The spring issue of the Blake Quarterly will mark the debut of Mark Crosby as sales review editor; Mark succeeds Bob Essick in that role.

“Blake in the Marketplace” is an annual feature chronicling sales in the prior year of works by Blake and his circle. The first installment to go by that name covered 1972–73 and appeared in the winter 1973–74 issue, though Bob had already contributed items about sales to previous issues.

The first sales review that I copyedited was “Blake in the Marketplace, 2001,” which appeared in spring 2002. I remember querying something about a reference to a watermark—a comment that I later realized was totally nonsensical. Bob explained and I have steered clear of pronouncements about watermarks ever since.

It soon became apparent that the spring issue would be my easiest of the year. The copy was always accurate and consistent, with the illustrations provided and their permissions sorted. In fact it was very hard to find anything to question. This led to a one-sided competition on my part to try to catch Bob out on any detail at all, which meant that I was reduced to comments such as “The entry states that the work was sold on 15 July 1983, but the sales review for 1983 gives 16 July.”

The sales recorded varied greatly in type—from illuminated books to postage stamps—and price. Two that I particularly remember are the auction of the watercolor designs for The Grave in 2006, after their resurrection several years before in Scotland, and the discovery that Blake had created one more engraving than previously thought for Stedman’s Narrative, which had been hiding in plain sight on the title page.

Detail of the title page of Stedman, Narrative, vol. 1 (1796), showing the vignette that Blake engraved. His signature, not visible here, is on the outer edge of the oval, above the cannon. The coloring is by an anonymous colorist. Essick collection; image courtesy of the William Blake Archive.

Perhaps the greatest testament I can give is that my e-mail contains a folder that I’ve labeled “Useful advice from Bob.” It is the only one of its kind. Thank you, Bob, for helming the sales review for many years, and for teaching me so much about Blake along the way.