Whenever I touch an old book, I find great fun to reflect on its content, appearance, any scribbled notes in the margins, and book seals. It could be one of several different reprints, or it could be a one of a kind, beautifully crafted piece. My imagination also runs to the previous owners of the book...how many people have held and read this book? And then again, the notes in the margins and book seals stimulate my imagination as to how this book found its way here, perhaps through so many different hands. Also, the book's condition and whether it was mended tells me something of what it meant to its previous owners.
There are quite a few rare books in Frank Hawley's collection for the reason that Hawley bought anything that may even have only slightly interested him regardless of its price. It is our good fortune that Hawley collected different kinds of editions, appearances, and even categories of one book. In the case of printing, he tried to collect the first and high quality editions. Sometimes even the book's wrapping paper from when it was purchased was nicely preserved. In addition to his thoroughness, Hawley paid very close attention to caring for and preserving his books. I can feel his precision and passion for this whenever I touch his books. Hawley placed a special order with a skilled craftsman to create a custom made bookcase for each book. He never missed even the smallest hole that needed to be mended.
The Frank Hawley collection bears several different book seals. They fall roughly into three categories:
1. Book seals that belonged to owners prior to Hawley's acquisition,
2. Book seals from antiquarian and rare books dealers acting on Hawley's behalf, and
3. Hawley's own book seals.
Many book seals prior to Hawley's acquisition show that they belonged to well known people. For example, the title Chuzan denshinroku bussan ko （中山傳信録物産考）has red colored seals such as「不忍文庫 (Shinobazu Bunko)」「阿波国文庫 (Awanokuni Bunko)」, which belonged to the famous Japanese studies scholar Koken Yashiro. The book Gozen honzo (御膳本草) was stamped with a big red seal「中城御殿 (Nakagusuku Udun)」. This indicates that the book was once owned by Prince Nakagusu of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Then there was the Sorimachi Kobunso, an antiquarian books dealer that Hawley often used. When a book was sold by Sorimachi, a book seal 「月明荘 (Getsumeiso)」was stamped on it. It is said that a book bearing Sorimachi's Hancho's book seal was extremely rare and valuable.
Frank Hawley himself used 「宝玲文庫 (Horei Bunko)」as his seal. He had four kinds of book seals ( images of Hawley's book seals). Three types of characters were used for the seals and he also used red and black colors. First, Hawley did not like to stamp on his collections because he valued his books so much. However, Hawley's friend, Dr. Robert van Gulik persuaded him to stamp his seals. Dr. Gulik created Hawley's book seals and also a plaque that hung in his den. Go to top of the page