THE ANTHONY TINO COLLECTION

THE ANTHONY TINO COLLECTION

 

THE ANTHONY TINO COLLECTION

by Boyd White

Building a significant book collection requires patience, determination, resources, and luck. A book collection, of course, reflects the interests and focus of the collector who assembles it. Its shape is also directly influenced not only by the knowledgeable booksellers and fellow bibliophiles who assist the collector in tracking down and acquiring key titles but also by the scholarly researchers whose articles and bibliographies the collector regularly consults. Highspots and landmark volumes in a particular field or genre are important to any collection, but what truly distinguishes a collection—what makes it interesting—are the number of volumes in it that are unique or nearly so, virtually unobtainable first editions of significant works that most collectors have never seen as well as interesting, compelling titles of which many collectors may not even be aware. Such books catch our attention; they stand out on the shelves and call for closer inspection. We expect to find first editions of Charles Dickens' Bleak House (1853) and Thomas Hardy's Wessex Tales (1888) in a first-rate collection of Victorian fiction, but when we encounter Charles Delorme's The Marvelous and Incredible Adventures of Charles Thunderbolt, In The Moon (1851) and Mary E. Bradley Lane's Mizora: A Prophecy of the Future (1890) in the same collection, we begin to sit up and take notice.

From Sir Francis Bacon's early Christian utopia New Atlantis. A Worke Unfinished (second edition, 1628) to Phyllis Paul's Aickmanesque Gothic Twice Lost (1960), The Anthony Tino Collection merits several hours roaming the stacks. Consisting of almost 1900 volumes, the collection features representative and foundational examples of every genre published over the 330 years it covers, all indicative of Tino's related interests in crime and sensation fiction, including the supernatural and the weird, imaginary voyages and explorations of the unknown, and scientific and social experimentation. Classics such as Vernon Lee's A Phantom Lover (1886) and G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday (1928) rest alongside more obscure yet no less intriguing works such as Lady Dorothy Mills' The Arms of the Sun (1924) and Anthony Armstrong's The Wine of Death: A Tale of the Lost Long-Ago (1925). The more we scan the shelves, the more we find to capture our interest. Juvenile fiction from the Victorian and Edwardian eras reminds us of the level of craftsmanship that produced lovely pictorial bindings for books as varied as Francis Blake Crofton's Hairbreadth Encounters of Major Mendax (1889), Robert Cromie's A Plunge into Space (second edition, 1891), and Frederick Henry Atkins' The Temple of Fire or the Mysterious Island: A Romance of the South Seas (1905). Likewise, striking, rare early 20th-century dust jackets for Mrs. Campbell Praed's The Body of His Desire: A Romance of the Soul (1912), Reginald Glossop's The Orphan of Space: A Tale of Downfall (1926), and S. Fowler Wright's Prelude in Prague: A Story of the War of 1938 (1935) display a penchant for design that has, unfortunately, entirely disappeared in our own digital age.

 The Anthony Tino Collection certainly has more than its fair share of rare first editions of fantastic fiction. These include examples of seminal works of early science fiction, including alien worlds such as Florence Carpenter Dieudonne's Rondah; Or Thirty-Three Years in a Star (1887) and proto-space operas such as Robert William Coles' The Struggle for Empire: A Story of the Year 2236 (1900). Occult thrillers like F. C. Philips' The Strange Adventures of Lucy Smith (1887) and lost race adventures like William Jenkins Shaw's Under the Auroras: A Marvellous [sic] Tale of the Interior World (1888), have acquired the reputation of legendary genre rarities that elude most collectors their entire careers. Provenance and association also contribute to a book's desirability, often making particular copies in The Anthony Tino Collection unique. Marjorie Bowen's Dr. Chaos and The Devil Snar'd (1933), written under her George R. Preedy pseudonym, is the author's own copy with numerous corrections throughout in her hand. H. G. Wells' The Croquet Player (1936) is a common book even in superior condition, but a copy inscribed by Wells to Elizabeth Bowen is a wonderful association. Sold by lost race expert Stuart Teitler to noted collector John Ruyle, the fragile yellowback of the first edition of Hume Nisbet's Valdmer the Viking. A Romance of the Eleventh Century by Sea and Land (1893) remains, as of this writing, the only known copy of this issue, a fragile book with beautiful illustrated boards.

 What is perhaps most important about The Anthony Tino collection are the number of titles with significant fantastic content that have either eluded or remained undiscovered to even the most intrepid bibliographers and researchers, works that have yet to be fully assessed for their contributions or relationships to their respective genres because of their scarcity or obscurity. Many of collection's most fascinating unknown works emphasize the significant role that women have always played in the development of fantastic fiction. Gertrude Warren's The Haunted House at Kew (1893) is a Victorian sensationalist novel with hidden treasures, undisclosed past crimes, and actual ghosts; Olive Harper's A Fair Californian (1889) is an early proto-feminist dream fantasy set in caverns of gold in Mexico; and Virginia Grace Logan's Life's Puckering Strings (1931) is an occult romance featuring a werewolf who must atone for his previous sins. Male authors, too, hold their own when it comes to ignored or nearly unobtainable books. C. Ranger Gull's The Parrot Faced Man (1912) is a biological horror story about two scientists who manage to keep their dead sibling's brain alive. Even more intriguing is M. McDonnell Bodkin's A Modern Miracle (1902), a book discovered by John Knott and Lloyd Currey. The story of Miles Bronder, a bionic man, A Modern Miracle is decades ahead of its time with its depictions of video recording devices, early television screens, wireless telephones, and miniature cameras, preceding by nine years J. D. Beresford's The Hampdenshire Wonder (1911), the work typically cited as the earliest treatment of the superman theme. All are books worthy of further attention and study.

 Book collectors are, of course, temporary custodians of the volumes they treasure and love. The Anthony Tino Collection contains a number of books that once rested in the collections of noted bibliophiles such as George Locke, John Ruyle, Stuart Teitler, and Andrew Stevens to which Tino has added interesting, significant works marked by his own particular interests. Building such a collection is ultimately a labor of love, and unlike many collectors, Anthony Tino actually read his books, which is what we ourselves now have a chance to do.