Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Collection: A. E. Waite


There's something very satisfying about a collection that's complete, or approaching complete. I know that some people just don't get it but I'm already anticipating the little frisson of delight which will course through me when the last two of Willard Price's Adventure Series are slotted into place on the shelf. This chap in the photo is definitely someone who 'gets it'.

The books in front of him are his collection of tomes by Arthur Edward Waite, an early twentieth century writer and theorist on all things, occult, Rosicrucian and masonic. The photo is of Harold V. B. Voorhis who, alongside his book collecting interests rejoiced in the title Supreme Magi of the Societas Rosicruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, 1950-1979. This picture is taken sometime before 1932 which is when the book, Arthur Edward Waite. A Checklist of His Writings was published and whence I have scanned it. The sixteen page booklet is stapled into red card covers and is given as 'privately printed' for the author in Red Bank, New Jersey in a regular edition of 150 copies. A rather sketchy count from the photo suggests that this is a collection of some 120 books and a single author collection of that size is an acheivement in any field, let alone when the field is, by nature, esoteric. It is clear from the preface that Voorhis knew Waite, who was still alive when this checklist was compiled, and so I suppose it's more than possible that more than one of those books is signed and inscribed.

Sometimes one might pick up a 'checklist', or 'handlist' as they are sometimes called, and forget that for all their slight dimensions, these ephemeral little publications usually represent years of work and dedication - a photo like this at the back is a salutory reminder of what's involved.

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