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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade

From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Devil in the Details

By the time Henry Clay Folger died in 1930, he had amassed a collection of early English printing that is most famous for housing more than a third of all the copies known today of the First Folio of Shakespeare.
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Article

"Tempora mutantur ..." Veränderung und Wandel im antiquarischen Handel

Eberhard Köstler, President of the German Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, has been an antiquarian bookseller and an autograph specialist for more than 30 years. He began his career in 1975, when he worked for Dr. Hans Schneider (Tutzing) during his summer holidays while studying classical Latin and Greek at the University of Munich. "At that time the German rare book trade was dominated by large companies with many employees and long traditions dating back to the 19th and early 20th century, such as Ackermann and Woelfle in Munich, Kistner in Nuremberg, Steinkopf, Neidhardt, Eggert and Kocher-Benzing in Stuttgart, Stenderhoff in Münster, Koch in Berlin or the "Hamburger Bücherkabinett" of Dr. Maria Conradt. The "golden age" of the antiquarian book trade seemed to be stable and successful. Radical changes were unthinkable." From 1988 to 2000, Eberhard Köstler had worked as an auctioneer at the Munich auction house Zisska, Schauer & Co., before he established is own business in 2000 and became VDA President in 2006. Within these years the rare book trade experienced a revolution which was totally unexpected by the elder generations of antiquarian booksellers.
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Article

Why The New York Antiquarian Book Fair Matters – To You, Me, and Everyone We Know

I didn't take any pictures at the New York Book Fair this year. I'm not much of a picture taker in the most relaxed of times, but at any given book event I can usually be counted on to snap a shot or two of my favorite booksellers in action; another few of my booth (mostly to remind me how I want – or don't want – the booth to look next year); and another batch recording my after-hours activities, which generally involve intemperate helpings of food and drink at the sorts of restaurants which, though generally above my pay grade, seem suddenly (alas, illusorily) within reach after a day spent selling high-priced rarities. But in New York I never had the chance, or even the inclination, to take any of my customary photos, despite the fact that I'm toting a spanking-new iPhone with what's reputed to be the best built-in digicam on any phone anywhere. (Well, okay, I did take one accidental snapshot of my left shoe while fumbling around looking for an old picture to show a customer…but that was it). No friends, no booth, no food – nothing. Why? you ask. Well, call me paradoxical, but the reason is simple and clear: the New York Book Fair is too important to be photographed.
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ILAB History

ABA History 1906-1984

This short survey of the British ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS' ASSOCIATION consists of the account of its first half-century prepared by Dudley Massey for the fiftieth anniversary in 1956 (slightly revised) with a continuation to the present year by Martin Hamlyn. It was published in the ILAB Newsletter 36.
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Article

Livres à lire d’une seule main - Aristotle’s Master-Piece

Probably the most notorious seventeenth-century sex manual bore the strange title Aristotle's Masterpiece. This book bears a fake author's name — the Greek philosopher had nothing to do with it — in order to give the work some measure of respectability. The ruse didn't work; Aristotle's Masterpiece was banned in Britain until the 1960s. But the prohibition didn't keep it from circulating: it was one of the most notorious, and widely distributed, sex books in the English language.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - La storia di un burattino at The Private Library

Susan A. Burgess, writing in Children's Books and Their Creators, penned a rather harsh assessment of this celebrated story's author. He was, she suggested, a hack journalist, an undecorated soldier, and a low-level government official whose best-known work is full of inconsistencies and contradictions, evidence of careless writing. An assessment, incidentally, with which the author's admirers profoundly disagree.
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