and prints are the greatest snare
and pitfall of all. I have frequently gazed with private misgivings, which
I might have found it difficult to explain or justify, at a portrait in a
broker's shop, and as I passed and re-passed the place have speculated on
the real history of the production. I know full well that the preposterous
sums realised for the artist in fashion--at present it is Romney--are
explainable on principles, which would make me hesitate to enter the field
as a competitor under any circumstances.

At Sotheby's, many years ago, they had to put into an auction a portrait,
to which a curious misadventure had occurred. It was a likeness of Charles
the Second in the first instance; but an ingenious person, judging that
the Martyred monarch was more negotiable than the Merry one, and
unwittingly oblivious of the discordant costume, had painted in a head of
Charles the First.

Brooks of Hammersmith once bought a portrait by Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A.,
which he could sell--not to me--at 50s. It was not long after Grant's
death. The President, when some one mentioned to him the name of Hazlitt
as an art critic, declared that he had never heard of him. Whose fault was

I was told a neat anecdote of a celebrated and prosperous adventurer in
this particular field of activity, where for the right sort of things the
margins of profit are far better than in books or even in china. A party
came into his shop, and wished to know if he would buy a picture by
so-and-so. He intimated indifference, but on second thoughts asked the
price. £100. The work of art changed hands, and was laid on an easel.
Client appeared. What a charming picture! Yes, just bought it. Price?
£750. Work of art changes hands again. Client reappears. No wall-room;
most unfortunate. Oh, no matter; cheque for the amount; picture fetched
back, and reinstated on easel. Second client enters. His eye catches the
object, placed at the point most likely to accomplish that effect. He
demands the figure. The actual cost; the vendor has not long left the
premises with a cheque for £750; and, well, ten per cent. commission.
Could anything be more moderate? Clever! A sort of commercial legerdemain.

The unsceptical acquiescence of the less experienced West-End picture
dealer in the appropriation of an anonymous work of art is perhaps more
particularly characteristic of the Leicester Square expert. My uncle
Reynell was, I remember, passing a shop in that vicinity, and noticing a
portrait suspended near the entrance, with a humble assessment in chalk,
said to himself, but in the hearing of the proprietor, 'Rather like
so-and-so.' The next time he passed, he observed the addition of a ticket,
on which was paraded his _sotto voce_ suggestion in an amplified form--'A
very fine portrait of so-and-so (I forget the name which Mr Reynell
mentioned) by so-and-so, price £2.' The enterprising shopkeeper had found
an artist to go with a casual passer-by's speculative identification of
the sitter, and had readjusted the figures accordingly.

I am unable to plead that I never went in for prints or drawings. For I
looked on, an age since, at Sotheby's, and saw a lot going for 5s. The
firm was not quite so proud at that time, as it has since become, and
accepted sixpenny bids. I offered 5s. 6d., and was dismayed when the
property fell to me; for it was a bulky portfolio, containing sketches in
sepia and water-colour and other matters. There were some signed
examples, however, by Stanfield, Sandby, Nasmyth, and Varley, and so I
bore up against my fate. _Apropos_ of sixpenny bids, I once wanted a copy
of Bacon's _Sylva Sylvarum_ to cut up for a literary purpose, and offered
that amount to Mr Hodge, who insisted on having a shilling at one bound. I
refused, and had to go round the corner, and buy another copy for double
the higher figure. I tried to punish the auctioneer's pride, and punished
my own folly.

I have never personally (for the best of all reasons) trodden the somewhat
insidious and evidently very seductive path which leads to the conversion
of a share of your estate into ancient gold and silver plate. But I have
lived side by side with more than one enthusiast of this type. Diamond
contracted in later days a fancy for Queen Anne silver, and grew enamoured
of the rat-tailed spoon; and a second friend, whose employments took him
all over the country and into provincial towns, before the great change
occurred, and everything gravitated to London, has related to me a series
of stories of his fortunes as an occasional collector.

In the case of the doctor, the old textbooks on Porcelain and Pottery
became of secondary account, and his little lot of early and curious
volumes was consigned to an American agent for disposal in the States; but
I think that I stumbled on them shortly after at an auction in Leicester
Square. Chaffers on _Hall-Marks_ superseded Chaffers on the less favoured
topic, and Cockburn's shop in Richmond and other depôts supplied the
material for gratifying the new taste. When one went to Twickenham House
(now no more), one was introduced, not to a fresh dish, or cup and saucer,
or ceramic knick-knack, but to a rat-tailed spoon of special merit, or a
silver mug with an inedited mark. It was growing toward the close of the
scene; whatever the plea might have been for the prior line, it was at any
rate pursued with ardour and consistency; the owner's heart and soul were
in it; it was a sort of religion with him; he believed in it, as his
associates believed in him, and identified him and his name, and his home,
with the subject. But the more recent foible was deficient in depth and
sincerity; his set had been educated--educated by him--in a different
school; and they looked wistfully and languidly at the objects, which
their entertainer submitted for their criticism or approbation.

It was in truth a passing whim, an old man's infection with the prevailing
epidemic for what can scarcely be of real interest or importance to
private individuals except where there is hereditary association or in the
shape of works of reference. Friends noted an abatement in the enthusiasm;
pieces mysteriously disappeared; nearly the whole accumulation, never a
very large one, melted away; and the master was not long in following.

My remaining friend was imbued with a liking for old silver rather because
he was fond of seeing it about him and on his table than in connection
with any systematic plan. He was not guiltless of an affection for
bargains, and never, I believe, went higher than 10s. an ounce. In the old
days--in the forties and fifties--some tolerable examples were procurable
at that rate, especially in the provinces; but latterly he found the
market too stiff for him--not for his purse, but for his views. Many a
desirable lot he has missed for sixpence in the ounce. A large salver
engraved with masks by Hogarth, which Lazarus the dealer offered him at
7s. 6d., he lost, because he remained immoveable at 7s., and had the
satisfaction of hearing that it eventually brought about four times the
money, passing from hand to hand.

My friend acted on a different principle from that, which I should have
followed with ample funds at my command. I would have secured a few
first-rate examples, as he did, to some extent, in china. He had bought
Chelsea figures, when they were at reasonable prices, and he gave only £3,
10s. for a set of four (out of five) beakers of the same porcelain,
painted with exotic birds on a dark blue ground. Benjamin bade him £50 for
them; but he quietly remarked: 'If they are worth that to you, they are
worth as much to me.' This was a favourite saying of his; he would draw
out the expert, and then shut him up so. He never ceased to lament the
Lazarus salver.

At a sale at Christie's a young man present heard a valuable piece of
plate going for 15s. (as he thought), and it struck him that it would be a
nice present for a young woman of his acquaintance; and at 16s. it was
his. The auctioneer's clerk forthwith solicited a deposit of £20. There
was a gesture of impatience from the salesman, accompanied by a general
titter, and the lot was put up again.

£10 per ounce may be regarded as a maximum figure even for fine early
work; but this limit is constantly exceeded; it was the other day, when
some _cinque cento_ example reached £22. The Edmund Bury Godfrey tankard
realised £525 in 1895, and weighed only 35 oz. 18 dwt. The Blacksmiths'
Cup, once belonging to that Gild, has been more than once sold under the
hammer. It was bought by Ralph Bernal about sixty years since at £1 per
ounce; but on the last occasion it exceeded £10. The cup weighs 35 oz. The
Irish collection of Mr Robert Day, of Cork, dispersed at two intervals,
the last in 1894, eclipsed the normal standard of value, as it embraced
some of the finest extant specimens of the workmanship of the silversmiths
or hammerers of Cork, Youghal, and other Irish localities.

Antiquities in metal-work have their share of romance. Bargains fall to
the vigilant or the experienced seeker. We have all heard of the solid
silver picture frames at Beddington, the seat of the Carews, as black as
ink, and bought by the Jews at the price of ordinary material; and not so
long since there was a house-sale at Wimbledon, where the trade acquired
among them ornamental objects of solid gold, described in the auctioneer's
catalogue as silver-gilt.

There is no problem in commerce or in morality more difficult of solution
than that, which is involved in the question of right on the part of
persons, who in the first place make it their study, and in the second
their livelihood, to outstrip and outwit the rest of the world in a
particular sphere of industry, to combine together for their own profit
and the defeat of what is termed legitimate competition. The contention on
the other side is that these specialists are to waive their superior
information for the benefit of proprietors, in whom they have no interest,
and to whom they are under no obligation.

It awakened my personal attention to the cogent need of exercising the
utmost care in sending plate to the cleaner and repairer, when a tankard
of the George I. period returned home to me with part of the hall-mark
obliterated. The piece had at one time been in daily use, and was
slightly dented; and in straightening it the maker's symbol suffered from
encroachment. Sending your treasures of this class to the doctor's is as
parlous as committing a book or tract in old parchment or sheep to the
mercy of the uncanny bibliopegist or a piece of unblemished porcelain to
the duster of a charwoman.

The marks in the works by Chaffers and Cripps are not implicitly reliable,
and a _Manual_ furnishing actual facsimiles of them is still a deficiency.
The same criticism applies to the monograph of Chaffers on Porcelain and
Pottery. I was led to look into the question of hall-marks on old silver
plate by seeing a spoon of Henry VIII.'s time with the leopard's head, the
animal's mouth open, and the tongue protruding. This was also a mint-mark
on some of the Anglo-Gallic money and on the groats of Henry VII. with the
full-faced portrait.

My volume on the Livery Companies of London laid on me, among innumerable
other duties, that of making the circuit of the Companies' Halls, and of
studying the admirable monograph of Mr Cripps. I had an opportunity, owing
to an old friend being a past master, of reproducing the illustrations
from the Clockmakers' book of the plate belonging to that Gild; and I
followed the same course with one or two others in a more limited measure.
When I was dining at Merchant Taylors' Hall one evening, I observed
immediately in front of me at table a large silver salver, which I felt
sure I had recently seen somewhere; but I only regained the clue, when I
remembered that it was one of the examples engraved in my own work.


    Coins--Origin of My Feeling for Them--Humble Commencement--Groping in
    the Dark--My Scanty Means and Equally Scanty Knowledge, but Immense
    Enthusiasm and Inflexibility of Purpose--The Maiden Acquisition Sold
    for Sixteenpence--The Two Earliest Pieces of the New Departure--To
    Whom I first went--Continuity of Purchases in All Classes--Visit to
    Italy (1883)--My Eyes gradually opened--Count Papadopoli and Other
    Numismatic Authorities--My Sketch of the Coins of Venice published
    (1884)--Casual Additions to the Collection and Curious
    Adventures--Singular Illusions of the Inexperienced--Anecdotes of a
    Relative--Two Wild Money-Changers Tamed--Captain Hudson--The
    Auction-Thief--A Small Joke to be pardoned.

I started as a numismatist by the merest accident in 1878, at the precise
juncture when, owing to the sudden death of Mr Huth, I was concluded by my
well-wishers to be on the brink of ruin. My son, who was then quite a
little fellow, had had a first-brass Roman coin presented to him by a
gentleman, whose intentions were excellent; and shortly after a relative,
who had kept by him in a bag a number of 'butcher's' pennies of George
III. and a few other miscellaneous pieces, and who was profoundly anxious
to throw them away, made a free gift of the whole collection to the same
recipient. I was naturally led to examine our _treasure trove_, not by the
light of experience of coins, of which I had absolutely not a tittle, but
by that of my knowledge of collateral and analogous matters, in which
several years' training had developed certain conclusions; and I soon
formed a private estimate of the twofold donation unfavourable to the
judgment of the late proprietors.

The youthful owner himself was not the master of any definite views on the
subject. There was the bag and there its contents; and they remained for
some time inviolate, while I was deliberating and instituting inquiries at
intervals, myself a sheer tyro. I believe that in my strolls about the
suburbs I added to the cabinet without greatly improving it. Mr Huth was
no more; and the future was not reassuring. My early acquisitions went
many to the shilling. I was not more than a lesson or so ahead so far of
my boy and his kind friends. Of works of reference, despite my
acquaintance with books, I knew nothing. Of those, who could have put me
on the right track, I was equally ignorant. I do not think that I had
heard of such an institution as the Numismatic Society. It was new ground,
and I stood on the edge of it contemplatively, bag in hand--the bag not
even strictly my own--with a wavering sentiment and with decreased
resources--resources likely to decrease yet more. One morning chance led
me, as I passed, to linger at the window of Messrs Lincoln & Son in New
Oxford Street; and after a pause I went in. The result was momentous in
this sense, that I saw at the shop mentioned a 'butcher's' penny, which
bore the same relation to the inmates of the bag as an immaculate copy of
a book or a faultless piece of china bears to the most indifferent
specimens imaginable; and I handed half-a-crown to Lincoln for his coin,
which I took home with a rather full heart. We compared notes, and I
privately meditated a _coup_. A few days after, our sixteen 'butcher's'
pennies and sundries just realised what I had given for the cornerstone of
a New Collection; and I may say that at a distance of nearly twenty years
I yet keep that piece, which has become a very difficult one to procure in
unexceptionable state--far more so than the twopence of the same type and

My son and I thus acquired an assemblage of numismatic monuments
represented only by an unit. But it was not very long, before I revisited
Lincoln's, and doubled the collection at one bound by buying a half-crown
of Queen Anne for eight shillings and sixpence. These two were my earliest
investments, when I seriously began; but I must explain that I was not
only fettered by lack of courage and the apprehension of contracted means,
but by the fact of being in partnership with my son in the venture. His
pocket-money and savings partly contributed to the revised and enlarged
scheme; and in the earlier stages I am sure that progress was hesitating
and slow. In the end, the estate of my partner was swallowed up; and
whatever funds were required came from the other member of the firm.

In the case of what was a pure hobby at first and long after its original
commencement, it is impossible to lay down the exact chronological lines
or the order, in which certain coins or series were acquired. The English
and Roman long united to monopolise my attention; my son ceased, as he
grew older, to manifest an interest in the subject; and I found myself
invested with a paramount discretion, held in check only by very slender
means of exercising it. I may as well add here, that I deemed it best,
under the circumstances, to return the amount, which the retiring sharer
in the concern had sunk in purchases; and I was thus at liberty to do as I

I am speaking of a period, which seems nearly prehistoric. It was about
fifteen years since, that I took over the entire responsibility in this
affair, and found myself in possession of coins of various kinds, chiefly
selected at the emporium in New Oxford Street, and representing a
considerable outlay. I had discerned the errors of others in collecting,
but I had not failed to commit one or two myself. I conclude that it is a
very usual oversight on the part of the novice to neglect to measure his
ground, and lay his plan, beforehand; it was so with me; I bought rather
at random coins, medals, and tokens; and even under these wide conditions
I vaguely calculated that from £150 to £200 would place me in possession
of a cabinet, capable of vying with most of those in existence.

It has been from no wish to exaggerate the importance of the initiative
taken in 1878 under a casual impulse, that I have written down the
foregoing particulars. But as I have uninterruptedly persevered from that
date to the present in enlarging and improving the collection, and in
communicating the fruits of my researches to the public, it appeared worth
while to put on record the facts connected with the formation and
development of the new taste. There have been men, who have gained a rank
as numismatists far higher than any to which I can aspire or pretend,
whose beginnings at least were not less humble and not less fortuitous.

When I affirm that a single season suffices to exhaust the patience or
enthusiasm of many an amateur, it will supply some indication of my
earnestness, when I state that at the end of three years I had barely
emerged from my novitiate. I still retained my loyalty to Lincoln, but I
made occasional investments elsewhere. I had abandoned the ambitious
notion of comprising medals and tokens in my range, but on the other hand,
through the miscellaneous nature of Lincoln's stock and his large
assortment on sale of foreign coins, I conceived the possibility of
admitting a few chosen specimens of the various Continental series. I
resembled a ship without a compass; I had never had under my eyes any
guide to this family of monuments, and I could only estimate its extent
and cost from the selection put before me. How necessarily imperfect, nay
fragmentary, that was, I did not learn till long afterward. The foreign
section of the New Oxford Street stores constituted my Continental side in
its first state, not so much as regarded condition, as variety and
completeness. For somehow my furnishers began to understand my views
touching character and preservation, and although I have throughout my
career felt bound to change specimens from time to time, I apprehend that
the preference for fine coins set in with me unusually early, and saved me
from a good deal of loss and annoyance.

Under the auspices of the same firm I extended my lines to Greek coins.
Lincoln happened to have placed on view about 2000 pieces in silver, and I
took all that struck me as being within my standard--I forget how few.
About the same time I added to them some in gold and copper. I
thenceforward, during many years, was in the habit of selecting from the
series immediately in hand whatever interested me, and this is another way
of saying that my possessions were growing considerable. My grand
safeguard was my peremptory principle of rejecting everything, no matter
how rare or otherwise valuable, which did not rise to my fastidious
qualification; and the greater the choice submitted to me, the more
stringent became my application of the rule. It was in pure self-defence.
My pocket-money, so to speak, was extremely limited; and I thus closed the
door against a deluge of rubbish or of mediocre property. I laid down for
my own government the paradoxical maxim, that if a poor man buys at all,
he can afford to buy only the finest things. That is to say, he should
never acquire what does not represent the outlay or, if possible, a profit
on it. I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into a quicksand, and I saw
no other practicable outlet in the event of realisation.

I farther satisfied myself that it was highly imprudent to engage in the
purchase of Greek and Roman coins at inflated quotations, especially Greek
silver and Roman second and third brass, in the face of the continual
finds, which forced the prices downward, and reduced a specimen, perhaps,
from £20 to £2 at a jump. There is absolutely no security for the buyer
within these lines, and I make it my policy to wait, and complacently look
on, while lots are adjudged to others at figures beyond my estimate. In
the Greek copper and the Roman first brass in fine patinated state, one is
tolerably safe. Of all the series I am fondest of the former, and indeed
any early money in that metal, whether classical or continental, is my
weak point, provided that it is as nearly _fleur de coin_ as may be. An
immaculate first brass of one of the more interesting Augusti or (better
yet) _Augustæ_, with a picturesque reverse, rejoices the eye; and it is no
prejudice to it, if it is rare!

I remember that it was not long, before I rebelled in my own mind against
the not uncommon practice of placing the Greek and Roman money on a
footing of equality, and appreciated the discernment of those, who limited
their researches to the former. For it struck me that, if you take out of
the reckoning the republican series, which is really Hellenic in its
origin and style, and a few early aurei and first and second brass
recommendable by their personality or their interesting reverses, there is
not such a great _residuum_ of solid importance left behind. The mere
rarities of the later period I do not count; they correspond to the Greek
coinages, when the latter merge in the Asiatic types. But of the Greek of
the fine and finest epochs alone there is more than enough to satisfy and
impoverish half a dozen such collectors as myself, if we merely selected
our favourites.

I had added to my cabinet a tolerably large number of foreign specimens,
when I paid a short visit to Italy in 1883. Five years had passed since
the episode of the butcher's pennies, and since the day when I made my
maiden purchase of Lincoln, and he with commendable discretion extended
his hand for the money, before he surrendered the coin. We have learned to
understand each other a little better, and he does not object to a running

I did not enjoy the opportunity of making exhaustive researches; but the
localities, of which I gained experience, yielded little enough for my
numismatic purposes. The Italian impressed one with the notion, that he
not merely laid no stress on preservation, but did not comprehend to the
full extent what it signified. I have a remembrance of having recrossed
the Channel with a handful of examples, which I might better have left
behind me, and which I have long since renounced. Some came from Milan,
where I met with a most urbane individual, whose stock was principally
Milanese, and very poor Milanese, too. At Venice I ascended a very dark
and mysterious staircase leading out of the Piazza, with the highly
unpleasant sensation that a poniard or a trap-door might be in reserve for
me, when I was ushered by my conductor into an apartment, where I was
invited to sit down and inspect sundry trays of gold coins. But the light
was so dim, that I could not distinguish the state, hardly the type, and I
ignominiously retired, putting down two _lire_, by way of footing, for a
silver _teston_ of Henry IV. of France.

Otherwise there was exceedingly little of any note, so far as my
observation went. I obtained a coin or two at a depôt on the Piazza and
one or two knick-knacks at another, where there was the usual apocrypha
about the total ruin of the seller by the acceptance of rather less than a
moiety of the original demand. Venice is in this respect slightly
Oriental. Sir Robert Hamilton gave me an entertaining account of his
experiences at Constantinople, where he was asked the equivalent of a
guinea for something, and at the conclusion of a protracted negotiation,
crowned by a cup of coffee, the price descended to the clown's ninepence.

It was three-and-twenty years, since I had posed as the historian of the
Republic, and the sparing degree, in which I had been in the meantime
enabled to secure specimens of its coinage, partly prepared me for the
apparent difficulty of procuring this class of money in good state. I
brought away from Venice itself absolutely nothing beyond a silver
_soldino_ of the fourteenth century doge Giovanni Dolfino; but at Milan
and Bologna I succeeded in finding a couple of early gold ducats. I did
not visit the Museum, nor was I so fortunate as to find Count Nicoló
Papadopoli at home.

I scarcely recollect how it happened; but I had heard of the Count as a
prominent Venetian numismatist, and I threaded some of the less agreeable
thoroughfares of the city, including the clothes-market, in search of his
palatial residence on the Grand Canal. Both the Cavaliere his secretary
and himself were absent; but I left my address, and ever since he has
honoured me with his interesting and valuable publications on the theme,
which he so well loves.

A jeweller in Bologna, of whom I took two or three pieces, offered me a
double gold crown (_doppio di oro_) of Giovanni Bentivoglio II., the type
without the portrait, for 150 _lire_. It seemed to me too dear. I was
right. A year or two after, I got it in Piccadilly for less than half.

Some one referred me to Schweitzer's exhaustive work on the Coins of
Venice, and, Count Papadopoli sending me periodically his numismatic
labours, I was encouraged to draw up the sketch of the 'Coins of Venice,'
which appeared in the _Antiquary_ in 1884, as part of a scheme for
reproducing my History on an improved basis.

The advance of the subject by stealthy degrees to the foreground and to a
conspicuous place in my studies and employments, had its agreeable and its
serious aspect. It was a pursuit, which consumed time, and while it
entailed endless outlay, yielded no return. Still I had such a genuine
relish for it, that I did not allow myself to be disheartened. It may give
some idea of my disinterested, perhaps enviable, ardour, if I mention that
I revisited Milan, at the expense of a long detour, to get a silver coin
of one of the Medici, which I considered on second thoughts worth having
at nine _lire_. It served me a good turn, for when a London dealer seemed
disposed to shed tears on discovering that an assistant had sold me a
similar piece for the same money (7s. 6d.), I exhibited my prior purchase,
and he was consoled. It exemplifies the singular nicety of appreciation
among the experts, that a third and fourth came to me at a subsequent date
at 8s. each. With others I have not been quite so happily placed. A party
bought a _scudo_ of Ferdinando I. dé Medici, 1587, in his cardinal's
dress, in a lot at a sale, and gave it up to me as a favour for 15s.,
which made him a present of the residue; I was the obliged, and said not a
word. He assured me that the other items were worthless, yet he did not
throw them in. I bowed and withdrew. I have ever found it so.

All my successive departures in this as in other doings have depended on
chance. Both at home and abroad I have often stumbled unexpectedly on the
means of filling a gap, and have quite as often congratulated myself on
the command of just knowledge enough to avoid mistakes and snares. Not
always. For I once found myself at St Peter's, Guernsey, with nothing to
do, and visited so often the only place in the town, where there was any
semblance of coins, that I felt bound to pay my footing, and gave 10s. for
a silver London penny of Ethelred II.--a very fine specimen, but a very
common piece. I subsequently bought another of a different mint in London
for 4s. I added the Guernsey acquisition to my travelling expenses, with a
private determination to avoid for the future these pitfalls.

I never committed myself very seriously. At Brighton, strolling about I
fell in with a Jew, who had a very fine early rupee, which on reference to
his scales he estimated at eighteenpence. I bought elsewhere a greater
rarity--a double rupee of the last century--for four shillings. One of the
finest Anne farthings of the common Britannia type, 1714, which I have
seen, was the fruit of a visit to a depôt in Hastings, and the demand for
it was not unreasonable--twelve shillings. At a corner shop in
Bournemouth, the Hebrew proprietor was from home; but his consort waited
on me. 'Any old coins, madam?' 'Well, no,' she thought not--yet, stay,
she would _shew_ me a shekel or two--family relics, and not for sale. She
retired, and presently produced them. I told her that they must be of
great and peculiar interest to her and her husband, and I disappointed
her, I think, by not seeming eager to possess them. She muttered something
_sotto voce_ about seven guineas; whether that was a figure at which she
would risk Mr ----'s displeasure by parting with each or all of the
heirlooms, I do not know. They were all false.

The shekel, which belongs to my collection, once had a rather startling
adventure. An acquaintance, a clergyman of the Establishment and an
University man, asked leave to see it. I handed it to him, and as if he
had cabman's blood in his veins, he instantaneously placed it between his
teeth. A significant gesture from me arrested his action. On taking his
farewell he mentioned that he should shortly send one of his sons to look
through my coins. I bowed, and I subsequently declined the proposed honour
in writing. How could I tell that the teeth of the offspring might not be
sharper than those of his intelligent papa?

The ignorance of the average man in everything, which does not concern
his immediate calling, is well-nigh inconceivable. I held in my pocket an
unusually well-preserved example of a bell-metal piece of the First French
Revolution, when I was calling on a friend, who by training and descent
should have acquired a tincture of conversance with such matters. He paid
me the compliment of begging to be permitted to see the coin, eyed it for
a moment, and then threw it across the table to me.

A relative, who was distinguished by his fulness and variety of
information, and who, if he sinned, did so in the direction of not
under-estimating the few relics which he personally owned, used to be fond
of telling me, that he possessed a complete numismatic history of the
Revolution in France, and when I appeared in the first instance curious on
the subject, he displayed a handful of defaced copper or bell-metal pieces
which, had they been better, represented only an instalment of a very
large series.

The same gentleman had similarly acquired in the vicinity of Leicester
Square at prices, which struck him as favourable to the buyer, some very
rare and desirable examples of Greek numismatic art, including a
Syracusan medallion or dekadrachm. On being informed with suitable
delicacy that his purchases were forgeries, he was almost equally balanced
between a sentiment of wrath against the vulgar broker, who had swindled
him and a stealthy suspicion that his informant desired to wheedle him out
of really valuable possessions.

He cherished some old halfpence of the early Georges, which he found in
his boyhood in a hollow tree in Kensington Gardens. So far, so good. They
were not coins; it was a strictly personal association. The interest died
with him.

But two of the drollest accidents, which ever happened to me, succeeded
each other on the same morning. I entered a money-changer's in Coventry
Street, and inquired for old coins. The bureaucrat was as short in his
address as he was in his stature. 'What did I want?' 'I did not know till
I saw them.' 'He had no time to waste on such matters.' I apologised for
my intrusion; he looked at me, and then he pushed a bowl of money toward
me. In a minute or so he joined me in a search, and we somehow entered
into conversation. He found that I was literary. 'Had I ever heard of
Hazlitt's _Life of Napoleon_? It was his favourite book.' I handed him
ninepence, shook hands with him on the strength of his revelation, and
departed, labouring to look grave.

I had no sooner emerged from that singular experience, than I encountered
another. A party in Wardour Street had a similar inquiry put to him, and
he laid before me an assortment of metallic monuments, which I
investigated for some time without meeting with a solitary item worth
pricing. On intimating so much in a polite manner, the owner impressed me
with a persuasion that he intended to spring over the counter, and seize
me by the throat; but I met the crisis by demonstrating the impossibility
of purchasing duplicates and of always finding _desiderata_ even in the
choicest stocks; and his phrensy began to abate. He seemed a decent
fellow--a watchmaker by his calling; and I pulled out my watch, and
invited him to examine it. It required cleaning and regulating. 'Clean it,
and regulate it, then,' said I, 'and I will call for it in ten days.' We
parted on the best terms.

I have certainly obtained in the by-ways here and there, at home and
abroad, occasional plums. I owed to a silversmith in London my £5 piece
of Victoria, 1839, with a plain edge, without the Garter, and with the
original reading. It cost me £8. 5s. But I have slowly arrived at the
conclusion that the orthodox merchant is the most satisfactory on the
whole--the safest and the cheapest.

When I was a boy, the Kenneys introduced me to Captain Hudson, a retired
East India commander, who resided in one of the best houses at Notting
Hill, while that locality was sufficiently agreeable and select. Hudson
stands out in my retrospective view as the donor of some very special
Guava jelly, and as the proprietor of a £5 piece of Victoria--of course of
1839. He shewed it to me as a great compliment one day, and it made me
look upon him as a personage of unbounded wealth. Yes; it was very good on
his part to let a little lad like me take it in his hand. I often think of
Captain Hudson, and wonder, whether my specimen and his are the same.

The auction-thief is only too familiar a feature in the sale-rooms, where
portable objects of value are exhibited. At one establishment there is a
standing notice, inviting information as to more or less recent larcenies
of property, which it becomes the privilege of the auctioneer to make good
at a fair assessment. Books are perhaps the commonest and safest game, as
the room is more frequently, prior to the commencement of the sale, left
to take care of itself. But coins have been occasionally appropriated by
enthusiasts, whose impatience precluded them from waiting, till the time
came. One person used, during quite a lengthened period, to select with
unerring judgment from every sale in Wellington Street the best lot, and
when he was at last detected, his genuine ardour was shown by the fact,
that the whole of his selections were found at his residence intact. It
was really hard on the offender to place before him treasures, for which
he might on demand have been prepared to sacrifice his little finger, and
expect him to incur the risk of some one else carrying them off, unless he
secured them beforehand. The firm dealt tenderly with him--no doubt, on
this ground, and merely offered him a piece of advice, which was that he
should not throw himself again in the way of temptation. The delicacy of
the circumstances was appreciated by Messrs Sotheby and Co.

At one of the coin-sales in Wellington Street four successive lots were
purchased by Lincoln, Rollin, and _Money_, the last a term applied, where
cash is paid down at the time. Lincoln bought the second as well as the
first, and in the catalogue the entry was _Do._ Some one reconstructed the
sequence, and made it run:


I crave pardon for this undoubted ineptitude.


    My Principal Furnishers--Influence of Early Training on My
    Taste--Rejection of Inferior Examples an Invaluable Safeguard--I
    outgrow my First Instructors--Necessity for Emancipation from a Single
    Source of Supply--Mr Schulman of Amersfoort--His Influential Share in
    Amplifying my Numismatic Stores--My Visit to Him--The Rare _Daalder_
    of Louis Napoleon, King of Holland--My Adventures at Utrecht and
    Brussels--Flattering Confidence--In the Open Market--Schulman's
    Catalogues--MM. Rollin & Feuardent--Their English
    Representative--Courtesy and Kindness to the Writer--Occasional
    Purchases--The Late Mr Montagu--Discussion about an Athenian Gold
    _Stater_--An Atmospheric Experiment--My Manifold Obligations to Mr
    Whelan--Mr Cockburn of Richmond allows Me to select from His English
    Collection--I forestall Mr Montagu--Messrs Spink & Son--Their
    Prominent Rank and Cordial Espousal of My Interests and
    Wants--Development of My Cabinet under Their Auspices--My Agreeable
    Relations with Them--Their Business-like Policy, Liberality and
    Independence--The Prince of Naples--We give and take a Little--The
    Monthly _Numismatic Circular_--The Clerical Client.

My numismatic haunts and providers have not, especially of late, been
numerous. I once took a small lot of a house in Rathbone Place--a silver
medaglia of Marguerite de Foix, Marchioness of Saluzzo, 1516, which came
from Lyons, and a bronze piece of Ragusa in Sicily, found in the island of
Sardinia, with others. But Messrs Lincoln & Son were my earliest
furnishers, and they, with MM. Rollin & Feuardent of Paris, Messrs Spink &
Son of London, and Mr Schulman, of Amersfoort, have mainly contributed to
build up my unpretending cabinet.

The influence of Messrs Lincoln & Son in forming my taste was more or less
considerable. Their stock was miscellaneous, and I perhaps incautiously
suffered it to reflect itself in my collection. The firm indeed, after a
while, thought that my lines were too general, for whatever series they
put on view from time to time gave up its choicer elements to me; and
eventually my good friends perceived that, although I was certainly not a
specialist in one sense, I was in another. I took only the best; and this
proved an invaluable safeguard.

For, by making a hard and fast rule, that no coin whatever shall be
admissible in the presence of a defect or of imperfect condition, one
shuts out the bulk of the objects submitted to notice. A thousand average
lots in a dealer's hands are not apt to yield above five per cent. of
eligible purchases, which are not duplicates. In a continental stock the
proportion would be much lower. The gold coins do not so signally fail; it
is in the inferior metals, especially the billon and copper, that the
difficulty lies.

I emerged, it is fair to own, from my researches and selections at the
Lincoln establishment without serious damage or trouble, considering that
I entered into relations with the house as a perfect stranger, and was in
my numismatic infancy. They began, as time went on, to see that I was in
earnest, and would at length scarcely allow me to buy any article likely
to appear on farther examination unsatisfactory; and by a few exchanges of
early acquisitions, on which they were generous enough to let me lose
nothing, I stood in the end better than I perhaps deserved. Mr Lincoln has
told me that he started on his numismatic career by advertising on the
back page of the catalogues of his father, who was a book seller, a short
list of coins on sale by him at the same address.

The strength and spirit, which the father infuses into his child, the
latter is now and then prone to use against the giver; and I am afraid
that I have appeared ungrateful to my original source of supply--in fact,
my dry-nurses--inasmuch as I outgrew by insensible degrees their power of
satisfying my wants, and directed my attention elsewhere.

Messrs Lincoln & Son filled in the groundwork of my scheme, and continue
to fill up gaps at intervals; but it was impossible for me to shut my eyes
to the fact, that the rate of progress, which my numismatic studies were
attaining, rendered a restriction to a single firm out of the question. I
could never have committed to writing my Notes, imperfect as they may be,
on the Coins of all countries and periods with certain exceptions, had I
not left the original groove, and entered the market, prepared to avail
myself of every particular, which was to be gleaned both at home and
abroad, alike in the shape of information, correction, and addition.

It was through the Lincolns I became acquainted with Mr Atkins, author of
the two works on Tokens and Colonial Coins, and he introduced to me the
name of Schulman of Amersfoort. This was about ten years since; and the
result was that Schulman thenceforward sent me periodical consignments
for selection and his well-compiled catalogues. From this quarter I
derived, rather contrary to the expectation which I had been led to form,
a highly valuable assortment of coins at fair prices. I surmise that a
considerable proportion of my correspondent's picked acquisitions has
found its way to me. His parcels from season to season embraced an
alarming and chronic percentage of hopeless specimens, notwithstanding my
exhortations to him to be more select; and I am persuaded that this
circumstance proceeded from the sender's inability, in common with all the
continental dealers, to distinguish and appreciate condition, as he has
often offered a proof at a slight advance on the figure asked for an
ordinary and mediocre example.

Schulman has been during his career in the constant habit of falling in
with a variety of continental coins, which are scarcely ever seen in
England; and as a rule his tariff is moderate enough--not quite so
moderate, perhaps, as it used to be, especially the fine early copper,
since he discovered my partiality for it.

But I feel nevertheless that my collection owes a great deal to my
Amersfoort correspondent. Our business has been necessarily conducted by
letter. In 1889 I was at Utrecht, and went over to his place. I had
previously called, when I was at Amsterdam, at Bom's, and there I was
shown the priced catalogue of a quite recent local auction. Against a
silver daalder of Louis Napoleon, King of Holland, of an excessively rare
type, I observed my friend's name as the purchaser for 105 gulden, and the
first object which met my eyes in Schulman's room was this very piece. I
took it in my hand. 'Ah!' cried he, 'that won't suit you; I want 150
gulden for it.' I laid it down again, implying in my manner a sort of
apology. I made a few purchases, and left him.

He subsequently inserted the _daalder_ in a catalogue at 135 gulden. He
had tried the higher sum without success. I did not take any notice, and
forgot all about it, till in a parcel sent on approval this was one of the
items, the price 100 gulden. Allowing the usual discount, the piece
remained with me at 90. I always cherished a suspicion that it was put
into the sale in the Spuistraat by Master Schulman himself, and bought

My good friend acquired for me at Amsterdam a 1/4 _stuiver_ of Batavia,
1644 which he reported to me as _beau_. When it reached my hands, I was
not altogether satisfied, nor did he reassure me, when he stated that my
specimen was far finer than those in the museums at the Hague and at
Batavia. The 1/4 is considerably rarer than the 1/2. Schulman once
advertised an example of the former at 10 gulden or 16s. 8d., describing
it as '_de toute beautè_'; but I missed it.

I have had repeated arguments both with Schulman and Bom on the subject of
a rather numerous and important class of Dutch coins, which almost
habitually present themselves _fleur de coin_. I used to contend that
these are re-strikes; but I have been assured over and over again that the
Netherlands Government will not suffer any of the ancient dies to be
employed for this purpose, and that they are jealously guarded at Utrecht.
Schulman added, that he had endeavoured in vain to prevail on the
authorities to allow him to take a few impressions of certain patterns of
Louis Napoleon, which were never issued, and are almost unknown.

Like many of his foreign _confrères_, Schulman undertakes the compilation
and conduct of sales by auction, and favours his clients with the
catalogues. I have taken the line, under these somewhat delicate
circumstances, of simply mentioning that if such or such a lot answers the
printed description, and fetches so much or thereabout, I shall not object
to it. I put no questions as to ownership; they do not concern me at all.
I listen to a variety of tales about artificial sales and fictitious
names; but the grand point is, that a coin is a coin, and if it is sold
under unpropitious surroundings, it is likely to prove cheaper, and where
it is misdescribed, it returns whence it came.

It was while I was at Utrecht, that I hunted through a huge mass of
rubbish in the shape of obsolete currencies, and found at the conclusion
that my bill only came to three-halfpence for a most beautiful _double
liard_ of Maria Theresa, struck for the Austrian Netherlands in 1749.

I had an interview at Brussels with a very pleasant fellow, who keeps, or
at least kept, a curiosity-shop near Ste. Gudule. He had a few patterns
and other pieces belonging to the first French revolutionary era, which I
was glad to secure, and some bracteates, for which he asked £5, and as to
which my courage failed me a little. I feared that they were too dear. He
wrapped them up carefully, and said, 'Take them with you, and if you do
not care for them, let me have them back again.' I had to return them with
my acknowledgments, which were sincere. My misgivings were correct.

Once for all, it is well to explain that any ostensibly egotistical
details, which are here given, have for their motive the guidance and
enlightenment of new enterers on the scene, with which the writer has
during nearly twenty years been agreeably and profitably familiar. If I
had not exercised discretion in my relationship with foreign houses, I
might have been overwhelmed by an avalanche of worthless rubbish, the
refuse of the auctions. But by keeping a watchful eye and a tight hand
over myself, as it were, I have retained only a limited _residuum_, which
answers my purpose best on every account. The plan affords me
illustrations in the best state of all the European schools of numismatic
art, ancient, mediæval, and modern, no less than medallic portraits of the
most celebrated men and women of all ages; and I ask the question
advisedly: What advantage accrues to a private collector from possessing
every minute variety of type, every mint-mark, and every date? The idea is
surely a fallacy. The Mint and other public institutions may fitly
preserve them for reference and record; but for individuals they appear to
be surplusage.

Schulman obliged me with a set of his catalogues, about thirty in number,
issued between 1880 and the present time, and I found them fruitful in
suggestions. They are not bare lists, but, where it is needful, carefully
annotated; and in the unavoidable absence of some originals I have
experienced from them and other similar compilations the greatest
assistance. The method, which the continental houses pursue in drawing up
their accounts of the property on sale by auction or otherwise,
constitutes the result a work of permanent reference and authority. Such
is especially the case with those specified in the Bibliography to the
_Coin Collector_, 1896. They are of course secondary evidences; but where
one cannot describe a coin from the coin they are admirable, and in
general trustworthy, substitutes. Our English numismatic catalogues are
improving, but still lack the profuse and laborious detail, which is
extended on the continent even to lots of minor significance.

I was brought into contact with the English representative of the Paris
firm of Rollin & Feuardent in a perfectly accidental way. I had detected
in a forthcoming sale at Sotheby's, among a heap of miscellanies in a bag,
a well-preserved _double_ in piedfort of Henry III. of France. I pointed
it out to Lincoln; but he missed it, and Mr Whelan was the acquirer. It
was destined for a client, and I did not secure it; but the matter made Mr
Whelan and myself acquainted, and we have been very pleasantly so ever
since. His father was in the same line of business before him, and knew
Edward Wigan and other men of that generation. I have already observed
that the Agency in Bloomsbury is the resort of well-nigh all the most
eminent hunters, not only for coins and medals, but for antiquities of
every description.

It is not that I am able to speak of myself as a conspicuous figure in the
circle, which frequents this spot, or as an appreciable element in the
large mercantile transactions, which are conducted here and at
headquarters. But I am indulgently tolerated, and now and then I find a
trifle or two to my liking. Mr Whelan stands in due awe of my
excruciating and almost outrageous passion for _state_, and looks upon me
(with much good-nature) as a most difficult party to please and to fit. He
is fully aware, how narrow my means are, and seldom tenders me, except as
a compliment or for numismatic purposes, his grander _bijoux_. Yet in all
my series there are some few, which I highly prize, and which came to me
thence; and I may particularise a very rare British copper coin of
Cunobeline, which brought £7, 17s. 6d. at the Montagu sale, but cost its
former possessor £40, 10s. This fact did not appear in the catalogue.

The last time I met Mr Montagu was at Mr Whelan's. I shewed him two pieces
which I happened to have just had from Schulman; one was the Campen
imitation of the gold sovereign of Mary I. of England, and far scarcer
than the original; and Montagu admired them both. A few weeks, and he was
no more. We had met at the Numismatic Society's Rooms, where I attended a
meeting as a guest; and I recollect Montagu pulling out of his pocket for
my inspection a coin he had exhibited that evening to the members and
others present. It was the unique _half George noble_ of Henry VIII.
discovered by Curt the dealer at Paris, sold by him to the Rev. Mr
Shepherd for £90, and at the Shepherd sale in 1885 acquired by its late
owner for £255.

The Montagu cabinet was naturally rich in pedigree coins, and had, I
believe, all the English, although not all the Greek, rarities. It even
possessed the five-broad piece of Charles I. by Rawlins, which fetched the
extraordinary sum of £770. Spink & Son secured it at that price, and sold
it to the British Museum for 10 per cent. profit. I was tempted by the
Edward VI. half-crown and threepence, and by the James I. silver crown of
the _Quæ Deus_ type, which had been Bergne's and Bryce's, and which I
preferred to the _Exurgat_ one as superior in tone, while it was nearly
equal in preservation.

The five-broad piece is said to have been given by the King on the
scaffold to Archbishop Juxon; it is a pattern, and apparently unique. The
type resembles that of the ordinary broad, of which there are impressions
in silver. I have one of unusually medallic fabric.

I heard an odd story of a F.N.S. to whom some ignorant correspondent
offered the _noble_ itself--a piece of great value--and who pronounced it
worth 6s. 8d.--the current rate at the time of issue, about 1528. The
Forster example in 1868 fetched £17, 17s.

A rather distressing incident occurred to 'Pedigree' Wells of Piccadilly
during his absence one day from business. He had in his window a coin
advertised as 'a three-pound piece of Charles I.' to which the astute
owner attached no price, leaving that detail to be regulated by the
circumstances. A person entered the shop, and saw Mrs Wells, who was
unversed in numismatic subtleties, and laying down £3, said, 'I will take
that coin in the window,' which accordingly he did, greatly to Wells's
satisfaction, no doubt, and to the promotion of domestic harmony.

The hero of this small anecdote owed his _sobriquet_ to his fertility of
resource in providing his fine-art acquisitions with a genealogical tree.

We had a controversy in Bloomsbury on one occasion about a gold Athenian
_stater_ sent to me on approval. All gold Athenian _staters_ are _ipso
facto_ doubtful. Whelan condemned it. Canon Greenwell, who was present,
was not sure. I shewed it to Dr Head; and he supported Whelan. The coin
was returned. At another time I obtained from a dealer who avouched, and
still avouches, it to be absolutely genuine, a gold [Greek: êmiekton] of
the same State; and at this Whelan equally shook his head. But I took it
to be right, and retained it. The fact is, that the Athenians struck gold
very sparingly, and there have been modern attempts to supply the

One leading inducement to fabricate pieces lacking in series or of signal
rarity has been the cheapness of labour and the more limited conversance
with the discrepancies between originals and copies or absolutely
fictitious examples, partly arising from the absence of means of
communication among numismatists in various countries. These inventions or
_contrefaçons_ were calculated, again, for different markets. The false
gold _staters_ of Nicomedes II. of Bithynia, which are executed with
unusual skill, and the far less clever imitations of the Athenian gold,
could only answer the purpose, where they found an English or French
customer able to pay a handsome price for the means of supplying a
hopeless or almost hopeless lacuna in his Greek cabinet. But those of such
common coins as the tetradrachms of Athens or Alexander the Great appealed
rather to still more inexperienced buyers, whom a low figure was apt to
tempt; and these even occur plated or washed with silver.

Whelan once amused me and himself by submitting to atmospheric treatment a
large copper coin of the Two Sicilies--a 10-grana piece of Ferdinand IV.
1815. He offered it to me, and I declined it, because the surface was
unsatisfactory in my eyes. He said nothing; but about three months later
he brought it to me from a window sill, where it had been taking an aërial
bath of rather prolonged duration; and the effect was certainly
surprising. All the repellent aspect of the superficies had vanished. I
took it, and laughed, when he told me that there was only a shilling to
pay for a quarter's incessant scientific manipulation.

I have been studiously frugal in my adoption of Oriental coins, because,
frankly speaking, I have no faith in them as an investment. But I have
retained a few early acquisitions, including a square gold _mohur_ of the
Emperor of Hindostan, the famous Akbar, and a _dinar_ in the same metal of
the good caliph, Haroun el Reschid. Whelan helped me to both these. The
latter formed part of a parcel of such pieces, the property of a Parsee
at Calcutta, and sold in London. The _dinars_ of El Reschid were rather
numerous, and were not recognised. The British Museum got several, and I
got the finest. How were the public to guess that they were connected with
so celebrated a personage, when the catalogue described them as of _El

There also remains with me a gold _dinar_ of the 13th century, of the last
Caliph of Bagdad. My learned friend, Mr Michael Kerny, deciphered for me
many years ago the inscriptions in the older Arabic character in the inner
circle on either side. They read: _Praise to God Mohammed the Apostle of
God God bless him and protect the Iman there is no God but God only He has
no Peer al Mustansir b--illah Prince of the Faithful by the grace of God_.

An ill-starred Swede visited England, or rather London, several years ago,
and endeavoured to find a customer for a rather weighty package of old
currency of the Northern Kingdoms, which he had borne with him across the
sea, and after fruitless essays elsewhere he tried Whelan. The latter did
not see his way, and the stranger re-embarked for his native country with
his burden, so to speak, on his back. On the floor in Bloomsbury Street,
however, he left two small pieces (_schillings_ of Christian IV. 1621 and
1622), which, as Whelan had no idea who he was, or what his address, he
presented to me.

He gave me, too, a fine 5-_lire_ piece of Napoleon I. 1808, struck at
Milan. What a gain it is to be thought poor and deserving!

Many have been the good turns, many the valuable hints and items of
information, and many, again, the pleasant hours, which I have spent in
Bloomsbury Street. There is a huge black cat there, which is very friendly
with habitual visitors; it used to make a practice of squeezing itself
into Sir John Evans's bag, and remaining there, while he stayed.

At Bloomsbury Street is one of my numismatic libraries of reference, to
which I have long enjoyed free access. The custodian is not only well
versed in coins and other curiosities, but is a reader and a repository of
much entertaining literary and theatrical anecdote. I know that I take
more than I give; but Whelan now and again consults me about an old book
or a continental coin, which he does not happen to have seen.

I owed to my excellent acquaintance my introduction to Lord Grantley, whom
I first met under his roof and from whom I have received kind help in my
work and otherwise. His lordship, however, does not quite follow the same
lines as I do. He is understood to be engaged in deciphering and
elucidating the Merovingian or Merwing series--one, about which we have
learned a good deal of recent years, and have a good deal more, I
apprehend, to discover.

I knew the late Mr Cockburn of Richmond in consequence of having met him
at Dr Diamond's at Twickenham House. He was a Fellow of the Numismatic
Society, and when I first became acquainted with him possessed a small
cabinet. He hinted at an intention of discontinuing the pursuit, and even
of realising. He next offered me the collection for £800. I had to let him
understand that I had not so much money to spare; but I ascertained that
he had been a buyer in bygone years, and had certain desirable items in
his hands. I timidly inquired whether it would be possible to select a few
_desiderata_, and Mr Cockburn agreed to that proposal. He had many coins
in poor state, and many which were duplicates; and by concentrating my
strength, such as it was, on the best things, I procured for about £70
nearly all that I wanted. Two Anglo-Saxon pennies which puzzled me a
little, and as to which the British Museum authorities did not give me a
reassuring opinion, I unfortunately missed. The residue Cockburn sold _en
bloc_ to Montagu, and when the latter parted with the said two pennies in
a sale of duplicates, I had the satisfaction of seeing them printed in the
catalogue in capital letters! They might have come to me at £2 the couple.
I thanked the British Museum, and applauded its discrimination.

It appears, by the way, to be almost going too far to say that the
portrait on the later groat and on the shilling of Henry VII. is the
earliest resemblance of an English king as distinguished from a
conventional representation; for surely the bust on the groats of Richard
III. makes a distinct movement in the same direction; and even on the
money of Edward IV. there is discernible a commencing tendency to realism.

Apart from the English coins, Cockburn had purchased in the course of time
about eighty Roman second brass, which he insisted on selling in the lump,
although I frankly told him, that very few would suit me. I gave him £5
for them, selected a dozen or so of the finest, and let Lincoln have the
remainder for £4, 7s. 6d.--his own valuation.

Cockburn did not seem to sell for profit, and I admired his independence.
He professed to pass on to me at cost price. For the sovereign of Edward
VI. (4th year) he had paid £5 to Lincoln; it was f.d.c.; and for an
equally fine Biga farthing of Anne he charged me on the same principle
26s. Other pieces, as the half-groat of Mary I. at £8 and the pattern
shilling and sixpence of the Commonwealth by Blondeau at £16, struck me as
dear enough. For eight varied _cunetti_ in mint-state he charged 16s. His
Anglo-Saxon pennies were not unreasonable; Harthacanut at £3 was the
highest; a halfpenny of Edmund of East Anglia was judged to be worth £1.

Had not Montagu swooped down on the quarry, I might have left yet less
behind me in a few weeks. I was snugly nibbling at it.

The name, which deserves on some grounds the greatest prominence in these
numismatic memorials--that of Spink & Son--not inappropriately crowns the
list of my auxiliaries and caterers. I cannot recollect the precise
circumstances, under which I first approached the firm--then in
Gracechurch Street only; but I quickly discovered its enterprising spirit
and friendly sentiment. It was a house, which had not at that
period--about 1886--long devoted special attention to the numismatic side;
and through the possession of capital it rapidly came to the front. The
stock of coins of all kinds grew in a marvellously short time only too
varied and abundant, and under the auspices of Spink & Son, who behaved
toward me as a person in humble circumstances with the utmost generosity
and kindness, my collection developed in such a degree as to become almost
serious, considering that this was another new outlet for my limited
funds, and the largest of all. I had originally conceived the notion,
which soon enough proved itself a chimerical one, that by investing my
pocket-money to the extent of £150 or so over a course of years in these
instructive relics of the past I should satisfy all reasonable
requirements, and pose as the owner of a rather conspicuous cabinet. My
riper conclusions pointed to £4000 as the _minimum_, under the most
advantageous and careful management, for a representative gathering like
mine in first-rate state, an amount equivalent with good husbandry to
£10,000 under normal conditions, where folks exercise too little
circumspection, or are in too great a hurry. The moral may be, that no man
should mount a hobby in the dark. I have persevered, where many would
have, I am sure, despaired. But I imagine that the motive for early
relinquishment is not by any means the unexpected outlay so often as the
distaste arising from errors of judgment and the annoying sense of
imposition. The cost to myself in labour and thought has been quite equal
to that in cash; but I have thus steered clear of the dangers, which beset
inexperienced and desultory collectors. If you lean upon other people's
knowledge, you have to buy two articles instead of one.

This thesis has no immediate bearing on Spink & Son, who never urged me to
purchase anything against my judgment, and were always prepared to
exchange a coin, if I altered my mind about it. They certainly put aside
all pieces likely to be of interest to me, but the interest was not
invariably commercial. It might be an example, which I desired to
register, just as I was in the habit of doing with Early English Books;
and when I had taken my note, and did not care to invest, the bargain was
open to the next comer.

A signal feature and facility in transactions here I have found to be the
prompt exhibition with the marked price of every purchase and all
purchases within the briefest possible interval. Coins are no sooner
acquired, than they are placed on view with the exception of certain
specialities, which are temporarily laid aside, till one or two clients
have had the opportunity of seeing them. I have long rather undeservedly
been on this favoured list; and I believe that no coin, thought to be in
my way, has been sold during some years past, till I have refused it. I
had the unexpected good fortune to meet here with the thaler of Nicholas
Schinner, Bishop of Sion, 1498, absolutely f.d.c., and the Kelch thaler of
Zurich, 1526, nearly as fine. The Zurich thaler of 1512, with the three
decapitated martyrs, was reported from Germany, and alleged to be in mint
state; but when it arrived, I identified it with the indifferent example
in the Boyne sale, and of course rejected it accordingly. Such coins as
these have a future.

I had put in my pocket, and taken home, just prior to the issue of the
monthly catalogue, a gold Russian coin attributed to the reign of Ivan
the Terrible, one of the numerous suitors of our Queen Elizabeth; but it
was a century later. Still I might have liked it, had not a telegram from
Russia arrived, and induced me to surrender the piece to some one, who
evidently felt a peculiar interest in it. I was less considerate to the
Prince of Naples, who is forming a private cabinet, and who ordered a rare
_grosso_ of the Roman republican era (13th century), which I had
forestalled. It was _fleur de coin_, and I could not make up my mind to
let it go, even to so exalted a personage. The most striking point is,
that I had merely signified my wish to have the coin, and that Spink & Son
might have sent it to the Prince, on the plea that I had not actually
bought it.

I occasionally have the pleasure of making my good friends a slight return
for their consideration. They had obtained at a sale for fifty shillings
in a lot two examples of the very rare _mezzo scudo_ struck in 1530 in the
name of the Florentine Republic with the monogram of the Standard-Bearer
for the year, just prior to the establishment of the Medici family in
power. They shewed both to me, and permitted me to select the better for
30s. I then pointed out that at the Rossi sale in 1880 one had fetched
£10, 5s., and recommended them to mark the remaining specimen £7, 10s., at
which figure a foreign dealer jumped at it. At the Boyne sale in 1896 a
third was carried to £8, 10s. by the same individual. The piece is
remarkable as the heaviest denomination so far struck in Florence in

Piccadilly, to which the Coin and Medal Department has been transferred,
constitutes my second library of reference, as Spink & Son have spared no
cost to bring together all the most valuable and important numismatic
books and catalogues in all languages. This has formed a largely
serviceable and welcome element in my connection with the firm, and has
conferred on me without the slightest expense all the advantages attendant
on the personal possession of the volumes. The English collector of
foreign coins has, as a rule, as slight an acquaintance with these rich
sources of information as I should have had in the absence of such

The monthly _Numismatic Circular_ has tended in a direct and an indirect
manner to draw Spink & Son into closer touch with holders and purchasers
of coins everywhere; and the prospect of being able to examine, if not to
acquire in all cases, an incessant volume of these interesting monuments
seems to me likely to go on improving. I shall return to the subject of
the Circular in a succeeding chapter.

A characteristic injustice was perpetrated on this firm by a divine, who
honoured it with an order for a certain early English silver penny, and to
whom, though a stranger and in the country, the coin was sent, packed up
in the customary manner, on approval. The reverend gentleman reported in
due course that it arrived at his address broken in half, and declined to
pay for it. There was no absolute plea of negligence in the method of
enclosure; the client authorised its transmission to him; and he did not
even propose to defray the cost or part of it. The dealers took him before
the magistrate, and the latter decided in favour of the client on the
ground that the coin was a very old one, and had lasted long enough.
Verily, as there are land thieves and water thieves, there are paid
magisterial owls as well as unpaid.


    The Coin Sales--My Stealthy Accumulations from Some of
    Them--Comparative Advantages of Large and Small Sales--The
    Disappointment over One at Genoa--The Boyne Sale--Its Meagre
    Proportion of Fine Pieces--My Comfort, and what came to Me--Narrow
    Escape of the Collection from Sacrifice to a Foreign
    Combination--Trade Sales Abroad--A New Departure--Considerations on
    Poorly-Preserved Coins--I resign Them to the Learned--I have to
    Classify by Countries and Their Divisions--My Personal
    Appurtenances--Suggestions which may be Useful to Others--The Great
    Bactrian Discovery--Extent of Representative Collections of Ancient
    Money--Antony and Cleopatra--Adherence to My own Fixed and Deliberate
    Plan--The Argument to be used by Any One following in My
    Footsteps--Advice of an Old Collector to a New One.

From the very limited nature of my resources I have been forced to content
myself with being a casual buyer. I have witnessed the dispersion of all
the finest assemblages of coins, which have come to the hammer or into the
market in the course of nearly twenty years, and have involuntarily played
the part of a spectator and note-maker, where it would have delighted me
to compete for the best with the best.

I have not attended auctions as a buyer either of china or of coins save
in one or two instances at the outset, and I have subsequently rejected
these acquisitions as indiscreet. The principal sales, which have fallen
under my observation, were those of Lake Price, Shepherd, Whithall,
Marsham, Rostron, Webb, Carfrae, Ashburnham, Montagu, and Bunbury,
1884-96; these were limited to the English, Greek, and Roman series; and I
presume that some filtered unrecognised into my cabinet. Of the foreign
collections, or those into which the continental element entered, I took
more particular note and more direct cognisance. There were the Rossi,
Remedi, Ingram, Leyster, Dillon, Samuel Smith, United Service Institution,
Boyne, and Durazzo, between the year 1880 and the present time.

The latter group immediately or eventually contributed a really large body
of additions. From the Ingram sale came the double gold _scudo_ of Pope
Julius II. by Francia, which I mention only, because it was, I think, my
earliest heavy purchase of the kind. The Leyster affair was antecedent to
the serious competition of Spink & Son for such property; and the bulk
went abroad. From such purchases as Lincoln & Son effected I took
anything, which passed my standard; but too many of the lots were poor,
and not a few were fabrications. It was a vast collection formed by a
gentleman in Ireland at a distance from any centre and without much
apparent taste or discretion; and the German houses very probably did well
over it.

Lord Dillon's coins yielded a few items, which I was glad to get--one or
two Polish gold pieces, a Venetian 12-ducat one, and so forth; and among
the silver there was a half _dick-thaler_ of Sigismund, Archduke of
Austria, for the Tyrol, 1484, which Mr Schulman assured me did not exist,
and which I engraved in my _Coins of Europe_, 1893. I have since met with
a second. It is hard to determine which is the superior market, a big sale
or a small one. At the former items may be overlooked; the latter does not
attract buyers so freely. To Mr Samuel Smith of Liverpool I was indebted,
when he parted with his comparatively limited acquisitions, for the finest
specimens which I have seen of the Bern thaler of 1494, and the Lorraine
one of 1603, at a far more moderate tariff than inferior examples have
brought before or since. Then in the entire sale not more than three items
altogether excited any interest on my part. It was just the same when the
Royal United Service Institution submitted its numismatic property to
public competition. It was in the main a mass of rubbish; I picked out one
or two silver pieces and a lot of about thirty _selected_ copper, of the
latter of which I kept less than half. The unselected copper numbered 3000
or so, and were only eligible for the melting-pot.

The Durazzo Collection, sold at Genoa, was a singular disappointment. The
catalogue was rather sumptuous and very detailed. A rumour prevailed at
the time that the alleged _provenance_ of the collection was not strictly
veracious, and that the property actually belonged to Vitalini the Italian
dealer. As a numismatic amateur during almost a score of years I have
experienced a good deal of this kind of personation; but I argue that it
matters little whence a coin comes to one, so long as the character and
state are right, with the added advantage that in passing from an inferior
to possibly a better atmosphere the purchase improves in value.

There were about 6500 lots, of which the majority consisted of Roman and
Greek; the remainder was continental. Many of the Italian rarities were
included; and Genoa and Monaco were very strongly represented. I knew that
Spink & Son had sent commissions, and I augured well for the result; but I
had not indicated my views personally, and indeed the catalogue did not
reach my hands, till it was too late for me to intervene. I had never
before known such a series of the money of Monaco to be offered

When no news in any shape came to my ears, it transpired on inquiry that a
few Papal coins, recently acquired by me, belonged to the collection, and
that the prevailing feature of the latter was a state of preservation so
utterly hopeless, that some of the company retired after the first day.
The actual metallic records were there, I presume; but they did not
harmonise with the estimates of the too romantic cataloguer. Even now,
after the event, who ought to feel surprise, if whatever there may have
been of any merit, should ultimately drift to these hospitable shores,

The dispersion of the cabinet of the late William Boyne in London
interested me uniquely, for it was particularly rich in the Italian
series, and the incident differed from those, which had preceded it within
my remembrance, inasmuch as the property was brought within reach of
inspection, and one could sit at a table in Wellington Street, prior to
the commencement of operations, and examine the coins, catalogue in hand.
It was a ten-days' affair, and it was computed that there were 25,000
items. Still I resolved to go through with my project for seeing every
lot, which I had marked, and judging whether it was a desirable

I read between the lines of the catalogue with the aid of one or two of my
numismatic acquaintances, who warned me against expecting too much; for
they were familiar with my idiosyncrasies. Taking tray by tray, I actually
saw far more than I contemplated; nearly the whole property passed before
me in review; and I was grievously disappointed. It was an indiscriminate
assemblage of coins of all sorts, evidently bought at random or _en bloc_,
and poverty of condition preponderated in a lamentable measure.

There was one consolation. I was enabled to concentrate all my pecuniary
forces on the few objects, which struck me as exceptional; and I succeeded
in making myself master of nearly all the specialities among the Italians,
which I coveted, and several _desiderata_ elsewhere.

The competition was sensibly mitigated by an _entente cordiale_ among a
portion of the company, and the bulk returned to the continent. Had the
collection been equally attractive and important to myself from a
numismatic and a commercial point of view, I should have found much more
than I could have possibly grasped; but the prevalent state conformed to
the normal continental definition of _beau_, which in English signifies

There was little enough in the Boyne catalogue, which I had not learned
from a careful previous study of those of all the great Italian, German,
and French collections, which had been published or privately printed. But
the occasion supplied me with a precious opportunity of holding in my
hands coins, which, whatever might be their value or want of value as
possessions, were and are in many instances of immense rarity, and
seemed, when in direct contact, additionally substantial and authentic.

Four or five bidders saved the issue from being a _fiasco_ in a financial
sense. But the selection of London as the scene may tend to accelerate a
little the recognition in Great Britain of the ancient money of the
continent as at all events an appropriate chronological sequel to that of
Greece and Rome, while it represents in itself a body of material of
inexhaustible curiosity and value to the historian and the artist.

I purposely abstain from classing with the sales of explicit or professed
private properties those, which, as season succeeds season, are dedicated
by the trade everywhere to the object of converting their surplus or
unrealised stock into money. One feels an almost painful delicacy in
handling this part of the subject; and I propose to restrict myself to the
criticism that it is possible to secure many absolute bargains at a
reduced price by making an offer to the party who, for anything one knows,
may be a kind of trinity in unity--owner, cataloguer, and auctioneer.
Coins are speculative goods; and if a lot or so misses certain expected
channels, it is sometimes a lodger with the proprietor long enough to
make him tired of looking at it. Then, when he is in his most despondent
vein, comes the moment for the opportunist, and there are twenty-four
pence in every shilling.

The auction-rooms among ourselves and abroad, wherever there is a volume
of business in coins (and in other second-hand commodities), appear to be
vehicles, however, more and more for a systematic organisation, by which
the dealer sells his goods under the hammer instead of over the counter.
Foragers are observed collecting in one market by virtue of their special
knowledge lots suitable for disposal in this way in another or others; and
they have a machinery adapted to their peculiar requirements. Their stock
is always a floating one. Thousands of pounds pass through their hands in
a season. There are not many in the line, for it demands some capital,
some credit, and some courage. There is one house, which avers that it
carries on this system for the public good--in order to diffuse a
conversance with numismatic science. We have more heroes and
philanthropists than we dream of, have we not?

As I mentally or otherwise glance through my at length not so very
inconsiderable accumulation of ancient or obsolete currencies, I strive to
think how my own experience is capable of serving those, who have the
starting-point nearer within view. It seems at first sight to be
regretted, that not merely such large sums of money, but so much time and
labour, should be expended in perpetuity in the stereotyped process of
gathering up the wrong things, gradually detecting their character, and
retrieving the error by casting overboard the original lot, and beginning
anew on a truer basis.

The cause of numismatic archæology of course imperatively demands the
preservation of every item of every mint, no matter how degraded may be
its state, or how insignificant its individuality, so long as it is of
that high degree of scarcity, which entitles it to monumental regard. I
may more emphatically specify, as falling within such a definition, the
examples engraved and described by my correspondent, Count Nicolò
Papadopoli, in his _Monete Italiane Inedite_, 1893, the major part of
which come very far short of my personal ideas of works of art, but of
which the affectionate custody by posterity becomes a duty on historical
grounds. At the same time, as my aim has been necessarily a narrow one,
and as I elected at a very early stage in my experience to figure as one
of the apostles of Condition, I cheerfully resign these records to others,
and am quite satisfied with engraved reproductions of them. On that
precaution I lay the utmost stress.

In my first apprenticeship to numismatics I believe that I was unusually
ignorant of a subject, which the works of reference introduced since my
school-days have rendered so much more accessible and intelligible. But I
was industrious and observant, and was not deficient in taste. I began to
collect at a period of life, when I was able to discern the fallacy of the
penny-box principle; my level was never very low, if it was not in the
earlier years so high as it ultimately grew; and I no sooner perceived a
mistake, than I hastened to rectify it. An appreciable interval elapsed,
however, before I found myself in possession of a sufficient body of coins
to make a distribution into countries or sections of any service. There
were so many specimens; the metals were unequally represented; and I
recollect that gold resembled the plums in a school pudding.

It was a gala day, when I received my first cabinet home, and entered into
a rudimentary and tentative phase of classification; and it was then, too,
that not my opulence, but my excessive poverty and humility, as a
collector was revealed to me. Providentially, these shocks are generally
broken by some circumstance, and in my case it was my still most empirical
acquirement of the full bearings and scope of my adventurous enterprise.

The cabinet stood half empty; I felt the reproach; and I proceeded not
only to fill it, but to gather tenants for a second--and a third, with an
overflow capable of furnishing one or two more. Such a development might
have had comparatively slight significance, because a coin, which is worth
a penny, may occupy a larger space than one, which is worth £10; but in a
parallel ratio with the increase in number was the rise in the qualifying
standard, or, in other words, I was constantly and heavily adding to my
stores, and putting in rigorous force the principle of exclusion. There
could be only one result.

Now, in the hope, that certain general particulars, which have cost the
writer an infinite amount of trouble to collect for his own benefit and
instruction during a series of years, may be acceptable and useful to
others, proposing to embark in the same undertaking, I shall reduce the
fruit of my own efforts to a summary, indicative of what has seemed to me,
after long and deliberate consideration, to be adequate to the purposes of
anyone of moderate views, who seeks to assemble together a fairly
representative _corpus_ of the various chronological monuments of European
rulers and regions and of the successive schools of numismatic art.
Completeness in any given series is by no means essential to the mastery
of a competent idea of its character and merits from all ways of looking;
and the study of mints and mint-marks is a mere technical detail, which
owes its leading interest to its incidental illustrations of topography
and of the careers of engravers--many of them otherwise distinguished.

Many persons start with the Greek or Roman, or perhaps both, from a belief
that they are the most ancient and the most instructive. My first Roman
coin was a most disreputable specimen of a very common first brass of
Hadrian, handsomely presented to my son by a captain at a watering-place,
and my first Greek a forgery of one of the numberless tetradrachms of
Alexander the Great. I was in the _berceaunette_ stage; but I was not
quite so long in it as some are. I am indebted to Lincoln & Son for having
conferred on me the rudiments (if not something more) of my education in
these two very important divisions of every cabinet of any pretensions
whatever; and I may at last presume to offer myself as a counsellor of
others, who may be situated as I was in my nonage.

It entirely depends on the breadth of a new collector's plan, which is
usually influenced by his resources, how far he proceeds in his selection
of the Greek coinage, for under any circumstances a selection it must be.
No individual, no public institution, can boast of possessing a complete
series in all metals. I resorted to the principle of choosing under each
coin-striking region of ancient Hellas a sufficient number of pieces in
electrum, gold, silver, and copper or bronze to represent a chronological
succession of its products, and I also observed the rule of comprising, if
possible, all such as exhibited the portraitures, or at least titles, of
rulers of personal eminence. A numismatist pure and simple attaches, very
justly attaches from his special point of view, emphatic weight to many
examples, of which the sole attraction and value are their accidental
rarity without regard to their intrinsic interest; this is not a wise
policy for the private amateur, whatever his fortune may be. Such relics
ought to find their resting-place in a public repository, and a full
record of them should be preserved in one of the learned Transactions for
general reference. How immensely one was pleased to learn that Sir
Wollaston Franks had fallen in with a Bactrian dekadrachm; and the
satisfaction, so far as I was concerned, was augmented by the news, that
he had presented it to the British Museum. If it had been submitted as a
purchase or even gift to myself, I should have declined it, as it fails to
respond to my postulates. It is merely a voucher.

It is my impression, based on a long experience, that about three hundred
Greek coins of all varieties and types will be found to embrace everything
of real note, and will provide the possessor with numismatic specimens in
all metals, of every region, of every period and style, of each
denomination, and of all such great personalities as are known to have
struck money, not only within the limits of European Greece, but in the
countries and colonies subject to its sovereigns in their varied degrees
of power and prosperity or by its cities from their first rude development
to their zenith in political influence and commercial wealth. A proportion
of gold is highly desirable, particularly the Athenian, Syracusan, and
Egyptian; the copper must be very fine and patinated; the silver is the
easiest to find, except in certain series. I succeeded in furnishing
myself with the majority of typical examples alike in silver and bronze,
and indeed (except under Attica) in the most precious metal. I could never
meet with more than a single Athenian specimen--a [Greek: êmiekton]; but
the most beautiful and fascinating productions are the gold tetradrachms
and octodrachms of the Ptolemies, so rich in their portraiture, costume,
and design. Three or four of these gems suffice for a moderate programme.
I found fifty pounds inadequate to the purchase of even three. There is a
particularly charming one of Ptolemy III., and no one must forget that
great, if not very good, lady, the Cleopatra of history, whose portrait
appears both on her brother's and her own coins in Egypt and on those of
Mark Antony in the Roman consular series. To any collector aiming at the
not unreasonable object of securing her likeness it may be useful to
mention, that her veiled or deified bust accompanies certain bronze pieces
of moderate price and excellent quality.

The writer has attentively scrutinised the catalogues of all the sales of
Greek and Roman money, which have taken place in his time, and the
conclusion to be drawn from the descriptive accounts and the realised
figures is so far a consolatory one for the great majority, who cannot
afford to go beyond a comparatively low figure. For it becomes clearly
apparent that the costliest pieces are not the most powerful in their
appeal to us on historical or artistic grounds. Remember that we have to
take into account these points of interest: history, with which is closely
embodied religious cult, biography, topography, and art. A thoroughly
well-meaning dealer exclaims, if you challenge the quotation for some
indifferent specimen of a not too remarkably executed _tetradrachm_ or
_drachma_:--'But look at the rarity! the last one sold for so much.' And I
am sorry to say, that this plea too frequently prevails. I have always
turned a deaf ear to all attempts to induce me to acquire on any terms
coins, which were not highly preserved, whatever their scarcity of
occurrence might be. I preferred to examine them in other hands, or even
to contemplate engravings derived from superior examples.

Let a person in my position lay down for himself this principle for his
guidance:--My space is limited; my means are the same; the material or
means of supply, as time goes on, is infinite and inexhaustible; no
collection in the universe is complete; therefore, incompleteness being a
relative expression, I will take here and there, from this sale or that,
from this or that place of business, just as many coins as serve to
gratify my love of the beautiful, my reverence for great names, my
curiosity to hold in my hand pieces of currency which, alike in the case
of Greece and Rome, united with their monetary import and use symbols of
an earnest religious faith and proud records of national achievements by
sea and land.

To possess an even extensive assemblage of such monuments I found in my
own experience, and others may do the same, that a man has not to be quite
a Croesus; nor in truth is it peremptory to insist in such extreme
measure as I have on faultless beauty of state. I may have been too
luxurious, too dainty. At any rate, all which contributes to render coins
of all periods and kinds serviceable and agreeable is within the reach of
individuals of very straitened purchasing powers. But it is necessary to
guard against disproportion, which is very likely to arise in all sections
from the occurrence of the products of _trouvailles_ in tempting condition
at a modest tariff.

My recommendation is to avoid even the semblance of duplicates, where the
sole difference is the date or the mint-mark, or possibly a slight
variation in the legend. My natural sympathy is with the poorer collector,
who has perchance to exercise a little self-denial to enable him to carry
out successfully and profitably his hobby; the rich have only to buy and
to pay; and those, who may choose to follow in my footsteps more or less,
will soon discover, as I did, that to arrive at a satisfactory result
under pecuniary disadvantages is a task demanding knowledge, discretion,
and patience.

Of the passions of the human mind that which directs us to a certain
object or aim, if not to more than one, with irresistible vehemence, and
holds us bound within its range as by a spell, is one of the strongest,
most ancient, and most unreasoning. My own life during the past thirty or
forty years, or in other words the best part of my career, has been mainly
engrossed by the pursuit of two or three fancies; the serious business of
existence seems to have been a secondary question; and the most
substantial testimony to my earnestness of purpose and (I have to own) my
thorough subjection to the influence of the taste, is to be found in my
irresponsive surroundings and my sacrifice of other interests to what my
less sentimental friends would call an _ignis fatuus_.


    Literary Direction given to My Numismatic Studies and Choice--The
    Wallenstein Thaler--The Good Caliph Haroun El Reschid--Some of the
    Twelve Peers of France who struck Money--Lorenzo de' Medici, called
    _The Magnificent_--Robert the Devil--Alfred the Great--Harold--The
    Empress Matilda--Marino Faliero--Massaniello--The Technist thinks
    poorly of Me--My Plea for the Human, Educating Interest in Coins--The
    Penny Box now and then makes a Real Collector--How I threw Myself _in
    Medias Res_--First Impressions of the Greek Series--My Difficulty in
    Apprehending Facts--Early Illusions gradually dissipated--What
    Constitutes a Typical Greek and Roman Cabinet--And what renders Great
    Collections Great--Redundance in Certain Cases defended--Official
    Authorities except to My Treatment of the Subject--Tom Tidler's
    Ground--The Technical _versus_ the Vital and Substantial Interest in
    Coins--My Width of Sympathy Beneficial to Myself and likely to prove
    so to My Followers--Outline and Distribution of My
    Collection--Autotype Replicas and Forgeries--Romantic Evolution of
    Bactrian Coinage and History--Caution to My Fellow-Collectors against
    Excessive Prices for Greek Coins--Wait and Watch--Mr Hyman Montagu and
    His Roman Gold, and the Moral--The Best Coins not the Dearest--Our
    National Series--Its Susceptibility to Eclectic Treatment--A Whimsical
    Speculation--An Untechnical Method of Looking at a Coin--A Burst
    Bubble--The Continental Currencies--Their Clear Superiority of
    Interest and Instructive Power--The Writer's Attitude toward Them.

My own sectional arrangement obeyed my doubtless peculiar training as a
man of letters rather than a numismatist, and side by side with my
peremptory instruction to myself as to quality I kept steadily in view the
importance and charm, as it seemed to me, of comprising in my plan all
those coins, which existed in the various series relating to celebrated
historical personages and events. The dealers ignore this aspect of the
question; they merely concern themselves with what is rare or common, dear
or cheap. I negotiated a thaler of Wallenstein; the price was rather high;
but I agreed to take it on account of the celebrity of the man. The vendor
had never heard of him; he knew it only as an uncommon piece! You purchase
a small gold coin of 'El Reschid'; the hand, which is held out to receive
the money for it--not so much over the metal--is not conscious that it may
have been actually through those of the striker, the hero of the _Arabian
Nights_, nor forsooth does he care. No one will probably offer a shilling
more for it for such a reason.

It may occur that an insignificant, ill-struck coin of base metal
appertains to Milon of Narbonne, or Roland, nephew of Charlemagne and the
Orlando of the poets, or to Richard of the Lion Heart; one examines its
credentials, and yields it a place of honour. I obtained in a lot of
Italian copper a small quattrino, as it is called, with _Lav. Medices Dux_
on one side and _Pisavr_ on the other: what was it but money issued in
1516--and that year alone--by Lorenzo de' Medici, called the
_Magnificent_, as Duke of Pesaro? It may be equally predicated of Arthur
of Bretagne, the possible prototype of the hero of Romance, Arthur of
Little Britain, and of Robert of Normandy, called _Le Diable_, that their
personal surpasses their numismatic distinction; for in the latter way
they survive only in monuments of the poorest material, aspect, and style.
Nor is it very different with the coins of Alfred the Great, of Harold,
who fell at Hastings, of Henry Beauclerc, of Stephen, of the Empress
Matilda, in the English series, and with such continental celebrities as
the hero-Doges of Venice, Enrico Dandolo, Marino Faliero, and Francesco
Foscari; or as King Robert of Sicily, Gaston de Foix, Joanna of Naples,

Yet, on the contrary, there are splendid medallic evidences of others
both in ancient and modern times; and it appears to redeem a cabinet from
the imputation of being a portrait-gallery of Illustrious Obscure, if we
leaven its contents with the effigies of men and women, whose names are
familiar to all fairly educated people.

This principle, then, collaterally influenced me in my selection, and made
me anxious to omit no record of consequence illustrating a historical
individual or incident. I aimed at approximating to a collection of
medals, as far as the Coin would permit. I also affected the earliest
examples of each country, bearing a note of the year of issue and of the
current value; and altogether my project became quite powerfully tinctured
by my prepossessions and lessons as a book-student. I looked with
comparative lukewarmth at the technical side, and I apprehend that I enjoy
an indifferent repute among my more learned contemporaries, who pride
themselves on their familiarity with mechanical and official details. All
these points are excessively important and interesting in their way; and I
have entered into them a good deal in my two numismatic publications. I
was disposed in my private capacity to regard the human constituents of
these remains of former ages; and I promise that it will repay the trouble
of investigating the illustrated works of reference, in default of
possessing the objects themselves, by shewing how similar motives have
swayed rulers and States from the outset in regulating the costume of
their coinage, how they have habitually made it a political vehicle, and
how the annals and fortunes of the country are to be read on its changing
and varying face as in the pages of a volume.

It is the more to be lamented on that account, since it may not suit
everybody to collect coins, that the pictorial feature in nearly all
numismatic undertakings is the most imperfect and misleading and in the
old-fashioned or cheap books amounts to little better than caricature. I
grant that there is the proud lust of ownership; but the discs of metal
are of no real relevance outside the story, which they are able to tell
us, if or when we are qualified to read it. All the rest, in a high sense,
is but bullion, is it not?--and the criticism emphatically applies to
heterogeneous assemblages of obsolete currencies, formed without taste,
and held without fruit.

This feeling, and the persuasion that the most extensive and
long-established collections in the world are more or less incomplete,
actuated me, so soon as I had graduated far enough to lay down regulations
for my own use and to decide once for all on treating Condition as
primary, and historical and personal interest as covetable _succeedanea_,
which lightened and seasoned the rest.

Most of us have heard, among the famous Greeks and Romans, of Philip and
Alexander of Macedon, Darius of Persia, Pyrrhus, Cleopatra, Julius Cæsar,
Mark Antony, Augustus, Nero, and the Antonines; and it is customary for
school-boys to explore the recesses of the penny box in shop or on stall
in quest of pieces of bronze bearing the effigies of these ancient
celebrities. School-boys have done this during centuries, and many of them
have done nothing more. But here and there the child is father to the man,
and the proprietor of a celebrated cabinet has it in his power to range
over a life-long past wealthy in profitable and pleasant recollections,
and to exhibit to his friends as a curiosity the humble piece, which first
seduced him.

In the present case the pursuit dated from a maturer period, and I was
debarred from such a privilege. I have learned much from coins; but I
came to the study with a fair tincture of preparatory knowledge, and while
I entertained becoming reverence for the great names of antiquity and of
the Renaissance associated with it, I was old enough to be aware how many
other claims it had on our attention and regard.

I turned to the ancient Greek series, I recollect, with the vague
impression that it consisted of objects, which appealed to all persons of
taste--an impression, which had been experienced by thousands before me,
and which is perhaps generally due to conversation with more erudite
acquaintance rather than to books. Works of reference come later. They did
so with me. I had overheard talk of the grandeur and charm of design, the
antiquity, the familiar names and myths; and perhaps someone let me see
one or two, which struck me as curious, or some engravings of the school,
which preceded autotype and other allied processes.

The end of it was that I bought a few inexpensive examples of Lincoln, and
afterward, when it came to the turn of the Roman money, I was attracted by
the beauty and cheapness of the Family or Consular series and by the
ease, with which the second and third brass were obtainable. But it
demanded a longer time than I care to own to enable me to perceive the
affinity between the republican silver _denarii_ and the productions of
the professedly Hellenic school. If I had mingled with collectors, or
consulted books or experts, I should have learned far more quickly and
perfectly my self-set lesson. But I have never been gregarious or
clubable; and I pursued my own way with the result that I committed an
abundance of mistakes, yet not half so many as I deserved from my
unbending persistence in depending on my personal researches and judgment.

This dogged opinionativeness and hard tone of mind have proved
disadvantageous through life. I quitted school much more ignorant, I dare
say, than I needed to have done, because it was not my cue or bent to
comprehend what the teachers delivered, or to relish the methods, which
they pursued; and the single point, which I brought away from my
attendance at a twelve months' course of lectures on Law and Jurisprudence
at the Inner Temple, was the persuasion that in a particular line of
argument, in which I happened to follow the lecturer, he was wrong. I
hold a very kind note from Dr Phillimore, thanking me for my correction.

One of my numismatic illusions was the uniform low rate, at which the
Roman consular _denarii_ and other coins of that class, as well as the
imperial currencies, could be secured in course of time. I soon found that
a piece had only to be rare, or in gold, or rather exquisitely patinated,
to stand out in high relief, and make a serious inroad on one's resources.
I have been fairly watchful and enterprising during the best part of
twenty years, and my Greek and Roman collections still await several clear
_desiderata_, not because those _desiderata_ are scarce and expensive, but
because they are typical. I possess about 400 pieces, perhaps, in all
metals; five-and-twenty more would render my two series substantially
representative. I shall get what I want by waiting. What I have suffices
meanwhile to gratify my sense of that artistic and ideal genius, for which
my elders had prepared me, so far as the Greek and Roman consular go, and
my feeling for all that Rome has left behind it in grand personalities,
splendid achievement, and records of thought and custom.

It cannot be fruitless or irrelevant to repeat that the magnitude of the
most famous collections is chiefly owing to the presence of numberless
varieties and sub-varieties of coins--even of unimportant ones. A man
makes a principle of accumulating every year of the bronze money of the
present reign, or farthings of every conceivable description, or maundy
money. _Cui bono?_ This is a course of policy which should be reserved for
the public institution and the numismatic chronicler. I have a gold
_stater_, perhaps of Philip of Macedon, an electrum one of Cyzicus or
Lampsacus, a silver tetradrachm of Alexander the Great, and another of the
Athenian Republic; I do not covet all the more or less slightly variant
examples, which may exist. It is different, where the coin is remarkable
in itself, and the type is distinct, as, for instance, in the contemporary
and posthumous money of Alexander of Macedon, in the progressive
improvement in the currency of Athens, in the specimens of Syracusan
medallic art, which shew the stages, through which it passed; and in the
pieces, which have preserved to us the likeness of such celebrities as
Cleopatra, Julius Cæsar, Mark Antony, and which vary in certain
physiognomical details. Here there is a more or less intelligible plea
for repetition or redundancy. But in avoiding the admittance of practical
duplicates I flatter myself that I have avoided a troublesome and costly
error, which punishes you in two ways--when you acquire and when you
realise. I have sometimes speculated why it is that _I_, for one, shut up
books on coins after a short consultation and turn to the things
themselves--the tangible realities. There must be somehow a cross with the
magpie in one's blood. The only kind of publication of a numismatic
complexion, which strikes me as endurable, is that which is written on
sympathetic lines, in a broadly appreciative temper and spirit. The dry
calendars compiled by official experts, and the catalogues of auctions,
are hard reading. They are mere lexicons or printed transfers.

Yet when I endeavoured to follow in the footsteps of one or two earlier
writers, who gave wise prominence (as I thought) to the human and living
interest resident in coins of all ages and countries in former times, I
was reproved by the learned as too _literary_ in my style, although in my
larger book I afforded ample scope to the technical aspect of the
question, and merely asserted my view by making it an independent section
in distinct type. But the true cause of offence or disagreement was and is
my presumption as a layman in trespassing on the preserves of Tom Tiddler.

It has been objected to my unusual width of range that it precludes full
justice, as it is the fashion to call it, to any of the series. The reply
to this, however, is obvious, and has already in fact been given. Unless a
private cabinet is formed with a special eye to the official study of a
group of coins or of the monetary products of a region, the object should
be, not exhaustive treatment, which in the first place is impossible, but
eclectic, which tends to familiarise the holder with the policy and
progress of all nationalities in all parts of the globe from time to time
in rendering _media_ of exchange objects of interest, instruction and
beauty, as well as of use.

A man emerges from the latter plan with a clearer and broader appreciation
of the subject and its manifold bearings than he does, if he draws the
line at a country, at a period, or at a type. It may be a just source of
pride to be able to say that you are the existing repository of so many
examples or varieties, of which no one else can boast the ownership; but,
looking at the ultimate aim, it is not clear where the solid advantage

My appurtenances in this direction embrace: 1. Greek and Roman; 2.
Continental; 3. English and Scotish; 4. American; 5. Oriental. The
last-named occupy a space proportionate to the narrowness of their appeal
to my sympathy. The money of the ancients, more especially that of Greece,
when one casts one's eyes on its portraiture, symbols, legends, fabric,
and costume, I treasure as everlastingly impressive testimony to the force
of soil, climate, and social and religious conditions, and as the basis of
every essay of any pretensions in collecting. The difficulties and dangers
are unusually great, as the disparities of estimated value are great; and
the liability to error and deception are manifold. The wholesale official
system at home of multiplying autotype copies of rare and valuable pieces
originated in a sound idea; but has been carried too far, and forms an
inducement to impose reproductions on inexperienced persons already
perplexed by encountering casts and other forgeries; and then, again, the
Greek and Roman series are a constant mark for the ingenious foreigner,
who has busied himself, as we have all heard, ever so long since in
fabricating for enthusiastic admirers of the antique the almost unfailing
_lacunæ_ in their cabinets. Some classes of coins are more subject to
falsification than others. The Athenian gold and the Bactrian silver are
very favourite game for the Gentile, the Jew, and the Mahometan alike.
They forget their religious antagonism in a fraternal community of aim.

I have referred to the Bactrian coinage as having been extensively forged.
But there has strangely accumulated, since those days, when the surviving
number was almost computable on the fingers, a vast chronological
monument, disclosing to our eyes a marvellous Oriental legend of mighty
rulers and long, prosperous reigns, coins their only historians. I was
favoured by the Museum authorities with an early glance at the magnificent
purchase from General Cunningham of his Bactrian numismatic collection for
£3000, by virtue of a special parliamentary grant; and this has at once
placed our national cabinet in a most satisfactory and enviable position
in this respect.

Of the money of upward of thirty kings of this region--the ancient
Affghanistan--the silver is now copiously represented, but not so the gold
or the copper. I tell the story of the 20-_stater_ piece, in the most
precious metal, of Eukratides, King of Bactria, in my _Coin-Collector_. Of
the copper or bronze I have long owned a very beautiful example, probably
of Heliocles; in _my_ state these latter productions are peculiarly rare.
Never was such a case of Time drawing Truth out of a well; and we have not
reached the end of the matter yet. There will be further discoveries.

Here is a conspicuous instance of the peril attendant on giving
extravagant prices for coins of supposed rarity. There are among the
Bactrians silver tetradrachms and smaller denominations, which can be
bought for fewer shillings than they once commanded sovereigns. My obolos
of Demetrius, for example, cost 15s.; it is valued by Mionnet at £16. But
you must exercise particular caution in this direction for the reason,
which I have assigned. I shall be entirely satisfied, if I succeed in
procuring a selection affording a competent idea of the prevailing
character and costume of the whole, of which the earlier reigns are
immeasurably the more desirable; a complete sequence is out of the
question; even the British Museum under the most favourable conditions
does not possess it--perhaps never will.

I really think that with the poorer coin-collector it is the same as with
his analogue in the book market. The most beautiful and most interesting
objects in the Greek and Roman coinages are well within his means of
attainment, if he chooses to wait and watch, provided that he cares to do
what the present deponent did, do his best to eke out his deficiency of
resources with acquired knowledge and discrimination. In that case he may
rise one morning the owner of an assemblage of these delightful and
educating remains, and may ask himself the question, in what manner and
degree it differs from those most famous and most frequently quoted in our
numismatic records. He will find that what he lacks in common with all,
who have not bottomless purses, are just the rare denominations or values,
or types, of which he may probably possess examples substantially
identical--perhaps in superior condition.

Take the Roman gold of the late Mr Hyman Montagu. That gentleman suddenly
conceived it to be his mission to become master, not merely of all the
really interesting coins in that metal and series; but it was peremptory
that he should outdo everybody else, and be able to proclaim that he had
every gold piece struck by every obscure and insignificant ruler down to
the fall of the empire; and I believe that he was gratified. He could
plead nothing for his project beyond its completeness; and that very
feature was its weak point. Think how infinitely preferable it is to
select the best; they are to be had at moderate prices; they appeal to
everyone, who has a fair degree of culture; and they occupy less room. The
rarities are usually of poor work and fabric as well as of princes, who
reigned just long enough to stamp their names and effigies on a circular
disc of gold. Mr Montagu, however, felt bound to draw a broad line of
distinction between humbler aspirants and himself; and he erected this
monument to his memory.

It is much the same thing with the Greek in all its varieties and
ramifications, of which, no less than of the Roman, I furnish a
comprehensive sketch in my _Coin-Collector_. The money of ephemeral rulers
and governments, or high and unusual denominations, like the Syracusan
medallion or 10-drachma piece form the trying part and aspect of an
undertaking. I soon discovered that I could command even with a slender
purchasing power all that was essential to enable me to comprehend the
monetary story of the most remarkable, and one of the greatest, empires of
the ancient world. When I turned over the pages of the Carfrae,
Ashburnham, Montagu and Bunbury catalogues, it was easy to perceive how
these grand collections assumed such bewildering and fatiguing
proportions; and I saw to my surprise that, rather than forego a
particular item, condition was often waived.

I thought that I discerned, for private connoisseurs as distinguished from
great institutions like the British Museum, a radical error of judgment
and policy here, and I congratulate myself on having avoided it.
Condition, on which I shall have something more to say by-and-by, I could
and can understand; and as I have never regretted losing a dear coin, I
have never regretted letting a poor one pass. But I have seen with
complacency my rich friends snatch out of my hands some things, which I
should have been content to have at my estimate; and if I am patient they
will fall to me another day. I take what comes, and am thankful. At one of
the numerous Montagu sales a piece realised £2, 10s. I dare say that it
passed through one or two hands; but it became mine at last for

I must change the scene. I was never led away in respect to the money of
the United Kingdom, not even by patriotism, so far as to find funds and
accommodation for every constituent part of every series within these
lines. If I were not an Englishman, I should declare unreservedly that a
less interesting, more monotonous, and worse executed body of material
than the coinages of England, Scotland, Ireland, and their dependencies,
with certain emphatic exceptions, does not exist. It has asked all my
loyalty to overcome an instinctive repugnance to the uncouth abortions
struck as currency by our British, Anglo-Saxon, and many of our
Anglo-Norman, progenitors. You may contemplate the entire gallery and
succession in numismatic books, with autotype reproductions of these
caricatures. A heavy proportion of them are barbarous and feeble
imitations of Greek, Roman, and mediæval patterns. Perhaps in art and
style they resemble most closely the Gaulish and Visigothic series. If we
reserve one or two types of Offa of Mercia and Alfred the Great, the
commonest are the best, because they were struck under the authority of
sovereigns, whose power was established. I put to myself the question at a
very early stage, how many representatives was it necessary for me to
assemble before me of these classes or schools of production? The answer
is readable in the presence of fifty or sixty Britons, Saxons, Danes, and
Normans; and I have no courage to swell their ranks. When I look at them,
I can find nothing to justify the cost of their maintenance but the weak
little sentiment, that these pieces of gold, silver, copper, or tin passed
from hand to hand, when the part, where I am a dweller, was a dark, swampy
forest, with a few squalid huts dotted here and there, and that one or two
of these bits of money may have been in the pouch of Cymbeline, or Krause
(_vulgo_ Carausius) or Alfred. In fact, I have a silver penny of the royal
Cake-Burner, which weighs two grains more than any other known; it was
Colonel Murchison's; but possibly it had previously belonged to the king

Seriously speaking, our native currencies acquired their value and rank
only, when the French and Low Country types began to attract notice and
emulation; and I should be satisfied with drawing the line at Edward III.
as a commencing point and at Anne as a finishing one. The view is by no
means original; I have met with several, who averted their eyes from the
peculiarly humble and uncouth beginnings of the British people in this
way; and the late Mr Montagu parted long before his death, on the ground
of their dearth of interest, with the whole of his Hanoverian collections.

Between these extremities there is undeniably a rich field for choice.
Numismatists have always, I apprehend, regarded me as a heretic, for the
simple reason that I attached, in the absence of some specific ground, no
importance to mint-marks or to minor differences. I have accustomed myself
to take a coin in my hand, and estimate it on its merits. I am able to see
what ruler or State it represents, its period, its style, its value. It
may bear on its face a striking portrait of some illustrious personage--a
potent sovereign, a distinguished soldier, a great lady--of whom the
lineaments are nowhere else extant. It may be money of necessity,
narrating to us, as fully as it can, a tragic or a noble story. It may be
the first piece which was struck by a famous individual or place, or the
last--perchance out of church or college plate with the original border of
a dish remaining to commemorate a crisis. All these and other similar
characteristics are broad and clear. But I have always been impatient of
the stress laid by experts on an inverted letter in the legend, an added
or omitted dot, or some such fantastic and puerile refinement.

These _minutiæ_ do not constitute the primary use and significance of the
coin as a source of study and instruction. A cabinet formed on a practical
principle yields the best and most lasting fruit. You have only to scan
the pages of the numberless printed works of reference to become aware
that in the English and Scotish series the slight variations among
products of the same issue are interminable, and individuals are found to
enter with avidity and at a lavish outlay into such trivialities. Not I.
From the remotest period of our own history we have coined in England
itself only seventy denominations in all metals; and I computed in my
_Coin-Collector_ that about 1530 pieces would substantially represent all
the different reigns and clearly distinct types of the United Kingdom, not
including the Anglo-Gallic money which is not very voluminous.

Whatever may be thought of the practice of acquiring virtual duplicates in
the more ancient currencies, its extension to the Georgian and Victorian
eras is absolutely unreasoning and futile. There is no plea for it on the
score of art, history, or curiosity. It is only the other day, that
patterns and proofs of George III. and IV., William IV. and her present
Majesty were carried to prices, which would have secured in the aggregate
some of the finest and costliest examples of Greek workmanship or the
great rarities and _desiderata_ in the English series itself--the Oxford
and Petition crowns, the florin of Edward III., the triple sovereign of
Edward VI., or even the half George noble of Henry VIII. But the bladder
has been pricked, and the nonsensical craze has visibly subsided. It had
its rise, no doubt, in competition among two or three wealthy, but poorly
informed, gentlemen, who soon grew tired of a desperately expensive and
foolish amusement. Naturally the artificial quotations brought to light
hoarded specimens; and supply and demand changed places.

My British division follows the same system as the others. The chief part,
requisite for my plan, is in hand; a small residuum has yet to come; and I
must wait for it.

That side which took, and has held, my fancy more powerfully, was the
Continental. What impressed me was its infinite interest, diversity, and
curiosity; what recommended it was its unfamiliarity and comparative
cheapness even in the choicest condition. There was a time, when the
foreign dealers, and some of our own, were prepared to part with nearly
all the coins in the respective metals at a tariff, which was far more
consonant with my means than the tall figures ruling elsewhere through the
generous rivalry of my affluent contemporaries; and a five-pound note
still stands one in better stead on this ground than on the English and
Scotish; but I hold a certificate of approbation in the shape of a slowly
upward tendency on my own special lines, and I rejoice that my wants grow

Between the relative merits of the British coinage and that of the
European continent there is no actual standard of comparison, especially
when it is borne in mind, that some of the best of our native examples
were produced by foreign engravers. I confidently anticipate that in the
early future the money of the various political divisions of Europe will
appreciably usurp the position at present almost monopolised among
ourselves by our own money or that of the ancients. I hear it objected,
that the continental class is so immense and so fathomless. True, it is;
but when you regard condition, that difficulty ceases to operate, for you
have only to stand by, and pick the best, and you will find that about 1
in 50 is the proportion of pieces worth having. The total in the Boyne
sale (1896) was estimated at 25,000; and I doubt whether there were 250
real prizes (duplicates excepted) from beginning to end.

The coins in the two superior metals laid side by side with those of Great
Britain of the same period almost invariably excel ours in every respect,
and there is an abundance of high denominations both in gold and silver,
which the continental houses know fairly well how to appraise: grand old
pieces of 5 and 10 thalers in silver and of 10, 20, 40, and 100 ducats in
gold. I have generally viewed these _bijoux_ from a respectful distance.
But as a beginner I was forcibly struck by the magnificent copper coins of
early date and careful execution, which now and then occur in
irreproachable state at rates, of which no one can reasonably complain. At
the price, which was commonly demanded a short while since for a pattern
halfpenny of George III., you might have half a hundred of them in course
of time. I have personally experienced a far larger measure of trouble in
meeting with satisfactory specimens of all epochs than in the English or
even Scotish sections; but it is such a much vaster field, and some
countries are more difficult than others. Where expense is not a
consideration, a system of correspondence with all the leading centres and
occasional visits in person are to be recommended; but consignments on
approval form a tolerable substitute, and are rather exciting--with a
tendency, I have found, to disappointment. The happiest moments are apt to
be between the receipt of the parcel and the disclosure of the contents.
Yet I have to confess myself very greatly indebted to Mr Schulman of
Amersfoort for his supplies. London is of very slight use; you must keep
in touch with the continent; and unhappily, within the last few years, the
continent has grown sensibly dearer for fine copper. The quality of
indifferent stock held by the trade everywhere must be incalculable--I
must have waded through a ton or so.

The Italian copper series, taking up the thread, as it were, where the
Roman and Ostrogothic rulers let it fall, is customarily regarded with
special tenderness and respect, and is certainly entitled to rank high, as
the work, during the finest period of art, of celebrated engravers. But
the other sections set before us very persuasively their claims to
attention; and it was this rather perplexing competition for notice and
choice, which led me--which leads me to-day--to accord admission only to
the bearers of the highest testimonials. That is a very drastic method of


    The Question of Condition considered More at Large--How One most
    Forcibly Realises Its Importance and Value--Limited Survival of
    Ancient Coins in Fine State--Practical Tests at Home and Abroad--Lower
    Standard in Public Institutions and the Cause--Only Three Collectors
    on My Lines besides Myself--The Romance of the Shepherd Sale--Its
    Confirmation of My Views--Small Proportion of Genuine Amateurs in the
    Coin-Market--Fastidious Buyers not very Serviceable to the Trade--An
    Anecdote by the Way--The Eye for State more Educated in England than
    Abroad--American Feeling and Culture--What will Rare Old Coins bring,
    when the Knowledge of Them is more developed?--The Ladies stop the
    Way--Continental Indifference to Condition--Difficulties attendant on
    Ordering from Foreign Catalogues--Contrast between Them and Our
    Own--_D'une Beauté Excessive_--Condition a Relative Term--Its
    Dependence on Circumstances--Words of Counsel--Final Conclusions--Do I
    regret having become a Collector?--My Mistakes.

_Condition_, with the majority of coin-collectors, does not rule at all. A
man wants a particular piece for the sake of study or of possession; and
so long as the type is there, he is satisfied. That is the general
religion of amateurs.

With a second section this quality becomes a merit; if the coin is a good
one, so much the better, if it is not too dear. With half-a-dozen
perchance in each generation, if with so many, the state is a postulate;
the purchaser of the item depends on that above everything else; and the
price is secondary.

I have known very few persons in my time, who seemed thoroughly to
understand what a fine coin was. It is not sufficient that it is
well-preserved or even _fleur de coin_; for it may have been badly struck,
or it may be damaged by a flaw or by the cleaner. It should be well
struck, perfectly preserved, and unsophisticated. If there is a tone or
_patina_, that should be pure and uniform.

The value and force of condition in coins are not fully recognisable, till
one is fortunate enough to accumulate a body similar in style and rank. In
a collection of first-rate examples each new-comer enhances the rest, and
is enhanced by them, and the converse is true of the presence of inferior
productions, which demoralise and deteriorate their companions. It seemed
to me that this was signally demonstrated, where at Sotheby's rooms a
ten-shilling piece in silver of the Oxford Declaration type, 1643,
occurred among an assortment of poor material, and brought £14. It was in
mint-state, and in a sale with others of similar stamp would have
doubtless attracted wider attention, and commanded at all events twice the
money. I exchanged it with Lincoln for an indifferent one in my
possession, which had cost me five guineas, and for which he allowed me
eight, so that it came to me at about ten per cent. on the auction price.

My undeviating experience is that the survival of really fine old coins,
except in the Greek and Roman series, where continual finds operate to
shake values, so far as all but the Roman first brass and the Greek copper
are concerned, is very small. I have repeatedly put this point to a
practical test. Mr Whelan once overhauled on my behalf at Paris some 3000
coins, and brought over with him _sixteen_, of which I rejected _eight_.
Messrs Lincoln & Son several years since placed on view about 2000 Greek
silver pieces; of course many were duplicate specimens; but I failed to
discover more than about a score within my rather exacting and trying
lines. At the sale of the United Service Institution in 1895 there were
fully 3000 copper coins; from these thirty or so were selected as likely
to suit me; and I reduced the number on a final scrutiny to half. When the
Boyne cabinet of old continental money was offered for sale, the series
being so peculiarly on my lines, I carefully marked the catalogue, and in
due course examined the collection. There were by estimation 25,000
pieces, more or less; it was a heavy task; but my object was numismatic as
well as commercial. I aimed at taking notes no less than at venturing on a
few purchases; and I found the same thing. The items had been
over-described as regarded condition; and I could not see more than twenty
or thirty, which were likely to be of advantage to me in augmenting my
small gathering without detriment to the prevailing quality. Even in the
Montagu sales of Greek silver, where such high prices ruled, and of which
so much was made in the papers, the proportion of first-rate pieces was
inconsiderable. I went through the whole; and the apology tendered by the
exhibitor before the auction was that many of them were so rare.

This plea may hold very good for a public repository like the British
Museum, which is supposed to possess an example of every existing piece
of ancient currency (by the way, it by no means does); but I maintain that
it is no argument for a private collector, unless it happens that he is
closely studying a particular section of numismatics. Under ordinary
circumstances, the coin, and for that matter the medal also, is to be
treated as a work of art or as a curiosity by its owner or seeker, and it
appears to be inconsistent with the nature of the case to amass a huge
assemblage of numismatic monuments, which are not required for use, and
which are not suitable as ornaments or _chefs d'oeuvre_.

The prevailing standard in our own and in foreign public institutions is
not usually high, because they have been largely indebted to gifts and
legacies in days when preservation was not even so much regarded as at
present. I am persuaded that a fine sense of the constituent features of a
good coin has always been, and remains, a signal exception to the general

I cannot remember in the course of the eighteen years, which I have
dedicated in partial measure to these interesting objects of inquiry and
regard, more than three instances, in which my _beau ideal_ of a cabinet
has been fulfilled. But I must be careful not to omit to note that I did
not see the Montagu collection of English coins so largely derived from
those of Mr Addington and Mr Bryce. The cases, to which I refer, were
those of Mr Lake Price, Mr Shepherd and Mr Rostron, who observed the
principle recommended by me, and carried out most scrupulously in my own
selection. The result in all instances was that high, and even
extraordinary, prices were obtained. The quality was uniform; there was
_bona fides_; and the names helped. There was, of course, nothing strange
or singular in the realisation of £255 for a _half George noble_ of Henry
VIII.; but what illustrated, as well as any example, the force of a
favourable prejudice, was the advance of a shilling of Charles II. of 1673
(a common date) to £11, because it was marvellously fine, and was in that
atmosphere. I procured an exact duplicate the same day for 14s. The
Shepherd cabinet was remarkable for beautifully struck Anglo-Norman
halfpennies and farthings in silver, some of them of the highest rarity,
if not unique; and, then, Mr Montagu was in the field. Everything
concurred to render the Shepherd affair a great success.

I had not waited for this notable event (it took place in 1885) to come
to the conclusion, that quality was to be preferred to quantity. At an
early stage in my numismatic career, I began to follow exactly the same
rule at a distance--that is, so far as my resources would allow me; and I
vexed the spirit of one at least of the firms, with which I chiefly dealt,
by making it the shoot for my inferior duplicates. I must in this way have
weeded my trays of hundreds of pieces, which satisfied me at the outset,
tolerably fastidious as I was; and I feel the relief and the benefit.

But how completely a hobby of this or any other kind, when it is pursued
as a serious business, engrosses time and attention, and becomes part of
one's life--perchance the greater part, I did not realise for some time
after my entrance into the arena, or I should have hesitated to proceed. A
sensible proportion--almost a preponderant one--of collectors resemble
windfalls; they never arrive at maturity; they commit mistakes, which
dishearten them, or they discover the hopeless magnitude of the scheme,
and abandon it after a season or two, nay, after a single transaction,
over which they chew the cud, with the result that the lot returns to the
vendor at a reduced figure.

The members of the trade are fully aware, that those who are genuine
amateurs, and who never swerve from their undertaking during life, may be
counted on the fingers. The bookseller may have a large number of
customers; but he lives by a very small one; and it is so with all dealers
in luxuries and fancies.

The student of condition in coins and medals is by no means the frequenter
of his premises, whom the numismatic expert most delights to see, although
he may be of the private opinion, that his policy is the right one, for he
is necessarily a difficult person to suit and to please; the man, who
wants the coin, so long as it is authentic and legible, is the more
welcome visitor. He acquires at lower quotations; yet the attendant profit
to the vendor is probably more, because for mediocre property the
competition is so much less severe. Of all clients in the world, those,
who are content to take examples otherwise with no future before them but
the crucible, are the most valuable; they deserve to be bowed in and out.
The rare phenomenon, who knows more than the master of the shop, and
touches nothing but what the foreigner calls _pijoux_, is a questionable
god-send, for he has too keen a nose for rarities, and only carries away
what is sure money and has no determinable value.

A vexatious incident happened to a leading house in this sort of way.
Doubtless every dealer has had his experience of letting prizes go without
being aware of it; and it is a distasteful aggravation of the annoyance to
notify a great bargain to the party concerned. In a window in New Oxford
Street the story goes, that a foreign silver coin was exhibited for sale,
the price 15s. A gentleman of continental origin went in, and asked to see
it. 'Was that the lowest price?' 'Yes.' 'Ah! well, it was a nice coin, but
rather dear. Say twelve shillings. No, fifteen it must be.' But the
proposed buyer continued to look at the piece, and to lament the
impossibility of securing it at so high a tariff, till the owner,
impatient at the loss of his time, agreed to accept the reduction. Our
friend put his purchase in his pocket, and laid down the amount and then,
as he turned to leave the shop, he held up his finger, and with a pleasant
smile observed, 'That co-in worth one hundred pound.'

The feelings of the victim were probably homicidal. He scarcely forgave
me, I fear, for purchasing for £3, 10s. a very fine thaler of Wallenstein,
1632, of which an inferior example just afterward realised a far higher
figure, but which was itself one in a lot sold under the hammer for £1,
14s. It is true that it was badly catalogued.

The English dealers have certainly a superior eye to those abroad for what
I term _state_. There may not be many, who lay so great a stress on this
aspect of the matter as those, whose collections realised in consequence
abnormal prices, and enjoy a classical celebrity; but the mean average
among us is, no doubt, higher than it is either in America or on the

The American Coin-market is in a totally different stage of development
from that in Books; our transatlantic cousins have not that local and
technical experience so essential in the study of numismatics; and they
can scarcely be said to compete seriously so far for the rarer and more
important objects. They have in the course of the last fifty years made
very considerable progress, as we all know, in literary antiquities and in
works of art. But the coin and medal have their turn to come. There is
not, perhaps, any one living, who will witness the vast revolution in
prices, when the wealthier citizens of the United States become our rivals
for what is finest and scarcest in this remaining field.

One obstacle in the way of coins coming to the front is the inherent
necessity for keeping them out of view; they are not so showy as pictures,
china, furniture, or even books; and they demand on the part of an
amateur, desirous of accomplishing equally satisfactory results, a larger
amount of study and caution. The ladies frequently influence these things:
they prefer ornaments, which set off their _salons_ and corridors to
advantage; and the numismatist meets with discouragement, unless he is
unusually resolute or impassioned. Nay, it is so in the old country, where
tradition looks farther back, and is more deeply rooted; and the dealer
never cares to see a client enter, accompanied by his wife or daughter.
They operate as refrigerators.

On the Continent with its past infinitely remote, and with its immense
area abounding with centres of culture and inquiry, the general feeling
for high preservation in coins is certainly not so pronounced as among
ourselves. Setting aside, as mere commercial parlance, the phrases
employed by the foreign houses to denote condition, collectors themselves
are comparatively insensible or indifferent to the matter. I have had
frequent occasion to return with a feeling of disappointment specimens
sent me on approval from abroad, and even purchased on commission, where
my agent was the cataloguer, and in my judgment misdescribed the lot; and
a new snare has been prepared for the unwary in the form of illustrated
lists, where, if you select an item which has been engraved, the
auctioneer seeks to hold you to your bargain on the plea that you have had
an opportunity of seeing the coin in the plate. But the fact is that the
coin and the representation of it even by some photographic process are
not necessarily identical, and I should recommend any amateur giving his
orders to a continental establishment to ignore the illustrations as tests
or _criteria_. Several articles in a Paris sale, which appeared very fair
in the letterpress account and in the _planches_ accompanying it, came
over to me; and I peremptorily refused to take them as being at variance
with the catalogue, to which the agent stood at once in the relation of
compiler and owner.

The foreign houses court English support, and although they are fully
aware that their clients at a distance wholly depend on trustworthy
descriptions, they habitually misrepresent the circumstances, and expect
the buyer to bear the brunt of their want of care or faith.

On the other hand, the neglect to convey the full or exact truth may often
arise from ignorance or absence of taste and judgment. For I have observed
the relative valuation of poor, tolerable, fine, and superb examples of a
particular coin in the hands of this or that dealer. An English house
would be glad to get rid of the former two categories at any figure, or
would melt them; the third he would expect to reimburse him for the first
and second; and the _fleur de coin_ or proof he would hardly know how to
estimate too highly. His foreign contemporary acts very differently; he
has a scale, it is true; but between the worst and the best the financial
distance is surprisingly small. For a distinctly bad example he asks you a
_franc_, for a finer one, two, for a really first-rate specimen, four, and
for a proof, six. In the case of one of the English sources of supply,
the difference would be, that for the fine piece you would have to pay ten
_francs_ or their equivalent and for the proof not impossibly

This corroborates my statement, inasmuch as it shews that condition does
not form so influential a factor abroad in determining values, as it does
at home. The 'numismatiste et antiquaire' complacently schedules his
property as _assez beau_, _beau_, _très beau_; all these notations are
practically worthless; the experienced buyer knows beforehand what he will
get, if he sends for the items; and it is wise to limit oneself to such
prodigies of excellence as are shadowed under the terms _f.d.c._,
_superbe_, and _d'une beauté excessive_. When you receive your parcel, you
find that you have what Lincoln or Spink would offer as a fine coin.
Schulman of Amersfoort had my commission in the sale of the local find a
year or so since to obtain for me a gold _zecchino_ of Ercole I., Duke of
Ferrara, which the aforesaid averred to be '_d'une beauté excessive_;' but
a representative of the British Museum attended in person, and bought it
over me. I afterward examined it in Great Russell Street, was very glad
that I had missed it, and procured a better one in the Boyne sale for
less money.

Condition is, after all, a relative term. It depends, 1. on the metal; 2.
on the fabric. Gold and electrum are subject to ordinary wear and tear in
common with the inferior materials used for coinage, and are more liable
to clipping and sweating for the sake of the intrinsic value; but these
products do not suffer corrosion; the only superficial injury which is
noticeable has arisen from their deposit in certain soils, as in the sand
of Egypt, where the effect is to blister or speckle the surface. The
Russian platinum series appears to be sensitive to nothing but friction
and use, and as it has not been an ordinary circulating medium, it occurs
as a rule unworn.

As regards the lower metals, silver, copper, lead and tin, the money
struck in these naturally follows the laws, to which they submit; but it
also exhibits the results of imperfect preparation and alloy. The finer
the silver, the less difficult it becomes to procure specimens in a
satisfactory state; but scarcely any are exempt from oxidisation, which is
apt in course of time to destroy the surface and the type. A peculiar
tarnish, which it is not easy to remove, is found on particular
coins--for example, shillings and sixpences of George III. 1816--and in
metal of low standard an expectation of improvement from cleaning
processes is generally illusory. The presence of chemical decomposition in
copper, lead or tin pieces ought to be sufficient to deter the fastidious
collector from entertaining them as purchases. Copper is heir to all sorts
of ills: verdegris, rust, corrosion, and blisters, and where the defect
has been of long duration, there is no really effectual remedy, as the
recognised appliances may not succeed or, which is almost worse, may
succeed only in part.

Then, secondly, the circumstances of issue, as in obsidional pieces and
other money of necessity, have been so hurried and incomplete, that the
discovery of a faultless specimen is impossible, and it is for the seeker
to decide whether he will tolerate a flaw, which is inseparable from the
acquisition, or dispense with it. I do not of course allude to the
vendor's expression, 'fine for the coin,' but to certain cases, where a
real difficulty exists in every series, especially where _billon_ prevails
in currencies.

So much depends, first, on the skill or care, with which the amalgam was
originally made, and, again, on the subsequent treatment of the example in
passing from hand to hand. The coating of white solution in the older
pieces has almost invariably disappeared; it is something, if the type is

There is a perpetual confusion in the catalogues between copper and mixed
metal from the failure of the plating operation; but the value is an
almost sure clue. For this reason the 12-_grossi_ piece or _fiorino_ of
Monaco, 1640, should not have been sold in the Boyne auction, 1896, as
copper. But certainly the cataloguer misinterpreted the _G. xii._ on the
piece into 12 grana. That august Government was not in the habit of giving
four shillings for sixpence. These plated currencies are a terrible plague
to the numismatist, as 99 specimens out of 100 have parted with their
white coats.

Where a really valuable and important coin is concerned, it is a subject
for careful deliberation, whether it is best to let it pass, to keep it as
it is, or to restore it. If the foreign matter is merely a loose
incrustation or _stratum_, there is no great uncertainty or danger; where
the mischief is more deeply seated, the risk of failure grows fearfully.
I have a silver crown of Queen Elizabeth in almost perfect state, but as
black as ink; I shrink from touching it. I applied ammonia to a first
brass of one of the Roman emperors, and spoiled it, although the dirt
seemed to be recent and tractable. A _testone_ of one of the Medici of
Florence was perfectly discoloured and disfigured; the most simple of all
remedies acted like an enchantment; it emerged _fleur de coin_; and
whatever objection may be said to exist to these experiments, the
forbearance from employing chemicals, and the natural action of the
atmosphere, gradually bring back the tone and the age.

Where one is able to meet with early _billon_ money, which has
miraculously escaped all deteriorating agencies, it is a real pleasure to
contemplate the mixture of bloom and _patina_, which time has lent to a
piece. But this can hardly occur, unless the proportion of fine metal is

In the Greek and Roman series, as well as in those of more modern days,
there are various forms of deception and danger, against which I have had
occasion to guard. Of course no one, who is out of leading strings, buys
a Roman first or second brass, which has been polished with brick-dust, a
lot which had befallen an entire cabinet sold at an auction within my
remembrance. But there are less obvious sources of degradation due to
various causes and motives, amongst which tooling for the purpose of
creating an artificial bloom or _patina_, and plugging in order to
disguise a bore or piercing, are the most usual.

The strangest feature about sophistication and forgery seems to be the
elaborate trouble, which it must have cost to spoil a genuine coin or to
fabricate a false one, where the original in good state is not difficult
to procure. This may be ascribed to perverted ingenuity; but it is
literally vain to attempt to trace to their parentage these phenomena. The
systematic manufacture of Roman money is more understandable, because it
flourished just when that money was most eagerly sought.

After all, the perils which beset the path of the collector, lend a fillip
to the pursuit. Were there not such occasional contingencies, a career
would be really deficient in anecdote and excitement, just as, without its
rocks, quicksands, and sharks the sea would be less adventurous and less

       *       *       *       *       *

I have personally come, and I trust that I may have been so fortunate as
to bring some of the perusers of this small book, to the threefold
conclusion under all the heads which I have discussed: 1. That for all
ordinary buyers for their own pleasure and instruction the Eclectic
principle is the best; 2. That Condition is a primary requirement; 3. That
it is thoroughly practicable for an individual of very moderate fortune by
persevering study--in itself a recreation--to form an extensive and
valuable assemblage of whatever description of artistic property he
prefers on terms, which will secure on realisation the return of the
capital with interest.

This appears to be the only aspect of the Collecting question worth
considering. Wealthy men, who indulge a taste for Books, Pictures, China,
Coins, or Plate, do not commonly sympathise with the poorer sort, who have
to deliberate over a heavier purchase, and to wait years, perhaps, for a
dearly-coveted acquisition; and I pique myself a little on having
achieved under serious drawbacks a creditable degree of success in the
matter of Coins. If I had attempted the same task in other
directions--almost in any other direction, I should have failed, inasmuch
as books, pictures, plate, and china of an equal or parallel quality go
too few to the £1000 to have suited me; and even postage stamps are in an
unreachable altitude for a different reason--it is one of the enterprises,
where exhaustive treatment seems to be an essential feature in the
programme; while the interest is serial and concrete, rather than
individual. One misses the perspective, the art, the sentiment, so
omnipresent in genuine antiquities. As a sort of grown-up child's
hobby-horse it might be well enough, I thought; but when it acquires its
own literature and Society, and, before you can see completeness in the
near distance, locks up the purchase-money of a considerable estate, that
fantasy and myself take different turnings. So that the Coin, rather even
than the Book--not looking, of course, at the practical side--is the most
manageable species of property, for supposing outlay to be a governing
principle, all the other classes of objects of art are more or less
_vertu_; and certain books have of late become so through the entrance
into the field of the Fortunatus type of _bibliophile_.

The diversity of paths is wonderfully great, whether the means of
acquisition are abundant or scanty; and for either contingency, as regards
extent, there is a plea and a defence. The man, who possesses a miniature
cabinet with a few hundred samples is apt to wax tired of surveying his
property, even if they are all favourites with little histories of their
own; and his friends share his tendency to indifference and defection. On
the contrary, when the collection is very extensive and constantly
growing, the personal attachment is transferred to the newest comers. It
is like the mother with her last child; and the owner of a really large
assemblage of coins resembles that of a great estate, who does not see
portions of it from year's end to year's end. He occupies a parallel
position to the master of a grand library, and is a curator with the power
of sale rather than a proprietor and _an intimate_.

My personal tastes are fairly steadfast, and I have never been enabled to
soar into the regions, where some of my distinguished and opulent
acquaintances, such as Captain P---- and Lord G----, disburse more in a
twelvemonth than I have done in a lifetime. But I have been truer on the
other hand, to the plan, with which I set out. I felt certain that I
should have to exercise a great deal of self-restraint and self-denial; I
turned away with a sigh from many a prize, which might have been mine; and
there has been this recompense--if it is one--that I have seen those
coveted objects change hands more than once in several cases, while I
pursue year after year--nay, decade after decade--my humbler programme and
flight, till ultimately I may perhaps succeed, just as I am making my bow,
in the part of the tortoise in the fable.

Some people are supremely happy without books, except the Family Bible,
the _London Directory_, Bradshaw, and a handful of cheap printed paper in
book-form, without china, without coins, without anything except tables
and chairs. Do I wish I were as these? Not, as I now look at life, but
perhaps, if I had, like them, been an eight-days' puppy-dog--then, well,
yes. One of the Huths, with whom I was debating this point, agreed with me
that tables and chairs were very excellent things, but something more was
to be desired, to be cultivated, if possible. But it is as human to go to
extremes, as it is to err in other ways; and some men (I know one myself)
make what ought to be the secondary consideration the first. I do not mean
that I sit on the floor, and eat my food with my fingers; but the little
_additamenta_ to a home preponderate and overflow somewhat; one must take
warning in time from gentlemen, one's predecessors, who at last could
barely find their tables and chairs.

Seeing that I have been up and down the market during a decently long
succession of years, I am perhaps entitled to pay myself a few compliments
on the singular rarity of occasions, which have found me on the losing and
victimised side. Thrice have I suffered for my sins; for it was always my
own fault. I handled things, which I did not understand; it is an error,
against which I should urge every one to guard most strenuously. If you
engage in the purchase of a strange commodity lying outside your own
experience, it is marvellous in how many a way you are liable to the
trumper. It is provoking to note the studious politeness, the almost
brotherly interest, with which your friends will point out to you your sad
mistake, when you have made it. For mysteries, to which you lack the key,
_noli tangere_ is the maxim. There are plenty of objects always in the
market, which are fair to the eye, but bitter in the proof. How grateful I
was to the enthusiast in his teens, who, when I had wasted a five-pound
note on a worm-eaten xylographic block, put down a couple of guineas for
it, and left me only poorer by the difference!



  Addington, Samuel, 97-8, 162, 219-20, 336

  Æsop, 126

  Ainger, Canon, 39

  Akbar, the Emperor, 272

  Alexander the Great, 313

  Alfred the Great, 306, 323

  Allot, John, 125

  Anne, Queen, 277

  Antonius, Marcus, 299, 313

  Arthur of Little Britain, 306

  Arthur, Thomas, 132, 134

  Ashburnham, Earl of, 321

  Astle, Thomas, F.R.S., 158

  Atkins, Mr, 260

  Auchinleck Sale, 160

  Audley, Lady Eleanor, 123


  Bacon, Francis, 138, 227

  Baker of Old Street, 9

  Barnes, Robert, 139

  Baynes, John, 28

  Beauclerc, Topham, 33

  Beaumont and Fletcher, 50

  Beckford, W., 161

  Bedford, F., 165-6, 180-1

  Beling, Richard, 96

  Beloe, William, 19

  Benjamin, 230

  Bentivoglio, Gio., 247

  Bernal, Ralph, 202, 231

  Besant, Sir Walter, 40

  Bindley, James, 27

  Birchensha, Ralph, 169

  Bismarck, Prince, 159

  Blondeau, Pierre, 277

  Boethius, 24

  Bohn, H. G., 16

  ----, John, 153

  ----, John, of Canterbury, 139

  Bolland Forest, 25

  Bom of Amsterdam, 262-3

  Bonaparte, Lucien, 155

  Boones, The, 45-7

  Boswell, James, 27

  Boyne, W., 164, 289-91, 334, 345, 347

  Bradshaw, Henry, 60

  Brathwaite, Richard, 45, 100

  Breton, N., 69, 157

  Bright, B. H., 64

  Britton, Thomas, 27

  Brooks, W., 195, 199-201, 209-10, 224

  Brown, William, 6

  Browsholme, 25

  Bryce Collection, 336

  Brydges, Sir Egerton, 9, 33-4, 139

  Buccleuch, Dukes of, 25

  Buchanan, George, 161

  Bunbury, Sir H., 321

  Bunyan, John, 121

  Burke, Richard, 223

  Burton-Constable Sale, 154

  Burwood, 192

  Burt, A. A., 166

  Butler, Samuel, 46


  Camus de Limari, 33

  Carausius of Britain, 323

  Carew, Thomas, 50

  Carfrae Collection, 321

  Carmichael, Mr, 138

  Caxton, William, 27, 29, 32, 48, 66, 106

  Cesnola, 219

  Chaffers, W., 228, 233

  Chapman, George, 124

  Chappell, W., 187

  Charlemagne, 306

  Charlemont, Lord, 50, 153

  Charles, I., 224, 269

  ---- II., 224, 336

  Charron, Pierre, 125

  Chaucer, Geoffrey, 111-12, 145, 157-8

  Chester, Robert, 85

  Churchyard, T., 24

  Cicognara, 13

  Cleopatra, 299, 313

  Cleveland, John, 96

  Cockburn, John, 214, 275

  Cocker's _Decimal Arithmetic_, 77

  Cockpit, The, 36

  Coleridge, S. T., 3

  Collier, J. P., 19, 21, 59, 160

  Constable, Henry, 60

  ----, John, 134

  Corney, Bolton, 154

  Corser, Rev. T., 20, 64-7, 88-91, 162

  Cosens, F. W., 67-9

  Cotton, Charles, 105

  Coutts, Lady, 87

  Cowley, Abraham, 121

  Coxe, Dr, 178

  Cranmer, Archbp., 146

  Crashaw, Richard, 104

  Crawford, Lord, 173-4

  Cripps, Mr, 233

  Cruikshank, George, 103

  Cunningham, Colonel, 51

  ----, General, 317

  Cutlers' Company, 185-6

  Cymbeline or Cunobeline, 323

  Czar, The, 22


  Dandolo, Enrico, 306

  Daniel, George, 8, 37-8, 50, 59, 84-6, 110

  ----, Rose, 136

  ----, Samuel, 89, 123

  Davies, Thomas, 131

  Davison, F., 70-1

  Day, Robert, 231

  Defoe, D., 9

  Dekker, Thomas, 24-5, 169-70

  Demetrius of Bactria, 318

  Devonshire, Duke of, 34

  Diamond, Dr, 191, 193-4, 213-14, 216, 227-9

  Dibdin, T. F., 19, 46

  Dillon, Lord, 286

  Dodsley, Robert, 129, 182-3

  Dolfino, Gio., 246

  Donatus, Ælius, 130

  Drayton, Michael, 115-16, 154, 170

  Dryden, John, 99

  Durazzo Collection, 287

  Dyce, Rev. A., 36

  Dyson, Humphrey, 78


  Edmund of East Anglia, 277

  Edward III., 324, 326

  ---- IV., 140, 276

  ---- VI., 326

  Elizabeth, Queen, 130, 160, 281

  Elkins of Lombard Street, 82

  Ellis, F. S., 16, 45, 47, 50, 53, 65, 71, 88, 91-103, 141-2, 162, 204

  Ercole I. of Ferrara, 344-5

  Ethelred II., 247

  Eukratides of Bactria, 318

  Evans, Sir John, 218


  Faliero, Marino, 306

  Faustus, 183

  Featherstonhaughs, The, 208

  Fenn, Sir John, 156-7

  Fennell, Mr, 140

  Ferdinand IV. of Sicily, 272

  Festeau, Paul, 140

  Fisher of Midhurst, 208

  Fishmongers' Company, 125, 167

  Fitch of Ipswich, 38

  Ford of Manchester, 26

  Ford, John, 51

  Foscari, Francesco, 306

  Fountaine, Sir A., 161, 213

  Francia, 285

  Franks, Sir Wollaston, 298

  Freelings, The, 52, 92

  Freres, The, 156-7-8

  Fuller, Thomas, 49, 104

  Furnivall, F. J., 99-101


  Gale, Richard, 195, 201-2

  Gardyne, Alexander, 119

  Garnett, Richard, 179

  Gascoigne, George, 25-6, 33, 145

  Gaston de Foix, 306

  George III., 22, 326, 346

  ---- IV., 326

  ----, W., 135

  Gering, Ulric, 30

  Gladstone, W. E., 208

  Glemham, Edward, 168

  Glendinning, John, 207-8

  Gloddaeth, 35

  Glover, William, 119

  Godfrey, Edmund Berry, 231

  Gosson, Stephen, 33

  Gourmont, Giles, 32

  Grant, Sir F., 224

  Grantley, Lord, 218, 274-5, 353

  Gray, Sir Walter, 153

  Greene, Robert, 125, 157

  Greenwell, Canon, 218, 220, 270

  Grenville, Thomas, 52, 223

  Grosart, Dr, 104


  Halliwell-Phillipps, J. O., 113, 154, 178

  Hamilton, Sir Robert, 245

  Hariot, Thomas, 50

  Harold II., 306

  Haroun El Reschid, 272, 305

  Harrison, F., 40

  Harthacanute, 277

  Hartshorne, C. H., 19

  Harvey, Gabriel, 25-6

  Hastings, Marquis of, 95-6, 105

  Hatton, Sir Chris., 160

  Hazlitt, Rev. W., 2-3

  ----, W. 222-3-5

  ----, Mr Registrar, 2-9, 12, 68

  Head, Dr, 270

  Heber, Richard, 20-38, 51, 66

  Heliocles of Bactria, 318

  Henderson, John, 34

  Henrietta Maria, 119

  Henry I. of England, 306

  ---- IV. of England, 276

  ---- VII. of England, 179

  ---- VIII. of England, 161, 268, 326, 336

  ---- III. of France, 207

  ---- IV. of France, 245

  Henry, Prince, 125

  Henryson, Robert, 126

  Herbert, W., 16, 19, 156

  Heywood, Thomas, 130

  Hibbert, George, 52

  Hodge, John, 178

  Hogarth, W., 230

  Holl, Henry, 146

  Hotten, John Camden, 121-2

  Hudson, Captain, 254

  Huth, Henry, 8, 41 _et seq._, 65, 70, 75-6, 86, 99-100, 104-5, 109,
      113-14-15, 123, 135, 139-40, 155, 165, 169, 177, 180, 187, 235-6


  Ireland, A., 39

  Ivan the Terrible, 281


  Jarvis & Son, 125-6

  Jeffreys of Bristol, 48, 135

  Jenson, N., 33

  Joanna of Naples, 306

  Johnson, Richard, 142-3

  ----, Samuel, 176

  Jonson, Benj. 50, 145

  Julius Cæsar, 313

  Julius II., 285

  Juxon, Archbp., 269


  Kemble, J. P., 34

  Kenneys, The, 254

  Kerny, Michael, 174, 273

  Kerr & Richardson, 166

  Kershaw, Mr, 155


  Laing, David, 61-2, 126, 162

  Lamb, Charles, 5, 39, 118, 223

  ----, Mary, 4

  Lasbury of Bristol, 135

  Laud, Archbp., 47

  Lawrence, Edwin, 67, 195

  Lazarus of Holywell Street, 134

  ---- (silversmith), 230

  Lee Priory, 33-4

  Leighton, Mr, 7, 179-80

  Libri, G., 46

  Lilly, Joseph, 50, 65, 81-3, 89, 145, 161

  Lincoln & Son, 237-41, 256, 258-60, 333, 339, 344

  Locker-Lampson, F., 70, 112, 222

  Lodge, Thomas, 135

  London Library, 12-13, 15-16, 20

  Louis XV. and XVI., 209

  Lovejoy of Reading, 111

  Lovelace, Richard, 35-6, 50

  Lowndes, W. T., 16, 19

  Luttrell, Narcissus, 28

  Luxmore, Rev. Mr, 141

  Lydgate, John, 27

  Lyly, John, 135

  Lyndsay, Sir D., 94

  Lyttleton, Lady, 89


  Macmillan, A., 223

  Madan, Rev. Mr, 178

  Mallet, Mr, 26

  Malone, Edmond, 27

  Maria Theresa, 264

  Mardelay, John, 125

  Marguerite de Foix, 257

  Marlowe, C., 34-5

  Martin, Richard, 109

  Mary, Queen, 138

  Maskell, W., 178

  Mason of Barnard's Inn, 99

  Massaniello, 306

  Massinger, Philip, 51

  Matilda, Empress, 306

  Maunsell, Andrew, 28, 153

  May, Thomas, 145

  Medici Family, 248, 281, 306, 348

  Millers of Craigentinny, 60-3, 65, 69, 91, 119, 223

  Milman, Rev. Mr, 31

  Milon of Narbonne, 306

  Milton, John, 106

  Molini, 13-14

  Moncrieffs, The, 4

  Monstrelet, 178

  Montagu, H., 218-20, 268-9, 276-7, 319-20-1-4, 334, 336

  Montaigne, 47, 129, 145

  Morgan, 195-7

  Morris, William, 102

  Mortlock, 209

  Morton, Thomas, 168

  Mostyn, Lord, 35, 80

  Mottley, J. L., 159

  Murchison, Colonel, 324

  Murdoch, Mr, 218


  Napier, Miss, 87

  Naples, Prince of, 281

  Napoleon, I., 274

  Napoleon, Louis, King of Holland, 262-3

  Nash, Thomas, 34

  Nasmyth, 227

  Nelson, Thomas, 125

  Newton, Thomas, 136

  Nicomedes II. of Bithynia, 271

  Noble, Mr, 109, 123-4

  Noseda, Mrs, 97, 111

  Nym, Corporal, 16


  Offa of Mercia, 323

  Offor, George, 153

  Orlando, 306

  Ouvry, F., 59

  Owen, Hugh, 214

  Owen or Oswen, John, 153

  Oxenden, Henry, 34, 139

  Oxford, Bishop of, 38-9


  Papadopoli, Count N., 246-7, 293

  Park, Thomas, 19

  Parkers of Browsholme, 25

  Peacham, Henry, 105

  Peacock of Bottesford Manor, Mr, 100

  Pearson, John, 45, 49, 62, 89, 108-12, 155

  Pearson & Co., 112, 154

  Perceval le Gallois, 32

  Petyt, Thomas, 111

  Philip III. of Spain, 152

  Philip of Macedon, 313

  Phillipps, Sir Thomas, 113, 134

  Philipot, Thomas, 119

  Phillimore, Dr, 312

  Pickering, B. M., 49, 51, 105-7

  ----, W., 87, 103

  Pickering & Chatto, 142

  Pierceforest, 32

  Pliny, 33

  Powell, Dr, 139

  Price, Lake, 336

  ----, Lawrence, 140

  Ptolemy III., 299

  Puttick & Simpson, 151, 167-71

  Pyne, Henry, 73-80, 82, 87, 114, 135, 155

  Pynson, Richard, 134


  Quaritch, B., 8, 13, 29, 50, 52-3, 67, 89, 142, 147-8, 155-7, 162, 166,
      171-5, 178-9, 211, 221

  Quarles, F., 49


  Randolph, Thomas, 145

  Rawlins, Thomas, 269

  Rawlinson, Thomas, 27

  Reed, Isaac, 31, 34-35

  Reeves & Turner, 78, 111, 128-33, 182

  Reynardson, Mr, 90

  Reynell, C. W., 4, 7, 226

  Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 223

  Reynolds of Hart Street, 195, 202-3, 205-6, 210, 215-16

  Richard, Coeur-de-Lion, 306

  Richard III., 140, 276

  Richard de Benese, 121

  Richardson, Mr, 220

  Rich's News from Virginia, 50

  Ridler, W., 132-3-4

  Rimbault, Dr, 155-6

  Rimells, The, 119

  Riviere, Robert, 61, 94-5, 124, 180

  Ritson, Joseph, 19, 27, 28

  Robert le Diable, 306

  ---- of Sicily, 306

  Robespierre, 212

  Robin Hood, 183

  Robinson, Richard, 30

  Rodd, Thomas, 30, 64

  Rogers, Samuel, 63

  Roland, 306

  Rollin & Feuardent, 218, 221, 256

  Rose, James Anderson, 192

  ----, Sir W., 192

  Rosebery, Lord, 126

  Rostron Collection, 336

  Roy, William, 29

  Ruskin, John, 13, 111, 219


  Sabin, Mr., 140

  Salkeld, John, 122-3-4

  Sandby, P., 227

  Sanders, Samuel, 67

  ----, Mr, of Chiswick, 198-9

  Schinner, Nicolas, Bp. of Sion, 280

  Schulman, J., 261-4, 286, 330, 344

  Scott, Sir Walter, 138

  Selsey, Lord, 47

  Shakespear, W., 3, 31, 34-5, 49-50, 85-8, 112, 132, 136, 138, 145, 158,

  Shepherd Collection, 336

  Shirley, James, 51, 156

  Simeon, Sir John, 162

  Singer, S. W., 7

  Sion College, 31

  Slatyer, W., 134

  Smith, A. R., 120-1, 153

  ----, J. R., 17, 120-1, 182

  ----, Samuel, 286

  Somers, Lord, 170-1

  Sotheby & Co., 86, 151-2-67, 226-7, 255-6, 289

  Southwell, Robert, 112

  Spencer, Lord, 49, 223

  Spenser, Edmund, 32, 99, 112, 136

  Spink & Son, 277-83, 288, 344

  Stanfield, 227

  Steevens, George, 26-7, 29, 34-5, 160

  Stevens, Henry, 178

  Stibbs, Edward, 6, 51, 96, 124, 213

  Stirling-Maxwell, Sir W., 180

  Stock, Elliot, 136-7

  Stoddarts, The, 4

  Stopes, Henry, 137-8

  ----, James, 138

  ----, Leonard, 138

  ----, Mrs, 138

  Stubbs, Dr, 38-9

  Suckling, Sir John, 183

  Surrey, Earl of, 163

  Swainson, Mr, 160

  Swinburne, A. C., 103

  Sylvester, Joshua, 124


  Tatham, John, 35

  Taylor, Jeremy, 49, 107

  ----, John, 105-7, 111, 119-21

  Thorpe, Thomas, 37, 64

  Thuanus, 161

  Todd, Rev. H. J., 32

  Tollemaches, The, 38, 85

  Toovey, James, 47, 113, 123

  Turbervile, George, 44, 111

  Turner, R. S., 8, 67


  Varley, 227

  Vaughan, Henry, 121

  Verstegan, Richard, 94-5

  Virgil, 163

  Vitalini, 287


  Wake, Henry, 131-2, 134-5

  Walfords, The, 29, 119-20, 164

  Wallenstein, 305, 340

  Waller, Edmond, 118

  Wallers, The, 118-19, 212

  Walton, Isaak, 88, 111-12

  Ware, Sir James, 96

  Warly, Lee, 139

  Warren, W., 162

  Warton, Thomas, 31, 34

  Watson-Taylor, 29

  Watts, Thomas, 175

  Way, G. W., 160

  Wells, _Pedigree_, 270

  Westerton, Charles, 146

  Westmoreland, Earl of, 17

  Whelan, F., 218-21, 267-74, 333

  _Whisperer, The_, A play,36

  Whittington, Sir Richard, 40, 165

  Wigan, Edward, 267

  William IV., 324

  Willis & Sotheran, 113

  Withals, John, 94, 99

  Wither, George, 49, 123, 154

  Wolfrestons, The, 104, 140

  Wynkyn de Worde, 27, 48, 132-4, 141

  Wynne, Edward, of Chelsea, 28

  Wyon, W., 213


  Yates, James, 90

_Colston & Coy. Limited, Printers, Edinburgh._

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

The original text contains a letter with a diacritical mark that is not
represented in this text version.

The original text includes Greek characters that have been replaced with
transliterations in this text version.

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