In the early 1980s he began his collection of 19th century English literature with an intensifying focus on material in its original form, particularly in their highly perishable original parts, few complete sets of which have come down to us today. In the 19th century in England popular and important authors sometimes issued their books in paper bound sections as serials before later issuing the complete book with a hard cover. Such paper bound sections are therefore the veritable first editions. In this category, books in parts, the numbers were typically substantial but the material highly perishable. As a consequence complete sets in their original state are exceptionally rare. For Bob these books in parts, issued before the traditional first editions and with illustrated wrappers, advertisements and publishers’ statements lost in book-form first editions, are a stimulating subject and worthy pursuit for a consummate collector. In this sale such materials figure prominently.
This material is bibliographically complex and was the source of substantial research by Bonhams to describe all parts and issues accurately. Such parts are so rare that the traditional source of information on them, book auction records, provides few if any examples. For many of the items offered a handful or less have appeared over the past century.
While books in parts are exceptionally rare and important, the catalogue contains many other categories of material. Five examples of three decker, or triple-decker English novels, are offered; autograph manuscripts by Dickens, Ainsworth, Whitman and Thackeray, literary artifacts and book format first editions included. Bob’s emphasis has been on rarity, social and literary significance, and condition.
Bob’s life with books, in addition to their pursuit, has involved studying the material and writing and lecturing about it. His collections have been displayed at the Grolier Club and the Whitney Museum and material in this sale was exhibited in London this past June and at several of Bonhams locations in the United States this summer. In sending his material to auction his approach is on full display – a master collector in pursuit of the bibliographically complex.
For the Jacksons this is the first collection they are sending into the rooms. For the past three decades they have nursed to life many collections and later gifted or sold them to institutions and private collectors. This collection however is particularly personal. Each item will include a Jackson bookplate.