Association Copies

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Association Copies

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des. 1, 2016, 11:45 pm

An association copy is a book that has enhanced importance because of the person or people who owned it. It may be presented by the author or artist to someone who is important to that person or the work itself. In some interesting cases, the copy may include writing by the author or artist with annotations or marginal notes of relevance to the work.

ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter provides an interesting definition with some examples:

Other People's Books by Tanselle for the Caxton Club has an impressive selection of association copies which tell important stories.

Some of us are fortunate to have examples of these interesting books in our collection. The purpose of this message thread is to showcase examples with illustrations and notes on the significances presented by them.

Over time I'll post some examples from my collection. I hope that others will be inspired to share examples either from their own collection or perhaps things seen in other private or institutional collections.


des. 3, 2016, 11:41 am

This is an example of an association copy in our collection. It is a copy of Under Dewey at Manila that was signed by the author, Edward Stratemeyer (1862-1930), and presented to a fellow author, George Waldo Browne (1851-1930), in exchange for one of his books. However, it is more than a fraternal gift. Browne was a frequent correspondent with Stratemeyer and wrote some stories for him. Most importantly, Browne endorsed Stratemeyer as a successor to "Oliver Optic" to the publisher's manager, Warren F. Gregory, which led to Stratemeyer writing An Undivided Union (Lee & Shepard, 1899). Browne also mentioned this endorsement in the first published biographical article about Stratemeyer which was published in The Writer (March 1902).

For details on the association, see the link above.


des. 3, 2016, 6:35 pm

A later example of a Stratemeyer Syndicate association copy is this 1966 reprint of Tom Swift and His Outpost in Space (Grosset & Dunlap, 1955) by "Victor Appleton II" (James Duncan Lawrence writing from a Stratemeyer Syndicate outline). This copy was presented to Dr. Fred L. Whipple, a comet expert who formed the "dirty snowball" postulate. He was a consultant on the Syndicate's 1966 volume of the series Tom Swift and the Mystery Comet. The inscription, signed "Victor Appleton II", may be the writing of James Duncan Lawrence Sr. according to his son Jim Lawrence Jr.

des. 4, 2016, 4:58 pm

Zimmerman, who writes a blog called American Book Collecting, recently displayed association copies of Rosenbach's Unpublishable Memoirs. Fascinating!

Susan Dichter

des. 4, 2016, 8:32 pm

I have a book that I know for a fact was owned by Howard Zinn, but he didn't record his name in it. Oh well!

Editat: des. 5, 2016, 11:15 am

I have James Whitcomb Riley's pocket dictionary, The Pocket Gem Pronouncing Dictionary. His signature is on the inside cover and there is a presentation attestation from one of his heirs to my husband's great aunt. It also held a couple of doggerel bits clipped from newspapers.

Editat: des. 5, 2016, 11:27 pm

4 Susan Dichter

You mentioned Zimmerman and his association copies of Rosenbach's Unpublishable Memoirs. Kurt Zimmerman and I used to bid against each other on ebay for books-about-books related association copies. But he had more money than I did! So I left those association copies for him, and collected association copies belonging to authors, actors, aviators, and other famous people.

I sold my aviation association copies in 2006 while waiting for my disability retirement to be approved. But I had previously written about them in 2004 in the old online AB Bookman's Magazine: The Sentimental Airman.

In 2015, I gave a talk before the Florida Bibliophile Society on my collection of association copies, and then posted it on My Sentimental Library blog: Whose Hands Were on this Book?

I just gave a talk about association copies at my local library last month, and included several association copies not mentioned in my previous talk/blog post. I won't inundate you with them now, but may post some down the road if this thread proves popular.

gen. 19, 2017, 2:00 pm

4 moibibliomaniac

Sorry it has taken me so long to acknowledge your Dec. 5, 2016 message. I have not been on Library Thing in some time. I thought your blog, Whose Hands Were on This Book," was swell and I intend to read the rest as soon as I have time. Thank you! Susan Dichter

gen. 19, 2017, 3:19 pm

A not at all notable example is my copy of When Illness Goes Public. The inscription shows that the author gave it to Augusto Odone, member of a family dicussed at length in the book. (The film 'Lorenzo's Oil' is about them.) What makes it of interest to me is that it ended up in the UK & that Odone was still alive when it did; obviously, he got rid of the book--why? The work is serious and sympathetic toward the subjects, but was Odone a touchy sort who found something offensive in a reference to him that no one else would notice? was he clearing his life of everything that might remind him of the dead son? did he leave it in a taxi, one driven by a light-fingered temporary employee who kept the book & took it back home with him to England?