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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

Article

Absences - "Lost, Stolen or Shredded": Rick Gekoski's Stories of Missing Works of Art and Literature

As you may already have realised, I like books which have a story to tell. By this I mean not just the book's own internal narrative, but a copy of the book with its own individual history. Not necessarily a fine and obviously important provenance (although that's always very welcome), but just a tale of its own career in the world. I'm not deterred by a book with a previous owner's inscription, far from it – this can lead into that narrative and document some evidence of the book's initial audience and reception. Who bought this book when it first came out? Where did the book fit into that world rather than ours?
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Article

Own the Whole World

Own the Whole World is a good example of the commingling of various interests - hardcore punk, mail art, cultural criticism, and irreducible eccentricity - that often seemed to take place in the zines of Ohio. Number 4 includes a manifesto on the need to analyze pop music by Peter Titus, a review with four photographs of Flipper at J. B.'s (proving that this show actually did happen - see an example of the flier here) and a Postal Art Network advertisement and call for submissions for Mark Bloch's New York exhibition The Last Mail Art Show.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Fore-Edge Paintings

Discovering a fore-edge painting is always a pleasant surprise. When I first started my bookselling apprenticeship, it was one of the first things I was told to look out for (along with interesting bookplates, and ephemera tucked into the books). If you have not come across fore-edge paintings, let me first explain what they are.
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Article

Collecting Women Writers: Julia Peterkin, Ellen Glasgow, Margaret Ayer Barnes, Alice Walker

"Everyone knows Alice Walker's 1982 novel The Color Purple, but not everyone knows that the first issue jacket has only one address for the publisher on the rear flap – later issues have two." - "Peterkin's Pulitzer-winning novel Scarlet Sister Mary (1928) turns up occasionally, but there we have seen two variants of the jacket and haven't yet been able to determine whether one precedes or not." - "Spoken pompously, and with an air of experience: "Yes, my dear fellow, its the only copy we've ever seen (sotte voce: this week)." What is worth collecting or not among the works of Julia Peterkin, Alice Walker, Margaret Ayer Barnes and Ellen Glasgow.
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Article

ILAB Congress visits newly opened William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, L.A.

UCLA's William Andrews Clarke Memorial Library, renowned for its collection of rare books and manuscripts from England’s Tudor period through the 18th century, including the world’s largest repository of materials related to Oscar Wilde, has just reopened after extensive renovations. Participants of the upcoming ILAB congress, will visit the library as part of the extensive congress programme.
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