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Excerpt from Book Auction Records, Vol. 3: A Priced and Annotated Record of London Book Auctions
In attempting to add some prefatory notes to the present volume the picture in Punch recurs to me of the costermonger who was urged by a 'pal' of his to reply to the minatory threats of a by-standing foe. "Give it 'im, Bill!" said the friend. "How can I?" replied Bill; "e's used up all the best words!" Similarly, in the Prefatory Notes to Volume 2 all my best words appear to have been used up, and there seems to be nothing left to say. The present volume has been arranged upon precisely the same plan as the former, and what was said in elucidation of the system of its production applies equally to this one. There is therefore really nothing to do in that connexion but to refer subscribers to the previous volume.
There is however one matter to which attention may be fittingly given during the interval between the close of one auction-season and the commencement of another, viz., the compilation of sale-catalogues; and if my strictures upon various forms of apparent carelessness: innumerable inaccuracies of expression: sins, both of omission and commission: should seem severe, the criticised are asked to believe that the animadversions are not unfriendly ones, and should endeavour to realise - as, doubtless, they did in boyhood when their fathers "larruped" them - that it is all for their own good. They may even, if they digest any suggestions which an experience of cataloguing of forty years' duration enables me to make - they may, I repeat, hope to look forward to that increase of remuneration which more valuable services should entitle them to at the hands of those to whose interests they are devoted. With which stimulating observation let us pass on to the matter in hand.
One who cares for his occupation at least as much for its own sake as because it is a means of income-earning may be excused regret at being forced daily to notice absurdities at which bibliography-loving angels might weep. Cataloguers of books are presumably - at least, they should be - men of education, but when they dignify adverbs, common-nouns, and other minor parts of speech with capital letters, and when punctuation is evidently to them an unknown art, they refute the assumption. A cataloguer who ascribes the works of Benjamin Disraeli to "Lord Disraeli" instead of to the Earl of Beaconsfield simply does not know his business, nor does the other who catalogues the works of Lord Herbert of Cherbury as being by Lord Herbert Cherbury and and places the entry under "Cherbury" instead of "Herbert."
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