I'm not much into cars*, but for some reason this particular book has me comparing it to Jaguar, Bentley, and Rolls. The tooling, the style, the fabulous full morocco binding... It is a treasure trove of binding terminology and bibliographic points, so grab Carter's ABC for Book Collectors
and we'll take this copy of David Copperfield
off the lot for a test drive.
This is a full modern morocco binding. Not Morocco, the place, but morocco the hard-wearing goatskin that takes dyes beautifully. When a book is described as being bound in calf, it means the leather has come from a cow; vellum is taken from sheep.
The spine has five raised bands and is decorated in gilt. The front board is ruled in gilt with a gilt decoration. The rear board has a facsimile signature of Charles Dickens stamped in gilt.
The bibliographic description of this book would include the abbreviation A.e.g. This means that all the edges of the text have been decorated in gilt and stand for just that: All edges gilt. Here's the top edge:
Opening up the front board, the beautiful marbled endpapers can be seen, edged in gilt dentelles. Binders took the French word for lace to describe this decoration.
Look a bit closer and you'll see the reason this book feels the way it does ? it is a signed binding from Bayntun Riviere in Bath, England. This is the equivalent of Jaguar's hood ornament.
Sumptuous binding aside, this is a first edition, first state copy of David Copperfield. The bibliographic points have been compared to those listed by bibliographer John Eckel in his book The First Editions of the Writings of Charles Dickens: Their Points and Values. The person who writes the description for this copy when we put it up for sale will match the collation of this copy against that listed by Eckel.
This is what bibliographic description looks like:
Just as you can't feel how fabulous this binding is, you can't hear my evil laugh as I put the book back in the slipcase to return it to the person who will collate and describe this book in full bibliographic format. Not having to do the work on it is darn nice. It's as though I have a fabulous car to drive and I don't have to make the payments.
Early editions of Charles Dickens (along with Mark Twain and every one of Baum's Oz titles) are so notoriously difficult to identify correctly that I could easily believe that some stressed out bookseller or exasperated collector was the originator of the phrase "What the dickens?"
Urban Dictionary assures me that the most likely origin of the phrase is the always-quotable William Shakespeare in his play The Merry Wives of Windsor Act III, Scene II:
I cannot tell what the dickens his name is.
What the Dickens is also a pub outside of Tokyo. Who knew?
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Other Dickens first and early editions in our inventory include Sunday Under Three Heads bound by Zaehnsdorf, Oliver Twist, and Our Mutual Friend.
* The only car I will buy for myself or accept as a gift is a Koenigsegg.