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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Americana

Collecting - “He was America”: Carl Sandburg

Published on 13 Jan. 2016
Admitting this is probably one of those phenomenally bad ideas I continuously have despite how much older I get, but I am one of those wicked people who pretended to know, well … something about this American literary star for many years. People would mention his name and I would be all, "Oh yes, Carl Sandburg, wow … it went for how much? Woah!" While casually hoping the conversation would change because as far as I knew I could not remember reading anything by this author and continually neglected to read up on him when I got to a quiet corner away from prying eyes. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I know it is a shocker but I am not omniscient (though I'm sure it seems that way most of the time. Eh-hem). So now, just in case any of you out there are like me and think you can continue fooling people into thinking you know about this magnificent man … think again!
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Americana

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Thomas Paine

Published on 13 Nov. 2014
January 29 is the birthday of early American political activist Thomas Paine (1737), whose pamphlet Common Sense (1776) credited with inspiring American colonists to embrace the idea of independence from Great Britain. The American Revolution had already started but the work served to spur volunteers for the Continental Army. It was widely distributed throughout the colonies, read aloud in taverns, and unabashedly pirated. Some scholars say it was the first American bestseller.
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Americana

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - C. Perry Snell, Snell Isle's Visionary

Published on 05 June 2014
In the 1920s, dreamers and schemers descended on the Sunshine State bent on making a fortune in the burgeoning real estate market. In the earliest days of the Florida Land Boom, it seemed that one had but to imagine great wealth for it to be so. Parcels were bought and sold, sometimes within hours, at huge profits. The real estate bubble didn't last long - a scant five years or so - and when the end came some would-be real estate tycoons were stuck with land bought at inflated prices and no money. But there were developers who, though they had prospered during the boom, were cautious and had not been caught up in the buying frenzy. C. Perry Snell, for instance, had been in St. Petersburg for a couple of decades before the hubbub began. He had successfully developed residential projects that eventually became known as Old Northeast. He owned land bought many years before that he had not yet developed.
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Americana

How to Identify Rare Books and First Editions - Surrender the Ship?

Published on 22 May 2013
How to identify a rare book? "I got stumped last week, trying to catalog a book I'd recently purchased. It was the first full length biography of the American naval hero James Lawrence, and it was supposed to be 244 pages long. However, my copy seemed complete at page 240, which ended with the word "finis." I must've spent an hour pouring through my reference books trying to reconcile the discrepancy. I had a dim recollection of the pagination issue being explained to me by the gentleman from whom I'd purchased the book. But I couldn't remember the details, and I couldn't piece it together from the bibliographies ..."
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Americana

John Steinbeck and the Nixon Novel that Never Was

Published on 26 Feb. 2013
Today we celebrate the birthday of legendary author John Steinbeck. Born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California, Steinbeck would become one of American's most notable authors. Steinbeck established himself as an author in an era when accomplished authors held considerable clout. Thus he one day found himself in a unique position: he held the upcoming United States presidential election in his hands.
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Americana

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Bread & Roses: The Strike That Changed Everything

Published on 21 Feb. 2013
Needless to say, few strikes in American history have generated as much literature, music or folklore as did Lawrence. Given our interest in the art and literature of social movements, we're unavoidably drawn to this material, as are our customers – it tends to come and go with some regularity. Here are a few recent acquisitions that are still with us, each interesting for its own reasons.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Buying Books on the Internet

Following is an essay Helen wrote in 1997. What is amazing is that NOTHING HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN. Except for changing the number of years we have been in business (from 20 to 30) the essay is just as it was ...
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Booksellers

The House Call

It’s a thrilling experience, a rite of passage into the trade. A member of the public thinks so highly of your skills as a book maven, (or your status as a cash cow), that they invite you into their private space to examine, and make an offer on, their books. You get to walk around pronouncing on the current state of the market, on what’s hot and what’s not, all the while maintaining an ingratiating stream of patter that, you hope, will convince the owner that you’re a sage and trustworthy expert.
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Article

Christmas and The Private Library, Part 3

Two other publications helped revitalize Christmas celebrations in the mid 19th century. The first was William Sandys' Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (1833), where many now-beloved Christmas carols made their first appearance in book form. Among these were The First Noel, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen ... Learn more about the invention of the Christmas tree and children's books for Christmas!
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and Prints - Japanese Surimono

Surimono, meaning "printed thing," are a subsection of traditional Japanese woodblock prints. They were printed on commission in small numbers and generally not sold by art publishers, unlike their more commercialized companions, ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Known as far back as the early 18th century, surimono rapidly rose in popularity in the 19th century. They were printed on high-quality paper, called hôsho-gami, using the finest printing techniques. Prior to 1810, these sheets could be quite large and folded so that the illustration accompanying the text faced outward. Later into the 19th century, however, sizing of surimono became more standardized and most were printed on small, nearly square sheets called shikishiban.
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