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ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter provides an interesting definition with some examples:
Other People's Books by Tanselle for the Caxton Club has an impressive selection of association copies which tell important stories.
Some of us are fortunate to have examples of these interesting books in our collection. The purpose of this message thread is to showcase examples with illustrations and notes on the significances presented by them.
Over time I'll post some examples from my collection. I hope that others will be inspired to share examples either from their own collection or perhaps things seen in other private or institutional collections.
This is an example of an association copy in our collection. It is a copy of Under Dewey at Manila that was signed by the author, Edward Stratemeyer (1862-1930), and presented to a fellow author, George Waldo Browne (1851-1930), in exchange for one of his books. However, it is more than a fraternal gift. Browne was a frequent correspondent with Stratemeyer and wrote some stories for him. Most importantly, Browne endorsed Stratemeyer as a successor to "Oliver Optic" to the publisher's manager, Warren F. Gregory, which led to Stratemeyer writing An Undivided Union (Lee & Shepard, 1899). Browne also mentioned this endorsement in the first published biographical article about Stratemeyer which was published in The Writer (March 1902).
For details on the association, see the link above.
You mentioned Zimmerman and his association copies of Rosenbach's Unpublishable Memoirs. Kurt Zimmerman and I used to bid against each other on ebay for books-about-books related association copies. But he had more money than I did! So I left those association copies for him, and collected association copies belonging to authors, actors, aviators, and other famous people.
I sold my aviation association copies in 2006 while waiting for my disability retirement to be approved. But I had previously written about them in 2004 in the old online AB Bookman's Magazine: The Sentimental Airman.
In 2015, I gave a talk before the Florida Bibliophile Society on my collection of association copies, and then posted it on My Sentimental Library blog: Whose Hands Were on this Book?
I just gave a talk about association copies at my local library last month, and included several association copies not mentioned in my previous talk/blog post. I won't inundate you with them now, but may post some down the road if this thread proves popular.
Sorry it has taken me so long to acknowledge your Dec. 5, 2016 message. I have not been on Library Thing in some time. I thought your blog, Whose Hands Were on This Book," was swell and I intend to read the rest as soon as I have time. Thank you! Susan Dichter