The BAA Memoirs: an introduction

For as long as I have been a member of the Association, the BAA Memoirs have been collectors’ items, with the older issues seen only rarely. When I started to collect them myself in 1974, a year after I joined, the Registered Office had a small bookcase full of the old numbers for sale, but many of the very early ones were already out of print. There was a surplus of many Aurora, Jupiter and Solar Section Memoirs, but the Mars and Lunar ones were apparently thin on the ground. Some of the Variable Star Memoirs could be purchased, but the large ones (with their thin paper covers failing to support their own weight) were often in poor condition. Collecting every issue (and there were more than 140 of them to collect) took me until early 2016. Today the Office can supply back numbers only from 1990 onwards, but occasionally earlier numbers that pass through our hands become available to collectors.

The BAA Memoirs in the DVD set have as far as possible been scanned from unbound copies, so that they could be opened flat, and their front and rear covers (so often removed in bound sets) could be copied and included. We selected the best readily available copies for this purpose, though in a small number of cases, especially with the larger reports of the Variable Star Section, there are often occasional pencil marks upon the pages showing evidence of past use. We may correct this in a future edition, but it has never affected the legibility of the text. Each volume has been produced as a fully searchable pdf file, each being prefaced by its title page and contents pages. The final few volumes, which were often spread over several calendar years, did not have title pages.

The first four parts of Volume 1 were published simultaneously, bearing a paper cover in the same style as that of the Journal of that time. Now age-browned, these old covers are often rather fragile, and it is good that from Volume 1 Part 5 onwards the Council of the day adopted a blue paper cover which has survived the ravages of time far better. This blue wrapper became the trademark of nearly all of the later Memoirs, distinguishing them from the Journal. They continued until the 1950s.   (continued…)

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