Monday, January 19, 2015

Inscribed Book Examples

Inscription/Inscribed refers to a short message dedicating the item to someone or something. If it is from the author, the more notable the person is that it was made out to, the more it can increase the value of the book. However, if an inscription is from the former owner's ex, or someone equally dismissible, it does not help the value, and may decrease it in most cases. An inscribed item is not necessarily signed or autographed! 

Although the term is sometimes used to denote a signed item, it would be more correct in the above example to state that the item was autographed and inscribed "To Dick".

An inscribed book can also be referred to as a presentation copy that has been signed by the author to another person. 

Depending on the individual, a collector will share one or the other of two views about author inscribed books. 

The first is that to some, inscriptions detract from the desirability of the book. 

Those that are into modern literature are commonly seen favoring this 'old school of thought;' Where I, myself, came across a book at the thrift store presumably signed by Maya Angelou; that was inscribed, "Am. Red Cross Successful Bidder," I would prefer a book inscribed to me personally, or simply signed, without an inscription at all; however you can't be so ungrateful when you just happen across a copy like in my situation, would someone else (a collector of some sort) opt to pass it up?

 On the other hand, inscriptions are great...

    The idea is that an inscription makes the book special!  Since the book has spent some time in the author's possession, making it evident that a unique story exists behind the signature- helps collectors, like me, connect with the author- the more the author wrote on the book, the more time he spent, the better!

A simple signature is so generic, I think so anyway, and some will differ in their opinion here... where as, I look at the signature and wonder why it was included, when there is nothing else left with it to connect to or suggest why the author took the time to do this and how it came to be that the signature would appear as it does! 

Additionally, if the inscription can be shown to be to someone associated with the author (family, friend, editor, or another author, perhaps), its desirability increases. This is called an association copy. 

There's always the possibility that, with some research, what first appears to be an unimportant inscription may be shown to actually be an association copy. Here (Pictured: Above Right) I have a photocopy from the title page of a book I found one day 'treasure hunting' at the thrift store. The book is titled; The Professional: Lyndon B. Johnson by Lyndon B. Johnson.

However, since I was not present to witness this copy being signed; nor have I been able to gather any more provenance on the history behind this particular inscription, nor was I able to positively identify which Bill Morris it is that the book is inscribed to. So therefore I cannot guarantee this copy to be a genuine association copy, however it is my personal opinion this could be a good example of one with more research in the future. 

An association copy is inscribed by the author to another author, a well-known person, or someone else associated with the author. The term association copy can also be used to designate a book, not necessarily signed, which was owned by someone of note, or associated with the author. 

Association copies are very desirable; of course, an "association" will enhance the book's value. 

The dedication copy is one which the author has signed to the person to whom the book is dedicated, for example: the person behind the author's inspiration and/or the purpose for a book. A dedication copy is the ultimate association copy/inscribed copy, due to its rarity! The inscription below is one of my most interesting of all book inscriptions from my collection.

pictured above: front end paper from the book;
His Hand Against Every Man by Mary Alice Siddall

All images provided on are taken from my personally owned or previously owned books.

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