About the collector: Arthur Spencer Dayton

"In American literature, the Mark Twain collection is perhaps the most important. It contains almost three hundred items, including first editions of all Twain’s writings published in 1947. Undoubtedly it is among the most complete and interesting Twain collections in existence." The Dayton Collection

The following articles describe the collector and donor of the foundation of the WVU Libraries' Rare Book Collection, Arthur Spencer Dayton, 1887-1948. Within this large collection is the Mark Twain collection and the items from it selected for this exhibit.

The Dayton Collection… Great Significance Attached to Recent Literary Gift

By Charles E. Butler
Alumni Magazine for Fall

The book collection of the late Arthur S Dayton, ’07, recently presented to West Virginia University as a gift by his wife, Ruth Woods Dayton, is one of great importance and significance in University history, and enriches the University Library to a degree difficult to assess. Numbering approximately 7,000 items, the collection contains volumes of considerable rarity in different fields, and in acquiring it the University Library moves at once into the front ranks of the libraries of state universities throughout the country.

Perhaps most noteworthy are the Shakespeariana and other volumes dealing with the Elizabethan period. The collection includes copies of all four Folios, the most highly-prized and sought-after of all edition of Shakespeare. The First Folio, which is the first printed edition of the poet’s collected plays, was issued in 1623, and is of course the greatest rarity. The Second Folio, printed in 1632, is the rare Smethwick variant; the Third Folio, 1664, was formerly the property of Julia Marlowe, and has the joint bookplate of the famous Shakespearean actress and her husband, E. H. Sothern. The Fourth Folio, 1685, completes the noted quartet. In addition to the Tonson quarto editions of the separate plays, issued in 1734 and 1735, the Shakespeare group includes splendid examples of subsequent collected editions of the plays and poems—approximately 65 different editions—ranging in date from 1709 to the present, representing the editorship of such eminent figures as Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, James O. Halliwell, and Furness. A serious student of Shakespeare and his times, Mr. Dayton’s collection contains also rare editions of various chronicles and histories of the period and hundreds of volumes of critical and biographical studies not only of the poet but of his contemporaries as well.

One of the oldest volumes in the collection is the Nuremberg Chronicle, printed by Anton Koberger and issued in 1493. Considered one of the finest works of the 15 th century, it contains nearly two thousand striking woodcuts by Wolgemuth and Plydenwurff, the former a master of the artist Dürer. The text of the book is a full chronicle of the world’s history from its creation right up to the year it was printed. The woodcuts aim to illustrate that whole period of time, an undertaking of great magnitude and one which required no little imagination. Other rarities, ranging though the years, include first editions of Milton’s Paradise Lost (1669) and Paradise Regained (1671), Holinshed’s Chronicles (1577), the “Breeches” Bible of 1586, the First Folio edition of Ben Jonson’s works (1616-1640), all of Jane Austen’s novels, Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (1775), Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749), and Joseph Andrews (1742), Smollett’s Roderick Random (1748) and Humphrey Clinker (1771), and firsts of works by Dickens, Thackeray, Tennyson, Kipling, Cotton Mather, Stevenson, Beaumont and Fletcher (1647), and others.

The collection contains well over two hundred volumes of Sir Walter Scott’s works, the majority of them first editions. All the Waverley novels are represented in their original bindings.

In American literature, the Mark Twain collection is perhaps the most important. It contains almost three hundred items, including first editions of all Twain’s writings published in 1947. Undoubtedly it is among the most complete and interesting Twain collections in existence. First editions of other American authors include Whittier’s Snow Bound, William Cullen Bryant’s Poems, works by James Russell Lowell, Bret Harte, Hawthorne, Longfellow, O. Henry, and Booth Tarkington.

Born in Philippi, West Virginia, May 6, 1887, of a long line of Colonial stock, Arthur Dayton at an early age showed a strong inclination to the law (his father was a distinguished member of the bar, as was his grandfather before him). He received his A.B. degree from West Virginia University in 1907, and his LL.B. a year later. Continuing his studies at Yale, he was awarded a master’s degree in 1909. He returned to Philippi, where he practiced until 1923, when he moved to Charleston, West Virginia, becoming a member of the firm of Poffenbarger, Blue, and Dayton, which in 1928 became the firm of Blue, Dayton, and Campbell. Upon the death of Mr. Blue in 1945, Mr. Dayton became senior member of the present firm of Dayton, Campbell, and Love. He died in 1948.

Including works in the fields of history, art, religion, travel, political science, as well as fiction, Mr. Dayton’s rare book collection shines with items that have claimed the attention of scholars and collectors through the years. It has been termed “outstanding among the private libraries of the country,” and it is West Virginia’s good fortune that it is private no longer, but public, a gift to the University where it will be cherished as one of the cultural treasures of the state. The rare books will be housed in a special room provided for the purpose in the new addition to the University Library recently completed. There they will be available to scholars and those others who share his devotion to literature, and special exhibit cases will permit them to be seen by all who enter the Library. For all their frailty, these are the living memorials that outlast marble and the gilded monuments’ representing, as they do, the high achievement of intellectual man, they are a possession for which West Virginia University and all whom it serves must be proud and profoundly grateful.

Arthur Spencer Dayton, A.B., LL.B.

Bench and Bar of West Virginia
By George W. Atkinson
Page 430

One of the brilliant, able and most promising young men who has come to the Bar in West Virginia, in recent years, is Arthur S. Dayton, of Philippi, Barbour County, of this State. He is the son of Hon. Alston Gordon Dayton, who for ten years was a distinguished member of Congress form West Virginia and for a number of years past has been United states Judge of the Northern District of West Virginia. Our subject was born May 6, 1887, in Barbour County. He graduated from the classical department of the West Virginia University, receiving the degree of A.B., and later he graduated from its Law Department, receiving the in cursu degree of LL.B. He then went to Yale University, where he completed a post-graduate course and received the degree of A.M. It is quite apparent that but few young men have started out on a legal career as thoroughly equipped as did young Mr. Dayton. It is not surprising, therefore, that he commanded the attention of his associates from the trial of his first case, that he was sure to make good, which he has done in a most satisfactory manner. He has always been a hard student of the law, and has kept abreast of the court decisions and the textbooks, and has dignified the profession by exhibiting the highest types of integrity, fidelity and learning.

He was admitted to practice in the Circuit Court of Barbour County, June 3, 1908, and has since been licensed to appear in all the State and United States Courts in West Virginia. He has an unusually large clientele for a man of his years, and is steadily growing as the years roll on. He has written several articles for the “Standard Encyclopædia of Procedure,” notably the ones on Certiorari, Dismissal, Discontinuance and Nonsuit, published by L. D. Powell & Co., which reveal knowledge and research on these important subjects. His practice extends into all the branches of the profession, with tendency to specialize in corporation directions. His learning, however, is varied and extensive, and his force of will, self-reliance and courage are more than common. As a lawyer he is thorough and accurate and has a firm grasp of legal principles, and those who know him best say his integrity is equal to his accuracy. That one statement contains a volume in itself, and lies at the bottom of all enduring success.

Mr. Dayton was married to Miss Ruth Woods, daughter of Hon. Samuel V. Woods, June 14, 1916.

Arthur S. Dayton

West Virginia Today
Ed- Walter E. Clark
page 313, continued on 357

Arthur Spencer Dayton, besides being an able lawyer, is an ardent collector of fine paintings and rare books. He has practiced law in Charleston since 1923 and has been an active member of the firm of Blue, Dayton, and Campbell since 1926.

He numbers among his many books an extensive first-edition collection of Mark Twain’s works and scores of early printings of Shakespeare, and his private library rates among the finest in the state.

Mr. Dayton was born at Philippi, West Virginia, May 6, 1887, the son of Alston Gordon and Lummie (Sinsel) Dayton. He was gradated from West Virginia University in 1907 with the degree bachelor of arts, and the following year received his bachelor of laws degree from the same institution. He was admitted to the West Virginia bar in 1908, but chose to continue his studies for another year at Yale University, from which he received his master of arts degree in 1909.

He returned then to Philippi and began the practice of law until 1923, when he came to Charleston. He was approved for a first lieutenancy in the army service corps during the World War.

Mr. Dayton’s taste for scholarship is reflected also in his public activities. He is a member of the state library commission of West Virginia and of the Kanawha County Public Library Board. Studious in the intricacies of the law, he is the author of various legal articles.

He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa scholastic society and of Delta Tau Delta and Phi Alpha Delta fraternities. His affiliations include the Yale Club of New York City, the Duquesne University Club and the Stanton Heights Golf Club at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Edgewood Country Club at Charleston.

He was married June 14, 1916 to Ruth Woods. They have no children.

Home: 915 Edgewood Drive. Offices: Security Building, Charleston, W. Va.

Arthur Spencer Dayton

History of WV, vol. 3, p 404, 1923
James Morton Callahan

Arthur Spencer Dayton, of Philippi, represents the third generation of a family that has been distinguished in the bench and bar of Virginia and West Virginia for over eighty years. He is the only son and child of the late Judge Alston G. Dayton, to whom a separate article is dedicated in this publication. The son is one of the younger members of the bar, but took to his professional work fine talents and an unusually broad and liberal education, and already stands in the front rank of West Virginia lawyers.

He was born at Philippi, March 6, 1887. When he was about eight years of age his father removed to Washington to take up his congressional duties, and the son received most of his early education in the schools of Washington. Subsequently he entered West Virginia University, graduating A. B. in 1907, began the study of law there, and the following year graduated with the in cursa degree LL.B. His work in the university of his home state was supplemented by graduate study in Yale University, where he received the Master of Arts degree in 1909. Mr. Dayton was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of West Virginia, June 3, 1908. Though only twenty-one years of age, he had covered a remarkably wide field of research and scholarship, but his admission to the bar did not mark the end of his student career. He has found it as necessary to go to court with his lessons prepared as when he went to his classes, and among his contemporaries he is distinguished as much for his diligence as a student as the varied resources he is able to bring forth at demand in solving the problems and intricacies of litigation. He has been admitted to practices in all the higher courts in the state and the Federal courts. For the first two years he was a member of the law firm of Blue and Dayton at Philippi, and since then he has been alone in practice and has found his time more and more taken up with great bulk of cases that represent some of the most important in the state.

Mr. Dayton is also known for his substantial contributions to the literature of law. Several of his articles have been published in the Standard Encyclopedia of Procedure, published by L. D. Powell and Company. These articles include treatises on Certiorari, Dismissal, Continuance and Nonsuit. All branches of the law have been included in his practice, and if there is a tendency at all toward specialization it is toward the litigation in which corporations are involved. He has exhibited especially the qualities of thoroughness and accuracy, has a wonderful grasp of legal principles, and his integrity is universally conceded. Among numerous professional connections he is attorney for two of the three banks of Philippi, for the Baltimore and Ohio and Western Maryland Railroad. Mr. Dayton was accepted and approved for army service abroad in the World war as first lieutenant, and was scheduled for sailing when the armistice was signed.

For a dozen years he has been active in republican politics, has been a spokesman of his county in the state republican conventions, was an alternate to the National Convention in 1912 and was chairman of the Second District Congressional Convention of 1916. Fraternally he is a Lodge and Chapter Mason, has done the work of the Subordinate and Encampment degrees in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is a member of the Delta Tau Delta and the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity, and belongs to the DuQuesne Club and the University Club of Pittsburgh. He is an elder of the Presbyterian Church of Philippi.

On June 14, 1916, Mr. Dayton married Miss Ruth Woods. Her father, Hon. Samuel V. Woods, was one of the leading lawyers of the West Virginia bar, and also a successful business man and financier. Mrs. Dayton was born in Barbour County and finished her education in National Park Seminary at Washington, District of Columbia.

Dayton, Arthur Spencer

Who’s Who in West Virginia, 1916
Wheeling intelligencer

Dayton, Arthur Spencer, Philippi; attorney at law; born Philippi, W, Va., May 6, 1887; son of Alston G. and Lummie (Sinsel) Dayton; educated West Virginia University, A.B. 1907, LL.B. 1908; Yale University, M.A. 1909; admitted to bar June 3, 1908; author articles on “Certiorari” and “Dismissal, Discontinuance and Nonsuit” in “Standard Encyclopaedia of Procedure”; director First National Bank of Philippi; delegate to Republican state conventions 1912 and 1914; alternate to Republican national convention 1912; member Delta Tau Delta fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity.



Exhibit Courtesy of the West Virginia University Libraries West Virginia and Regional History Center
© 2005 All Rights Reserved

Online exhibit developed by Beth Jane Toren and Alisha Myers