better than the other, which had a suspicion attaching to it of
having been "restored" with a facsimile leaf. The first bid was
again 1000 pounds, which the buyer of the previous copy made
guineas, and the bidding speedily went up to 2660 pounds, at which
price the first bidder paused. A third bidder had stepped in at
1960 pounds, and now, amid breathless excitement, bid 10 pounds
more. This he had to do twice before the book was knocked down to
him at 2690 pounds.
A scene like this has really very little to do with book-collecting.
The beginner must labour hard to distinguish different kinds of
printing; he must be able to recognise at a glance even fragments
from the press of Caxton. His eye must be accustomed to all the
tricks of the trade and others, so that he may tell a facsimile in a
moment, or detect a forgery.
But now let us return to the distinctive marks of early printed
books. The first is, says M. Rouveyre, -
1. The absence of a separate title-page. It was not till 1476-1480
that the titles of books were printed on separate pages. The next
mark is -
2. The absence of capital letters at the beginnings of divisions.
For example, in an Aldine Iliad, the fifth book begins thus -
It was intended that the open space, occupied by the small epsilon
([epsilon symbol]), should be filled up with a coloured and gilded
initial letter by the illuminator. Copies thus decorated are not
very common, but the Aldine "Homer" of Francis I., rescued by M.
Didot from a rubbish heap in an English cellar, had its due
illuminations. In the earliest books the guide to the illuminator,
the small printed letter, does not appear, and he often puts in the
3. Irregularity and rudeness of type is a "note" of the primitive
printing press, which very early disappeared. Nothing in the
history of printing is so remarkable as the beauty of almost its
first efforts. Other notes are -
4. The absence of figures at the top of the pages, and of
signatures at the foot. The thickness and solidity of the paper,
the absence of the printer's name, of the date, and of the name of
the town where the press stood, and the abundance of crabbed
abbreviations, are all marks, more or less trustworthy, of the
antiquity of books. It must not be supposed that all books
published, let us say before 1500, are rare, or deserve the notice
of the collector. More than 18,000 works, it has been calculated,