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Building A Beresford Egan Collection - Basic Items

· Beresford Egan,Fine Book Collecting,Adrian Woodhouse,Fine Book Research,References

Last week, I introduced some elements and jargon related to building a collection. I deliberately did not say “book collection” since a collection will often expand beyond books, especially when you collect the works of an illustrator. I introduced Beresford Egan at the end of last week’s musing, and I will use my Egan collection to demonstrate approaches and ideas. This week addresses the “Basic Items” and next week “The Spice”.

Knowledge of the subject of the collection is critical. In Egan’s case, there are two bibliographies – 1) Beresford Egan – An Introduction to His Work by Paul Allen; Scorpion Press, Lowestoft, Suffolk, 1966 and 2) Beresford Egan by Adrian Woodhouse; Tartarus Press, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, 2005. The latter is much more comprehensive and so I will be using that as my reference. I use this book as my checklist and I pencil in items that I uncover that are not listed in the work.

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Last week, I introduced the concept of “A” items, “B” items, etc. Woodhouse doesn’t use that specific system, but be does categorize Egan’s works in descending order of importance, so I will take the liberty of applying letters to the segments.

A – Books and Pamphlets Written (wholly or in part) and Illustrated/Wrappered by Beresford Egan

  • 9 items

- 3 items have descriptions of the limited edition as well as that for the

trade edition

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B – Books and Pamphlets Illustrated by Beresford Egan – U. K. Editions

  • 7 items

- 2 items describe the very limited, signed edition as well as for the limited
- there should have been 3 items covered this way. For the book “Cyprian Masques” by Pierre Louys, 1,275 copies, there was no mention of 75 copies printed on handmade paper bound in vellum

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C – Books Illustrated by Beresford Egan – U. S. Editions

  • 4 Pirated editions
  • 1 authorized edition
  • Note that these books are all sub-standard productions

- I tend to follow the flag and I have acquired some of these items because I came upon them. I don’t particularly care if I have copies of them or not. My rule.

D – Dust-wrappers Designed or Decorated by Beresford Egan

  • 7 items

- The most famous dust jacket is that of Aleister Crowley’s Moonchild. Here the Egan collectors compete with the Crowley collectors
- Another very scarce one is S. M’Guire’s Beast or Man. Here the Egan collectors compete with fantasy collectors
- The other 5 are so scarce that I have not come across any of them over the 4 decades since I started collecting Egan

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E – Books and Booklets about Beresford Egan

  • 2 items

F – Theatre Reviews & Caricatures by Beresford Egan

  • Courier Magazine 1956-1959

- His caricatures are fun but as yet I have not included these in my search
- But I am thinking about it, as I complete the search for A and B

G – Miscellaneous Illustrations appearing in various magazines and random publications

What is interesting is that Woodhouse does not have a section in the Bibliography on Egan’s bookplates, which in my estimation is an oversight. They should be included following the Dust- wrappers, I would say. He does address them with 4 pictorial examples in the text of the book. In addition, there is no reference in the Bibliography to The Bookplate Journal, volume 8 number 2, September 1990, that includes “Bookplate Designs by Beresford Egan”.

As a collector, you must be as knowledgeable as possible about your subject. I use the Woodhouse book because it is the better of two bibliographies, but it is far from complete or perfect. The internet is a very useful search tool, including rare book sites such as Abebooks. Routinely, I will enter Egan’s name in the “Keywords” field ignoring all others and see what comes up.

Research and search. Knowledge is powerful and this holds true in the collecting world.

Next week, “The Spice” - making a collection unique.