I know very little about Sir Walter Scott, but I own this book of his collected works, published some time around 1888 and covered in a teal velvet that’s rubbed bare in patches and leaves behind a coating of greenish dust.
I also know the book was part of the Private Library of J.F. Scott – number 233 to be exact. I wonder how many others Mr. J.F. had in his Private Library and if they all had such elaborate covers. It was given to him on June 21, ’88, “With the good wishes” of his cousins A. N. and M.
So is this the equivalent of a 19th century gag gift? I can just see old “A.” now :
“YOUR name is Scott, and HIS name is Scott, so we just KNEW you’d like this book.”
Polite but awkward laughter all around.
I also wonder how Mr. J.F. was able to read this fine tome. The print is so small, I can barely make out the words in daylight, let alone in the evening by gas light or candle, which is how I try to read all of my books that were published around 1888. Authenticity, you know?
Luckily there are some beautiful illustrations that require very little squinting. This one, from “Lady of the Lake” –
The fatal sign of fire and sword
Held forth, and spoke the appointed word.
I don’t remember how much I paid for this book. I bought it when I was 17. Every now and then I pick it up, I gingerly thumb through it, I remember my love for the used bookstore I bought it from, The Bishop of Books. Great name, right?
Everything about this book feels like another world. One I like to escape to now and then.