WISDEN, John. Crickters' Almanack. London: John Wisden & Co., 1864-2001.
138 volumes in 124, 8°, photographic plates where called for from 1889 onwards (margins of early volumes cut close by the binder, with occasional slight loss of text, last leaf of 1878 torn with minor loss, 1879-1886 lacking advertisements, 1888 and 1890 lacking front advertisement leaf, title of 1881 repaired at inner margin and with inscription slightly cropped, 1897 with plate bound in upside down), 1864-1989 bound by J. Speakman of Liverpool, Bain of London, Sangorski and Sutcliffe [and others] in near contemporary or contemporary bindings of maroon half calf and crimson half morocco, 1891 onwards with original wrappers or limp cloth covers bound in, 1990-2001 in original hardback cloth with dust-jackets, except for a duplicate of 1996 which is no. 24 of 150 copies in original brown morocco (upper joints of the first vol. split, one volume (1877-78) with spine chipped at head, a few other early vols. with spines frayed, spines of many of the earlier decades faded to a uniform brown, covers of 1922 slightly bowed, joints of 1951 split), the set contained in a modern fitted oak bookcase, 44 x 59½ x 12¾in.
Provenance: Robert Stratten Holmes (1850-1933, historian of Yorkshire cricket and one of the earliest cricket collectors, first owner of the set between 1864 and at least 1893, with his ownership signature in every bound volume to this date) -- Sir James Gomer Berry, Bart., from 1936 Baron Kemsley, and from 1945 Viscount Kemsley (1883-1968, newspaper proprietor and editor of the Sunday Times 1937-59, with his bookplate in all the bound volumes up to 1929, by descent to his son:) -- Geoffrey Lionel, 2nd Viscount Kemsley (1909-99). Sale: Heathcote Ball & Co., Castle Auction Rooms, Leicester, 18 November 1999, lot 728, sold to Craig Shelton.
A REMARKABLY FINE SET, formed at first hand as the volumes were issued, and with a provenance of great distinction. The first nine issues, 1864-72, are bound in three volumes, i.e. three issues per volume. The years 1873-1892 are bound in 10 volumes, i.e. two issues per volume. The remaining issues are bound singly, one volume for each year. R.S. Holmes has signed the front endpaper of all the bound volumes between 1864 and 1887 (i.e. 11 vols.). He has also signed and in most cases dated the title-pages for the following years: 1868, 1872, 1875, 1877, 1879, 1881, 1883, 1885-89, 1891, 1893. Although not signed on the title, 1864 is interleaved with 6pp. of notes and other occasional annotations in Holmes' hand. 1875 is an early issue with the text ending on p. 212. This is born out by the fact that the title has been inscribed "R.S.H. 28.12.74," the year before the official date of publication. The further date "Liverpool 4.11.84" has been added to the 1875 title and the original inscription expanded to "R.S. Holmes 28.12.74." 1889 also has an inscription "Liverpool 27.12.88," which precedes the official date of publication. Likewise the 1891 volume is dated "Wakefield 29.12.90." Many of the volumes issued in the 1900's have a Wisden compliment slip bound in; but unfortunately these slips do not give the name of the recipient.
The rise in value of Wisden during the 20th century has been one of the wonders of the modern book market; the value of a full set was estimated to be £50-75 in 1922 (see Britton Cricket Books p. 46). But there are very few sets today that have not been created at second hand from various sources. It was Craig Shelton's express wish that this ORIGINAL SET be reoffered for sale after his death without being broken up; it is sold together with 2 index volumes to Wisden (1944-85), A Century of Wisden (2001), and 3 volumes of Wisden Australian Cricketers' Almanack (1998-2000). (144)