"May blessings be upon the head of Cadmus, the Phoenicians, or whoever it was that invented books." -Thomas Carlyle
Welcome to my virtual book collection. Since collecting actual books is somewhat cost-prohibitive, I've begun to amass all of the books I would love to have if I had the means. Some are new, lots are old, all are unique or beautiful or unusual or in some other way have captured my fancy. Enjoy browsing!
Special Collections: Fine Bindings ~ Fairies and Fairy Tales ~ Terror and Madness ~ Poetry ~ Food, Drink and Apothecary ~ Science Fiction ~ Illuminations, Lettering and Hand-Coloring ~ Magic ~ Supernatural and Occult ~ Alchemy ~ Science and Technical ~ Maritime ~ Costumes ~ Humor ~ Children's books ~ Legend of King Arthur ~ Americana ~ 18th Century ~ 19th Century Authors and illustrators: Edgar Allan Poe ~ Jules Verne ~ Edmund Dulac ~ Kay Nielsen ~ Arthur Rackham ~ Edward Gorey ~ Charles Dickens ~ H.P. Lovecraft ~ William Hope Hodgson ~ Mark Twain ~ Lewis Carroll ~ Salvador Dali ~ George Cruikshank ~ Emily Dickinson ~ Geoffrey Chaucer ~ H.G. Wells
Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, Addressed to J. G. Lockhart, Esq. Scott, Sir Walter. London, John Murray, 1830. image via PBA Galleries
The book takes the form of ten letters addressed to Lockhart, the epistolary mode permitting Scott to be both conversational in tone and discursive in method. In these, Scott surveys opinions respecting demonology and witchcraft from the Old Testament period to his own day. As a child of the Enlightenment, he adopts a rigorously rational approach to his subject. Supernatural visions are attributed to ‘excited passion’, to credulity, or to physical illness. The medieval belief in demons is based on Christian ignorance of other religions, leading to the conviction that the gods of the Muslim or Pagan nations were fiends and their priests conjurers or wizards. In the post-Reformation period, the primitive state of science and predominance of mystical explanations of natural phenomena fed fear of witchcraft. In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, witches were hunted with near-hysterical zeal. Examining Scottish criminal trials for witchcraft, Scott notes that the nature of evidence admissible gave free reign to accusers and left the accused no chance of escape. Prisoners were driven to confess through despair and the desire to avoid future persecution. Scott also observes that trials for witchcraft were increasingly connected with political crimes, just as in Catholic countries accusations of witchcraft and heresy went together. Advances in science and the spread of rational philosophy during the eighteenth century eventually undermined the belief in supernatural phenomena, although pockets of superstition remain. Scott’s account is amply illustrated with anecdotes and traditional tales and may be read as an anthology of uncanny stories as much as a philosophical treatise. synopsis and further discussion via walterscott
B-A note: The images on the binding just tickle me.
Etidorhpa or the End of Earth, Signed Limited 1st Edition. by John Uri Lloyd.
Cincinnati: John Uri Lloyd 1895. Octavo 18 x 26.5 cm 376pp. Limited first edition signed by the author at the end of a two-page (printed) letter prior to the title page as issued. Original brown cloth over bevelled boards decorated in silver and gilt. Portrait frontispiece; illustrations by J. Augustus Knapp. via Powell’s Rare Books
I had to dig around and ended up at Wikipedia to find out what this book actually contains. From wiki: “The book purports to be a manuscript dictated by a strange being named I-Am-The-Man to a man named Llewyllyn Drury. Drury’s adventure culminates in a trek through a cave in Kentucky into the core of the earth. Ideas presented in Etidorhpa include practical Alchemy, secret Masonic orders, the Hollow Earth theory and the concept of transcending the physical realm.”.
The witches’ brew / by E.J. Pratt ; with decorations by John Austen
In a Glass Darkly Sheridan Le Fanu, Pub. Richard Bently, London, 1884
Original dark navy heavily blindstamped cloth; ornate gilt spine titles and devices; black endpapers; 471pp + [1pp advert unnumbered]. Decorative woodcuts to chapter and story headings. Lower corner tips very slightly nicked, trivial rubbing to spine ends. Interior very bright, endpapers in pristine condition, binding very sturdy. Collection of five highly regarded Le Fanu novellas inc ‘Green Tea’ (supernatural horror), ‘The Familiar’ (supernatural horror), ‘Mr Justice Harbottle’ (supernatural horror), ‘The Room In The Dragon Volant’ (gothic horror i.e. premature burial) and the famous and oft-filmed ‘Carmilla’ (vampire horror with powerful erotic overtones).
Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Case for Spirit Photography”
Conan Doyle’s defense of the famous “Crewe Circle” and spiritulism. The photographs were proved a hoax while Doyle was in New York and the book released. Plates with subjects and their family “ghosties”. A delightful slice of literary and spiritual history.
I love the image on this (if you click through you can zoom in on it). I wish more plates were available for viewing.