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Rare Book On Board Lusitania

April 2, 2016

A rare volume of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol was on board the Lusitania, the ill-fated ocean liner.

I have been waiting for a special time to read Erik Larson’s Dead Wake, the story of the sinking during WWI of this massive floating city.  With the snow falling outside on a spring day and the political winds swirling I thought it time to open the pages of this gem. With deep research and his usual gifted mind for writing and telling a story Larson delivers a book rich in detail.

A book dealer, Charles Lauriat, had sold the rare Dickens book to a man in New York City.  The volume had been owned by Dickens and was entered into evidence when the author took legal moves against those who had republished his book without permission.   Dickens had made many notations about the lawsuit in the book.  It was most clearly a one-of-a-kind book.

Lauriat was requested by a solicitor in London to look at the book and so be able to copy the various notations.  The solicitor had previously written about the legal entanglement over the republishings.

The book when it was taken on the ocean liner May 1, 1915 was a handsome volume bound in cloth and placed in a textured box covered with goatskin.

Things are sure to go wrong—but on page 68 there is great expectations for a fond journey.  Time now to get another mug of coffee and head back to my rocking—reading–chair.

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