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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Renaissance

Rare Books - When is an inscription not an inscription?

Published on 14 Oct. 2014
Two folks identified the key elements of this month's crocodile mystery in their comments: Misha Teramura correctly noted that the inscription in the middle of the page - "pp. 184-190 refer to the progress of religion westward toward America" - refers to George Herbert's final poem from The Temple, "The Church Militant." And David Shaw noted that the other inscriptions - "8652″ on the top left and "A176″ on the bottom right - look to be an accession number and a shelf mark. But let's back up for one moment to understand why I find these marks interesting. The book in question is a first edition of George Herbert's The Temple (STC 13183). It's an interesting work, and a popular one in the 17th century. And as you can see from the notations on the front pastedown and the recto of the first free flyleaf, it's a work that was prized by later collectors.This particular copy was owned by Sir Leicester Harmsworth before it came into the Folger Shakespeare Library collection, and its value is shown in part by the blue goatskin binding signed on the bottom turn-in by Riviere and Son. Its value is more obviously indicated by the inscription on the pastedown, "a copy sold in the Terry sale in Dec 1935 for $3600."
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Renaissance

The Giunti of Florence. A Renaissance Printing and Publishing Family

Published on 24 Oct. 2012
This ambitious project explores the history and output of the Giunti Press in Florence, covering the firm from its beginnings in 1497 to its end in 1625, and providing descriptions of each Giunti book published with extensive indication of the libraries holding copies of each edition. In doing so, it describes the literature and history of Florence in the late Renaissance as well as the development of the Italian language within this important period of time.
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Renaissance

The Library of Symbolism - A Glossary and Bibliography of Renaissance Symbolic Literature

Published on 09 Nov. 2010
"For 2,000 years, from the time of Plato in 400 BC until the start of the modern era of empirical science in approximately 1600 AD, the culture of Western Europe was dominated by a single mode of expression: the symbol. The symbol was the universal medium for the approach to God, for the investigation of the natural world, for the interpretation of the Scriptures and for an understanding of and a guide to proper moral conduct. Towards the end of the period, enabled by the invention of printing by movable type, this obsession was translated into a vast literature of symbolism of which some eighty distinct species were identified by contemporary writers and theorists." The Renaissance symbolism refers to a time in which human thinking and the human view of the World changed radically. On the one hand Renaissance symbolism is one of the most interesting research fields for scholars. On the other hand it is one of the most fascinating fields of bibliophily at the very beginning of the history of printing.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Children’s Books 1945 to 1960 - A Catalogue by Winfried Geisenheyner, Reviewed by Friedrich C. Heller

Children's books are not only for children. They enable us to look at a period in history from a children's point of view. Children's books printed in Germany from 1945 to 1960, for example, show how the world was in post war Germany, which was separated in East and West, and where also the children had to learn to live under the new conditions determined by the history of the half of the 20th century, and especially by World War II and its consequences. Friedrich C. Heller, who won the Second ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography in 2010 for his outstanding work „Die bunte Welt. Handbuch zum künstlerisch illustrierten Kinderbuch in Wien 1890-1938", reviews a brand new catalogue published by the German antiquarian bookseller Winfried Geisenheyner: Kinder- und Bilderbücher von 1945 bis 1960 - Children's Books 1945 to 1960. This and other catalogues by ILAB dealers can be downloaded from the ILAB website.
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Article

Are Rare Book Dealers "Collectors in Disguise"?

From December 3-5, 2010, rare book dealers from Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States will showcase rare and beautiful books and prints at the 4th Hong Kong Antiquarian Book Fair, among them booksellers from Japan, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The fair, which took place for the first time in 2007, is organized by Paul Feain of Cornstalk Bookshop in Sydney (Australia), Mitsuo Nitta of Yushodo in Tokyo (Japan), and Christopher Li of Swindons Books in Hong Kong. In an interview for the China Daily Paul Feain, antiquarian bookseller for 30 years and a long-time ILAB Committee member, talks about the importance of printed books in the history of mankind, the great works of 20th century literature, art, politics and philosophy, about the passion of book collecting and Hong Kong as an attractive market place for rare books and manuscripts, arts and antiques. His credo: A good dealer is a collector in disguise. Collect with passion in a field that you are passionate about. Collect books that you want to read. You will soon become an expert, and if you collect like this for a number of years you may even become THE expert.
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Article

The Written Heritage of Mankind in Peril: Theft, Retrieval, Sale and Restitution of Rare Books, Maps and Manuscripts

Do we need more drastic measures to prevent the theft of books, maps, manuscripts and other art on paper? On 26 June 2015 internationally renowned experts – librarians, archivists, lawyers, auctioneers and rare book dealers – discussed one of the global problems of the antiquarian book trade in the 21st century: the theft of books, manuscripts and prints from public collections such as, in recent years, the Girolamini Library in Naples, the National Library of Sweden, the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen and, right now, from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. "Thefts of rare books, maps and manuscripts from libraries are a growing, global problem", the Art Newspaper summarizes. "The portable nature of these works and the fact that many libraries lack up-to-date catalogues of their sizable collections - some of which were assembled centuries ago - make them prime targets. Two weeks before the conference, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France announced that several 16th- and 17th-century engravings by Brueghel as well as atlases dating from the 16th to 18th centuries had been stolen from its collection. An investigation is currently underway." ILAB President Norbert Donhofer was invited to speak at the conference at the British Library, which will be followed up by another international meeting in New York in 2016.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Betty Smith

December 15 is the birthday of writer Betty Smith (1896), whose first novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943), became an instant bestseller. The semi-autobiographical book chronicles the struggles of an Irish-American family in New York City in the early part of the 20th century. The title is a reference to the Tree of Heaven, an invasive species from China that is found on vacant lots in New York. Its struggles for survival are the central metaphor of the book.
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Article

Rare Books in the Press - The Wall Street Journal About Bauman's Latest Catalogue "100 Great Books and Autographs"

"There's hardcore porn and softcore porn, and then there's the Bauman Rare Books catalog, which lands on my doorstep several times a year. If your heart races at the contours of a first edition of 'The Great Gatsby', with the almost impossible to find dust jacket, or an autographed copy of Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," then the Bauman catalog is the equivalent of Playboy, Penthouse and maybe the New York Review of Books all rolled into one."
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Article

Investing in Books – Rare Books as Investments?

„There are fields of collecting in which you hear stories of someone who spent $5 at a flea market on an item that turned out to be worth $5 million. Book collecting is not one of those fields. a multimillion dollar Shakespeare First Folio up for auction gets a lot of attention. But for most collectors, books represent a stable, long-term investment. It's a rarefied pursuit, one that can be financially rewarding if you have the necessary expertise, diligence, and patience. … Ask a dealer if books are a wise investment strategy and the short answer is no." John Moore has found more elaborate answers in his article "Investing In Books: Safe Returns Between the Covers". He has asked John Windle, Rebecca Rego Barry, Thomas Joyce and other dealers to determine the real value of a rare book.
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