The availability of Brethren literature is an interesting study in itself. The fact that no general list of authors has been issued before has prevented both sellers and buyers from recognizing the literature unless they had a knowledge of it. I have not seen very much of it appearing in lists of secondhand books issued in America. A few titles turn up from time to time in the lists of Baker, Kregel, and Allenson. the best sources of out-of-print works are British.
There are several dealers that specialize in evangelical literature and their lists often contain Brethren titles. Lamp Press, William Burstow, John Bowron, Academy Books, and Holleyman are the most familiar to me in this category. S. King in Leonards-on-Sea in Sussex has been the most helpful source by far. Blackwell and others will, of course, keep wants and search for specific titles. There are a few private individuals in London and other places from whom some good titles can be obtained, I am informed. These do not issue lists and can be contacted only through personal acquaintance with someone who has learned of them by private information.
The fact of the matter is that the best of the older works never come onto the open market, but are passed along privately often to relatives or close friends for a small consideration or as a gift. The classics of the first generation of Brethren writers can be seen almost nowhere except in the private collections of connoisseurs. Owners take a fierce pride in these collections and speak of them in most reverent tones. I have never felt free to ask any of these men what they intend to do with their books eventually.
William Kelly had the largest library of any Brother that I have heard of. His collection of 15,000 volumes went to the Public Library of Middlesbrough in England. Not much of it was by Brethren authors. He edited The Collected Writings of J.N. Darby (34 volumes). Darby himself apparently had few books. He traveled and lived out of his suitcase for a quarter of a century and more. Dr. Ironside's Brethren periodicals went to his son John. He had some attractive runs of the earlier periodicals. I have not heard what became of them since John died. In all of my twenty-five years of theological librarianship I have heard of only two complete sets of Darby's Collected Writings coming on the market. In spite of all this I have bought for the libraries I have served and for my own bibliographic purposes hundreds of volumes, and suppose I could go out now and spend $500 within a few months for titles that could be picked up within the channels available.
The late Bertram Smith's Acres of Books in Long Beach, California, is the only second-hand bookstore that I know of that maintains a Plymouth Brethren section. It usually has about two shelves on hand. I found other P.B. titles among their books on the second advent, and on their prophecy shelf, and doubtless there were also some in the commentary section. They have a separate shelf for Sir Robert Anderson in another place. They do not issue lists, but will service wants. They know Brethren literature as well as any book dealer I know in this country.
There have been some private circulating libraries of Brethren literature, one in Pasadena, California, and one in Des Moines, Iowa.
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