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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Autographs

Napoleon hair found in great novelist’s book on TV’s Antiques Roadshow

Published on 08 Sept. 2011
"The BBC's Antiques Roadshow is a TV programme which examines many fine and fascinating art and antiques, but as a general rule it is not known for valuing particularly weird memorabilia … When it was called to the former home of Sir Walter Scott in the Borders, however, the team made a rather surprising discovery in a blotter which had belonged to Napoleon. A small handwritten note dated 8 November 1827, written to Sir Walter Scott from a Mr Dalton was found inside which contains a lock of Napoleon's hair."
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Autographs

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: The Letters of B. Traven

Published on 21 July 2011
One of the great things about working for a bookseller is you get to see some very cool items. One of the best in recent days is a collection of letters from the writer B. Traven - best known for his novel The Treasure of Sierra Madre - sent to the model and actress Ruth Ford. If you're only familiar with the classic movie starring Humphrey Bogart, you've been missing out because B. Traven was a man of mystery worthy a movie all his own.
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Autographs

When Kerouac Met Dostoyevsky

Published on 22 June 2011
Sometime during March-April, 1949, John-not-yet-Jack Kerouac, 27 years old and living with his parents as "The Wizard of Ozone Park" (Queens, NYC), as his Beat friends referred to him, bought a cheap reprint edition of short stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. He annotated the book, and entered his ownership signature. Dostoyevsky was an important influence on Kerouac; his novel,The Subterraneans, was consciously modeled on Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground, one of his favorite books, and there are many references to the Russian author in Kerouac's novels and letters.
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Autographs

Rare Kafka Letters Bought by the Bodleian Library (Oxford) and the Marbach Literary Archive

Published on 05 April 2011
The Berlin based auction house J. A. Stargardt cancelled its upcoming sale of rare autograph letters written by Franz Kafka to his sister Ottilie in the years 1909 to 1924. The important series of 45 letters, 32 postcards and 34 picture postcards contains almost all the surviving letters and postcards that Kafka sent to his sister Ottilie, who was known as Ottla – the youngest of his three sisters, and the family member to whom he was closest. The auction was scheduled for April 19, 2011 in Berlin, a richly illustrated catalogue with a preface by Hans-Gerd Koch had been published.
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Autographs

Fraktur and The Private Library

Published on 23 Feb. 2011
In Germany books written in "Fraktur" are hard to sell, because especially young people are not used to read it. Often called "old German typography" the typical "Fraktur" is found in German books of the late 19th and early 20th century, mostly common literature and popular non-fiction, printed in a large number of copies. From L.D. Mitchell we learn that there is another kind of "Fraktur", very rare and worth collecting.
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Autographs

Other People's Books - Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins

Published on 22 Feb. 2011
Annotations are invaluable for literary research and for book collectors. The comments written by authors, scientists, scholars or other "important" people alongside the text passages tell a very special story of a book. What did people think about it? Was it highly esteemed or condemned? Who read it? Why? Who possessed the book? What did, for example, Mark Twain read? What Samual Taylor Coleridge? Jane Austen? John Maynard Keynes? René Descartes? The advantage of a printed book is that these annotations have been preserved through the centuries. "Other People's Books" is a symposium held by The Caxton Club, and a new publication distributed by Oak Knoll. Snippets from an article by Dirk Johnson.
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Autographs

„Vom Autographensammeln" - The First Modern Handbook on Autograph Collecting

Published on 21 Feb. 2011
„Vom Autographensammeln. Versuch einer Darstellung seines Wesens und seiner Geschichte im deutschen Sprachgebiet" was written by Günther Mecklenburg in 1963. It was the first modern handbook on autograph collecting - and still is THE German book on this subject. In various chapters the author describes all the basics of autograph collecting, gives definitions of common terms and abbreviations used in catalogues as well as a list of relevant bibliographies, catalogue raisonnés and archives. Günther Mecklenburg explains how autograph collections are built, how they are described and valuated. He lists resources to identify the handwritings of artists, authors, politicians and scientists and gives valuable advice how to differentiate between the original autograph and forgeries.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Booksellers

In Memoriam: Bob de Graaf, Antiquarian Bookdealer, Publisher and Bibliographer (1927-2011)

When antiquarian bookdealers, talking among themselves, call a colleague a "great dealer", they don't always mean the same thing. Some mean a dealer with many staff, a large turn over and great profits. Others mean a dealer who masters the art of really studying a book, a dealer who is able to discover something in or about the book that suddenly makes it interesting for all readers, not just the obvious specialists. When Bob de Graaf once said: "I have not become a great dealer", he hastened to add: "No, that is not false modesty." And he repeated, with meaning: "I have not become a great dealer, but I have never aspired to be one." With great sadness ILAB announces the death of Bob de Graaf on February 10, 2011. An obituary by Anton Gerits.
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Booksellers

Living With - And From - Books, Part 2

This catalogue, consisting of 34 pages, printed on plain paper in June 1921, for us is just like a "Number One Dime", a Disney's good luck charm at the beginning of a long series of publications. The index of subjects is already quite significant: next to fine arts, philosophy, Italian literature and religions, we find, as a matter of fact, unusual entries, such as "anecdotes", "curiosities", "erotica" and "freemasonry". Going through the pages of this family, but also historical, treasure, 90 years after its publication, is really touching. The delicate pages yellowed with dignity, its simple cover in light green wrappers, a little worn out and with a few brown spots, the border surrounding the title - that would have remained as the graphical design for some years to come - make this "elderly and distinguished gentleman" closer to the dust-jacket first editions of the beginning of the century, which are now for sale on the shelves of the bookshop, than to the modern and colourful recently published "colleagues".
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Booksellers

"There's enough beauty in the world to keep me here” - David Spode (1936-2013)

A couple of weeks before he died I asked David why he was so determined to hang on as long as he could. After all, we shared trenchant, dour, views of the universe, of human existence. He replied, "There's enough beauty in the world to keep me here." That didn't make me pause for thought; what did was the realisation that he was so good at sharing beauty. If I begin to count up all the things that I treasure that I learnt from David either directly or indirectly - by following leads given by him down paths of my own making - then I find myself with a tangle of debt that can't and doesn't need to be unpicked.
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Article

Coming to Terms with Manuscripts

Manuscripts are unique items, though many of them are similar and share general characteristics. A hard and fast set of regulations, which few will follow and others will not understand, has, therefore, less relevance for manuscripts than printed books and allows me to present my remarks more as an essay than a formulary. Much of what really matters is, in truth, predetermined by the honesty, integrity and sense of self-mortification in the cataloguer and the degree with which he seeks personally to attain perfection in terms of accuracy and straightforwardness. But such considerations have not always faced down earnest legislators in the past.
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