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April 3, 1967

The Door to the Book

Author Affiliations

Librarian and professor of medical bibliography, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago.

JAMA. 1967;200(1):7-12. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120140065008

The early history of the title page is well documented in the British Museum, where the crimes of probably the greatest biblioclast of all time are preserved in a series of innocent-looking scrapbooks. John Bagford spent most of his life (1650-1716) collecting material for a history of printing. He did this by tearing the title pages or representative pages of text out of thousands of books. His search for material took him over much of England and Europe. He obtained his books by purchase, borrowing, or outright theft. After tearing out the pages he wanted, he had no further interest in the books themselves. Since Bagford's "collection" amounts to more than 20,000 pages, he left a large number of mutilated books along the way. Many of these volumes can still be found in libraries or even on the market. For this reason book collectors have justification for anathematizing Bagford's name