Catalog 112, About This Catalog

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ASSOCIATION COPY - This term, often scoffed at by laymen, is applied to a copy which once belonged to, or was annotated by, the author; which once belonged to someone connected with the author or someone of interest in his own right; or again, and perhaps most interestingly, belonged to someone peculiarly associated with its contents.
-- John Carter, ABC for Book Collectors

When I first began collecting books, before it occurred to me to be a bookseller, one of my great pleasures was attending a reading by an author whose books I admired, and waiting in line at the end of the reading for a chance to meet the author and get my copies of his or her books signed or, preferably, inscribed to me. There was a similar thrill when I encountered signed copies of books in my "scouting" of used bookstores whenever I traveled; while not quite so personal a connection as actually meeting the author, there was still nonetheless a bit of magic in the realization that the copy of a book that I now held in my hands had at one time been held by the author; the signature was the residual evidence of this connection across time and space, but it was the connection more than the signature itself that gave me the particular kind of excitement I felt. It seemed to humanize the authors; bring them out of the realm of the "literary pantheon" -- and thus the abstract -- and provide a physical connection: their hands, my hands. (I experienced a similar moment of something approaching awe recently in a canyon in Utah, when I picked up a piece of chirt -- a hard stone used for arrow points -- that had been worked and then discarded by an Indian, probably a thousand years ago, and realized I was doubtless the first human since that individual to hold this particular rock in my hand. For a moment time disappeared and there was a connection between us, and I felt connected across time and space to a world utterly unknown to me, but one every bit as real as the one I inhabit daily.)
     As a beginning book collector, I had to learn a lot of the jargon of the field, and such words and phrases as "presentation copy," "galley," and "issue point" took on new and unexpected meanings. One of the first phrases I learned was "association copy," which I (mis-)took to only mean a presentation copy inscribed by the author to some particularly notable person. Since then, I have realized that Carter's definition is more encompassing and, in some ways, more subtle than my original understanding. The "value" of an association copy lies more in the "association" -- which is something intangible -- than in the inherent value of a celebrity autograph. I have come to feel as though that near-magical connection is what is important, and the signature or inscription is most important as the evidence of something much larger than the autograph per se, something that is hinted at by the inscription or ownership signature but not limited to it. It is as if each association copy charts a small part of the mental, emotional, even spiritual, landscape of the owner or recipient, or the author or, ideally, both. And the connection hinted at between two individuals in that mental landscape is what is most profound.
     Most of the association copies in this catalog are books inscribed by their authors to someone of special interest -- whether another writer, a family member, a publisher, a bibliographer, etc. All of them suggest a historical context, a connection, that is usually only hinted at by the inscription itself. Part of the pleasure of collecting these kinds of books is the chance to gain a small glimpse of that context -- a little entryway into the mental terrain of a noteworthy author. I hope you find these books as engaging as I have.

-- Ken Lopez

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