My name is Warwick Carter, and I suffer from FAD (Folio Acquisition Disorder). This is an incurable psychiatric condition that causes those affected to purchase too many Folio Society books, and is a subset of BAD (Book Acquisition Disorder) which is a common affliction amongst bibliophiles. The fact that I continue to suffer from FAD is significantly due to my membership of the Folio Society Devotees forum on Library Thing where sufferers from FAD can discuss their addiction anonymously while commenting on almost every book the Society has every published.
This disease manifests itself in my collection of 240+ Folio Society books that I have bought over the last 20+ years of my membership. Amongst these books are a dozen of the Society’s magnificent Limited Editions, and some of their early fine editions.
I am lucky enough to own a copy of what, in retrospect, is acknowledged as The Folio Society’s first limited edition, “The Earliest Chemical Industry” which despite its enigmatic title, is a fascinating discourse on industry from ancient times to 1948 (when this book was published). I have copy 462 of 1100 copies, and it contains many colour plates that were tipped or pasted in by hand.
Another prized possession is a copy of “The Bird Paintings of Henry Jones”. This cost £425 when new in 1976 and it was the largest and most expensive book published by The Folio Society up to this time. This beautiful landscape format book contains 24 coloured plates plus text, and is enclosed in marbled end-papers, half-calf binding and a gold-blocked slipcase. Mine is number 388 of only 500 copies printed and is in mint condition.
Amongst the modern Folio Society Limited Editions, my most treasured is the huge and elegant “Queen Mary Atlas” with glorious maps in their original colour and size. The added pleasure of this book is that I am also addicted to collecting old atlases from before 1850 that were hand coloured. I have a dozen of these publications, which are becoming increasingly rare as most are cut up to sell the individual maps.
Another favourite is the huge two-volume rendition of David Robert’s “The Holy Land, Egypt and Nubia” which contains 247 intricately detailed paintings of these regions as they were 180 years ago. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled in these areas also (but on wheels rather than on camel) and found it fascinating to compare my photos of Petra, Jerusalem and the Pyramids with the paintings done by Roberts. The similarities show just how accurate he was with his art, and the differences show exactly what has happened in the intervening centuries. I have number 400 of the 1000 copies produced.
Amongst my standard issue Folio Society books I have many favourites, and it is hard to choose only a few. The series of buckram bound and specifically designed 19th century histories that range from “The Raj” and “The Source of the Nile” to “The Voyage of the Beagle” and “London Characters and Crooks” stand out as not only looking superb on the shelf but being fascinating to read.
Another would be “The Gentleman’s Daughter” by Amanda Vickery, not only for its fascinating contents, but also its metallic cloth binding with a design based on an 18th-century tea caddy, and the pictorial slipcase. One of the best produced Folio Society books ever.
And if you are looking for something to buy from the current Folio Society catalogue, as a history lover and several times visitor to Africa, I can recommend the two volume “The Scramble for Africa” which makes fascinating and compulsive reading, and gives one great understanding of the ongoing turmoils on that continent.
The reason I am writing this blog is because a photo montage of Folio Society books that I posted on Flickr came to the attention of The Folio Society as they wanted to use it for a promotional poster. I am a keen, but very amateur, photographer who has great fun modifying pictures in Photoshop. For the montage (left), every book spine was flatbed scanned, or for larger volumes, photographed. Each picture was then arranged individually using the Photoshop software to form the montage, with some artistic license being used for sizing of individual books. I own, and have read every book in the montage, and am currently working on a larger version, which at my current rate of Folio Society book purchasing and reading, will take another couple of years to complete.
I am very proud of my library, and the collection within it, which comprises many fine editions (even some from competitors to The Folio Society!). It was purpose built when our new home was constructed. Alas it is now too small, and the collection overflows into other rooms in the house. The oldest book in the library is a 1654 traveler’s guide to Rome bound in vellum, while other treasures include a bound copy of all 212 hand-coloured maps produced by the Society for the Universal Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in the early 19th century, and every National Geographic magazine since 1927.
In the photo you may notice something lying on the top of the books. This is felt backed vinyl, a good and far cheaper substitute for the leather that I saw in a similar position in a French collector’s library many years ago. It protects the books from dust, and therefore to some degree from foxing. I use this even on top of The Folio Society books, even though they are protected by their unique slipcase.
Ahhh, so many beautiful books to collect and read, but so little time in this world.