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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 17 July 2018
"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 17 July 2018
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 17 July 2018
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 17 July 2018
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 17 July 2018
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 17 July 2018
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 17 July 2018
„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

Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Allez Allez Allez!

How better to celebrate sports than by going over the close link historically between writers and bicycles. Leo Tolstoy was an early adopter, procuring a English Starley safety bicycle, which he learnt how to ride in his mid-sixties, undoubtedly to the surprise of the peasant workforce on his family estate at Yasnaya Polyana. Back in England H.G. Wells was a keen cyclist with the quote "When I see an adult on a bicycle I do not despair for the future of the human race" often attributed to him. He regularly managed to weave bicycles into his writings, perhaps most memorably in 'The War in the Air' with the novel's hero Bert Smallways, who with his business partner Grubb, rented bicycles to the intrepid or the foolhardy as the following excerpt shows.
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Booksellers

Herman H. J. Lynge & Søn – The First Antiquarian Bookshop in Scandinavia

Herman Henrik Julius Lynge (November 13, 1822 - May 12, 1897) was a Danish antiquarian bookseller. He continued and owned the first antiquarian bookshop in Scandinavia, now "Herman H. J. Lynge & Søn A/S". Lynge was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, as the son of a bookbinder. At a very young age, before he was even confirmed, he began his apprenticeship as a bookseller, and the shop in which he took his education was carefully chosen by his father, Henrik Berndt Lynge. His master was Christian Tønder Sæbye (1789-1844), who had started his bookshop, initially a second-hand shop focusing on books, in 1821 on Gothersgade 26. After his apprenticeship, Lynge continued to work in the company, and when Sæbye died in 1844, the young man, only aged twenty-two, took over as manager of the bookshop, which was still owned by the Sæbye family. In 1853 Lynge was able to buy the shop from the family at the price of 1,000 rix-dollars, and at the same time he took out a trade licence as a bookseller. In the first years the cholera was harrying Copenhagen, and Lynge is said to have done great business at the time due to the large number of private libraries offered for sale; he was the only proper "antiquarian bookseller" in Denmark, and he often spited the danger of infection and personally collected the large number of books in the homes of the ill.
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Booksellers

Karl Donhofer (1923–2013)

Karl Donhofer, for many years antiquarian bookseller and managing director of Franz Deuticke (Vienna), member of the Austrian Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (VAO) and father of ILAB Vice-President Norbert Donhofer, passed away on 20th June 2013. An obituary by Hansjörg Krug.
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Article

Joel Silver: Bibliography for Booksellers

Reference information is indispensable to antiquarian booksellers. Like many traditional booksellers, here at BTC we have many hundreds of bibliographies and reference works that we can quickly consult to help us in identifying and verifying different books, editions, and autographs. But with more and more information available on the Internet, it may seem that there is no longer a need for booksellers to have a large reference library. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is still a great deal of information, necessary to properly cataloging a book, that can only be obtained from print sources.
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Article

The Professionalization of Library Theft

Travis McDade is Curator of Law Rare Books at the University of Illinois College of Law and author of the upcoming Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It. The book will published by Oxford University Press in May 2013. In this article Travis McDade, who also teaches a class called "Rare Books, Crime & Punishment", writes about how stolen books can be identified and what book thieves do to prevent this.
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