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PREFATORY NOTES

Each year it becomes increasingly difficult to supply anything in the form of Prefatory Notes, yet, although they must necessarily be written when the volume is completed, they really come as the overture comes to the presentation of the opera, and the book would seem bald without them. There is next to nothing to express except perhaps a pardonable complacence at the unbroken progression of success which has attended the publication. This success, I firmly believe, has been largely stimulated by the fact that BookAuction-Records is not merely a mechanical record of prices, but that, in addition to its usefulness, it includes matter of bookish and literary interest hitherto lacking in publications of its kind. It was almost at the end of volume 3 that the idea presented itself that an article on the booksellers of Bath would be of interest. Why Bath in particular should have suggested itself as a subject I do not know, unless its position at the head of the alphabet of book-centres gave it an advantage, or the interest which I felt in an enterprising and quick-brained young bookseller of the city caused a recollection of the time-honoured colloquialism "Go to Bath." Anyhow, the article met with so much appreciation that in the present volume others have appeared, dealing systematically and in alphabetical order, with the libraries and booksellers of Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Dublin. In volume 5 the interesting centres of Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, and Hereford will be dealt with, and the series will be continued until York becomes the terminus of the survey.

In future all biographies will be placed under the subject, and not under the name of the author. It is of use and interest to know what various biographies have been published of any great man, and whereas it might not be known that Brown, Jones, and Robinson had each issued a biography of, say, Sir Joshua Reynolds, by referring to the heading "Reynolds" all of his biographies would at some time be recorded.

It will, of course, be understood that in reprinting notes from the salecatalogues no attempt is made to correct grammatical errors, and that such errors must not be attributed either to myself, nor yet to carelessness on my part in passing them. They are necessarily reproduced verbatim from their source. Otherwise such a blot as " Thomas Gray, the Poet's copy" would find no place in the pages of B.A.R. 964925

One of the curiosities of editorial work is the determination of the compositor to re-edit it for you. Thus, you write something which is grammatically correct (for grammar is an exact science, and what you write is either right or wrong, and is not open to question), and some operative (I believe that is the proper designation), corrects what, in his ignorance, he believes to be your mistakes. He of course makes nonsense of what was before understandable by educated persons, and the latter are apt to place you on the plane of the compositor. Long-suffering in this respect makes one protestjust as the worm will at last turn. Petty annoyances are ever the keenest felt. If you are what is facetiously termed “ruined" you merely set to work to copy the lower animals, and rebuild your nest or place of refuge, but when some illiterate individual intrudes a comma which spoils the meaning of an entire sentence you fancy that the lowest indignity has been reached.

It is of course understood that manuscripts find no legitimate place in B.A.R., but exception is occasionally made to this rule in the cases of those of unusual literary or historic interest, and especially when instances occur showing different texts than the published ones. A number of such cases appear in the fourth Part of the present volume, from the extremely-interesting library of Mr. Stuart M. Samuel, M.P., and from the Brontë sale.

There are doubtless some among the subscribers who wonder at the tone and the subject of certain of the " Colloquialisms;" and do not understand the reasons for their inclusion in a bibliographical compilation. The subscribers referred to are more likely to be librarians than booksellers, and the explanation may be made to them that B.A.R. was established for the use and benefit of booksellers, that I have all my life been a bookseller myself, that "Colloquialisms" is a section of the publication which gives me an opportunity of chatting informally with those colleagues distance from whom makes personal conversation impossible with, and, further, that it is part of my creed that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and that if you work fourteen hours a day-which I do, mostly-you must have a safety-valve or the machine would explode. Hence "Colloquialisms" often gives an opportunity to blow off the steam, and, in short, being a gift and not reckoned in the subscription, those who do not care for need not read them. One thing is certain, viz, that the harder you work the more imperative is the need for an occasional bout of what thoughtless persons term Tomfoolery.

It is extremely gratifying to find that clerical errors have almost reached the vanishing point. This year there have been discovered only four, and a list of them is supplied.

F. K.

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