Vale Press books were displayed prominently, and they were on loan from Edward B. Koster (The Hague), N.J. Beversen (Zwolle), and J. Visser (Rotterdam).
|N.J. Beversen (1927)|
The Beversen collection was somewhat of a riddle, as I had found several auction catalogues containing books and art works from his collection, but the Vale Press books were lacking.
In April 1933, the main part of his library was auctioned in The Hague by Van Stockum's Antiquariaat. There were almost 900 lots ranging from history and topography to languages and special editions. Among the 'Presses spéciales' [private presses] were publications of the Beaumont Press, the Nonesuch Press, The Riverside Press, and Dutch private presses. Classical works were sold by Burgersdijk & Niermans in Leiden (May 1933).
Later, in April 1936, another part of his collection was sold by Van Stockum's Antiquariaat. However, the auction catalogue doesn't distinguish the several provenances of books, although the section 'Publications de luxe' contains books with dedications or letters to Beversen, such as Fr. Porché's book on Paul Valéry et la poésie pure (lot 1895). The private press section contains some Nonesuch Press titles, and among these we find Ricketts's recollections of Oscar Wilde (published 1932).
|Catalogue de livres anciens et modernes (Van Stockum's Antiquariaat April 1936)|
|Catalogue containing the Beversen collection (Sotheby & Co., 1927)|
The 1904 Antwerp exhibition displayed Beversen's versatility as a collector; books from his library were shown in sections concerning France, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain.
|The Beversen section in the Sotheby catalogue (1927)|
There was a fair deal of Vale Press books, including an incomplete set of the Vale Shakespeare - Beversen got hold of 32 volumes of this set of 39 Shakespeare editions. He possessed copies of Hero and Leander, the English and the Latin versions of Apuleius, and the Vale Press editions of Keats, Shelley, and Constable. Ricketts's pamphlets on the art of printing (one co-written by Lucien Pissarro) formed part of his collection, as well as the translation of Maurice de Guérin's The Centaur, The Bacchante - of which a mere 150 copies were printed.
But Beversen's collection was an incomplete one; his VP Shakespeare collection lacked seven volumes, and he didn't acquire copies of many other Vale Press books, and the same goes for the other books designed by Ricketts (such as Wilde's The Sphinx), or books from other private presses, such as the Doves Press, of which only seven books were listed in the catalogue.
At the time, he was probably the only Dutch book collector who not only acquired his books from the other side of the Channel, but also brought them back to the British Isles. One wonders where they have gone since - and it seems impossible to trace them; as far as I know, they bear no bookplate.