“I felt strong enough to lift a mountain” declared Alexandre Dumas after a visit to Georgia in 1858.
Presidents of ILAB’s member associations certainly felt equally inspired after a week of meetings in the capital, Tbilisi.
LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. Well, it felt like a story at the time, and not without a whisper of magic. Celtic magic. Book collectors, after all, are irrepressible raconteurs. For every book in their collection, there is a backstory to spin. Here is one of mine:
The UK Guardian has picked up on one of the most significant archival discoveries of recent times; a first folio with hundreds of annotations by John Milton, possibly one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times.
"One room was abandoned when the piles neared the ceiling, and at some point a subsidence of books blocked the door from the inside, sealing the room off. He established an annex in the garage, where piles of loose books mingled with unopened purchases from local shops and parcels from overseas ..."
At years end, the state of the American antiquarian book trade can best be described as unsettled, and in what has become an increasingly global marketplace; I suspect that the American experience is little different from that of our overseas colleagues. Although some areas of the American trade remain robust with children's books, American colorplate books, some Americana, and some literary highspots most conspicuous among them, the trade in general continues to undergo a rapid and continuous shift. The ease of finding books on the Internet has contributed to the increasingly rapid decline of the open shop. Those unwilling to adapt to the new circumstances are facing increasing difficulties.
Imagine - you live in an area where no flooding has taken place for 38 years and your stock is held in a professional storage area surrounded by some 200 other units. Sounds a good bet? . . . Read on. Here is one dealer's first-hand experience. Bon Summers was hit by a flash flood and it took her 20 day's solid hard work in temperatures exceeding 90°F with high humidity to recover the remaining stock. This is her account.
In the case of a number of books, particularly those published before 1900, one can differentiate between the first and later printings only by being aware of the changes made between printings. These changes can be in the text, the type used, the number of pages, the dates in the ads, or the type of binding (cloth, leather, boards, wrappers).
Best story of the week was Ed Bayntun-Coward's recollection of his encounter with a glamorous woman at a party. She asked what he did for a living. Ed replied smoothly that he was an antiquarian bookseller – "What a contraceptive", she responded, immediately turning on heel and walking away.