Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Antique Book: Janice Meredith by Paul Leicester Ford, 1899

I'm in love with this book I found at goodwill the other day. I love old books, the feel, the smell, and the look of them. This one is a now faded olive-like green (probably used to be a dark green) with black writing and red accents. What really drew me to it though, is opening it and reading the dedication part of it. It says: 

"To George W. Vanderbilt

My dear George: Into the warp and woof of every book an author weaves much that even the subtlest readers cannot suspect, far less discern. To them it is but a cross and pile of threads interlaced to form a pattern which may please or displease their taste. But to the writer every filament has its own association: How each bit of silk or wool, flax or tow, was laboriously gathered, or was blown to him; when each was spun by the wheel of his fancy into yarns; the colour and tint his imagination gave to each skein; and where each was finally woven into the fabric by the shuttle of his pen. No thread ever quite detaches itself from its growth and spinning, dyeing and weaving, and each draws him back to hours and places seemingly unrelated to the work. And so, as I have read the proofs of this book I have found more than once that the pages have faded out of sight and in their stead I have seen Mount Pisgah and the French Broad River, or the ramp and terrace of Biltmore House, just as I saw them when writing the words which served to recall them to me. With the visions, too, has come a recurrence to our long talks, our work among the books, our games of chess, our cups of tea, our walks, our rides, and our drives. It is therefore a pleasure to me that the book so naturally gravitates to you, and that I may make it a remembrance of those past weeks of companionship, and an earnest of the present affection of PAUL LEICESTER FORD"

I love to find something as old as this with a connection to something familiar. We just saw the Biltmore Estate early this year with my parents and just reading this put me back in that beautiful house, I thought of the chess set that we saw that belonged to Napoleon, and wondered if that was the chess set they played on. I just got an overwhelmingly grateful feeling that I had gotten a chance to see inside Mr. Vanderbilt's home where many well known people came to stay. To then find a book where the author personally thanks him for the time they had spent together amazes me. 

This book didn't actually have the title page in it, it had fallen out sometime in the last 100+ years, but thanks to the internet, I was able to find out tons of things about the book and when it was published. Although, I haven't been able to find out which edition of the book this one is, but I'm pretty sure it's not a first edition because I've seen what that one looks like. But this one was at least published the same year as the first one. 

Here's a link from Wikipedia about Mr. Ford:

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