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in the more expensive materials are the shortest, for the reason that they have generally been bound a second time. Economy was the order of the day, and to this end the margins of books were ruthlessly sacrificed. Burns, we know, presented copies of his poems to friends; but we do not remember of his having had any copies specially bound for them. Six editions were published in his lifetime; the last, in the particulars of paper and printing, being inferior to none of its forerunners, or, for that matter, to any Scottish book of its period. That they had ample margins, and were models of style and taste, make it all the more regrettable that but few copies have come down to us intact; almost all, including even some of the copies that Burns inscribed with his own hand, have been mutilated by the knife of the binder. "Old, sinful Smellie," as Burns endearingly calls the printer of the first Edinburgh edition, and who was styled "my learned printer" by Lord Monboddo, had the copy, which Burns inscribed "To Mr. Smellie, with the author's compliments," bound in calf and shortened by an inch; and the good sister of the good Glencairn to whom Currie presented one of the ten thick paper copies of the Liverpool edition (printed for those who had befriended the Poet), and which bore the inscription, “For the Right Honble. Lady E. Cunningham, from her faithful and obedt. servt., the Editor "—had nearly as much taken off the margins by the binder. It shows the practice of the time, that the librarian of the Athenæum Library, Liverpool, himself a bookbinder to trade, and who otherwise might have been expected to protect from the vandals the biographer's own copy, instead of having the unique gift of Dr. Currie's son "bound in all the elegance of his craft," had it badly cut and cheaply bound.
Of all the editions of Burns, the 1786 Kilmarnock edition is the most prized by bibliophiles, and the most difficult to procure in anything like perfect condition. The margins, as with most of Wilson's books, are ample; and, without being cut into the quick, as the early editions of Shakespeare not infrequently are, copies may be shortened quite two inches. In the British Museum there are two copies of the book. That purchased in 1850 from the Perry collection, and which has a name cut from the top of the title page, has the blanks in the text filled in and the misprints, which are few, corrected in the hand of the Poet.
It measures eight inches, while the second copy is two-eighths taller. The shortest copy on the record is under seven inches, and the tallest cut copy-that presented by Dr. M'Laren to the Kilmarnock Museum-is eight and five-eighth inches, or threeeighths short of the full height of the book. Fortunately, in this instance, it had been decided to use the most inexpensive of materials, which, doubtless relieved the binder of the temptation to reduce the height of the book to the level of his generosity in leather.
Apart from the size, the main factor in determining the price of any particular copy is its condition. Something depends too upon the number of bidders, who, when the Kilmarnock Burns is catalogued, never seem to slacken in their attendance, no matter when or where the book may come under the hammer. Another consideration, and it is sometimes important, is the reputation of the seller. In such a transaction character counts for much, and one desirous of acquiring a Kilmarnock Burns which may have belonged to a public man or a trusted bibliophile, would have to reckon with public sentiment in hard cash. But, taking one thing with another, the main factors upon which the price of the book depends, are, as has been stated, size and condition. Copies having the letterpress complete, and which are without damaged or substituted leaves, jottings by illiterate scribblers, or "thumb marks," and which are otherwise fresh and sound, are safe, according to their size, to realise the prices named below. Excluded from our reckoning are also such copies as Burns may have presented to his friends, or on which he may have made MS. corrections or additional notes; copies in bindings that may be described as works of art, or which have been Grangerised, or may have belonged to some celebrated personage. Who, for example, could guage the auction price of the two copies bound by Roger Payne, or a chef d'oeuvre of Zaehnsdorf, the binding being as much in repute as the books themselves : or the copy in the Abbotsford Library, which is illustrated with plates, cuttings from newspapers, including additional poems, and in which is inserted an excise report in the autograph of the Poet? And here it may be remarked that there are Grangerised and Grangerised copies; and that, when an inferior copy turns up, a MS. or other matter is often inserted, or a "dear cheap" binding resorted to, to make the book attractive to a novice.
But "good wine needs no bush," and such expedients, which smack of the Cheap Jack, are seldom successful in attaining their object.
Cut books, in the language of the trade, are called short or tall as they cross the dividing line which is accepted as the average height of any particular book. By this rule, although in the case of important books it would be better to indicate the size by measurement, it would be safe to call copies of the Kilmarnock edition over eight inches tall, and those under that height short, a result arrived at by the measurement of fifty-two copies.
Eight inch copies, otherwise perfect, have recently fetched ninety to a hundred pounds at public sale; while taller copies have fetched more, and shorter copies less. The following figures, so far as the size of the book is concerned, may be taken as indicating the variations in the values of individual copies.
The writer has to thank Mr. F. T. Barrett-the accomplished librarian of the Mitchell Library—for help rendered in making up these figures, which have been approved of by several who for a considerable period have had exceptional opportunities of noting the prices at sales.
In the Burns Calendar, under date, 31st July, the following entry occurs. "First edition of Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, published at Kilmarnock, price 3s. 1786. This same month, 1874, a copy was sold from an Edinburgh bookseller's catalogue for £19." The recorder merely notes the coincidence. That £19 was not then the value of a sound copy may be inferred from the fact, that in the following year a copy fetched
£34 in a London saleroom, being £1 175. less than the publisher charged Burns for the whole edition of 600 copies.
The first Burns, unlike any other Scotch book which invariably commands a high price in the open market, is seldom or never absent from the bookshops. The demand keeps the book constantly in the market, although perfect copies are rarely seen except in private libraries. Taking the prices at the David Laing Sale, at Sotheby's-1879-which was a red letter day for rare Scotch books—an indifferent copy of the Kilmarnock Burns, (if we exclude a modern book the entire issue of which was almost wholly burned before it was issued,) was only topped by three Black Letter books which rank among the greatest rarities of the Scottish press :-Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism, St. Andrews, 1552, 148; Sir David Lindsay's Dialogue &c., St. Andrews, 1554, 121; and Barbour's Bruce, Edinburgh, 1571, 142. These may be said to have belonged to the ancients long before
"A blast o' Jan'war' win'
Blew hansel in on Robin."
The following is a list of the prices realised within recent years for the editions named below.
I. POEMS, CHIEFLY IN THE SCOTTISH DIALECT, BY ROBERT BURNS. Kilmarnock: printed by John Wilson. 1786. David Laing's Copy (Sotheby's, 1879), calf, gilt edges, with lines in the Autograph of Burns, and a Holograph Letter from J. G.
Joseph Mayrick's Copy (Sotheby's, 1887), calf, last leaf of Glossary wanting.
Thomas Shaw's Copy (Sotheby's, 1887), calf.
Gibson Craig's Copy (Sotheby's, 1888), morocco, gilt edges, some uncut leaves.
John Duff's Copy (Sotheby's, 1888), height under 8 inches, gilt edges, name on title. £86. Copy, "Miscellaneous " Sale, (Puttick's, 1889), calf, 2 leaves stained. £71. J. S. Streatfeild's Copy (Sotheby's, 1889), gilt edges, enclosed in morocco case, title in fac-simile, and 2 or 3 defects repaired. £46. "English Amateur's" Copy (Sotheby's, 1890), morocco, gilt edges, panelled sides, height 7 inches. £107.
Thomas Gaisford's Copy (Sotheby's, 1890), morocco, gilt edges, by Bedford, in the style of Roger Payne.
Young's Copy (Sotheby's, 1890), spotless condition, gilt edges, in a
David Laing's Copy (Sotheby's, 1879), uncut.
J. L. Douglas Stewart's Copy (Sotheby's, 1888), gilt edges, by Rivière, tall copy, with rough leaves. £7 Alexander Young's Copy (Sotheby's, 1890), morocco, by Bedford, £14 15.
Walter King's Copy (Sotheby's, 1891), morocco, gilt edges. £3 5s. Hon. George Wood's Copy (Sotheby's, 1891), in the original half binding, Holograph MS. (18 lines) of Burns's Elegy on Miss Burnett inserted.
£14 15s. Sir W. Fettes Douglas's Copy (Dowell's, 1892), brown morocco, (purchased from Stillie for 10s). £5. III.-POEMS, CHIEFLY IN THE Scottish Dialect, by Robert
BURNS. The Third Edition. London printed for
R. S. Turner's Copy (Sotheby's, 1888), uncut.
Alexander Young's Copy (Sotheby's, 1890), morocco, by Rivière, gilt top.
£8 15s. IV. POEMS, CHIEFLY IN THE SCOTTISH DIALECT. BY ROBERT BURNS. In two volumes. The second edition considerably enlarged. Edinburgh: 1793.
J. L. Douglas Stewart's copy (Sotheby's, 1888), with Autograph inscription by the Poet-"To Mrs. Riddell of Woodly Park, Un gage d' Amitié le plus sincère-The Author."
V. THE WOrks of Robert Burns, wiTH AN ACCOUNT OF HIS LIFE, AND A CRITICISM ON HIS WRITINGS. Το which are prefixed, some observations on the character and condition of the Scottish Peasantry. In four volumes. Liverpool: 1800.
Gibson Craig's Copy (Sotheby's, 1887), calf, thick paper copy.