[Frank Marcham.] Two typewritten drafts of an annotated list of nearly 500 'Auction Sales made by Robert Harding Evans'; with autograph notes on Evans and on his own collection, with typescript titled 'Literary History and local topography'.

Frank Marcham (c.1887-1944), English bookseller [Robert Harding Evans (1778-1857), auctioneer and bookseller]
Publication details: 
Place and date not stated. [London. Begun in the 1920s?]
SKU: 18797

Robert Harding Evans has been described as 'the greatest of all auctioneers of literary property'. In a career spanning three decades he oversaw the dispersal of many of the finest libraries ever assembled, from the great Roxburghe sale of 1812 to that of the Duke of Sussex in 1845, as well as those of the books of Lord Byron and the manuscripts and copyrights of Sir Walter Scott. In an undated letter to Bodley's Librarian (copy in Item Four below) Marcham states that he is 'working on Evans the auctioneer and the list will be published. The [British] Museum possess nearly all of the auctioneers' own set and I will put the references in. I would like also to make it a check list of the Bodleian'. That work was not published, but the annotated typescripts of it that are Items One and Two below do constitute a valuable supplement to M. V. de Chantilly's 'provisional list' of Evans's catalogues (2002). The seven items in the present collection are all in fair condition, on aged and worn paper. ONE and TWO: Two copies of the typescript of Marcham's 'A COMPLETE LIST in chronological order of AUCTION SALES made by ROBERT HARDING EVANS'. Both [188]pp., foolscap 8vo, paginated 1-185 [unpaginated 31 and double paginations of 41 and 66]. Both copies on loose leaves, in white folders. One copy with variants of pp.26, 37 and 79, and the other with two variant copies of p.4 (one page adding the 1813 Byron catalogue), and one extra copy of p.186. Both with numerous (and largely different) annotations in pencil and ink. Marcham lists 461 [amended in one catalogue to 460] catalogues between 1812 (the Roxburghe sale) and 1844 (Richard Roberts DD, of St Paul's School). At the end of one of the copies is a continuation (5p., 4to) of the typescript, adding eleven more catalogues which bring the list up to 471 (the Upcott sale). In addition to the title, date and number of pages, Marcham provides biographical information regarding the consignor, including quotations from wills and other sources, and notes on the background of sales, as well as giving details (and shelfmarks) of copies in various libraries. He also provides comments on various catalogues, and transcriptions of manuscript notes from Evans's own set of the catalogues (now in the British Library) which, as Marcham explains in the note above, forms the backbone of his work. Marcham's researches were unknown to M. V. de Chantilly, and they supplement the information given by him. A typical note, on the three known copies of the 1813 Byron catalogue, reads 'One sold by Elkin Mathews Ld of Conduit Street W (now Grosvenor St.) to a collector in the United States, another in their own possession, and the third in private hands. (See reproduction of title page.) J. M. is John Murray.' A photograph reproducing the title page of the Byron catalogue, with the note by Murray, is present, and there are occasional notes on various pieces of paper loosely inserted. THREE: Miscellaneous papers, including autograph notes (10pp., 4to) towards an essay on Robert Harding Evans, written on the backs of envelopes, mostly in pencil. With emendations. These notes begin: 'In dealing with book collecting it is usual to speak in terms of currency yet nothing is more misleading.' Marcham proceeds to discuss the 'eighteenth century collectors' before turning to his subject: 'Book-collecting ceased to be a "fashion" just about the time of Evans' commencement as an auctioneer. It was upon the aftermath that his prosperity depended. He sold many famous collections but he did not help to make others. No doubt he was a great auctioneer and a worthy follower of Samuel Paterson which may be the result of happy influence upon impressionable matter. When necessary his cataloguing was excellent for its purpose and taking the whole of his work I hardly think it has been equalled.' The piece includes the following interesting comment: 'There are men in England possessed of more money than Huntington and there are more in the United States and men interested in book collecting. Mr Huntington was a collector that is all. | Men who are at the mercy of their butler and housekeeper & chauffeur take pride that they are not at the mercy of book dealers. Certain people collect wisely, they are great men in commercial life and training stands them in good stead. Currency is not of the value now that it was twenty years ago or a hundred but even so the relative price of books of certain kinds has always increased.' He expounds on the economics of bookselling, comparing 'the book market in the United States to day with that of England'. Returning to Evans he discusses the incidence of 'fine paper editions' of his catalogues, and transcribes a passage about the auctioneer from Roberts's 'Book Hunter in London'. Together with this batch of notes is an autograph copy (2pp., 12mo) of a letter by Marcham to Bodley's Librarian, asking him to 'fill in your references [to Bodley's holdings of Evans catalogues] under those I give for the British Museum', and a typescript (1p., foolscap 8vo) of a biographical piece on William Upcott. The final item in this bundle is a printed British Museum Reading Room 'ticket of application', filled in by Marcham in 1928, ordering 'Evans MS List'. FOUR and FIVE: Two copies of a typescript titled 'Literary History and local topography and their sources. | By Frank Marcham'. 6pp., 8vo. With minor autograph corrections. Apparently unpublished. The theme is stated at the outset: 'There is an intimate relation between these matters that has been very much neglected. A general knowledge of the Dictionary of National Biography will give some idea of the divorce that exists between real knowledge of sources and practical use of such and actual performance. This is a defect of education in England. There is no University that can produce students qualified in the matter of knowing the original sources of local history which means that no graduate can grasp what he knows nothing about.' SIX: Page of typescript describing 'the nineteenth century slump' in the British booktrade. 1p., 8vo. Part of a longer piece. Begins: 'Thomas Thorpe who had been a great dealer and buyer and assigned his stock to pay his debts in 1826 and it was sold in several auctions. Then followed the Drury, Dent, Parr, Renouard, Earl of Guildford, Hibbert, Ord, Rennie, Sir Walter Scott manuscripts (Thorpe bought two), Hanrott (the insolvent solicitor) Haslewood (who had a faked Robinson Crusoe now in the British Museum), Leman, and Caley sales.' Ends: 'One effect of the nineteenth century slump was that the dealers degenerated, and degenerate dealers get results they deserve. Not one dealer, or two, could lift the business to dignity. From what we learn of the rare book dealers of the nineteenth century they must have been as brutal and [...]'. SEVEN: Typed transcript of an index of 'Book Sales by R. H. Evans (1812-1845)', with introduction, by F. Norgate, from 'The Library Vol III. 1891 p. 324'. 16pp., 4to. Heavily annotated in pencil by Marcham.