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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

Article

Getting Healthy on Summer Vacation

If you were a wealthy New Yorker in the Gilded Age, you spent the summer in the resorts of upstate New York to escape the stifling heat of the city. Upstate New York meant mountains, snow-fed streams, clean air, and luxury hotels. There developed a cadre of physicians and clergy who came to believe that those pristine regions were the perfect place for people suffering from diseases and chronic "delicacy of chest" ailments. Among them was Dr. Joseph W. Stickler, a physician and pathologist at Orange Memorial Hospital in New Jersey. Dr. Stickler was something of an authority on respiratory diseases and he wrote a book, The Adirondacks as a Health Resort, published in 1886. A copy of that book is in the collection of rare and unusual books at Lighthouse Books, ABAA.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Devo and the Punks of Letterpress

We finally were able to track down a complete set of this collection of broadsides issued for the Kent State Creative Arts Festival. I'd been searching for it for several years. We'd wanted to include it in our Art Terrorism in Ohio exhibition, but weren't able to find a copy in time, which is a shame. Not only does the portfolio link the underground poetry scene in Ohio to the Bay Area poetry scene via the Zephyrus Image, it also connects it to the New Wave and avant punk scene, featuring perhaps the earliest printed work by a band that was still a few years away from taking over the world.
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Article

Cover Stories - Blanche McManus Mansfield

One of the most interesting, prolific, and mysterious book cover artists of this period was Blanche McManus (B. McM.). After her marriage in 1898 she added Mansfield and started using the monogram B.M.M. You may have seen her cover for The King's Highway by Amelia Barr (Dodd, Mead, 1897) in the post here March 26th.
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Article

SLAM Conferences 2010 - The Antiquarian Book

Conferences will take place at the Town Hall of the 6th arrondissement – Wedding Hall, 78 rue Bonaparte – 75006 Paris (métro: Saint-Sulpice), 16th February to 22nd June 2010, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Programme:
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Fore-Edge Paintings

Discovering a fore-edge painting is always a pleasant surprise. When I first started my bookselling apprenticeship, it was one of the first things I was told to look out for (along with interesting bookplates, and ephemera tucked into the books). If you have not come across fore-edge paintings, let me first explain what they are.
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