Saturday, 7 November 2015

More Eighteenth-Century Dildos

On 15 April this year The Mirror reported that the dildo (above and below) had been discovered by archaeologists excavating an eighteenth-century toilet in Gdansk, Poland (see here).

Someone from the Regional Office for the Protection of Monuments, noted that cleaning revealed (as can be seen below) the dildo to be well-preserved and “in excellent condition” (see here): it is eight-inches long, with a pair of balls. It is covered in high-quality leather, filled with bristles, and has a carved wooden tip. Such an object—described by Herodas in the 3rd century BCE—would have been “certainly expensive.”

The History blog picked up the story (here), adding a few details: that the latrine is in the Podwalu suburb of Gdansk, and the dildo dates from the second half of the 18th century. The latrine is believed to have once belonged to a school of swordsmanship, since old swords were previously discovered at the site.

Marcin Tymiński, suggested—according to the History Blog— that the dildo was “probably dropped in the toilet, either deliberately or in a tragic slippery-fingers accident”; elsewhere this is stated more politely: “According to the archaeologists, it was mistakenly dropped in the toilet by the person who was using it.”

Oddly, it seems to have occurred to only one reporter (here) that, since fencing schools were occupied almost exclusively by males, there is a reasonably good chance that “the person who was using it” was a male. (Such luxury items almost certainly being beyond the reach of female staff or servants.)

For my April 2010 post on Eighteenth-Century Dildos, see here.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Connubial Happiness and Boston editions of The Wife

I have previously posted on the subject of the nineteenth-century, Bowdlerised Boston edition of Ab.70.5 The Wife (1756), one of the last works by Eliza Haywood to be published before the modern revival of interest in her as an author (see here). I know of three issues of the Boston edition by Andrew Newell (now, only two are in my Bibliography).

Yesterday, I discovered an 1836 reprint of this Bowdlerised Newell edition, also published in Boston, this time by James Loring (1770–1850). The title has been changed to The Young Bride at Home: Or, A Help to Connubial Happiness: with a Comparative View of the Sexes.

Two copies of the book are available online (here and here), attributed to Hannah More (1745–1833), since her name is attached to the Comparative View of the Sexes which occupies the final nine pages of the text.

As far as I can tell, nobody has previously recognised The Young Bride at Home as a reprint of Haywood's The Wife or Newell's Bowdlerised reprint of the same. But the discovery that The Young Bride is a reprint of Newell's Bowdlerised edition will now make it possible for Haywood scholars to compare the two texts, who did not have access to one of the five copies the Boston edition (all in US libraries), or to the 1983 History of Women microfilm collection which contains it.

Because The Young Bride is a nineteenth-century reprint of Ab.70 The Wife, the OCR rendering of it is almost perfect, unlike the two eighteenth-century editions on Google Books—a “plain text” view of either of which offers no text at all, just page images, though the text appears when you do a general Google-search.

* * * * *

Below is an example of what I mean, taken from [1] Ab.70.1 (the 1756, 1st, ed. here), [2] Ab.70.4 (the 1773, 3rd ed. here), the [3] British Library here and [4] Harvard University copies here of The Young Bride

[1] ' 5 Sir, It is a fancy which all good subc' jects and true protestants must approve 5 e and I think you have no pretence to -* find fault with my fancy; .-- you, who ' yesterday thought yourself very fine, I 5 suppose, in the livery of a highland S ragamuffin, a silly flOWer with scarce Fany smell or "taste, and a bundle of a stinking leaves for a cockade!

[2] Sir, 'it-is a fancy which all. good subzfijects and true protestants must approve; '* and l-think you have no pretence' to 'Ofind faultwith my fancy ;-you, who '*- yestirirdasthought yoursels veryfine, I * suppose, in the livery of a highland ' ragamuffin, a sllly- flower with scarce Aianysssrncillrz or taste, and a bundle of it stinking leaves' for a cockade i'

[3] ‘Sir, it is a fancy which all good subjects and true protestants must approve; and I think you have no pretence to find fault with my fancy; you, who yesterday thought yourself very fine, I suppose, in the livery of a Highland ragamuffin, a silly flower with scarce any smell or taste, and a bundle of stinking leaves for a cockade l’

[4] 'Sir, it is a fancy which all good subjects and true protestants must approve; and I think you have no pretence to find fault with my fancy; you, who yesterday thought yourself very fine, I suppose, in the livery of a Highland ragamuffin, a silly flower with scarce any smell or taste, and a bundle of stinking leaves for a cockade!'

There are 333 characters (including spaces) in this passage: there are no errors in the Harvard University copy, one in the British Library copy [=3 errors per thousand characters], but eight in Ab.70.1 [24 per thousand] and forty-three in Ab.70.4 [129 per thousand]—the main errors being adding random characters and running together text.

* * * * *

The above example from The Young Bride indicates how much of the text remains unchanged. I compared the whole of this section (SECT. III. Difference of opinion in affairs of Government), to the same section from the text, as edited for the Pickering and Chatto edition. While the word-count varies somewhat, depending on hyphenation and so forth, there are approximately seventeen hundred and thirty words in this section: the Boston edition adds ten words, and cuts forty-five, reducing the length by roughly two percent.

The change in length is minor, and many of the changes are inconsequential: “talk on those affairs” becomes “converse on these subjects”; “endued with” becomes “possessed of”; “without all question” becomes “without doubt”; “these sheets” and “close this section” becomes “these pages” and “conclude these remarks.”

The consequential changes are the ones which indicate modernising: by de-emphasising the immediacy of events (“About the middle of last May” becomes “Not long since”), the politics (“flagrant marks of Jacobitism” and “harmless Jacobites” becomes “political marks” and “harmless politicians”)—“King GEORGE, and the Hanover succession” is retained as a rallying cry since a succession of Hanoverian Georges occupied the throne from 1715 to 1830!—and toning down the sex (“the man, in whose arms she lies” becomes “the man, who is the object of her affections” and “feasting and visiting took up their days, and love engross'd their nights” is shorn of its love-engrossed nights all together. So much for “Connubial Happiness”!).

* * * * *

That Haywood's work continued to find an audience in 1836 (eighty years after her death) suggests the continuing appeal of her writing, independant of any appeal she may or may not have had as a writer. This 1836 edition is now the latest of any Haywood work before the modern revival of interest in her, and the latest in the main section of my Bibliography, post-dating Ab.36.7 The Fruitless Enquiry (1819). The code for The Young Bride at Home is / will be Ab.70.6.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Limitless opportunities for collecting Haywood?

Two years ago last month, Vic Zoschak from Tavistock Books penned a blog entry “Eliza Haywood, Overlooked Authorial Pioneer”—which has been reposted by ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) in the “Collecting Tips” section of their “Reading Room,” under the title “Collecting Rare Books and First Editions—Eliza Haywood, Overlooked Authorial Pioneer” (see here and here).

Zoschak’s article advises that “collectors can build an expansive and diverting personal library around [Haywood’s] many works”; and concludes: “Haywood offers limitless opportunities to build a rich collection. A truly prolific author, Haywood could keep the dedicated completist busy for a lifetime! And her fascinating relationships with other authors offer numerous directions to extend a collection.”

As (possibly) the only active collector—and (certainly) one of the few collectors ever—of Eliza Haywood, I find this promotion of Haywood collecting rather astonishing. Zoschak is both endearingly naïve and amusingly cynical: naïve for reasons I’ll explain shortly, cynical, because Tavistock Books has an Eliza Haywood item that has been priced by simply doubling the market price, then doubling it again, then spruiked by writing an essay on the joy of collecting the works of etc. etc.

The item concerned, is not a first edition but, as a uncommon reprint, has some interest to the collector and therefore some value. Firsts of the work concerned (the Memoirs of Utopia) are worth approximately USD1000–1500, so a Dublin edition might be worth USD500–750; but the Tavistock price is ca. USD2000. It was listed in January 2013 and, despite the call-to-collect published in October of the same year, remains unsold. It joins the set of The Invisible Spy being sold by David Brass Rare Books, which has been online at USD6500 for the last five years.

The failure of dealers such as Brass and Tavistock to sell Haywood items at these speculative prices suggests that the market for Haywood items remains small, and limited to only a few of her works. My prediction is that demand will not significantly increase in under a decade, possibly two, but that speculative pricing will make ABE and ILAB a graveyard for unimportant and wildly over-priced books unless such dealers decide they actually want to actually sell books.

(I discussed “Collecting Eighteenth Century Literature,” the second-hand market for Haywood and rise of speculative pricing in this 2011 post.)

Which brings us back to “endearingly naïve”: I take it that building “an expansive” and “rich collection” of “Rare Books and First Editions” by Haywood, suggests building a collection containing a significant percentage of her seventy-odd works, including at least some of her best-known works. Speaking as someone who has been attempting to do this over the last twenty years, my advice is: forget it. It can’t be done. It is a fool's errand.

The most successful Haywood collector of all time and, without-doubt the richest, was Sandy Lerner, who collected nineteen Haywood items between 1990 and 2004 as a part of a larger project at Chawton House to promote research into the writings of English women before 1830. (Chawton House have subsequently added four.) It is certainly a useful collection in its context (as a part of a larger collection of writings by English women before 1830), but it is neither “expansive” nor “rich”—lacking, for example, first of The Female Spectator, Betsy Thoughtless and Love in Excess—nor is it comprised entirely of “First Editions.” If a woman who retired on ca. $85 million in the late 1980s (see here)—wealth sufficient to endure the malice** and cupidity of gouging dealers—was unable to build “an expansive and diverting personal library around [Haywood’s] many works” as Zoschak’s article advises, then you have to ask, who can?

The key word here is personal: only very long-lived and rich institutions, which already have some key Haywood works, might have a chance to build “an expansive” collection. Going no further than the most obvious title: Betsy Thoughtless. There has not been a first of this title sold in living memory but it is not uncommon in institutions. A library already holding Betsy Thoughtless might hope to add lesser titles to it (like Jemmy and Jenny Jessamy).

An assiduous, individual collector, however, might wait a lifetime and not see a copy, or wait fifty years and miss out on it, or not be able to afford it. And Betsy Thoughtless is only uncommon in trade; of all of the Haywood firsts it one of the most common—the one to survive in the largest numbers in institutions. If it becomes sufficiently valuable, a small institution might be tempted to sell a copy ... but might is not much of a foundation to build a collection on!

Also, there are probably more than a dozen Haywood titles that are very, very unlikely to ever appear on the market, because the only surviving copy or copies are in large institutions that will never sell them. An assiduous, individual collector will never obtain firsts of titles like Fatal Fondness, The City Jilt and The Distress’d Orphan. No matter how long they live; no matter how much money they have. Even a long-lived and rich institution can only hope to get a couple of these early works, meaning that even institutions can never expect to have a truly expansive collection, if they do not have a very good one already.

So my advice to anyone reading Zoschak’s article is, as I said, forget it: opportunities are not “limitless”—as claimed—and, at present, are largely limited to encouraging speculative prices on insignificant works and editions. (Which is, of course, the endearingly naïve and amusingly cynical aim of said article.)

** or the “knavery” of the seller, in this translation of Richard de Bury’s The Philobiblon.