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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Book Binding

Collecting - Serendipity and The Private Library

Published on 27 Nov. 2015
I visited a little antiquarian shop in Weesp (not far from Amsterdam) to do a little browsing. After half an hour I was done and ready to leave. I was taking a last look at the shop's shelf of House of Orange books (books about the Dutch Royal House) when my eye was drawn to a book with an interesting but untitled spine. The book turned out to be a catalog of an exhibition of portraits and objects relating to the House of Orange-Nassau on the occasion of the inauguration of Her Majesty Queen Wilhelmina (1898).
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Book Binding

American Publishers' Bindings on the Books of Amelia E. Barr 1882-1918

Published on 11 Sept. 2015
Today hardly anybody knows the name Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr, yet a hundred years ago she was among the most prolific and popular women writing in America. If it were not for the decorated bindings on her books I would not have known she existed. Some of the best cover artists were assigned to her works, including Thomas Watson Ball, Alice Cordelia Morse, Evelyn W. Clark, Blanche McManus Mansfield, Amy Richards, William Snelling Hadaway, Harry B. Matthews, Theodore Brown Hapgood and the Decorative Designers.
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Book Binding

23 Wiener Werkstätte Bindings for Max Morgenstern – On Show in Vienna, until October 2015

Published on 09 Sept. 2015
In January 2015 Norbert Donhofer presented an extraordinary gathering of bibliophile treasures documented in a richly illustrated catalogue. The second part of this amazing collection will now be on display at the Grillparzerhaus in Vienna from 24 September to 9 October 2015. Max Morgenstern was one of the best customers of the Wiener Werkstätte. The Jewish collector belonged to a generation of Viennese bibliophiles who founded libraries with great knowledge, ultimate taste and a life-long passion. The precious bindings of the Morgenstern Collection, now on show at the Grillparzerhaus in Vienna, are a shining example of the outstanding artworks created during the Viennese Belle Epoque.
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Book Binding

The Art of American Book Covers - A Previously Unknown Amy M. Sacker Cover

Published on 03 June 2015
One exciting find was Amy M. Sacker's design on Sweet Peggy by Linnie S. Harris [Little, Brown & Company, 1904]. Like many of their rebound books, the replacement endpapers are acidic, have turned brown and are disintegrating, but this does not affect the cover art. Considering the amount of use this volume must have had, the design remains bright on the cover and spine, with just a few smudges that can be cleaned. What's exciting about it? It's not just that it's a good cover design by an important artist, and one that adopts Thomas Watson Ball's style of clouds. This is a rare book.
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Book Binding

The Art of American Book Cover - Frederick W. Gookin

Published on 20 Nov. 2014
When trying to learn more about F. W. Gookin, the first few biographical notes I found did not even mention his work as a book cover designer. I thought, "Maybe this Frederick William Gookin (1853–1936) is the wrong one." He was the Buckingham Curator of Japanese Prints at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is described as "a lifelong Chicagoan."
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Book Binding

The Art of American Book Covers - Ball Covers Identified by Lee Thayer

Published on 06 Oct. 2014
In 1970 Charles Gullans and John Espey conducted two interviews with Emma Redington Lee Thayer (1874–1973), co-founder (with Henry Thayer) of Decorative Designers, the New York firm that created thousands of book cover designs. The firm was started about 1895 by Henry, Emma joined him the following year, they married in 1909, were divorced in 1932 and DD closed. In 1919 Lee Thayer, as she then called herself, published her first mystery novel, which was followed by another 60, the last issued in 1966.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

ILAB History

Preliminary Conference

In 1947 representatives from Great Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden and The Netherlands met in Amsterdam for a Preliminary Conference. They discussed Hertzberger’s idea of forming an organization that counteracted the animosity and suspicion engendered by the Second World War. The new International League of Antiquarian Booksellers should foster friendship and understanding between the nations as the mutual basis for a fair and professional trade in the future.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Guiding Lights

I've ranted before about lighthouses being one of those subject areas from which collectors have mysteriously vanished. People scrabbling and clawing in the most fearsome way for lighthouse literature and then one day, more or less out of the blue, they don't want any at all. Not even the rarest material. I suspect that in this case, eBay and print-on-demand technology killed the market. The field was largely information driven, and once people got access to cheap reprints or bargain copies of scarce texts, the game was over for dealers like me.
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Article

La burocrazia che ci danneggia

A special law on books older than 50 years affects the rare book trade in Italy. Any books - despite their worth - which are older than 50 years must not be brought out of the country without permission. This law, says ALAI President Fabrizio Govi, affects the whole rare book trade.
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Article

These Days of Hatlessness - Emily Post's Etiquette

Should I cover my tattoos and piercings before a job interview? Should I throw a divorce party? These questions are considered in the 18th edition of Emily Post's famous book on "Etiquette", revised and updated by the author's great-granddaughter. If you want to learn how to have a love affair or a cup of tea in high society during the 1920s, read the original edition, or Jack Lynch's collecting tip! Jack Lynch ist English professor at Rutgers University in Newark and the author of "You Could Look It Up: The Reference Shelf from Babylon to Wikipedia". In his blog "You Could Look It Up" he introduces (no: he presents) useful, classic, amazing, funny and extraordinary dictionaries of all possible subjects and from all centuries.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Happy birthday, Marcel Proust!

July 10, 2012: It is the birthday of the French novelist Marcel Proust (1871), whose seven-volume Remembrance of Things Past (published 1813 to 1827) is considered his masterpiece. It is an ambitious work, including some 3,200 pages and almost 1.5 million words. There are 2,000 characters in the book. Critics call it one of the greatest works of the 20th century. It is certainly one of the longest.
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Article

Patrons of booksellers and how they paid them a century ago

Glancing at an old account book, ranging from 1835 to 1850, with a few entries in 1851, which in some way had come into the possession of my predecessors, I was struck by the occurrence of the names of book-collectors such as Ashburnham, Beaufoy, Beckford, Drury, Phillipps, Spencer, Vernon and numerous others - libraries which have been dispersed in my lifetime. It is concerned only with payments received, and though the sales of single books for cash are recorded they do not often amount to any considerable sum in total. Amongst these items Greek and Latin classics are often prominent with sundry entries which make us envy the unknown purchasers, viz: - Euclidis Elementa Latine. H. Walpole's copy. 4/- Biblia Latina, folio. Jenson, 1479. £3.10.0 Boccace des Nobles Maleureux, Folio. Red. Mor. A. Verard, 1494. £3.13.6.
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