Saturday, April 7, 2007

Preservation versus Conservation

With all this blogging about Antiquarian Books, and what exactly constitutes a rare book, I was thinking, that I dont need to touch the original books to appreciate them. I just love looking at them.

One thing that Annie Tremmel Wilcox wrote in her book was "Simply put, preservation is the attempt to save the intellectual content of books, while conservation is the attempt to save both the intellectual content and its vehicle..."

I actually own quite a few antiquarian books already - but they are preserved on CD-ROM as pdf texts. I purchase these from a business called Archive CD Books.

If you scroll down the above link, you will see that there are 6 branches - UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland & Holland. Most of the books these people scan to CD are related to genealogy. Records such as census records, telephone directories etc.

But they also scan old history books as well. I've got several antiquarian English books on CD, dating back to the 1700s. I still get a lot of enjoyment out of them, as I get the thrill of reading an ancient book with all the original calligraphy and typesetting, and the original illustrations as well.

Since most of my ancestors came from the County of Devon in England, I have purchased a number of books relating to the city of Exeter.

Books such as:

Gleanings from the Municipal & Cathedral Records relative to the History of the city of Exeter - published in 1877

Remarkable Antiquities of the City of Exeter - published in 1741

Hoker's Description and Account of Exeter - published in 1765

Civil and Ecclesiastical History of Exeter - published in 1841

and History of the City of Exeter - published in 1861.
And this book also contains a City map of Exeter dated 1617.

I'm very happy with purchasing antiquarian books in this manner, because I know that I will probably never be able to afford to buy the original books. But I still get the same enjoyment as someone who collects the original book.

To me the intellectual content is more important that the vehicle. As long as the intellectual content is a faithful copy (or facsimile) of the original. If I was reading a modern edition, I don't think I would get quite the same enjoyment.

Please excuse me using the Canadian catalogue, but that is the one I buy my CDs from. All shops have access to all the same Books on CD. And anyone can purchase a CD from any shop.

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