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First edition of rare book is a valuable find

December 25, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

Dear Helaine and Joe:

Do you know anything about this book? Thank you, L.P.

Dear L.P.: Yes, we know quite a lot about this book. But it would have helped if we had more information from the owner. As it stands, we are going to have to make do with what we can glean from the photographs.

First of all, the title of the tome appears to be "An Encyclopedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy" by Manly P. Hall. It was first published in 1928 by H.S. Crocker, of San Francisco.

Manly Palmer Hall was born in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1901 and was a distinguished scholar, philosopher, author, lecturer, astrologer and mystic. In 1934, he founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, which is still in existence (and for more information beyond the few words we can write about the book, we suggest L.P. contact the famous institution).

According to the photograph of the title page sent by L.P., the copy in today's question is from the "Subscriber's Edition," which was the first edition and limited to just 550 signed copies. The information we could find was unsubstantiated, but we have found reference to examples from this particular edition having been bought a year before the manuscript was turned over to the publisher, and the cost for each copy was originally $75 ($15 on signing up, and $60 thereafter in four easy installments). After publication the price was $100.

This is copy No. 9 of the 550, and Hall signed it twice -- once as the author signing a limited edition and again in a dedication to the buyer, which may read "To M. Bane Very Sincerely Manly P. Hall." After the Subscription Edition, there was the King Solomon Edition (550 copies), the Theosophical Edition, (200 copies), the Rosicrucian Edition (100 copies) and the fifth edition (800 copies).

The book, which was designed by John Henry Nash, a printer to the Vatican, should be in elephant folio size (approximately 12½ by 19 inches), and the paper should have an "Alexandra Japan Made in USA" watermark. There appears to be an information sheet from a bookseller whose name was only partially shown, but we believe it came from Acorn Books, a bookstore founded in San Francisco in 1980 but closed in the recent past.

The sheet tends to verify this is the first edition of Hall's most important book, but the volume in today's question does have some problems. We do not know if it has its original slipcase. And there is damage to the spine in the form of chipping to the title plate. However, this is a common problem with the book.

We have found the book retailed for as little as $1,500 and as much as $4,500 and feel that an in-person examination would be necessary before a firm price can be established for the rather rare book.

(Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson have written a number of books on antiques. Do you have an item you'd like to know more about? Contact them at Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email them at treasu[email protected] If you'd like your question to be considered for their column, please include a high-resolution photo of the subject, which must be in focus, with your inquiry.)

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