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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Collecting

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Chapbooks: Short Books with Long History

Published on 07 Oct. 2013
Scholars debate over the etymology of the term "chapbook." Some argue that "chap" is derived from "cheap," surely an accurate description of chapbooks, since they were indeed cheap little publications. But the more widely accepted explanation is that "chap" comes from the Old English "céap," meaning "barter" or "deal." Peddlers came to be known as chaps, and they were the primary purveyors of chapbooks. Whatever the origin of their name, chapbooks became a vital tool for dissemination of information and promotion of literacy. As publishing and readers' tastes evolved, chapbooks also provided an ideal means of addressing an increased demand for children's literature.
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Collecting

Banned Books Week - ‘All that Hell could vomit forth’

Published on 23 Sept. 2013
This week is Banned Books Week. I've written about banned books before: the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in the Weimar Republic, in the Soviet Union. Here's something a little earlier: the libellous Philippiques of François-Joseph de Lagrange-Chancel (1677–1758). These virulent satires against the Regent, the duc d'Orléans, enjoyed a huge popularity in manuscript throughout the eighteenth century, as the varied examples here show. 'In spite of its imperfections and crying injustice, it is the monument of satire in France' (Nouvelle biographie générale).
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Collecting

The Life and Library of Victor Manheimer – A New Book by Sebastian Kötz

Published on 18 Sept. 2013
In the year 1927 a library of Baroque literature was auctioned in Munich at Karl & Faber. Nowadays, the catalogue of this auction belongs to the main reference works which are quoted by antiquarian booksellers, bibliographers and auctioneers when it comes to cataloguing literature of that period. Owner of the library was the German Jewish bibliophile Victor Manheimer.
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Collecting

You don’t by any chance know the way through this labyrinth, do you?

Published on 09 May 2013
Having thought about it though, it did occur to me that the real problem with that Treasure Detectives malarkey was not even the fact that they had no clue what they were on about … more the fact that to someone "normal" it would be really hard to tell. If I were wandering the earth all besotted with books and suddenly had a windfall from a mysterious Romanian Great Uncle I'd never previously heard of, and I wanted to start collecting books … how would I go about it? First … there are rules. They are for you, and like all of the best rules, they are rules that don't just apply to book collecting.
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Collecting

How to Prevent Ghosting and Shadowing in Rare Books

Published on 21 March 2013
When it comes to rare books, condition is everything. Any kind of damage, discoloration, or flaws can significantly impact a book's value. One of the most common flaws we see in rare and antiquarian books is a condition called ghosting or shadowing. This condition occurs when a page fades unevenly, leaving a visible outline on the page.
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Collecting

Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction and The Private Library

Published on 18 March 2013
One of the most popular components of a private library is the mystery genre, which comprises a vast array of sub-genres such as detective fiction. The genesis of the detective fiction sub-genre may be traced to a short story penned by Edgar Allan Poe in 1841 titled The Murders in the Rue Morgue. All the elements of what we today recognize as the essential characteristics of the sub-genre are found in this short story: a brutal murder; baffled police; an independent investigator that solves the case through superior intelligence, humbling the police in the process.
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Collecting

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Guiding Lights

Published on 14 Dec. 2012
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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Collecting

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Why I Bothered

Published on 22 June 2012
"If you keep an open mind in this business, you learn something new every day." Greg Gibson on collecting the unusual: "Fire insurance mapping began in London in the 1700s, but it had never been applied with a systematic approach. In 1867 Daniel Alfred Sanborn, a surveyor from Massachusetts, saw the need for such a service, and quickly occupied that niche. By the late 1800s he had offices spanning the continent, sending out thousands of surveyors to record the footprints and construction details of buildings in American cities. Insurance companies could then use this information to write accurate policies, based on potential fire risk as documented by Sanborn's company."
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Collecting

Papier Mâché and The Private Library

Published on 22 June 2012
"One of the most unusual bindings one is likely to encounter among books purchased at yard sales, garage sales, friends-of-the-library book sales and the like is papier mâché." L.D. Mitchell on Papier Mâché and The Private Library.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

The Longest Banned Book?

The Roman poet Ovid not only had his book, Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) banned, but he himself was banished from Rome for writing it in the year 8 CE. All of his works were burned by Savonarola in his infamous bonfire of the vanities in 1497. Christopher Marlowe translated it in 1599, and his translation was banned. U.S. Customs banned it in 1930 - nearly two thousand years later. This makes it a candidate, if not the winner, of the dubious distinction of being the longest (in time) banned book.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Margaret Fuller: America's First Feminist

May 23 is the birthday of writer Margaret Fuller (1810), who is considered the first American feminist. She wrote Women in the Nineteenth Century (1845), which is regarded as the first major feminist work published in the country. It was first published in The Dial Magazine, for which Fuller had served as founding editor before turning those duties over to co-founder Ralph Waldo Emerson. In the book, Fuller argued that mankind would evolve to understand divine love and that women alongside men would share in divine love. Fuller was a favorite in the New England Transcendentalist community. Among her friends were Bronson Alcott (Louisa May's father), Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Horace Greeley, for whom she worked as first literary critic of the New York Tribune. She served as foreign correspondent for the Tribune, touring Europe and setting in Rome, where she married. She was returning to the United States in 1850 but drowned, along with her husband and young son, when her ship hit a sandbar and sank off New York. She was 40 years old.
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Booksellers

Poul Jan Poulsen, Honorary Member of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABF)

Congratuliations! For his outstanding efforts and commitment to the antiquarian book trade, Poul Jan Poulsen - ILAB Treasurer for more than two decades - has been elected honorary member of the Danish Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABF), as the only still active bookseller ever, and as the third in the entire history of ABF, which was founded in 1920. During the 90 years that ABF has been in existence, Poul has done more for the association than any other member. For many, many years, he has formed the back-bone of ABF, which would hardly be imaginable without him.
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Article

Incunabula Project Blog

The Cambridge University Library is cataloguing its collection of 4,650 incunabula online for the first time. The collection, part of which goes back to the late 15th century, is internationally renowned and includes some 134 unique items.
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Article

The Most Elusive of Rare Books

Book collecting is an incredibly accessible pastime - collectors can spend as much or as little as they'd like, and there is plenty of information available to inform their choices. Some rare books, however, are so scarce that only the most elite can afford them. Here's a look at some of the rarest books in the world.
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