Decades before condition, condition, condition! became the mantra of contemporary book collectors, it was the raison d'être of the great early 20th century collector of Trollope and his contemporaries, Morris Longstreth Parrish (1867-1944). In fact, so fastidious was Parrish about the condition of the books that he would allow into his personal library that his name eventually became synonymous with a particular sort of "condition fetish:" [t]he phrase "Parrish condition" became a trade word among bibliophiles for the highest quality standard of first editions, as exemplified by Parrish's purchases.
Parrish routinely upgraded the thousands of volumes in his private library with better copies as such copies became available, and he was not shy about suggesting that other collectors do the same. Parrish also gave much other advice, not all of which has resonated as well with modern-day book collectors.
Some of this advice Parrish summarized in a 1934 article for The Colophon, A Book Collectors' Quarterly:
I think, in the first place, that dust wrappers should be discarded the moment a book is received; that an unopened book has no place in any library ... when a book is acquired, I think it should be carefully examined and all incomplete openings perfected. Some dealers have a habit of marking their prices in books. I strongly recommend that every pencil mark of this character be erased.
As Robert J. Milesvki points out in a recent article for The Book Collector, anyone following this sort of advice is likely to have destroyed a great deal of bibliographically important information: printers' marks, certainly, and presumably publisher's marks as well ("Marks in Nineteenth-Century Trade Bindings," The Book Collector, Spring 2011). As for the information about publishing, text reception and the like that might otherwise have been traced through all those discarded dustjackets ... so much the worse for historians of the book.
Upon his death, Parrish's collection of 6300+ volumes, plus nearly eighteen hundred Lewis Carroll mathematical manuscripts ... [and] approximately one thousand manuscript items were donated to Princeton University's Rare Books and Special Collections Department (from whence come the images in today's post), where today most are housed in their own room, a room which strives to recreate Parrish's private library at Dormy House in Pine Valley, New Jersey....