One of the joys of this life is after all the hard work of buying boxes and boxes of books at auction, hoofing them into the car, and then up the stairs at home, when they are arrayed all around you and you have hooked out the usually very few books that you actually wanted, you are left to dig through the rest. And even the humblest of books can have a little something about it that catches the interest or the imagination for a moment. If I have learnt anything in ten years of bookdealering, it is that this is how to learn stuff about books - to handle them - lots of them. All of these books came from a single box in an auction lot. From top to bottom:
A 1946 copy of The Golden Ass published by John Lehmann. Interesting because it shows, yet again Lehmann's use of what was then, cutting edge artwork on his jackets. Not Keith Vaughan this time but Robert Medley, a very superior artist working with the Bloomsbury Group and, as it happens, having the distinction of being the first person to suggest to Auden that he might try and pen a poem or two.
Then we have (below) two wonderful little books with gilt-stamped decoration. Thoughts from Keats from 1898 and an 1896 edition of Tom Brown's Schooldays. Unfortunately, scanner and screen together can do nothing to reproduce the glory of a heavily gilt-stamped book cover.
The black book cover beneath them is one of the most intricately blind-stamped decorative covers I've seen. It is on an undated edition of Holy War by Bunyon. This kind of decoration was in vogue for a couple of decades in the early nineteenth century. On this book the decoration goes all the way around including the backstrip and makes for a deliciously tactile book.
Regular readers will not be surprised to see some marbled paper in this little rummage but I include this here to show how even when heavily rubbed there is something very fine about the look and feel of it, as on this 1824 edition of Xenophon's Greek History. The same paper is bright and clean still when used as endpapers for this book but I think I prefer it rubbed.
And finally... the wonderful pattern at the bottom of the post is from the endpapers of a leather-bound copy of Walter Besant's London which, despite the somewhat aesthetic-looking style was actually published in 1904
I didn't buy this box of books for any of these items.