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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
 
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Booksellers Worldwide

Antiquarian Books Do Have a Future! - An Interview with Alain Marchiset

Published on 22 Oct. 2010
Our trade has known in recent years very deep changes. We are hearing more and more often of the e-book, and it is not difficult to understand that in a few years the paper book will no longer be the cultural reference. I had also anticipated that fact in 2002 in another article "What future for rare books", in which I explained that rare and antiquarian books would probably be safe from the breakdown of the new book market, because rare books will remain collectibles. As I said then, "as the gap widens between books for consumer purposes and rare books, there will be greater distinction between them, and that such books will acquire greater value for collection purposes ". There will therefore always be demanding amateurs for fine leather bindings, beautifully illustrated books on fine paper, original manuscripts, etc… Can one really compare these beautiful artefacts to an e-book? Antiquarian books do have a future!
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Booksellers Worldwide

A Working Life: The Rare-Book Dealer - Ed Maggs

Published on 13 Oct. 2010
"For someone who loves old and rare books, buys and sells them, Ed Maggs hardly comes across as bookish, more of an energetic sporting type. But then, Maggs, 51, had ambitions of becoming a reggae superstar – not quite what his parents had in mind after an expensive private education at Westminster. Maggs played in a band called Talkover, worked as a DJ in various minor clubs and in department store stockrooms and other undemanding jobs, before fetching up like a prodigal son in the family business he initially wanted to avoid."
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Booksellers Worldwide

"He knows rare books. He knows how to sell rare books" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 5

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
It was 1967 and I was just three months an employee of Jake Zeitlin's "Big Red Barn" bookstore, Zeitlin and Ver Brugge, and knew nothing. I guess that we received a list or catalogue offering rare books for sale (computers and the internet hadn't been thought of, at least not in the book business) and I had ordered (for all of $40 if memory serves correctly) an Advance Proof Copy of Bertrand Russell's Satan in the Suburbs. I was just beginning to collect Russell and, of course, had no idea what an Advance Proof Copy of anything looked like! It turned out to be not unlike an ordinary small paperback, but it was an Advance Proof Copy, and it impressed me beyond measure!
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Booksellers Worldwide

"The best bookstore has one copy of everything in it" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 4

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
The first time I met Peter Howard, he was being guided to my booth at the Boston Book Fair by Harvey Tucker. His mission was to get possession of a rare book I had brought: H. L. Mencken's first book, Ventures Into Verse. Yes, there was some patter but there was also a kind of bravado, even macho; you could see it in the attitude of his hat and in the sudden way that the patter stopped and Peter got down to business. The old world gentility simply was not his style. It was refreshing even if a bit intimidating at times. Peter was not shy about his intent. The best antiquarian bookstore in the world, he let us know long ago, has one copy of everything in it. And our responsibility as booksellers on the road is to look at every rare book. It all sounds quite Faustian now. But Peter's great curiosity, his own willingness to share and to learn has never been lost on me or anyone close to him. There is always something possible about the most seemingly impossible task. To deny it is to throw down the gauntlet. And you really do not want to find yourself in that position with Peter.
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Booksellers Worldwide

Like "the library labyrinthe in Eco’s “The Name of the Rose" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 3

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
Peter B. Howard bears a remarkable resemblance to the crotchety old bookseller in Michael Ende's The Never Ending Story - "Your books, are safe, my books are real" - and his premises are probably the closest I've seen to those in the library labyrinthe in the filmed version of Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose," although I have yet to encounter any arsenic-laced incunabula except, perhaps, from the tongue of the proprietor. And Serendipity is the operative word for both the premises; in their vast inventories and ever changing denizens. The minotaur himself and his long suffering assistant, Nancy Kosenka, are the only two constants in this ever evolving and serendipitous landscape. And those premises are a bit like the various lands of Oz, although not nearly as neatly ordered and likely full of a lot more surprises.
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Booksellers Worldwide

"There will never be another antiquarian bookseller like Peter Howard" - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard, Part 1

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
It wasn't long before I determined to pay Serendipity Books a visit. In those days the store was located on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. In the company of my wife, I paid the first of many visits to Mr. Howard's antiquarian book shop and, in short order, became familiar with the controlled chaos which is the hallmark of this remarkable destination. My first impression of Mr. Howard was that of a keenly focused, and earnest individual who, when engaged by someone in matters pertaining to rare books would speak directly to the issue, often imparting some insight or acerbic observation. He could also be dismissive if so inclined. Before introducing myself, I took ample time to study this tall, self assured person who was clearly the nexus of authority in the establishment. This tentative approach has served me best in all my dealings with Peter over the ensuing years.
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Booksellers Worldwide

If there is a heaven for rare books, it's like Serendipity Books - A Wake For The Still Alive: Peter B. Howard

Published on 09 Sept. 2010
"There are rare books all the way up to the ceiling, so absurdly far up (like 27 feet or something) that they are almost guaranteed to never come down. In addition to the shelves, both fixed and (apparently) movable, there are piles of books. Everywhere. There are paper bags and paper bags and paper bags filled with books, on the floor and in the aisles, and there are cabinets filled with prints and folios and ephemera and beetles and god knows what else..." "This is the single most amazing place I have ever been! When I dream about getting lost in a maze of forgotten books... this is what it looks like."
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein - Monster Book Sells for Monster Price at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair

Over 1,000 people visited the London International Antiquarian Book Fair on the first day, with a record-breaking queue when the Fair opened its doors at 3pm on Thursday June 13, 2013 at the National Exhibition Hall at Olympia, West London. This resulted in an 18% increase in visitor numbers on the first day compared to the 2012 Fair and this trend continued with visitor numbers up on both of the following two days.
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Article

Publishing the Fine & Applied Arts 1500-2000

This new volume of the Publishing Pathways series examines the relationship between the business of print and the practice of art and design across five centuries. It explores the role played by the book trade in the diffusion of artistic and architectural theory, fashion, and practice, and traces the impact of advances in the techniques of binding, color printing, and illustration on the appearance of books. Among the topics discussed are the printed sources for decorative motifs in sixteenth-century churches, the publication history of the works of Andrea Palladio, and the evolution of drawing manuals in seventeenth-century England. Other subjects include the library formed by the architect Sir John Soane, developments in nineteenth-century art publishing, and the role of printed catalogues in documenting the acquisitions made by English collectors of paintings, sculpture, and antiquities.
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Article

Rare Books, Book Illustration, and the DADA movement: Hannah Höch - Brushflurlets and Beer Bellies

Rare books, book illustration, book art and the DADA movement – Hannah Höch was born in Gotha, Germany. From 1912 to 1914 she studied at the College of Arts and Crafts in Berlin under the guidance of Harold Bergen. In 1915, Höch began an influential friendship with Raoul Hausmann, since then she was involved in the Berlin Dada movement. She designed dress and embroidery patterns for Die Dame and Die Praktische Berlinerin, published by Ullstein. From 1926 to 1929 she lived and worked in the Netherlands. She was one of the leading DADA artists, and a pioneer of the photomontage. Her collages, photographs and illustrations were statements about life and art in the Dada movement – and are well-known to art and rare book collectors. Snippets …
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Article

Bibliographies - Garden History

Online: Dochnahl's „Bibliotheca Hortensis"
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Article

Listen on BBC4 Online: So Many Books, So Little Time

Mark Hodkinson ponders the nature of our personal book collections, why and how we gather books, what it says about us, and how we ever expect to find time to read them all.
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