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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Maps

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - A 17-foot timeline

Published on 29 May 2015
This large, folding chromolithograph (it's over 6.5m long) is Adams' Illustrated Panorama of History (London & Paris, A. H. Walker, 1878). First published in 1871 under the title Synchronological Chart by the Oregon pioneer minister Sebastian C. Adams, and in various later editions under different titles, this was, for a timeline chart, 'nineteenth-century America's surpassing achievement in complexity and synthetic power. Adams, who lived all of his early life at the very edge of U.S. territory, was a schoolteacher and one of the founders of the first Bible college in Oregon. Born in Ohio in 1825 and educated in the early 1840s at the brand-new Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, at the heart of the American abolitionist movement, Adams was a voracious reader, a broad thinker, and an inveterate improver. The Synchronological Chart is a great work of outsider thinking and a template for autodidact study; it attempts to rise above the station of a mere historical summary and to draw a picture of history rich enough to serve as a textbook in itself.
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Maps

Caring for Your Rare and Antiquarian Maps

Published on 21 June 2013
Rare book collectors often encounter maps, which present special challenges because they've usually been folded (and unfolded and refolded again) as part of their original use. They also make wonderful display pieces, so collectors may have to consider preservation and conservation for maps as hanging art.
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Maps

Don't Wipe Your Nose With This Map

Published on 11 March 2013
The Travelling Handkerchief has come to town, Fairburn's Map of the Country Twelve Miles Round London by E. Bourne, printed on calico, 590 x 540 mm, in 1831, a scarce, early handkerchief map. The map is circular, and reaches Teddington in the south west, clockside to Norwood, Harrow on the Hill, Chipping Barnet, Dagenham, Purley and Kingsston, wherever they are. I'm in Los Angeles, clockside to Westwood, harrowing on Barrington, Pico and Sepulveda; what do I know? This cartographical Kleenex™ is decorated by vignette views of Chelsea and Greenwich Hospitals in the bottom corners, and a banner heralding the title is held aloft in an eagle's beak.
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Maps

London : A History in Maps

Published on 06 Sept. 2012
Back in 2006, the British Library put on what was to become (at that time) its most successful exhibition ever – London: A Life in Maps. It still exists in partial and virtual form on the British Library website. "See London as you have never seen it before" was the tag-line – and so we did. The history of our great city was explored and illuminated using the primary documents: the contemporary maps and views generated by the eye-witnesses. Londoners flocked to it in their thousands. The one thing lacking was a permanent record of the entire exhibition and the compelling narrative (in detailed captions, interpretation and formal identification of the material) which accompanied it. The London Topographical Society has now stepped in and published, in association with the British Library, the full record – London : A History in Maps – the complete narrative catalogue as originally compiled by Peter Barber, Head of the BL Map Library. And not just the words, but with every item illustrated in whole or in part.
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Maps

Rare Books in the Press: A Masterpiece of Maps Goes Digital At Cambridge

Published on 27 April 2011
"Anglophiles who are planning to watch the Royal Wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011, now have a new opportunity to gain insight into the history and geography of the kingdom over which the future monarch and his bride will reign. Cambridge University Library has digitized a set of proof sheets for the first comprehensive atlas of Great Britain, first published 400 years ago." Nancy Mattoon's recent article for Booktryst features one of the world's finest cartographic treasures: John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine.
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Maps

The French Connection

Published on 28 May 2010
Strange how myths are perpetuated. Like the one that claims Captain James Cook discovered Australia. Or the myth that the English are responsible for the mapping of Australia. If we delve into the history of Australian cartography, we find that it is the French, not the English, who made the greatest contribution to the early mapping of our continent. In fact, given King Louis XVI and Napoleon's interest in the great southern continent, it is surprising that we are not a nation of French speaking citizens.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Joel Silver: Bibliography for Booksellers

Reference information is indispensable to antiquarian booksellers. Like many traditional booksellers, here at BTC we have many hundreds of bibliographies and reference works that we can quickly consult to help us in identifying and verifying different books, editions, and autographs. But with more and more information available on the Internet, it may seem that there is no longer a need for booksellers to have a large reference library. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is still a great deal of information, necessary to properly cataloging a book, that can only be obtained from print sources.
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Article

ANZAAB Conference - Dunkeld, 19th and 20th March 2012

Members of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers had a wonderful time at Dunkeld, a Victorian town nestled at the foot of the Grampians, right at the end of the Great Dividing Range. From 19th to 20th March they attended the 2012 ANZAAB Conference, convened by President Sally Burdon and Secretary Jörn Harbeck.Members of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers had a wonderful time at Dunkeld, a Victorian town nestled at the foot of the Grampians, right at the end of the Great Dividing Range. From 19th to 20th March they attended the 2012 ANZAAB Conference, convened by President Sally Burdon and Secretary Jörn Harbeck.
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Article

Time Travel for Bibliophiles - 54th Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair, 23 to 25 January 2015

"It has become trendy to declare the book obsolete in this brave new world of digitalized data rubbish", book historian Reinhard Wittmann declares in the new "Handbook 2015/2016" published by the German Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (VDA). "It may have lost its general function and its social prestige, but it will survive as a historical and artistic object, far beyond its actual content, as a time machine for the aura of times long gone."The German Antiquarian Booksellers' Association would like to invite you on a bibliophilic time voyage on the occasion of the 54th Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair from 23rd to 25th January 2015. About 80 leading antiquarian booksellers from Germany, Italy, Great Britain, the USA, Switzerland and the Netherlands will present rare and precious manuscripts, books, autographs and prints from five centuries of book printing and book art. Beautifully illustrated manuscripts, scientific milestones, avant-garde book art, autographs and manuscripts of important scientists and artists, rare first editions of world literature, children's books, artists' books, maps, views, decorative prints and book objects: The fair fascinates by its diversity, from unique little objects to books worth millions, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century.
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Article

My New Business Plan

In days of old, it is said, herds of buffalo stretched twenty-five miles across the great plains of America; flocks of carrier pigeons darkened the sky for hours as they flew past. That's the way it was, more or less, last Friday at the opening of the 39th Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. The enormous opening-night line stretched all the way up the spacious Hynes lobby and into the rotunda adjacent to the Prudential shopping mall.
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Article

The Warburg Institute Library, London, is once again in danger, 80 years after being saved from the Nazis

The Warburg Institute Library holds about 350,000 books. It was originally founded in Hamburg by Aby Warburg (1866-1929), one of the most brilliant intellectuals of the 20th century. Warburg's enormous collection – which documents the history of the Renaissance and the influence of antiquity on modern culture in an interdisciplinary approach - was transformed into a scholarly institution called Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg. The library was located in Hamburg (Germany) until the year 1933. Four years after Aby Warburg's death his collection had to be brought out of the country because it was in danger of being destroyed by the Nazis. The Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg was relocated in London, 1944 it became associated with the University of London, and in 1994 it became a founding institute of the University of London's School of Advanced Study.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: The Letters of B. Traven

One of the great things about working for a bookseller is you get to see some very cool items. One of the best in recent days is a collection of letters from the writer B. Traven - best known for his novel The Treasure of Sierra Madre - sent to the model and actress Ruth Ford. If you're only familiar with the classic movie starring Humphrey Bogart, you've been missing out because B. Traven was a man of mystery worthy a movie all his own.
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