I did not plan on buying books today. Honestly, I have tried not to buy any books since the last painful spree to grab some foundational reading that I could not leave to the libraries to provide. These two books are, at least, very fortunate finds and were affordable (in the most abstract sense of the term).
G. H. Martin,and J. R. L Highfield, A History of Merton College, Oxford. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).
Well may you ask how this book is unlikely in that is it topical for me and chronologically recent. It isn’t exactly a popular or accessible topic and it was never issued in numbers and now long out of print. These are the kinds of books that get into collections and never come out. Used copies are listed online but at exorbitant prices. A recent e-mail sent out by the College, reminding students of potential Christmas gifts (available from the College development office) included the College history.
Actually, they appear to have no more than 4 or 5 copies and the one I got is slightly faded from sitting near a window in the Porter’s Lodge for several years. Demand is, apparently, low. Lack of viability is probably a factor.
The other find is likewise something long out of print and by happy coincidence, a local bookshop had their copy listed on Abebooks so I just walked down there and got it.
John G. Bellamy, Criminal Law and Society in Late Medieval and Tudor England. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984).
This is another foundational study of the period and one that frequently turns up in bibliographies. I have been looking for an affordable copy for the last 4 years. This one had the added surprise of an association. Association copies are one of the sub-genres of collecting fetish that I have no interest in, although I understand its draw on the bibliomane. Mine appears to have been a purchase by Christ Church College for one of it’s own scholars, Christopher Haigh. Haigh is a fairly big wheel in Tudor and Early Modern History although his interests mean I rarely ever run across his work in my reading. But I do know who he is. He also, like me, makes notes in his books with pencil. Unlike me, he is more careful and his tiny little marks are usually marginal ‘nota’ lines down the side and tiny exclamations like ‘stats’, and ‘riot’. I now have a vague reluctance to make my own notes in the book, but I don’t think it’s possible to keep my hand out of the way, particularly in this case where I am sure to be reading Bellamy rather closely.
I seriously doubt that such a copy will actually gain in value from two associations with Oxford academics. Who knows.