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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Chapter Thirty-Four, in which One should be able to judge a Book by its Cover

Came the notification that a book for which I had been hunting--The Book-Hunter, by John Hill Burton--had become available from one of my fellow dealers. I followed the trail immediately and, lo, there in unmistakable text was a description of my quarry. The price was right for a Beggar and, despite the lack of an endpaper and possibly a title page, I claimed my prize.

The book arrived quickly and exceedingly well-packaged. When I opened the parcel, my first reaction was that I had been sent the wrong book. When I opened the cover, there was indeed no endpaper and no title page. What had been described as possibly the title page or an advertisement for The Book-Hunter was present, so I had received the book that was described. But the book was not as described, as any careful perusal would have revealed.

On the spine in gilt letters was printed The Queer, The Quaint, The Quizzical and below that the author's name: Stauffer [Frank]. This was the book I had received, whose title page was missing, and whose front matter contained a publisher's advertisement for another of its book's, The Book-Hunter, by John Hill Burton.

A quick check at OCLC confirmed the book's identity. And though this was not the book I had once wanted, it now was the book I wanted. Another check brought up no available copies of this edition, by this publisher, and only a handful from other publishers.

The best thing about this unexpected book is that it, too, is a book about books, among other tidbits, A Cabinet for the Curious. Apparently the Book Gods have smiled upon me, and delivered up to me bibliographic manna.

Now where is The Book-Hunter?

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