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If at the first glance some of my valuations appear to be at variance with irrefutable records of figures, on closer examination my estimates will be found not alone to bear out these figures, but to bring them into broad relief. A practical illustration will suffice to elucidate this point. The Baskerville edition of Ariosto's “ Orlando Furioso" is valued at from thirty to forty shillings, and double in morocco. Now, many copies at the time of publication were sent over to Paris for binding by Derome, and if one such genuine and artistically designed specimen by this famous art-binder in immaculate preservation were to come under the hammer in an auction-room of good class, it would be hotly contested, and might reach the round sum of £100 and upwards. This exceptional price, however, does not affect the general rule laid down as to value. My admiration for everything really attractive and artistic has never undergone any diminution ; but to countenance fictitious values for books of no exceptional interest would be the height of folly.

Fluctuation in prices is another matter of serious import, a powerful factor to be reckoned with. It

It may be accounted for in more than one way. A book not easily obtainable falls in the category of a rare volume, but as it is not of intrinsic merit, it forms merely the whim of a few collectors, who indulge a mania à outrance. A reaction is sure to set in, for what was pursued was a shadow. Again, an enthusiastic amateur hits upon the idea of collecting a certain class of books of some special interest to him, but of quite imaginary value. He finds a host of imitators, but as soon as they have satisfied their cravings, or have passed away, the rage subsides and the volcano of competition becomes extinct. A work to be of perennial merit and value must be endowed with recognised qualities either literary or artistic, and in their absence there must be substituted a fair outward appearance of a bibliopegistic nature. The three points combined in one are the ideal and the desideratum of every aspiring connoisseur, but any book in the garb of a renowned binder of the period, or bearing the arms of a distinguished owner, forms a relic of commanding interest.

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It is a healthy sign of the times that books of unwieldy dimensions are on the decline. Those, however, that are endowed with the beauty and magnificence of artistic designs will ever retain their original appreciative value. The principle is sound that art will always enjoy immunity from death.

In the course of this work I have not scrupled to reveal many points hitherto confined to the knowledge of a few book experts. There seems to be no reason why collectors and book lovers should not be made acquainted with what have hitherto been trade secrets. These, accessible now only to the privileged few, will henceforth be common property.

County histories form an essential item in this work, as they give the topography and illustrate many places of interest, including castles, abbeys, and other edifices often famous in history. They therefore deservedly find a place in the great libraries, and in spite of the downfall in prices of books of topography, these will ever retain a certain value on account of their interesting associations.

On the other hand, I have excluded some books which are either devoid of any feature of interest from the literary or artistic point of view, or are not germane to the object of my work.

In selecting the specimens of illustrations I have been guided by the principle of reproducing either those endowed with the charm of beauty or possessing some intrinsic merit. The series of Freemasonry plates, reprinted from the original issue, is of the utmost rarity, if not unobtainable, and these reprints will serve the collector as a safeguard against the re-issues of much inferior value published in quick succession, which may easily be detected by comparing the positions of the figures. The plate from the series of plates of the Marquise de Pompadour, amateur artist though she was, marks her influence in the field of art and literature. For good or for evil, it was productive of striking results. In the region of politics and of State affairs her misdeeds excited the hatred of the populace, and her evil genius, not less than the writings of Voltaire and Rousseau, helped to precipitate the French Revolution. She founded the Factory of Sèvres, painted vases with

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her own hands, and set the example of collecting decorative furniture, artistically designed fans, and other articles of vertu. She encouraged budding artists, extended her patronage to the encyclopedists in the persons of Diderot, d'Alembert, and Helvetius, sheltered Crebillon, protected Montesquieu against the attempts of the Jesuits to prosecute him for his publication of “L'Esprit des Loix,” and watched over the fortunes of Boucher. Even the independent Voltaire she managed to keep in bondage. Her pride, however, was seriously wounded by Rousseau's phrase in his “Emile” saying, “ La femme d'un charbonnier est plus estimable que la maitresse d’un roi.”

In fine, it will be gratifying to me to feel that my labours have been the means of putting the collector on his guard against acquiring spurious copies of valuable editions, and of causing people to know the value they should attach to books of this period which they may wish to acquire or to dispose of.

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