Investigating the Book

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© 2018 by Emma Kiely, created with Wix.com

THE ANTIQUARY

THE START

       Sir Walter Scott was born on August 15th, 1771 in Edinburgh to a family of nine children, many of whom died in infancy. His father, Walter Scott, was a solicitor, and his mother was descended from the eminent Haliburton family. In 1773 Scott was stricken with polio but survived, though it left him lame, which had a large impact on his future. He was sent to live with his grandparents in the Scottish Borders, the southernmost eastern part of Scotland, which borders England. Here he learned to read and write, and the terrain, legends, and speech of the area permeated his later works. He returned to Edinburgh in 1778 to prepare for school, now able to walk though with a very heavy limp, and in 1783 began his studies of the classics at the University of Edinburgh.

       After university Scott became a lawyer, but started to write professionally at twenty-five. His first work was a translation from German of rhymed versions of Gottfried August Bürger's ballads in 1796. He continued on to publish a three volume set of collected ballads from the Scottish border as his second endeavor into the writing world.

       In 1797, Scott met Charlotte Carpenter during a trip to the Lake District. They married after three weeks of courtship, on Christmas Eve, eventually having five children and living very well, as Scott enjoyed a certain amount of fame with his poetry and circle of friends at this point.

Though Scott started with poetry, and became most famous for it, his turn to novels came as a desire to document the oral tradition of the Scottish Borders. His first novel, Waverly, was published anonymously in 1814, a 

tale of the Jacobite uprising in 1754. All novels following Waverly were anonymously credited to "The Author of Waverly" or the novels that followed, including The Antiquary.

       Scott, after financial ruin but the determination to write himself out of debt, eventually died of an epidemic in Scotland after a grand tour of Europe, in 1832. His continued book sales lifted the debt from his house after his death.

THE BOOK

       This copy of The Antiquary is an American edition, printed four years after its first publication in London in 1816. Published in New York, it was printed by James and John Harper, whose small printing establishment started in 1817 became the publishing giant HarperCollins.

       The ownership mark on the end-page of this book notes it as the property of "Williamsburg Library, No. 339 Price 87." The book was probably a part of a subscription library service, therefore the price indicated potentially for non-members, or it could have been part of a town library having a sale. Williamstown could be in either New Jersey or in Massachusetts, though there is no real way to know without more markings, and there is no evidence of any subscription libraries in the area around the time of publication. The only other writings in the book are usually X's, marking certain passages or paragraphs. Without any actual words, it's hard

to tell what the annotator thought was important about the

text.

       The book eventually fell into the hands of the bookbinder I first apprenticed with, and he repaired its 

fading and scratched leather cover and spine to give to me as a gift for graduation from university. This adds significant personal value to the book for me, though the market would not be able to look at it as I do.

THE MARKET

       Based on the great condition of this book, and the fact the the repair had only to do with the cover's scrapes and not with the pages, the book could fetch a higher price on the market. Though it is only one volume from a set of two, similar singular books on the market range from $10-$60. Based on condition, including repair, quality, and singularity, I would probably price this book between $55-65. To see how I got this price, see the value worksheet here. As a personal piece, however, I'm not sure I would ever part from it, especially since it's value to me has more to do with my first excursion into the binding world and a heartfelt gift from a friend. If my conjecture about the subscription library is correct, then this book may have some historical or scholarly value to understanding the system of subscription libraries and the beginnings of free libraries.

All works used are listed in the bibliography under this biography's title heading.

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