Association Copies

Association Copies

After 160 catalogs, we have finally issued our first catalog of association copies: that is, books that through their ownership, their inscription, or other qualities indicate the significance of a book to an author, mark a relationship with other authors or family members, or which otherwise shed light on an author's work, influences, thoughts, and personal life.

Among these types of books are:
Author's Copies: an author or illustrator's own copy of his or her own book.
Dedication Copies: books inscribed to, or otherwise presented by the author to the person to whom the book is dedicated on the printed dedication page.
Family Copies: copies of books that were presented by the author, or otherwise owned by a family member of the author's.
Telling and Notable Associations: books inscribed to, or owned by other authors that would tend to indicate the influence of one author or public figure on another.
Curious and Pleasant Associations: associations between two diverse figures whose juxtaposition seems unlikely, incongruous, amusing, or otherwise attracted our attention.
Everything else that doesn't fit into the above: Hey, it's our catalog and we can put whatever we want in it!

When I first started collecting books, about 40 years ago, I had some contact with a few of the books from the library of Harry B. Smith, an early songwriter, whose 'Sentimental Library' stressed the associations between authors. It struck me then, and it still does, that this was, and is still, a pleasing way to collect books.

Although all dealers I know are usually willing to make hay on significant associations (it is, after all, what we do!), I've seldom seen much of a concerted effort by dealers to stress these associations as a category (one exception to this is the English dealer Paul Rassam, who issues infrequent, but interesting catalogs that seem to gravitate towards association copies).

If the rationale and motivation of book collecting, either personally or institutionally, is to exhibit or enhance one's appreciation and affinity for a particular author, it seems a logical and appropriate expression of that appreciation to buy copies of books that had an obvious and tangible influence on, or relationship to that author.

By their definition, association copies are unique, or very nearly so. So, unlike some of our catalogs, we probably don't have backup copies. We encourage you to let us know if you are looking for these sorts of books: not only might we find some for you, we're also likely to appreciate your taste and discrimination as a collector, and flatter you shamelessly.

Now that we've come this far, we're likely to issue similar catalogs with this theme in the future. Feel free to encourage us accordingly.

- Tom Congalton

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