Books and Book Collecting in America, 1890-1930

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This study interprets the history of book collecting in America from the point of view of the collectors of the late 19th and early 20th century, the ‘Golden Age’ of collecting. It examines how, what, and most importantly why they collected, and how they read and interacted with their collectibles. It also incorporates an analysis of the ‘world of the bookman-collector’ with larger cultural occurrences related to the decline of Victorianism, modernization, the reaction by the American gentry, and rise of mass, consumer culture.


“A fascinating melange of book collecting lore written in the precise, understated English of the late Victorian and early Edwardian period. . . . . Many famous names are here, little known for their hobbies: Pierpont Morgan, John Quinn, Henry E. Huntington. . . . A huge amount of information researched brilliantly and written about in the same high English style as the subject warrants. Shaddy is to books what a ballet is to the mind: cultivated, incredibly sublime, and most of all, exquisitely informative.” – The Book Reader

“Between 1890 and 1930 book collecting in the United States became a well-organized pastime, popular with both the upper and middle-classes. The intensity with which collectors pursued their hobby and the large amounts of money they invested in it has led historians to refer to the period as the “Golden Age of Book Collecting”. In his Introduction, Robert Shaddy explains how the activities of book collectors have generally been overlooked by those writing and doing research in the discipline of book culture – an emerging area of study that includes history, literature, communications, library science and sociology. The essays in this volume are intended to counterbalance that neglect … [and are] thoughtful and engaging.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Donald C. Dickinson, Professor Emeritus, School of Information and Library Science, University of Arizona

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Introduction: Toward a History of Books and Book Collecting
Prelude: The Culture of Collecting
1. Collectors on the Prowl
2. A World of Sentimental Attachments
3. The Bookman’s World Transformed
4. Annual Reflections on Collecting Leigh Hunt
Bibliography; Index

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