Daily Archives: February 24, 2010

The Enemies of Books

Destruction of Books at Ephesus

I learned a new word today: biblioclast, or destroyer of books. Found it on the frontispiece of The Enemies of Books by William Blades.

As you can see from its Table of Contents — Fire, Water, Gas and Heat, Dust and Neglect, Ignorance, The Bookworm, Other Vermin, Bookbinders, Collectors & Servants and Children — the author, William Blades, has spotted elemental, entomological and occupational enemies, even as far back as 1880.

John Bagford, “shoemaker and biblioclast,” appears in the chapter about Collectors. He apparently “went about the country, from library to library, tearing away title pages from rare books of all sizes,” intent on creating a key to the history of printing, but detaching key bibliographic information from parent works. You can see glimpses of The Bagford Fragments on the British Library’s website.

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