21 JUNE 1975, Page 21

Antiquarian Books

Old books for new

Colin Franklin

Anyone involved knows the marvellous neurosis shared alike by librarian, dealer and private collector. Gideon (he's twelve) said, "Why write an article, just send a photocopy of your typescript, you always say the same things." I come near five years of bookselling, after two decades of publishing, and Gideon is right; so here are scraps of diaries recalling the scope and progress of a book disease.

Really time to begin a diary and commune with it whenever collecting temptations come (I say in 1967). Today, Weinreb enters the picture. I called . there on the way in, and again after lunch, and have come away with vast grand things which don't fit into any bookshelf. One's attitude is simple — prices don't matter, only the character and excellence of the book does. In the long run, that's right from all ways. In the short, it makes debts.

That states the chronic problem. The last day of 1967 I begin another of those dummy bound books every publisher enjoys:

This has to be a diary to end all collecting for one year. More simply, I resolve to communicate with it before buying any book or print.

It's the occasion (I add) of the last high whim of these four years or so, the wildest — and I list it in detail. The last two are certainly too expensive. The only way will be absolute discipline, judgment having fled. I've never yet refused anything from cost, only bought whatever seemed desirable — as a " principle of doing the thing properly. And of course there will be other things but they must stop for 1968'.

I bought the lot, and two weeks later was writing:

So — here's the next major matter. A huge Persion epic, with 366 miniatures. Another point to remember, having wasted an afternoon looking at this damned manuscript, is that if taste is as wandering as mine, treasures are common!

I rejected the manuscript, and regret that. October 1968, musing at London Airport before a journey to the Dutch book fair: