Colby College Special Collections houses many of Celia Thaxter titles, including a variety of collections of her poems. One of them, The Poems of Celia Thaxter, published in 1895, stands out as a piece with a significant social life. The book is medium sized with olive-green dyed front and back covers. The title and edition on the front cover are in gold all uppercase lettering, as well as a vignette of a group of flowers and grasses. The top edge of the book is gilded, but the other two are raggedly cut. The green dye of the cover has faded closer to the edges and the book has been rebacked with a fabric strip. The fabric covers the spine, hiding whatever text used to be there. Both the front and back covers are spotted by white and black smudges. The corners of the covers are worn down to the board beneath the green. It seems that the book has been placed on and removed from a bookshelf many times, scuffing these corners each time. Overall, the book is somewhat simply made, without much intricacy or detail put into its creation. It seems like a book that has been read thoroughly. The entire book seems to have suffered from water damage. The pages are all brittle and stained. Many pages are torn and barely attached to the the spine, whereas others have become so brittle that there are cracked portions, and holes in the paper. The back cover is bulging outwards and when the book is closed the pages do not lie horizontal, as they have been warped through the water damage.
Upon opening the book to its front endpaper, the rebacking job can be seen as more fabric stretched across the pastedown endpaper. The decoration on the endpapers is more detailed than the cover, but is torn in and stripped in places. There is a large rectangle where the decoration is completely stripped off from the top half of the free endpaper. It seems that a sticker was torn from the sheet. In this blank area there is a bookseller mark that reads, “y-s 3.00”. On the hinge of the free endpaper, glue from the binding of the book has leaked through.
At the head of the following page there is another bookseller mark that reads, “First Edition 1st/5.00”. Below, there is a signature from Jennie W. Basford, a potential previous owner, and below that the date, August 21, 1897, is written, as well as, “Atlantic House, Nantasket”. On the lower half of this the page the following poem is written in pencil.
They who love the poets
Will never lack a friend –
Up the road, and down the road,
And to the very end.
- Richard Watson Gilder
The following page is the half title, with “Appledore Edition” written in a gothic font above the title of the book, which is written in a more simple font. The next page has, “This is a copy from the first edition of the book” written on the center of the page, as well as a bookplate from the library of “Miss Rosamond Thaxter”. The bookplate is a cutout from the famous painting, The Great Wave by the Japanese artist, Hokusai. There is another book plate, tucked between the front endpapers from the Colby College Library. It reads that the book was a gift from the Rosamond Thaxter Estate. The title page is next, with the title on the upper portion of the page, a printer’s mark in the center, reading, “The Riverside Press” and “Tout bien ou rien.” in a gothic font, which translates to, “do it well or not at all” in Latin. Below the mark is information on the publisher and printer of the book. The printer’s imprint and copyright page is next, followed by a preface and table of contents. There is a marginalia next to the first poem listed.
The first page of poems is titled, “Poems”. The only extra information written on each page are the paginations written above the text, as well as title of the first poem to begin on each page. Throughout the book marginalia are written in pencil. Between pages 78 and 79, there is a fragment of wax paper, and between pages 132 and 133 there is a business card reading, “J. C. Huntington, General Contractors, North Road, Chelmsford, Mass”. After the last page of poetry there are a few blank pages, and then the back endpapers, decorated with the same intricate gold designs as the front endpapers.