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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
 
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Obituaries

Renate Geisenheyner (1937-2016)

Published on 12 April 2016
We are deeply saddened to learn that Renate Geisenheyner, German antiquarian bookseller and renowned expert in autographs and children's books, passed away on 6th April 2016. Renate Geisenheyner (Weltin) was born in Berlin on 5th August 1937. After several years, first as an apprentice, then as a rare book dealer at Amelang and Peter Naacher in Frankfurt, she moved to Stuttgart in 1963 and started working at Dr. Frieder Kocher-Benzing Rare Books. During the 1970s Renate Geisenheyner came to Heidelberg and worked for the famous Tenner Auction House, where she met her later husband Winfried Geisenheyner. On 1st July 1981 they both founded their own business in Münster-Hiltrup. Already in the same year, in July and November 1981, they published two remarkable catalogues specializing in Sciences, Natural History, Geography and Travel. From then on Renate and Winfried Geisenheyner have been exhibiting at the international antiquarian book fairs from California to Europe, and they have been regular guests at the Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair for more than 30 years. It was Renate Geisenheyner who edited a long series of Autograph and Children's Book Catalogues for which Geisenheyner Rare Books gained worldwide renown. She was a jury member of the Antiquaria Book Prize, awarded every year in January to outstanding book artists and bibliographers, and, as a passionate reader to whom one could listen for hours, she founded a Reading Club in Münster to celebrate the importance of books and the joy of reading.
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Obituaries

In Memory of Mitsuo Nitta

Published on 07 Jan. 2016
As I had retired from the publishing business more than fifteen years ago, it was only when we sent our annual Seasonal Greetings to Mr. and Mrs. Nitta that we learned from Yushodo that Mitsuo had passed away two months earlier. I was shocked that my old friend had died, as was my wife and son. It seemed impossible, a person with such brimming enthusiasm and largess of life. And I felt particularly saddened that we had become so out of touch since my retirement that I only recently discovered this great loss.
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Obituaries

Franklin Victor Spellman (1945-2015) – An Obituary

Published on 19 Nov. 2015
Franklin Victor Spellman was born August 15, 1945 in Stamford, Connecticut, moving to the Bronx, New York, at 8 years. He is named in honor of Franklin Roosevelt and his middle name was in celebration of V-J day. Although Jewish, he was born in a Catholic hospital where the nuns prevailed upon his mother to give him a middle name of Victor. He was not a fan of Roosevelt, but Franklin did love his name. He has an older brother Douglas Spellman, and a younger sister, Jill Polan.
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Obituaries

In Memoriam Mitsuo Nitta - We have Lost a Giant of the Antiquarian Book World

Published on 11 Nov. 2015
My "boss" has passed away. It is true that all humans must one day face this inevitable fate. When I met Mitsuo Nitta in the middle of October after returning back from the ILAB Presidents Meeting in Seville, aside from thinking his stomach looked little inflated than the usual, he spoke and moved in his usual energetic ways. So when I heard the news, I literally had to ask myself twice to make sure I heard the news right.
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Obituaries

In Memoriam Mitsuo Nitta, ILAB Member of Honour

Published on 04 Nov. 2015
I was deeply saddened to learn that Mitsuo Nitta, President of Honor of the ABAJ, Member of Honor of ILAB, CEO at Yushodo Ltd., former Chair of the ILAB-Breslauer Prize for Bibliography, legendary bookseller and friend to so many of us, has passed away on October 27 of 2015. Mitsuo Nitta played a leading role in developing antiquarian bookselling not only in Japan but also in the surrounding countries like Korea and China, and he had been teacher and friend for generations of younger booksellers. His role in spreading out ILAB's device "Amor Librorum nos unit" in East-Asia cannot be underestimated. Since my first meeting with Mitsuo Nitta back in 1988 during the Congress in Paris, we had been in constant contact, and I will always remember countless discussions about ILAB with him, the last one – alas - only earlier this year in Tokyo.
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Obituaries

In Memoriam, Antiquarian Bookseller and Author Patricia Ahearn

Published on 02 June 2014
Last week Patricia Ahearn of Quill & Brush (Dickerson, Maryland, US) passed away. Patricia and Allen Ahearn started collecting in the early 1960s and founded Quill & Brush in the year 1976 specializing in in first editions of literature, mystery/detective fiction and collectible books from all fields of interest. With over 45 years of experience in the rare book trade they were also authors of numerous articles and books like: “Collected Books: The Guide to Values” (4th, revised and enlarged edition published in 2011), “Book Collecting 2000” (Putnam: 2000) and over 200 individual Author Price Guides.
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Obituaries

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

Published on 28 Jan. 2014
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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Obituaries

Past Presidents of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association - Alan Gradon Thomas (1911-1992)

Published on 11 Oct. 2013
This week – revisiting the past again with another in the occasional series on past presidents of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association. Alan Gradon Thomas was born in Hampstead, North London, on the 19th October 1911 – the son of Albert Edward Thomas, a local newsagent and stationer, and his wife Evelyn Gradon, originally from Durham, who had married the previous year.
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Obituaries

GEORGES A. DENY 1920-1999 - Founder and First Secretary of the ILAB Breslauer Prize for Bibliography

Published on 09 July 2013
The ILAB Prize for Bibliography was founded in the early 1960s when Georges A. Deny was President of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. He also became the first Secretary of the Prize which was called Prix Triennal de Bibliographie in the beginnings. The first Prize was not awarded in 1964 due to a lack of quality of the submitted books, as Deny clearly stated in his report of the same year. Thus, since 1967 famous scholars like like Jean Peeters-Fontainas, I. C. Koeman, Claus Nissen, Anthony Hobson, Lotte Hellinga or Jan Storm van Leeuwen were honoured with this most prestigious prize in the broad field of bibliography worth 10.000 USD.
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10 - 18 / 40

From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: "Every Boy Needs A Hero"

American boys, in the first half of the 20th Century, often found their heroes in print, tantalizingly displayed on the shelves of the corner drugstore. These heroes usually took two forms: the superhero, such as Superman, the Green Lantern, Spiderman, etc, who populated the comic book pages published, primarily, by DC and Marvel. Their other heroes were of the mundane, albeit of an idealized nature. Tom Swift. The Hardy Boys. Their ilk, the genre known as 20th Century Boys' Serial Fiction, shall be the subject of this short essay.
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Article

Salon International du Livre Ancien, Paris 2011

From manuscripts to avant-garde, from a letter by François I to the drafts of Marcel Proust, from a 13th century psalm book to a futurist manifesto, dealers and collectors will browse the shelves of more than 150 antiquarian booksellers with thousands of stunningly diverse documents. Around 20.000 book fair visitors will meander through the Grand Palais and discover first editions, precious bindings, travel accounts, old and modern prints and photographies, handwritten letters and documents by artists, politicians and scientists, scores of famous musicians, treatises on medicine, astronomy, philosophy and other milestones in the history of science alongside with fine illustrated books, modern art and beautiful children's books.
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Article

Collecting Crime (Fiction) - A Very Shocking Shocker

It was Simon Beattie who kindly put us in touch with a dealer on the continent who had this for sale. Not something he wanted, but thought we might. Quite what grounds he had for thinking this, I'm not at all sure – lurid, criminous, obscure author, published by a trio of even more obscure publishers, set in a vividly realised 1890s London, inscribed by the author, no copies on the internet – nothing at all there to appeal to me that I can see. As Simon himself likes to deal in 'The Books You Never Knew You Wanted' (see his delightful blog of that name: link in the Blogroll) – I suppose this by definition probably makes Death and the Woman one of those books you never knew you didn't want – but then (to judge from recent sales) that's probably becoming a fair summary of most of our stock.
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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 - New York, New York!

Like the architect and sculptor Max Bill, Welti (1891–1934) belonged to the artistic new wave which characterised Zurich in the late 1920s, experimenting with abstract art and Dadaism. In 1932, it was Welti who was asked by Wilhelm Wartmann, director of the Zurich Kunsthaus, which was mounting a major Picasso retrospective, to look after the Spaniard during his visit. These early lithographs arose out of a visit Welti made to New York thanks to a 'Swiss Economic Study Tour to America', an initiative begun after the First World War.
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Article

Unprepared, Unpatriotic, and Unrepentant - again

I've recently returned from my fourth year of teaching at Rare Book School (RBS) located at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. RBS is the oldest and most prestigious teaching program devoted to rare books in the world. Every year the School runs a full program of intensive weeklong classes on specific topics germane to the rare book world. Curiously, among the faculty of some fifty-odd international authorities on rare books (and some of them are very odd indeed, myself not least among them), I am the only member who is also a rare bookseller. The vast majority of the faculty members are world-renowned scholars, rare book librarians, technical experts and so forth. What, you might ask, is RBS doing letting a rare bookseller teach a course at an institution largely devoted to the scholarly study of antiquarian books?
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