“Palpable history”, says Sir David Attenborough. We are at the annual Antiquarian Booksellers Association Rare Books Fair, and he is describing the pleasure of holding an incunable – a book printed in the fifteenth century, in the first few decades after the printing press was invented.
The Telegraph: "Collectors' demand for rare, first-edition Ian Fleming books has spiked in recent weeks ahead of the release of the 24th James Bond film, Spectre. New Bond films never fail to spark fresh interest in Fleming's books and James Bond memorabilia. And the value of some of the most sought-after pieces has risen steadily. Rare-book seller Peter Harrington said Ian Fleming's books had been consistently strong sellers over the past 50 years, but became even more sought-after when new films were released."
"A signed copy of Charles Dickens' novel A Tale of Two Cities bearing a personal inscription to fellow author George Eliot has gone on sale for £275,000. Dated December 1859, the dedication expresses "high admiration and regard" for Eliot - real name Mary Ann Evans. It is being sold by rare book dealer Peter Harrington and is currently on show at its central London bookshop. If it reaches its asking price, the book will be among the most expensive Dickens works ever purchased." Read the whole story on BBC News.
"Last week a group of Melbourne bibliophiles were treated to a delightful talk by preeminent bookman Nicolas Barker, editor of The Book Collector since 1965, and whose bibliography records an impressive 1,000+ entries. Barker examined twenty or so works from Special Collections and talked to the salient points of each book. This post highlights three of the selected items that had multiple signs of ownership, all of which caught Barker's eye."
George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler, both ABAA members and ILAB affiliates, have now published a study about their extensive researches: In Shakespeare's Beehive: An Annotated Elizabethan Dictionary Comes to Light, they conclude that the annotations in their copy of Baret's Alvearie purchased on eBay belong to William Shakespeare. Using example after example, the authors demonstrate how closely the annotations and Baret's text are tied to Shakespeare's own work. The annotator, while not once leaving his name on a page, nevertheless leaves behind an astonishing personal trail of fingerprints. This great discovery hit the news last week. A press review:
"It's a cliché, but it's true: Things aren't the same as they used to be. Over the last twenty-five years, we've transformed the way that we buy books and build our collections, and most of the familiar bookshops, old and new, have disappeared. There aren't nearly as many local places to browse and buy books as there once were, but there are more books available to buy than ever, and great collections are still being formed. But collectors and booksellers have lost something along the way, and it's important to recognize that just as Frank Bruni's favorite restaurants offer something that he can't get anywhere else, this is what the book market, at its best, used to do, and still sometimes does." A thoughtful article about rare book dealers and collectors by Joel Silver for Fine Books & Collections. Read it!
The Netherlands is a country with a long tradition in the international antiquarian book trade. It was the idea of the Dutch bookseller Menno Hertzberger to found the International League of Antiquarian booksellers in 1947. Let's make a trip to the important places of the bookish Holland. We will visit Anton Gerits, ILAB President of Honour, who began to travel to the USSR in 1960s in order to buy rare books. He and his son Arnoud Gerits, ILAB Immediate Past President, sold a huge collection "The two Russian revolutions. The libraries of Leon Bernstein and Boris Souvarine". Then we will go to Amsterdam to visit Ton Kok, President of Nederlandsche Vereeniging van Antiquaren (NVvA). His bookshop impresses with its size. Finally, we will visit the auction house "Bubb Kuyper" in Haarlem, the book town Bredevort and the book Museum Meermanno in The Hague.
Travelling animals have a long history. It is probable that our early ancestors, nomadic people, were accompanied by dogs, who helped them hunt, watched the camps and kept them company. They considered themselves as parts of a pack, where everyone had his place or duty. Cats arrived on the scene rather later, and, by their very nature, thought of themselves not as helpers of humans, but as co-inhabitants. They kept rodents down, slept by the fire and allowed humans to worship them. Things have not changed much since then. On the right you can see Marmalade, our 21st century tomcat who, rightly so, expected to be worshipped as much as his Egyptian ancestors.
Good news for all book lovers: On 1st May, 2014, Sheila Markham's "Second Book of Booksellers" will be published. Sheila's "conversations with the antiquarian book trade" are legendary. Her interviews with the most influential figures of the antiquarian book business first appeared in the Bookdealer, and were then published in book-form as "A Book of Booksellers" in the year 2004. Ian Jackson called it "an essential archive of book trade history". Delightful, witty, and sophisticated: All who have already read Sheila Markham's "conversations" know that they are something special. Sheila's interviews give insight into the everyday life of an extraordinary profession that needs extensive knowledge and owes a strong sense of individualism and dedication to the real value of books (which is not, in any case, their price). They reveal the stories and characters that stand behind the showcases at antiquarian book fairs, the 1-Million-Dollar highlights of the auctions, the well-designed book catalogues and the many online databases with its legions of old books. In short: Sheila Markham's "Book of Booksellers" and its sequel reflect the very reasons why antiquarian bookselling is one of the most fascinating things to live for in the global book world. The "Second Book of Booksellers", which will be published in May 2014, includes 30 conversations with rare book dealers like Sabrina Izzard, John Windle, Sophie Schneideman, Pom Harrington, Paul Mills and Michael Graves-Johnston. Sheila Markham has given us permission to publish one of the most fascinating pieces in her new book as a preview.
"In a room full of established book dealers, I'm always the youngest by at least 20 years. But that can be good for business. If you talk to older book dealers, you'll often hear them lament there are no young collectors. That is just not true. It's just that the new collectors are buying things that are different than what's even on the radar of most book dealers."
We meet on Facebook, we talk in Tweets. Why bother to travel a long way to meet real people? Why not? Have you ever attended an ILAB Congress? Have you ever met in Bologna, Lucerne, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Munich, London, Brussels, New York, Edinburgh, Venice, San Francisco or Scandinavia? No? - YOU MISSED A GREAT OPPORTUNITY! ILAB Congresses and International Antiquarian Book Fairs are the real thing: They offer the chance to meet colleagues, collectors, librarians and real books, and the chance for collectors, librarians and real books to meet us! This is unique.