Wednesday, February 25, 2015

187. A Passionate Pilgrim

A recent auction at Bloomsbury's contained a lot with a copy of the Vale Press edition of The Passionate Pilgrim and the Songs in Shakespeare's Plays (1896).

The Passionate Pilgrim and the Songs in Shakespeare's  Plays (1896) (label on front cover)
The hammer price was £600, the book was sold for £744. That seems a lot of money, even for a copy with a valuable provenance. This copy has the book-label of the writer Marguerite Radclyffe Hall and her lover Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge. Recently, the price of ordinary copies of this book have been around £200. 

However, the book was offered as part of a lot containing multiple items of which this title was mentioned first. Some of the other books in the lot were a Nonesuch Press edition of Milton's The Mask of Comus, and some publications of the Casanova Society. In fact, the catalogue description mentioned only six titles (in 20 volumes), while the whole consisted of circa 60 volumes in total.

Lot 370 in Bloomsbury Auctions, 'Bibliophile Sale', 12 February 2015
A private collector will not want to bid on a collection like this, but one never knows. Perhaps, a Radclyffe Hall collector wanted to have this copy, or, of course, a Casanova collector saw an opportunity to complete his collection. Probably, this lot was bought by a book dealer. Nowadays, buyer's names are not revealed. In the past, auction houses published the results in which the names of buyers were mentioned, which is now an important source for provenance research.