16 February 2007

The Jurassic System in Great Britain. W.J. Arkell.

W. J. Arkell. THE JURASSIC SYSTEM IN GREAT BRITAIN. Oxford University Press, 1933 & 1970. ISBN 0198543719

Current Selling Prices
$450-$850? / £230-£450?

Much wanted and unfindable book. First appeared in 1933. 671 pages. Palaeontology is not normally a subject that inspires great passion but they sure want this book. Fossicking about on related blogs it seems that the late 'Bill' Arkell (1904 - 1958) is something of a cult hero among the fossil crowd. Simon Winchester the handsome chap who wrote about the making of the Oxford Dictionary cites the book with others that he used in his 'The Map that Changed the World' and says of it - " The greatest of all the works noted here -- aside, of course, from Darwin -- is the majestic tome (no other word can possibly do justice) written in 1933 by W. J. Arkell: 'The Jurassic System in Great Britain.' This utterly beautiful book, elegant in design and writing, represents the life's work of a man who was passionately fascinated by the most celebrated and, one might say, looking at the rocks and villages along its outcrop, the most English -- of all the geological periods. It has long been out of print, and a clean copy will cost a good deal of money. But to anyone whose interest in geology at its best may have been piqued by this short account, I urge them -- find yourself an Arkell, buy it, and treasure for yourself and for your descendants. There are all too few books of its like." Rock on. [Want level 25-50 Highish]

VALUE? Sorry I have no idea of price. Simon W's valuation 'a great deal of money' is my only clue. An imprecise and subjective phrase, possibly referring to a sum over a £1000. No copies on web in 2006. I have never knowingly handled it and imagine it is a big Oxford possibly blue but mebbe brown or even green or possibly slate grey. It is likely that a decent copy would need a price of around 400 quid to stop it selling there and then. However none of Arkell's other geological works command very much -- works on the Geology around Weymouth and Oxford Stone. Lastly there is a v good article on him in the DNB and a photo (copyrighted) showing a donnish dude, formidable but pleasant. The oil that I found (above) is not dissimilar.


Anonymous said...

yes this book is difficult to find but a non perfect 1st edition just sold on ebay for £175. myself, i photocopied all 600 odd pages some years book. i'd like to PDF this and put it on web as i dont see the publisher ever doing another edition. its scholarship was excellent for the time (1933) but now showing its age factwise. I'd hardly compare it to Darwin or William Smiths works for ground breaking origonality but neither I suspect would Mr Arkell!

Bookride said...

Useful info. Book is hard to find so has no price track record and ebay results are volatile but it's a start--Arkell died in 1958 so he won't be out of copyright for a while but I am not sure about the rules of non profit publishing on the web but it sounds like a noble move. Cheers--Nigel

Ann Newman said...

I have a copy of this book for sale - 1st Edition www.imaginebookshops.com