I have been rearranging part of my collection of books that have one or more illustrations by Frank Godwin. In terms of sheer numbers, I would be surprised if there is a collector or dealer or library anywhere in the world that has more of books illustrated by Frank Godwin than I do, counting duplicates (or “semi-duplicates”) as well as books that differ clearly from each other. I say “semi-duplicates” to indicate books that are pretty similar to other books, though not exactly the same.
As a matter of fact, it is probably a little difficult to find two copies of one of Godwin’s books that are exactly the same. For instance, among the books I am rearranging, there are nine copies of The Book of Courage, by Hermann Hagedorn. Among those nine are three apparent first editions, two of which are in a dust jacket. Then I have six other copies, one as late as 1942. So, in all I have seven different versions, and two duplicates of one of those. (I would think I probably have another two or three copies around somewhere.)
One of my copies is actually inscribed by Hagedorn to some unknown (to me) person.
By the way, I also have two “salesman’s copies” of the book — much truncated, slender volumes, used by door-to-door salesmen to show prospective purchasers what the book was like.
But I have multiple copies of probably most of the books illustrated by Godwin. If I recall correctly, I have three copies of Trying It on the Dog, two of Five Fridays, probably about eight of Letters of a Self-Made Failure (including two that are in dust jackets and one inscribed by the author) and so forth. I think I have two copies of Molly and I, one of which is in a dust jacket.
Even in terms of distinctly different titles, not counting any book more than once, I still would be extremely surprised if anyone has as many as me. I wonder whether that is because I am a particularly brilliant, knowledgeable, skilled book-collector. Oh, sure, that is probably part of it. But the main reason I (probably) have more than anyone else is twofold: first, I have likely been at it longer than anyone else, and second, no one else, as far as I know, has been willing to dig as deeply into the subject — no one has been so single-mindedly dedicated to tracking down at least one copy of every book with one or more illustrations by Godwin.
Oh, okay, I have not really been single-minded, but I still think no one is as interested in the topic as me. Course, I could be wrong on that — I am just going by what my senses tell me.
March 10, 2014