[Joseph Sams of Darlington, bookseller and traveller.] Two Autograph Letters Signed (both 'J. Sams'), to prospective customer Godfrey Meynell, describing the merits and deficiencies of 'a rare edition of Chaucer', and another book, in his catalogue.

Joseph Sams (1784-1860) of Darlington, bookseller, dealer in antiquities, traveller in Egypt and Palestine [Godfrey Meynell]
Publication details: 
Both from Darlington. 15 and 17 August 1847.
SKU: 22242

See Sams's entry in the Oxford DNB. Two letters providing an interesting glimpse of the practicalities of Victorian antiquarian bookselling. Both letters 3pp, 12mo, and bifoliums addressed on reverse of second leaf, with broken seals and postmarks, to 'Godfrey Meynell Esqre | at Mr Stamp's, | Surgeon, | Seaton Carew, | nr Hartlepool.' Both addressed to 'Respected Frd.' In fair condition, aged and worn. ONE: 15 August 1847. He begins by explaining that he was 'from home in the city of Durham' when Meynell's letter came. Sams explains the pricing of two items in his catalogue, beginning with: 'The reduced price, to give satisfaction, that the rare Chaucer, 1542, folio was put at, was £2. 15s. 6d, tho' it was considered modest at a guinea more, 3. 13. 6'. The second book, 'the Anglo Poetica', 'has not a word said for bind[in]g, therefore it is to be taken as in old binding, for when in Russia, they carefully state it, & when extra bd, neat, &c. But the present is very neat, in the original oak bds covered with leather, a state generally quite prized.' He discusses the cost of delivery: 'The carriage I do not suppose will be above a shilling, which is the price to York, much further than Seaton. However, as perhaps the gentleman to whom I now write may be a customer hereafter, I have determined to sustain the further loss (tho' not intended to go, at the least, under the £2. 15s. 6) & on receing a line saying the exact mode by which this work is to be sent, & whether by coach or merchant train, (the post order can be enclosed in the letter) it shall be very carefully packed, & sent, as may be pointed out.' He ends with the information that 'a gentleman I saw at Durham, since I have been away, spoke to me about this very work, & it seems likely he will call abt. It when this way, at not less than 3£. or 3. 3s. | Had it not the little injury, it is supposed it wd. be well worth even 5£. now.' TWO: 17 August 1847. Begins: 'Thine has come to hand, - the rare edition of Chaucer has been gone thro' leaf by leaf, & it seems quite difficult to collate, for the paging is very often wrong, but the catchwords prove nothing to be wanting. Yet we fear 1 or 2 leaves are wanting in the interior, (quite perfect at beginning & end) tho' difficult to ascertain as clearly as could be wished.' Sams is 'striving to leave for the Metropolis' the following day, '& time being exceedingly precious, so close attention has not been given to the looking over the book, as could otherwise.)' He suggests a price of £2 15s for 'this rare book, which is remarkable, in having the original first, & second titles, as well as last leaf, &c, & also for being in the original oak bds neatly covered with embossed leather'. He ends: 'I think of keeping it, apprehending it wd. bring that, or more, at auction even.' A postscript concerns catalogue orders, and ends: 'The christn. name is Joseph -'. In another hand (Meynell's?), beneath the address on the reverse of the second leaf, is an eight-line note on the faults in a book (the Chaucer?), beginning: 'In the prologue at least 2 leaves are wanting that is from verse 505 to 715 -'.