Finding a Book to Have and to Hold

to have

When asked to choose a book, or baby, to study for this course, I had no idea which one to choose. I didn’t own any particularly old or interesting books. While google searching “beautiful books,” I came across the Gospels of Henry the Lion, which was sold in 1983 for $12.4 million dollars. At the time, I didn’t know that I was looking at a codex, which is a bound manuscript with written words. It was a gorgeous text, as you can see below, but I decided that I wanted to physically own a paper copy of the book that I would be researching. Since $12.4 million dollars was a steep price, I went back to the drawing board.


I ended up traveling to the Milton Flea Market in Milton, WV in hopes of finding a suitable book. I found a novel titled To Have and to Hold which was written by Mary Johnston. My copy is identical to the photo below.


As I further analyzed the book, I noted that it was published in 1899 by Houghton & Mifflin Co, which is now known as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and was printed by the Riverside Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I also remembered that Professor Ingersoll had mentioned how Bruce Rogers, considered by many to be one of the greatest typographers of the twentieth century, was connected to the Riverside Press during that time. In addition, the book was in fairly good condition, had a colophon that I could use for more research and information, interesting illustrations, and an inscription in the front cover from a previous owner in 1900. The combination of all of these things made this book unique and beautiful in my eyes, although it was a commercial text, and prompted me to purchase it. All in all, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to study this book for a semester, and when compared to $12.4 million, I think $4.00 was a great alternative.

Fun facts:

#1 It was the best-selling novel of 1900.

#2 The novel had two screen adaptations and a third was scheduled to be filmed in 2011.

#3 Pocahontas’ husband, John Rolfe, is mentioned in the book.


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