Add Jane Austen, and Ka-ching

January 7, 2018 at 8:17 pm (books, jane austen, people) (, , )

Over the weekend, looking for books once owned by Lady Frances Compton – the sister of the 1st Marquess of Northampton (Emma’s uncle), I found SEVERAL booksellers who added the JANE AUSTEN name to their posts. My Question is: WHY??

bookplate_Lady Frances

Here is Lady Frances’ bookplate. She was the daughter of an earl, and a formidable woman by the time I meet her, in the 1790s. She lived much of her early and later years in Switzerland. The early years, because her father had settled there after spending a fortune in trying to secure a parliamentary seat. The later years, it was obvious that she loved her Swiss surroundings.

I have never seen proof of any relationship between the sister of Mrs. Chute of The Vine, i.e., Lady Northampton herself, with the Austens. Her sister-in-law is even one remove farther away. So it was with EXTREME interest that I read some of these books descriptions . . . and prices.

On the low scale, of rhetoric as well as price, is an offer by Between the Covers, Rare Books, Inc:

  • Robert Bloomfield, Wildflowers; or, Pastoral and Local Poetry (1806)

“First edition. Contemporary speckled calf ruled, and spine heavily gilt. Spine rubbed, and some loss of leather at the corners, a handsome very good copy. Engraved bookplate of Lady Frances Compton on the front pastedown. Lady Frances was a friend of the Austen family and frequently visited and dined with them.” [my emphasis]

The asking price for this volume: $375

Another seller, selling an 1812 copy, without any ‘Austen’ mention is selling it for $120.

At the opposite end of the scale, with some of the most explosive, out-on-a-limb speculations, is this on offer by Arroyo Seco Books:

  • Antony Ashley Cooper [3rd Earl Shaftsbury], Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, with a Collection of Letters, 3 vols. (1790)

“Basil [Basel]: J J Tourneisen / J L Legrand, 1790. Reprint . Speckled Calf / Boards. Very Good +. 8 1/2″ Tall. (Viii), 414; (Vi), 367; (Viii), 340, + Long Index To All Volumes At End. Published 1790. Original Or Very Early Spotted Calf, 6 Spine Compartments With Two Morocco Labels On Each Volume, Gilt Decorations And Borders On Spine, Over Marbled Paper Covered Boards, Spotted Calf Tips, Light Blue Endpapers. Lightly Used, Single 1/8″ Deep X 3/16” Long Chip At Top Of Spines Of Vols 2 And 3, Hinges Solid. Bookplates Of Lady Frances Compton; She Is Noted As A Visitor To The Household By Jane Austen’s Father In The Early 1790’S. An Interesting Association As There Is Speculation That Jane Austen Used Shaftesbury As A Source For Her Ideas Of Morality. Although There Is No Evidence That Austen Had Access To A Copy Of Shaftesbury, It Is Possible That She Discussed The Ideas With Lady Compton, Or Even That This Particular Set Was Made Accesible To Her.” [my emphasis]

The asking price for this set: $2,000

Although not quite as handsome along the spine, another 3-volume set currently for sale, without the Austen wishful thinking, is selling for $175.

signature_lady frances compton

What _I_ would dearly love to hear is, When Lady Frances dined with the Austens, and Where she sat down with Jane Austen to discuss ideas

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London Literary Tour: 84, Charing Cross Road

July 26, 2012 at 11:47 pm (a day in the life, entertainment, jane austen, travel) (, , , , , , , , , )

In my email today, in honor of the London Olympics, ABE Books (used books site) sent a newsletter featuring “A Literary Tour of London“. It ended with “What books are missing from this list?” Carol S. from West Sussex responded, “84 Charing Cross Road” — that had me DASHING to my closet, where the bulk of my paperbacks are kept, in order to dig it out.

I devoured it.

Chuckled over parts.

Wished I, too, had book-people.

Want to see London (though NOT in Olympic Chaos).

Will probably continue on with its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.

And now I want to share

Some bits I especially


were wonderfully touching

and written for book-lovers and London-lovers:

  • “Will your please translate your prices hereafter? I don’t add too well in plain American, I haven’t a prayer of ever mastering bilingual arithmetic.”
  • “I have implicit faith in the U.S. Airmail and His Majesty’s Postal Service.”
  • “I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to ‘I hate to read new books,’ and I hollered ‘Comrade!’ to whoever owned it before me.”
  • “you leave me sitting here writing long margin notes in library books that don’t belong to me, some day they’ll find out i did it and take my library card away.”
  • “I just never saw a book so beautiful. I feel vaguely guilty about owning it.”
  • “P.S. Have you got Sam Pepys’ diary over there?”

and too many more… including that Helene went out of her mind over Pride and Prejudice.

From the 1950s austerity to the Beatles hysteria – this slim volume has it all. As Helene says, “Write me about London — the tube, the Inns of Court, Mayfair, the corner where the Globe Theatre stood, anything. I’m not fussy.”

We’ll leave 84, Charing Cross Road with this description by Maxine: “It’s dim inside, you smell the shop before you see it, it’s a lovely smell…” and these parting words from Frank: “it’s an old edition…, not very handsome but well bound and a good clean copy, and we are sending it off to you today with invoice enclosed.”

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Demise of the ‘Phone box’

May 31, 2009 at 8:59 pm (books) (, , , , , )

phoneboxI deliberately use the British Red Telephone Box, because it is so evocative of the ‘way things’ used to be. Yet, my post today specifically targets the American (of course!) phone booth.

It has been a good decade – longer even I suspect, since the old enclosed booths were around. As in the UK, vandalism wrought havoc with booths — and brought about their demise long ago. In their stead, the ‘walk up phone,’ as it seems called in this ad found on the useful site, The Phonebooth). [See below.]

After getting stuck with a whopping $70 phone bills for FIVE (SHORT) calls from JFK when my flight home was grounded in 2007 (gee, thanks! make me spend the night in an airport, then charge all outdoors for me to call home and tell loved ones what’s going on… great end to a trip), I am a proponent of cells phones!

But it wasn’t until yesterday, and a trip to Ballston Spa that it hit me: no phone booths… mean no phone BOOKS!

first-boothI usually do two things on a trip out of town: find a grocery store for food, and find a good used bookstore in the yellow pages of the phone book. Yesterday, I had the name of a store, but hadn’t anticipated being in Ballston Spa — which was next door to my target of Saratoga (‘Then you get off at Saratoga, for the fourteenth time…’). And good thing, I hate to ask for directions,  for the ‘shop’ is in Ballston Lake, it turns out.

Not one phone booth to be seen; the only used bookstore listed in a chamber of commerce brochure had closed up its doors and a ‘for rent’ sign was in the window; and I hate to ask for directions – but as I had no street, the chances of finding anyone who knew the store I was looking for (which sells on the web and may not even have a physical store anyway!), was slim.

 And that’s when it hit me: no booth = no book = no yellow pages.

Kinda sad…

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