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Fine Books   By: (1859-1944)

Fine Books by Alfred W. Pollard

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[Illustration: The Connoisseur's Library]




If the mere taking of trouble ensured good work, this contribution to the Connoisseur's Library should be entitled to the modest praise of being "superior to the rest" of its author's book makings, since it has been ten years on the stocks and much of it has been written two or three times over, either because the writer's own information had increased or to take account of the successful researches of others. Yet in the end defeat in one main point has to be acknowledged. The book was begun with a confident determination to cover the whole ground, from the beginnings of printing and printed book illustration down to our own day, and in the case of printing the survey has been carried through, however sketchily. But the corresponding survey of book illustration ends, with rather obvious marks of compression and fatigue, about 1780, leaving the story of a hundred and thirty years of very interesting picture work untold. Pioneering is always so exciting that recognition of the impossibility of carrying out the full plan of the book within the limits either of the present volume or of the author's working life was not made without sincere regret. The subject, however, of the abandoned chapter was not only very large, but very miscellaneous, and the survey for it would have had to include at least three other countries (France, Germany, and the United States) besides our own. To one section, moreover, that of illustrations in colour, a separate volume of this series has already been devoted. The author would, therefore, fain console himself with the hope that in one or more other volumes a competent account may be given by some other hand of the wood engravings, etchings, steel engravings, and lithographs, with which books have been decorated since 1780. The poorness of paper and print with which these modern illustrated books have too often been handicapped has caused collectors to take little interest in them it even suggested the unworthy excuse for the failure to write the missing chapter that these are not really Fine Books , but only books with fine pictures in them, and so are outside our subject. But both students and collectors have their duties as well as their delights, and in view of the high artistic value of quite a large proportion of these modern illustrations, the preservation of clean and uncropped copies of the books in which they occur and the tribute of careful cataloguing and description are certainly their due.

While the desired completeness has not been attained the ground here covered is still very wide, and for the book as a whole no more can be claimed than that it is a compilation from the best sources a list of these will be found in the Bibliography controlled by some personal knowledge, the amount of which naturally varies very much from chapter to chapter. The obligations incurred in writing it have thus been great, and a sad number of these are to fellow workers and friends Proctor, John Macfarlane, W. H. Allnutt, Konrad Burger, Dr. Lippmann, Anatole Claudin, and the Prince d'Essling who have died while the book has been in progress. Among those still happily alive acknowledgment must specially be made to Sir Sidney Colvin for help received from his masterly introduction to the great monograph on Early Engravers and Engraving in England published by the Trustees of the British Museum; to Mr. A. M. Hind for use made of the list of engravers and their works in the same book; to Mr. Campbell Dodgson for dippings into the wealth of information in his Catalogue of German and Flemish Woodcuts in the Print Room of the British Museum (Vols. I and II); to Mr. Gordon Duff for help derived from his three series of Sandars Lectures on English Printing, and to Mr... Continue reading book >>

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