Monday, July 21, 2014

More G. F. Sims Catalogues

This is not the first time, by a long chalk, that G. F. Sims's book catalogues have featured here on Front Free Endpaper.  His catalogues are something of a benchmark for those who come after. Book catalogues are one of the few things that I still collect for myself and whilst Sims's later catalogues are relatively easy to find, numbers before 50 are a little scarcer so I was delighted to find a selection of ten or so earlier ones, none of which I already have, listed at a very reasonable price on abebooks the other day. I am slowly getting through the wonders they contain but each one makes for a rueful shake of the head wonderingly questioning how he managed to find such things. For instance, I've just read about a collection, probably complete, of 650 magazines, leaflets and other ephemera that were dropped by the RAF as propaganda in France during WW2, they were indexed and details were given of the distribution and dates of each item. The collection was preserved by one of the officers in the department involved in arranging the drops. Sims gives over two pages of the catalogue below (no. 33) to describing the collection in fascinating detail. Such discoveries are what booksellers dream of.

Next to be enjoyed about the catalogues is their own covers, Sims was always great at finding an image from the contents of the catalogue to grace the cover, and in this instance the two bottom ones below have a certain charm.

Also, it's through flicking through these catalogues today that I have been introduced to a new word: Bibliotaphe. Combining the Greek roots for both 'Book' and 'Burial' most dictionaries have it as 'someone who hoards books', Sims described one of of the collectors whose books he is selling in one of these catalogues as a bibliotaphe but chooses to define the condition as 'one who keeps their books locked away'.

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