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All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
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Americana

Collecting - “He was America”: Carl Sandburg

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

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

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?

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

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

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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Americana

The American Gift Book

In France the first gift book may have been ALMANACH DES MUSES, first published in 1765. This format was copied in Germany in 1770 with the publication of MUSEN-ALMANACH. In the 1790s some anthologies appeared in England that were clearly intended to be given as gifts, like ANGELICA'S LADIES LIBRARY, OR PARENTS AND GUARDIANS PRESENT (1794), which was followed by THE ANNUAL ANTHOLOGY (1799, 1800), edited by Robert Southey, and including twenty-seven poems and epigrams by Coleridge, plus contributions by Charles Lamb and Southey himself. A third volume was planned, but never appeared. These proto-gift books did not start a trend, and I know of no similar anthologies published in England during the next two decades. In the early years of the nineteenth century in Germany, some gift books (taschenbuch) were being issued in glazed paper boards, and in 1822 Rudolph Ackerman used those as his model when he published the first English gift book, the FORGET ME NOT, which he would publish without interruption for the next twenty-five years. Gift books like Ackerman's, which were issued year after year, became known as gift annuals, literary annuals, or simply "annuals." Since not all "annuals" were exclusively literary in their content, I will use the term "gift annual" to describe them as a subset of the broader family of gift books.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

A Book on Discovery Rediscovered

For immediate press release: Under circumstances not precisely known an utmost rarity has been discovered in a rather minor collection of miscellaneous books, novels and pamphlets by an antiquarian bookseller from Southern Germany.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Short Story and The Private Library (Part I)

Given the tremendous demands on one's time in modern industrialized societies, we have always thought it interesting that more book collectors do not have a number of collections of short stories on their bookshelves. This literary form, born of oral storytelling traditions, is less complex, with fewer characters and plot devices, and appears far better suited to the pace of modern life, than its wordier cousins, novels and novellas. Short stories are just the right length for consumption during a subway ride, or a break during a hectic day, or the hour before dawn when one's household (hopefully) is still abed.
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Article

We All Have Issues

"Dear Bibliodeviant, I miss you terribly. I long for those sultry evenings we spent in your simple, rustic lakeside retreat sipping Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and eating sweetmeats. Most of all I miss curling up on your ethically sourced Kilim rug in front of a roaring log fire while you told me those gloriously witty stories about how the printers misspelled "Wade" for "Wabe" in the first edition of Through The Looking Glass, or how bookdealers in the past have charged high prices for copies of the Time Machine that didn't have Hall Caine's The Manxman on the first page of advertisments. I yearn for you, and your thrilling tales of the swashbuckling world of the rare book trade. Return to me immediately, and talk to me of fine bindings! Monica"
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Dismal Science of the Mimeo Revolution

Digging through used bookstores, I always keep a look out for books that covered aspects of the Mimeo Revolution when it was a current event. Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture is a good one of course. There are many more books on the Underground Newspaper as opposed to the little magazines and Roger Lewis' Outlaws of America and Robert Glessing's The Underground Press in America are two examples.
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Article

John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer at Work

"Updike was a private man, if not a recluse like J. D. Salinger or a phantom like Thomas Pynchon, then a one-man gated community, visible from afar but firmly sealed off, with a No Trespassing sign posted in front."
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