Sunday, February 28, 2010

To Err On The Side Of Caution/ Gouverneur Morris Bookplate

"THIS AUCTION IS FOR A FIRST EDITION(1782) VOLUME OF JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU'S FAMOUS "CONFESSIONS OF ROUSSEAU".WHAT MAKES THIS VOLUME REALLY SPECIAL IS THAT IT HAS THE FORMER OWNER'S BOOKPLATE.THE BOOKPLATE IS FROM "GOUVERNEUR MORRIS".WHO IS A SIGNER OF THE CONSTITUTION,AS WELL AS THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION.HE IS CREDITED WITH WRITING THE FAMOUS LINE FROM THE PREAMBLE "WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES" ETC.THE VOLUME IS FULL LEATHER,ALL PAGES ARE INTACT,BINDING IS ALSO INTACT,THERE ARE A FEW SCUFFS ON THE BACK COVER.THE FIRST EDITION WAS WRITTEN IN FRENCH.THIS VOLUME IS PART OF A LARGER SET.BUYER PAYS $5.00 MEDIA RATE SHIPPING.PLEASE SEE THE PICTURES OF THIS SUPER COLLECTIBLE.I ONLY SHIP TO THE USA(NO EXCEPTIONS)"

I spotted the listing shown above on Ebay and was interested but somewhat skeptical so I wrote to the seller as follows:

How do you know  that this is the bookplate used by the founding father and not a descendent with the same name? All my reference books show a different bookplate. If you can cite a credible reference I will be glad to place a bid.

The seller promptly responded as follows:

"hi lewis. if you research"governeur morris" you will see that he spent time in france around the same time this book was printed.he also spoke fluent french.it certainly makes proper sense that he could very easily have picked up this book while he was in france.especially since his bookplate is in the book.,and the bookplate is very old.however,i wasn't there when he bought it.so my advice is if you don't feel comfortable with purchasing it,then please don't.i don't want you to have buyer's remorse and have us debate over getting your money back.it is not worth it for either of us. thanks very much for having interest in my book."

This is the Gouverneur Morris bookplate in my collection (Allen # 591)
Frankly, I do not know if the booklabel listed on Ebay was used by Gouverneur Morris or his son, whose name was also Gouverneur Morris. My gut tells me that the plate is  mid 19th century not 18th century but I can't say that with certainty.
I chose not to bid and neither did anyone else.If the seller is correct in his wishful thinking assumptions I missed a valuable addition to my collection.

Next weekend I will be at the book show in Washington D.C.
http://www.wabf.com/
  My Sunday blog may be delayed until Monday.

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