Remembered Today:

Dust Jacket Collector

Robert Graves & Siegfried Sassoon

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As an erstwhile collector of WW1 poetry I was intrigued to see in the new Peter Harrington catalogue the following items of War poetry :-

Robert Graves 'Over the Brazier' & Siegfried Sassoon's 'The Old Huntsman', the Graves inscribed 'SS from RG' & the Sassoon 'RG from SS' all for the bargain price of £60,000. I remember seeing the Sassoon some 30 years ago for £2,000 so clearly inflation has taken its toll.

Now I don't know how crowd-funding works but I assume I just ask people for the money and they send it to me. So please respond generously. If too much comes in there's another Graves inscribed to Ivor Gurney which would be rather nice.

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Quite a few irrelevant comments deleted

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And, sadly, some of the  the fun removed

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1 hour ago, AlanCurragh said:

Quite a few irrelevant comments deleted

 

      Perhaps you would care to state what you found to be irrelevant?  As a bookseller, I always have concerns that "spot-on" rarities in the matter of signed books need a great deal of verification. My (much superior) trade colleague Pom Harrington is arguably the best bookseller of his generation in this country. He has been particularly careful in the matter of signed and inscribed Churchill items- and has exposed forgeries of those in recent years- his exposes can be found without too much trouble on Tinternet. Both Graves and Sassoon were obsessive writers and  how and when they inscribed books ought to be a matter of a trail of provenance-in the manner of  the delightful BBC programmes "Fake or Fortune" for works of art. The principles are much the same:

 

1)  Did the authors sign or inscribe in the manner of these volumes. Graves + Sassoon,Yes. Chucking in Gurney is just a little too perfect  without some further work

2) Provenance-Trail of ownership- and any evidence in their papers that such meetings/ exchanges of books took place.

 

         I cannot track the current Harrington catalogue online. I hope that it has a long spiel about provenance. I do not think it was unreasonable to raise the matter that signed books are a problem in the world of collectable books-nor that a great deal of provenance should be sought-and expected of the bookseller-which might be illuminating for all on GWF and a jolly interesting series of posts. I would be looking for examples of other Sassoon/Graves presentations to a.n.other but particularly to each other (and Gurney as well)- and would welcome DJCs comments and a little essay about the literary relationships between the two men and gems of wisdom from DJCs long involvement with such material- His own website is most illuminating ,informative and a highly literate education for a pleb like me who has no pretence of knowledge of anything literary. And if DJC has a recollection that one of the items popped up about 30 years back,then that accords with my slightly vaguer recollection of that episode.

    if you want to wave a big stick, then at least have the common courtesy to say what the parameters of activity are such that you would wish to wield it. A discussion of Graves/Sassoon, some excellent (as always) contribution from DJC on the items and their background was in the offing-perhaps with a bit more about provenance, facts and frauds relating to Great War literature-of which there is a fair amount 

 

        

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7 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

 

      Perhaps you would care to state what you found to be irrelevant?  As a bookseller, I always have concerns that "spot-on" rarities in the matter of signed books need a great deal of verification.

 

I must say I too was a little surprised by the removal of a number of posts in this thread. I'm feeling like an errant schoolboy who's been ticked off by the teacher for whispering at the back of the class. Surely a little light-hearted banter is permissible?

Returning to the matter in hand, the new catalogue, which arrived yesterday, is called 'Poetry', no.125. Whilst I occasionally poke fun at the Harrington's prices I certainly can't fault their scholarship. All the items are fully described & the signatures look genuine when compared to my own modest holdings. 'Over the Brazier' stayed with Sassoon throughout his life and carries the affixed monogram which was applied to all his books when they came up for auction (1975?). The Gurney item, Graves 'Treasure Box', they've had for some time. It's known from Gurney's Collected Letters that the two authors knew each other at the time of the books publication, 1919, and Graves was a serial signer - he probably gave away more copies than he signed!

Sassoon's 'Old Huntsman' inscribed to Graves I first saw at least 30 years ago. It belonged to the late Peter Jolliffe, proprietor of the now defunct Ulysses bookshop, in the days when he shared a shop with Charlotte Robinson, producer of some excellent catalogues of WW1 material. Graves gave the book to an old Oxford colleague, Godfrey Elton, clearly not as enamoured by the book as Sassoon was by his. As I recall it was either £2000 or £2500. Either way it was as far out of reach then as now. I remember Peter telling me he'd only had one interested customer but that was enough.

The entry concludes by saying these are the greatest pair of First World War poetry books imaginable. Not too sure about that - 'The Old Huntsman' inscribed by Sassoon to Owen would certainly be preferable & how about Robert Frost's 'A Boy's Will' that he inscribed to Edward Thomas?

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As I recall, after the initial posting, the conversation had very little of any value - but it now clearly does. The light hearted banter should really be in Skindles

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1 hour ago, AlanCurragh said:

As I recall, after the initial posting, the conversation had very little of any value - but it now clearly does. The light hearted banter should really be in Skindles

 

      Fair enough. Now back to business.

 

 

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DJC-   Yes-Peter Jolliffe-that's it. When he was over in Great Pulteney Street.  He was my neighbour in Bloomsbury both under his own trading in later years and with the others as Ulysees.  High prices but matched by high quality. Pom Harrington is a nudge above even PJ and Ulysees in price- but they usually have at least one end customer in mind. I remember that when the Internet came along Peter was asked what he would do if there were 3 other  copies of a book on ABE and his was by far the most expensive- his answer was "Wait for customer number 4"

     The provenance trail for these iconic items is all- yes, Graves was a serial signer  I would suppose that many a tyro poet or writer has given away more signed copies of their early work-as, of course, the balance between making one's name known and later reputation dictates strongly how the print-run is disposed of.  I suspect that neither of the 2 works offered by Harrington is unknown to you in other signed copies. It begs a small literary question-  For the life of me, I cannot see exceptional quality in some of the early bits of either of these folk- Perhaps what propelled them was that neither was poor  and both had some amount of social connections.  Of course, we know that the "popular " "war" poets of the war years are mostly consigned to the historical dustbin of bad taste and doggerel. But how the literary scene swung to the current school-favourite canon is an interesting one. The realisation that there were many of these literary relationships that remain unknown as the writers remain obscure and their relationship with each other is even more unknown  (if that's possible)

 

      But as you have been collecting for a long time, then perhaps there are only a couple of questions to ask-When are you away from home? Where is the alarm?

 

Pip,pip

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I think the catalyst for many of these encounters was Churchill's secretary, Sir Edward Marsh. As sponsor of many of the War poets I imagine a lunch invitation from him almost guaranteed an introduction to another prominent versifier. I have a nice Blunden with an inscription by him to Marsh.

I like the quote from Peter Jolliffe, but it might be a long wait these days for customer no.4. I'm sure the market is shrinking. Famous War poetry might be on the up, it's on the curriculum, but War memoirs, however much we appreciate them might not get the proprietor of your local bookshop salivating.

With regards to quality, Graves isn't really on a par with some of the others although I've always thought Goliath and David to be rather good ( my copy must be one of the few he didn't sign!). The Old Huntsman is of a different order however, particularly after the dozen or so privately printed volumes of bucolic drivel that Sassoon produced up to that point.

Worth getting a copy of the catalogue. There are quite a few other volumes of War poetry in there and there's nothing like browsing through an old one on a cold winters evening.

(I've instructed the neighbours to look out for anyone suspicious carrying a lood of old books).

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14 hours ago, David Filsell said:

And, sadly, some of the  the fun removed

yep!!!

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Banter- unless offensive  is hardly justification for banter banning and binning it often enlivens threads 

 

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The point was that other than the initial post there was nothing but banter. Believe it or not, many members aren't that keen on banter.

 

Can we please now get back on topic. 

 

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I still regard it as an uneccesary and arbitrary judgement  and object, I must say, to the tone you have adopted in your last posting.

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ID: 14   Posted (edited)

Quite so Mr Filsell.

 

Every now and again I am reminded why my interest and contributions [and, for all I know, my interesting contributions] have dwindled.

 

I am now so reminded.

Edited by Muerrisch
word reversal

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Gentlemen

The place for digression and off topic matter is Skindles. We try to permit some leeway, but at this stage I must remind all that Moderators decisions are final.  Members who are unhappy with decisions are welcome to contact moderators by PM but we are not going to get into these matters here. This forum largely runs on goodwill, and that is not just financial contributions, but forbearance on the part of all. In giving our time to administer the forum, we rely upon your support.

 

Only contributions directly on the subject of the thread are welcome here. I and I am sure my colleagues are happy to discuss any concerns regarding moderation off forum.

 

Keith Roberts

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and for those of us who eschew Skindles as far too frivolous, tough.

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Dear Keith,

Message received and understood.

Kindest regards,

Kim.

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  DJC-   A question- from your experience of seeing such things by Sassoon and Graves:

 

1)  In terms of both of the publications they initialled to each other- was this their normal way of giving "presentations" for others as well of these works?

 

2)  Was their use of initials common in previous/later publications to each other or, indeed,anyone else?.

  

       The Pom Harrington pair suggest a private joke between Graves and Sassoon-that one may have imitated the other in the manner of inscribing- Do we know which way round the presentations were made???

 

       I read up a bit about Eddie Marsh, whom I knew only from his political work and as an Establishment insider. Absolutely fascinating- and a striking resemblance between the older Marsh and Monty Rhodes James (I understand this may not havee been their only similarity) .  I think when I compare Marsh and his proteges with what I remember of the The Poetry Bookshop, it shows that there was no unanimity of poetic outlook in the post-war years. 

    ( Many years ago, I bought a chunk of books from the basement of a bookshop in Woburn Walk, just by Tavistock Square- it was used by Frank Cass as a base for some of his bookselling. Frank told me that when he had started, the bookshop had previously been owned by Charles Lahr ? Blue Moon Press?- about whom I know nothing.  But to keep the pot boiling on the Great  War, the sale of the remaining contents of Bernard Stone's Poetry Bookshop in Lamb's Coduit Street (mid 1990s-ish) yielded an unexpected trove-he had been sitting on the books of Sir Maurice Hankey -bought, I think, by him more or less accidentally after Hankey's death in the early Sixties. I have one or two signed books on political aspects of the Great War-I expect you may have some copies of literary matters inscribed to Hankey

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9 hours ago, Muerrisch said:

and for those of us who eschew Skindles as far too frivolous, tough.

 

11 hours ago, David Filsell said:

I still regard it as an uneccesary and arbitrary judgement  and object, I must say, to the tone you have adopted in your last posting.

 

I was hoping that I'd made my last contribution to this thread. When I first noticed it on Monday evening, there was the original post, followed by around 8 or 9 totally irrelevant comments, including some that as I recall discussed bribery, and payment of Zimbabwean dollars. Nothing in my opinion relevant to the Great War.  I removed them, and I believe any moderator would have done the same over the history of the GWF.

 

I an sorry, David, if you found fault with my tone, or if you think my actions were unnecessary and arbitrary - I repeat my opinion that they are entirely consistent with the way the GWF has always been administered, at least while I have been a moderator (9 years as I recall). Different forums take differing views on off-topic "banter" - we take the view that as far as possible, it should remain in the off-topic area of Skindles. Not a hard and fast rule; no problem with the occasional comment, but when there is nothing but banter in reply to an original posting, that strikes me as not being within the spirit of the forum. For every member who thinks we are over-zealous in removing off topic comment, there will be another who wishes we did it more often.

 

If you have further comment, I would ask either of you (or any member) to contact me privately, or start a topic in "About this Website" so this thread can continue on topic.

 

Thank you

 

Alan

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52 minutes ago, AlanCurragh said:

 

 

I was hoping that I'd made my last contribution to this thread. When I first noticed it on Monday evening, there was the original post, followed by around 8 or 9 totally irrelevant comments, including some that as I recall discussed bribery, and payment of Zimbabwean dollars. Nothing in my opinion relevant to the Great War. 

Mea Culpa. I probably shouldn't have added the bit about crowd funding to the more relevant matter of these two important poetry books coming onto the market.

I shall get back to my researches into Graves and Sassoon's signing habits as soon as this dreadful humidity abates.

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It's here Harrington Catalogue item 78.

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Moderators all:

 

I apologise unreservedly for my remarks, which were made late at night, after a stressful day, and after more than one glass of sherbet.

My intervention was an example of "you wouldn't say that to someone's face in the pub".

I cannot unsay it, but I do a good grovel as and when.

When is now.

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Regardless of the remarks, it is appreciated Alan drew our attention to these significant association copies. It's great they have survived and the signatures have not been chopped out.

 

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19 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

  DJC-   A question- from your experience of seeing such things by Sassoon and Graves:

 

1)  In terms of both of the publications they initialled to each other- was this their normal way of giving "presentations" for others as well of these works?

 

2)  Was their use of initials common in previous/later publications to each other or, indeed,anyone else?.

Sassoon seems to have been the instigator of the monogrammed inscription. I think he enjoyed the interlinking of the two S's. It tended to be reserved for close friends though ; signed books and letters to acquaintances usually got the full signature. Graves seems to have been imitating him here. Looking into the catalogue of the Sassoon sale in 1975 there are several later books of poetry that Graves has inscribed to Sassoon. These are all signed along the lines of 'Siegfried with all the old affection, Robert' (they were still speaking at that stage).

My Blunden to Eddie Marsh is signed 'E.M. from E.B.' but later books to Sassoon use the full names of both, so it looks like a passing fad.

This has all reminded me what a fascinating auction the Sassoon sale was and what on earth else I was wasting my money on in 1975. I don't think I was even aware of it at the time. Bundles of letters were sold as single lots :- 571 from Blunden, 39 from Dunn about The War the Infantry Knew, dozens between Sassoon & Graves, 35 from Marsh & even 7 from Wilfred Owen. They all look cheap now but I guess they weren't. And that's not even mentioning the signed books and manuscripts. Oh, to have that chance again.........

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  Alas, DJC- The best (and most self-interested) advice I can give to you for giving in to temptation and blowing the family fortune is this:

" It's the books you don't buy you regret the most, not the ones you actually did buy"

     The Sassoon auction looking cheap always has to be balanced against the widespread adherence to the Auction Bidding Agreements Acts (when it comes to registering bidding on joint account) and complete non-adherence (which is the norm)  I doubt you have ever seen a sale where Quaritch bid against Maggs-and if you you did it would be because one had a commission bid that the other ran up to it's maximum. Hammer prices are always misleading unless one is there and sees the lie of the land.

   Thanks for the elucidation on the Sassoon/Graves exchange- it looks to me that the handwritten dates may be later but not by much.  One of my late colleagues-and the best bookseller I have known (the late Chris Johnson) formed a magnificent collection of minor verse printed in the provinces before, I think,1830. What chance a similar large collection of Great War verse from hither and thither-and some sort of survey of what there actually is out there. Chris stopped his main collection when he got to a thousand items. I suspect Great War poetry might get to the same sort of number. It seems to be a completely unknown territory outside of the anthology favourites.

   Effectively I know pnly W.N.Hodgson( "Help Me to Die"....) and I only bought that because he was killed serving as an officer of The Devonshire Regiment on 1st July 1916 (My parents also moved to Alvestion, just north of Bristol in 1972-there is a memorial to him in the church there-his father was the Vicar). Of my local casualties here in east London, I think one had a bash at a little poetry- Captain Charles Campbell May, 22nd Manchesters (KIA 1.July 1916, also at Mametz) and the emigre to Australia, Leslie Rider Bumpus, whose main poem is in the Jon Silkin "Penguin" anthology. Apart from Silkin, is there any semblance of a bibliography of war poetry out there??

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