WISE, Thomas J. (1859-1937) -- The Ashley Library. A Catalogue of Printed Books, Manuscripts and Autograph Letters. London: Printed for Private Circulation, 1922-1936.
11 volumes, 4o (251 x 182 mm). Plates and facsimiles. Original cream cloth, t.e.g., others uncut. Provenance: John Carter (bookplates, annotations, his sale, Sotheby's London, 24 March 1976, lot 21.)
A FASCINATING RECORD OF CARTER'S INVESTIGATIONS INTO WISE'S FORGERIES
LIMITED EDITION, one of 200 copies from an edition of 250, with numerous manuscript notes by Carter throughout. His annotations often state simply, "a forgery" or "a piracy," other times correct errors in the given collations or elaborate on issues and bindings. Carter shows his careful reading of the descriptions by writing pointed questions in the margins, querying physical descriptions, notes about limitations, etc. Regarding a P.B. Shelley letter in vol. V, p.25, he writes: "this letter is of dubious authenticity. See TLS April 1937." Most annotations are a few words, some as long as several sentences.
A very fine association copy of the "Catalogue, compiled by the collector himself, of the library of Thomas J. Wise, bibliographer, marchand amateur, book thief, and ingenious typographical forger who created rarities of nineteenth-century literature by having certain texts printed with false dates. In spite of the inclusion of these, the catalogue of the Ashley Library, which was acquired by the British Museum, is a useful reference work, especially on English nineteenth-century first editions, which are represented in unrivalled completeness. The late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century collections are also very full" (Breslauer & Folter).
Carter, with Graham Pollard, undertook one of the most fascinating investigations in the history of bibliography, employing entirely novel scientific methods, and told their tale of discovery with great panache, making it read like a detective story. Their work, An Enquiry into the Nature of Certain Nineteenth Century Pamphlets (1934), proved beyond doubt that Wise, highly respected as a bibliographer and book collector, had faked, with the assistance of another bibliographer, Harry Buxton Forman, numerous privately printed "pre-first" editions of nineteenth-century authors by typographical means. Breslauer & Folter 151. (11)