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Image of front cover of booklet

Virginia Woolf Crosses The Atlantic

It's amazing how many Transatlantic links there are for collectors of ephemera. That's why it makes supreme sense for Americans visiting the UK to try to schedule their trips to coincide with ephemera fairs and bazaars. The same is true for Britons visiting the United States, as proved by a 'find' at a recent trip to an American fair called Papermania.

For my wife and I it wasn't a trip across the Atlantic, but it was a 400-mile drive each way to and from Hartford, Connecticut from our home in Canada. More about Papermania, to set the stage; the event occurs twice a year in Hartford - early January and late August; there were 162 dealer tables shown on the Exhibitor List for what was billed as the "62nd Papermania Plus"; and virtually all of the dealers were drawn from the Northeastern United States.

So where does Virginia Woolf fit in to this scene? She fits in as a copy of Walter Sickert. A Conversation at the table of a dealer who had bins and bins of sleeved material, well organized and presented. The booklet was found under the caption that we all love to explore: "Miscellaneous". The pictures tell the story from here, except for the question, "How DID the booklet move from the UK to the Northeastern United States?"

We know that it began its journey at the Hogarth Press in London in 1934.

Image of Hogarth Press, London 1934

We can also surmise that it could have been retailed originally by a bookseller in Bristol whose name is shown on a label pasted toward the foot of the outside back cover.

Image of bookseller's label

Many years ago it later came into the hands of a second-hand book dealer in the UK who pencilled faintly at the top of the outside front cover "First Edition 6/-".

It's unlikely that the dealer who pencilled the price sold it directly to the vendor at Papermania - too many years have elapsed since the change to decimal currency in the UK. So a detective would surmise that the booklet went through at least one owner's hands subsequent to the "First Edition" notation, and that a subsequent owner moved - or returned - to the United States. The dealer from whom I purchased the booklet likely picked it up at an estate sale, and probably as part of a collection of miscellaneous books and/or papers.

The reason for the last comment is that the asking price was ten dollars American - about 6 pounds. Assuming that the dealer made a profit on his eventual price to me of 8 dollars, he wouldn't likely have spent the time to purchase such a small item separately, and he had no other Bloomsbury Group or other British ephemera at his stall.

We don't collect Bloomsbury Group ephemera, but we were pleased to recognize this iteration of Virginia Woolf material on the American side of the Atlantic, and to bring her safely to Canada. Such is the global reach of ephemera!

John G. Sayers is North American Representative on the Council of the Ephemera Society, and a past member of the Board of The Ephemera Society of America.



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