Tips for acquiring a collection

Are you a relatively new member of the Society and just starting your collection? Or have you been a member for some time, but still have quite a few holes in your catalogue of editions? Well if so, check out the post below by Australian member Charles Littrell who has some tips and advice on acquiring a complete collection!

Collecting Malone Society Publications

Charles Littrell

What is a complete collection?
The Society’s website gives a complete list under “Publications”.

There are 179 numbered publications from 1907 through 2012.  There are two “A” supplements and an un-numbered volume, making the current full collection 182 volumes.

The great majority of the volumes are reprints of early modern English plays, sometimes fully or partially in facsimile, more generally as a reprint of the original text.  There are also 21 (so far) volumes of “Collections”, comprising interesting documents relevant to early modern plays.

All volumes are hardcover octavos.  From 1907 to 2005 they were printed by Oxford University Press.  From that point, Manchester University Press took over.  From 1907 to about 1990, all volumes were 8 ¾ inches by 7 inches (22 x 18 cm).  Since then the sizes have varied, typically slightly larger.  From 1907 to about 1960 the spines and first 1.5” (or thereabouts) of the covers were buff, with the remainder light blue.  From 1960 to about 1972 both spines and covers were buff, but two-toned.  From 1972 an undifferentiated buff/tan has applied.  Please note that this description of sizes and external colour schemes ignores a few variations on the general theme.

Page numbers vary widely, from less than 100 to several hundred.

Special and expanded issues
1)    In 1924, the Walpole Society and the Malone Society jointly produced “Designs by Inigo Jones for Masques and Plays at Court”, which while not an official part of the collection, is nonetheless a magnificent volume worth its steep price.

2)    Volume 42, the 1914 “Tragedy of Mariam”, was reprinted in 1991 with additional commentary.  This is Volume “42A” in the collection list, and necessary for a complete collection.

3)    “Fedele and Fortunio”, Volume 16 from 1909, had a supplement, Volume 16A, issued in an envelope in 1933.  I am only aware of this existing in the better established libraries, and offer my eternal gratitude to any person who can suggest a source for a private collector!

Purchasing from the society
Members automatically receive editions each membership year.

Members may purchase available back editions from the Society, by contacting ElizabethSharrett on  Back editions currently cost £15 plus postage. Non-members may also purchase directly from the Society at £25 per volume plus postage.

The Society currently runs a monthly offer of a recent edition for £5, which is an exceptionally good deal!

Ordering from the publisher
Manchester University Press is the Society’s current publisher. Titles that have been in print for less than three years are only available through MUP.

The publisher’s price is currently £45 plus shipping.

Out of print editions
With patience, most out of print Malones can be acquired online for a reasonable price.

Some tricks of the trade
Publication dates
Curiously, the Malones are ordered and dated in scheduled publication order, not actual publication date.  Many Malones end up with two dates:  the “official” or intended publication year, and the actual publication year.

Currently the Society is up to Volume XVI of Collections, planned for 2007 and issued in 2011.  But there are in fact 21 volumes of collections, because:

1)    “Collections I” was released in (notionally) five volumes, but the fourth and fifth volumes are in fact one book, and count as one entry on the list.

2)    “Collections II” was released in three volumes.

So XVI + 4 – 1 + 2 = 21 “Collections” volumes.

Some earlier editions have been reprinted by Oxford University Press.

Serious collectors will take care to focus upon the first printings of the Malone editions.  Readers who are mainly interested in a volume’s content, rather than edition status, may be happy with the later reproductions.

Malone stack

Happy collecting!

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