Red and Black Printed Title Pages
Provenance and Associations
One of the enchantments and enrichments of collecting rare books is the discovery of an added element which illuminates our perception - of an unchronicled moment in history, of a hidden relationship: a gateway into an uncharted territory, which makes the item totally unique, and transforms it in some way. The quest is for the unique and the incomparable.
A book may be simply or elaborately signed by the author. A dedication from the author to a person of note adds an association. An additional note or letter of association extends the curiosity. An ownership bookplate or an inscription can be enlightening. Inscriptions, annotations or bookplates of writers, politicians and notable public figures can shed light on their influences, enhanced by style, notes and underlinings.
The association may be simple, it may be so complex that the truth of it has been lost in time. Sometimes an inscription adds a note to history, and occasionally may rewrite history.
Undoubtedly many important association copies of books and manuscripts have been lost for ever simply because their provenance went unrecognised.
As private libraries and personal collections amassed over several generations are with increasing frequency inherited, sold and dispersed, the associations of the books from them can become more difficult to identify or decipher.
Take a glance through our Provenance catalogue:
looking closer you will catch here associations not only within each book, but associations between books and people which tell a veiled tale of their time, their owners, the social milieu, and of their respective loss if not treasured.