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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
 
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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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Collecting

A New Edition of A Gentle Madness - Catching up with Nick Basbanes

Published on 08 June 2012
Ask any book collector about his favorite classic of collecting, and Nick Basbanes' Gentle Madness, first published in 1995, is undoubtedly at the top of the list. Now an updated edition of this book about the "Eternal Passion for Books" has been published. Rebecca Rego Barry asked Nick Basbanes about the book, how it affected his career, and what he's currently working on. Some snippets:
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Collecting

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - OenoLit and The Private Library

Published on 24 May 2012
Given that the first book printed from moveable type in Western Europe, the Gutenberg Bible, contains numerous references to wine, and given that the technology for printing that first book may itself have been modeled upon the screw press used to extract wine from grapes, this writer has always found it puzzling that the cultivation, processing, distribution and consumption of wine is rarely a major thematic element in works of fiction.
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Collecting

Collecting Rare Books - and Ephemera: Dandruff Piles

Published on 02 April 2012
Books sit squarely on shelves. They are discrete, replicable units. They have titles, authors, and places and dates of publication. They organize nicely into classes – "fiction" and "non-fiction," for example. There is agreed-upon language to describe condition, and there are bibliographical references that talk about the history and physical makeup of a book.
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Collecting

Open The Pod Bay Doors, Hal!

Published on 02 April 2012
If there's one thing you can guarantee it's that the minute you think you're being smart is the minute before you meet someone much smarter. One of the reasons I love my job so very, very much is that my minutes of being smart never last long enough to knock my self image out of whack. If I'm not meeting a customer whose breadth of knowledge and devotion has the least admirable parts of me reaching for a pitchfork and a torch then it's one of my colleagues who is making me wish I could eat their head and consume their wisdom entire.
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46 - 54 / 74

From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

London Rare Books School – Summer Course Schedule 2016

London - with its long history of book production, its role as one of the world's major publishing centres, its famous libraries, museums, archives, and antiquarian bookshops - is the ideal place in which to study the history of the book. And the London Rare Books School (LRBS) is one of the world's leading institutions in this field. In June and July 2016 London Rare Books Schools once again offers a series of five-day, intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects to be taught in and around Senate House which is the centre of the University of London's federal system. The courses are taught by internationally renowned scholars, including the ILAB affiliates and ABA members Angus O'Neill and Laurence Worms, using the unrivalled library and museum resources of London, including the British Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Senate House Libraries, and many more.
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Article

Edmund Smyth - English Explorer (1823-1911)

The only existing account of his life beyond his travels is an obituary in the Royal Geographical Society, New Series 1882: Edmund Smyth travelled in the company of John Hanning Speke and Richard Burton, and he made a secret expedition to Tibet and the Brahmaputra with Robert Drummond and Thomas W. Webber. Webber's report "Forests of Upper India" was rejected by Sven Hedin, who "dismissed the account as worthless and riddled with inconsistencies, devoting six pages of his Southern Tibet to demolishing Webber's claims". Why? Hedin had recently returned from Tibet and claimed the discovery of the source of the Brahmaputra as his own.
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Article

Pictures from Italy - ILAB President's Meeting in Siena, September 2013

"Siena is like a bit of Venice, without the water", Charles Dickens wrote in his "Pictures from Italy" (1846). Indeed, there are not enough words to describe the beauty of Siena in Tuscany, whose medieval centre has rightly been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Siena is famous for its art and culture, libraries and museums, the medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year on the Piazza del Campo, and most of all: for its magnificent atmosphere. The four days in Siena from 26th to 29th September, 2013, brought together 18 presidents of the League's 22 member associations. They came along together with their spouses from the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Russia, Hungary, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. Fabrizio Govi, president of the Italian Antiquarian Booksellers' Association (ALAI), was the perfect host and organizer. He did not spare any effort to make the stay of the ILAB delegates as comfortable as possible and went to great lengths to prepare a very enticing programme. It provided the ideal background for a President's Meeting that gave interesting insights into recent developments of the rare book business along with fruitful and controversial discussions about the future of the trade.
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Article

The Mimeo Revolution - Secret Location on the Upper East Side

As much as I hate to admit it, Kulchur is one of the great magazines of the Mimeo Revolution. The mag irks because it proves false my notion that good funding translates into a bad mag. On the contrary, Kulchur is great precisely because it is well-funded. It just looks money in terms of design (even if Lita Hornick did not get her money's worth with the printers) and the contents are a wealth of information on the New York art scene in all its facets from film, art, literature, and theater. Hornick got great reviews and chronicles from great writers because she paid for them. In this case, she got her money's worth.
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