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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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Japan

Collecting Rare Books and Prints - Japanese Surimono

Published on 03 Dec. 2014
Surimono, meaning "printed thing," are a subsection of traditional Japanese woodblock prints. They were printed on commission in small numbers and generally not sold by art publishers, unlike their more commercialized companions, ukiyo-e woodblock prints. Known as far back as the early 18th century, surimono rapidly rose in popularity in the 19th century. They were printed on high-quality paper, called hôsho-gami, using the finest printing techniques. Prior to 1810, these sheets could be quite large and folded so that the illustration accompanying the text faced outward. Later into the 19th century, however, sizing of surimono became more standardized and most were printed on small, nearly square sheets called shikishiban.
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Japan

The Japanese Literature Publishing Project and The Private Library

Published on 15 May 2012
For many years L.D. Mitchell's blog The Private Library showed collectors that it is possible to build a collection without the benefit of much money. He published numerous articles on every imaginable subject of book collecting, he wrote about the most beautiful, the most important, the most common, the most attractive, the most unusual, the most interesting, the most extraordinary, the most amazing ... books one could read, buy, collect and simply enjoy. The Private Library has become an irreplaceable resource for all booklovers. Since April 2012, it is a static archive. L. D. Mitchell will no longer post new original content. ILAB is very grateful that he has given permission to publish some of his best articles and collecting tips from The Private Library on the ILAB website. Thank you very much, L.D.
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Japan

Art and the World's First Novel

Published on 23 Feb. 2012
What is generally acknowledged as the world's first novel was written by a Japanese woman a thousand years ago. The Tale of Genji, by Murakasi Shikibu (known as Lady Murakasi in the West), is regarded to be an accurate description of life in the imperial court in the Heian era (794 - 1185 CE). The daughter of a scholar and an officer of the court, she was given a male's education. Being a lady-in-waiting herself, she was privy to life at court.
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Japan

Book Scouting in Japan - Tokyo

Published on 20 Sept. 2011
Rare book dealer and photography specialist Harper Levine travels through Japan with photographer John Gossage where Harper was welcomed at the airport as the "best book dealer (also best blogger) from East Hampton". Part 2 of Harper Levine's report, featuring the Tokyo booksellers and a sushi bar.
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Japan

Book Scouting in Japan - Introduction: The Back Story

Published on 13 Sept. 2011
Rare book dealer and photography specialist Harper Levine travels through Japan with photographer John Gossage where Harper was welcomed at the airport as the "best book dealer (also best blogger) from East Hampton". Bibliophiles may follow his book scouting traces in Tokyo reading his fabulous blog.
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Japan

Japanese Woodblock Ephemera

Published on 14 July 2011
"For many people in the west mention of Japanese woodblock prints brings to mind the beautiful single sheet colour examples by artists such as Hokusai, Hiroshige and the many other artists of extraordinary skill working during the 18th and 19th centuries. Immense pleasure can also be gained from looking a little further and discovering the plethora of games, decorative papers, books, calendars, lists, news-sheets, maps, advertising, and ephemeral material of every kind that was published using woodblock printing methods during the Edo and Meiji periods." Sally Burdon's collecting tip is one of the highlights of BookFare 2, the recently published newsletter of the Australian & New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB). Read the article and subscribe to further issues!
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

ILAB History

Oak Knoll Press publishes "ILAB Historical Index" - Celebrating 70 Years of ILAB

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2018. Oak Knoll Press has just published the League's "Historical Index", compiled by ILAB bookseller Nevine Marchiset.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books - and Ephemera: Dandruff Piles

Books sit squarely on shelves. They are discrete, replicable units. They have titles, authors, and places and dates of publication. They organize nicely into classes – "fiction" and "non-fiction," for example. There is agreed-upon language to describe condition, and there are bibliographical references that talk about the history and physical makeup of a book.
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Article

Books about Books: A History of Oak Knoll Press, Part 5: The Start of the Wakeman Years

The fall of 1988 was a decisive time for the business. Our sales were good but needed to be better. I had to reach a decision on how to grow the business. Should I stay in the books about books field with its relatively limited number of expensive books, branch out into other fields which contained more expensive books, or capitalize on our reputation in this specialized field of books about books and increase the publishing program? History shows that I chose the latter.
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Article

Why First Editions

A first edition is the first printing of a book. It's true that a first edition may have one or more printings and that a second edition will normally be noted only if there are actual changes, usually major, in the text. But for a collector, a first printing is the only true first edition.
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Article

The American Gift Book, Part 2

If the bindings, illustrations, novelty of the formats, or the social causes connected with gift books were not enough to entice buyers, perhaps the textual content could. These were, after all, books. Gift books were carefully calculated not to risk offense, prompting Walt Whitman (DEMOCRATIC VISTAS, 1888, p. 65) to recall them as "those highly‑refined imported and gilt‑edged themes... causing tender spasms in the coteries, and warranted not to chafe the sensitive cuticle of the most exquisitely artificial gossamer delicacy." Whitman was correct, of course, and his comment was directed toward the bad poetry, most of it by women, as previously discussed. But there was also good poetry, including many early first appearances by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Russell Lowell, and even Henry David Thoreau.
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Article

Rare map makes final journey home - Blaeu map returns to National Library of Australia

On November 11, 2017, the Archipelagus Orientalis (Eastern Archipelago), created by master cartographer Joan Blaeu in 1663, was officially revealed at the National Library of Australia, after extensive restoration.
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