Latest news and Technical Updates
7 November 2012. Our principal telephone number has now been out of action for more than a week and will not be back until 10 December (a 'fault at the exchange'). In the meantime all calls are automatically diverted which means that either we answering them in strange places (the pouring rain) or they go to a mobile answering service. If you think that your call has failed to arrive please try again, preferably after 10 December, or use email.
18 November 2010. Because of some unexplained technical problem with our web hosting provider we were deprived of 'ftp' access to our site for six days and thus unable to upload new material and delete those pieces which had been sold. A larger than usual number of new items are being added now, and there will be more to come shortly.
October 2010. Little has changed over the last couple of years, except that fresh material is being added to the site almost every day and sold material removed to the archived section. However, in one swift move, the background colour has been changed to something a little less violent.
December 2008. We provide a guide to the rates of exchange of the US dollar and Euro in the indexes on this site. At present the rates are fluctuating continuously so we make regular changes. Since most transactions now take place using credit cards the exact cost will of course depend on the rate being used by the credit card companies at the time of the transaction.
June 2008. We have now amalgamated the previous two sections in each category (i.e. everything is now to be found in a single alphabetical list under 'Art', 'Literature' etc.) Now that broadband connections are so common this is a convenience that should not unduly slow down the system. Please let us know if you encounter any problems.
December 2007. If you are using a browser such as Netscape, Firefox or Opera, which, unlike Internet Explorer, does not have a 'chained' security certificate, you may receive a 'warning' message regarding our own security certificate. We recommend that you examine and accept our certificate and the message will go away (and we hope stay away). There is no issue with the security and encryption of our site. The fault lies with the browsers.
October 2007. We have now completed the formalities to secure our entire website. This means that we shall be able to provide an fully-encrypted order / purchase form on which it will be safe to transmit confidential personal information. We shall not immediately need to use encryption on parts of the site which are only for information (i.e. stock lists etc.) but have already introduced it on the order form and may make it available on other feedback forms in due course. We do not disclose any confidential client information to other parties under any circumstances.
February 2007. We can strongly recommend the new website provided by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) www.culturalpropertyadvice.gov.uk providing advice and help to the trade, to private collectors and to institutions in respect of the safe and legal conduct of business.
Tuesday, 30 May 2006. Because of a programming error the indexes have in the last couple of days contained large numbers of items which had already been sold (these should only be visible in the 'search' facility for archived material). The fault has now been rectified, and we promise to check the results more carefully in future when making fine adjustments to the system.
We are occasionally asked whether we provide certificates of authenticity. The answer is 'no'. We have been members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association since 1967. Our reputation is our guarantee. Everything we sell is warranted genuine without limit of time. In our view many so-called 'certificates of authenticity', unless they come from dealers who are already well-known and respected, may be regarded with considerable suspicion.
14 November 2005: You may have noticed that we occasionally tinker with the layout and facilities on the site, often in response to requests from clients to make life easier. We have now revised the order of the menu items in the menu bar at the top of all the pages, and have expanded all the internal links into one page, which we have called the 'site index'. This is intended to make navigating to any part of the site as easy as possible.
20 May 2004: The entire site was re-located on a new and faster server at some time on Wednesday 19 May. If you come across any problems, especially relating to the display of images, please let us know and they will be corrected. Spelling included. We have had to remove most of the 'thumbnail' images for the time being, but a link is provided in each case to the longer description and picture where available. There may be some delay in responding to e-mail in the few days following 19 May.
We attend all of the major and many of the minor auction sales, and act as agents for libraries, private clients and trade colleagues. We also carry out valuations (appraisals) of collections for the purposes of insurance, probate or private sale.
We usually issue a printed catalogues each year although most of our recent acquisitions are added to the database here on line on a daily basis. If you would like a copy of the printed catalogue please use the form on the 'contact' page.
The Company's reference library is especially rich in volumes of collected letters and biographies as well as the standard works of facsimiles, some of them now very rare. We are happy to share information with any of our clients.
We are particularly willing to make individual offers to those clients whose interests are known to us. If you have specific collecting interests in the field of autographs please contact us giving the fullest details of your requirements. It is particularly useful to have specific names on file ('Nelson', 'Dickens') etc., rather than categories like 'literature'. As a general rule we do not deal in stage, screen and sports memorabilia.
Catalogue 89 Two years since our last printed catalogue we issued a new catalogue in November 2002. This catalogue differs from previous issues in having rather abbreviated descriptions. Every piece in the catalogue also appears on this site, often with a longer description and an illustration. We are sending email messages to all those clients whose email addresses are known to us to draw attention to this site. Those without email addresses will generally have received a copy of the catalogue by mail, with an urgent request to supply their electronic addresses and lists of desiderata so that we can communicate rather more speedily in future.
The descriptions and indexes used in this site contain quite a large number of 'special characters' including foreign accents and fractions. It has come to our attention that not all browsers correctly interpret the 'numbered entity' version of the HTML code for these characters, but neither, it seems, do all correctly recognise the 'named entity'. It would be interesting to know whether the following examples are both read as the symbol for 'half' or whether either of them appears as a question mark or something else: (1) ½ and (2) ½. We should appreciate your feedback, preferably with an indication of what browser software you use and which version.
As from 10 October 2001 the Company was renamed John Wilson Manuscripts Ltd (formerly John Wilson (Autographs) Ltd). The structure of the Company is in no way affected, and the directors and shareholders remain John and Gina Wilson.
Prices for all items are now presented in pounds sterling, US dollars and Euros. The rates of exchange may vary from day to day but are intended to give purchasers a rough idea of what each piece will cost. In practice, since so many transactions are now carried out using credit cards, the exact exchange rate depends on the card providers, who will translate the UK sterling price at their going rate, which may be more or less than the figure we suggest, but should be close. Customers paying by cheque will usually be given the option of paying in their own currency or transferring funds in pounds sterling.
Some of you may notice that stock numbers now suddenly jump to the 19,000 range and upwards. This is the result of some 'rationalisation' of our database. There is no great yawning gap in the actual inventory. We have not gone in the direction taken by the Inland Revenue who admit to deliberately erasing the records of more than a million taxpayers. Our problem, if it is one, is that our computer records go back to 1981 when we acquired the first, and by far the most expensive, of a regular succession of electronic assistants. All information for the years 1968 to 1981 was entered into the system at that time, and most of it remains with us. Thank goodness for the gigabyte.
We have now changed the way in which the indexes to the stock are organised. Links to fuller descriptions and illustrations are only provided where there is more to be said or seen. The links are therefore no longer the names themselves but the words 'Longer description' or the thumb-nail pictures which appear when there is a larger image to view.
Many of the abbreviations which we have previously used (like 'ALS' for 'Autograph Letter Signed') are now being translated automatically into their full form. Our programs have always had the ability to translate, and we currently allow 150 contractions to be expanded when the pages are compiled. Although we have looked fairly thoroughly at the results, there may perhaps be a few anomalies, especially where the descriptions were written some time ago. We have also made a number of improvements to the way in which images are handled. If you encounter any technical problems on the site (things like pictures overlaying the text, for instance) please let us know so that we can correct them as quickly as possible.
Visitors to this site may notice that it is not necessary to fill in any forms or to supply personal information if you do not wish to do so. We do not ask for credit card details. It is worth emphasising, in the light of problems encountered by some large commercial sites, that we do not keep any client information on the site at all, nor do we keep confidential client information on any system accessible to the Internet. If you have an interest in any item in our stock you are invited to contact us by e-mail, by fax or by telephone to discuss the means by which a safe and confidential transaction can take place.
We do rather more than change the date on this site each day. Whenever a piece is sold or a new piece catalogued we make the changes immediately, often several times a day. This is one of the advantages (other than financial) of having a home-grown site. It may be a little plain and lack the multiplicity of advertisements and distracting graphics, but it is designed to load quickly and be easy to navigate. We also like to be able to respond quickly to any request to make scanned images available where they were not previously supplied, and this can generally be done within a few minutes.
The 'briefly described' section is a selection from the 'green boxes', in which the documents are of smaller value but often nevertheless of considerable interest, especially to specialists. We have only reached the letter 'M' in cataloguing, but more will be added from time to time.
Please let us know if you encounter any problems on this site. We now include a link to a section dealing with facsimile letters, listing all those of which we possess copies. The section dealing with the difficult question of forgeries was added on 17 August 2003 and will be continually developed. Further links will be provided to sites which we find useful, especially for historical research. We also hope to use the time we might otherwise have spent at book fairs in catching up with some of the backlog of material on the office floor.