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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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ALAI History

ALAI History 1947-2011

Published on 01 Dec. 2010
On an autumn day in 1947, a small group of book dealers met in Milan to give life to the Circolo dei Librai Antiquari. They were not many, but they were set on granting a cultural dignity to the trade of antiquarian bookselling, on fostering friendship and understanding with foreign colleagues, on cooperating with libraries and institutions for the conservation of cultural property, and on providing collectors with a code of ethics that guaranteed a fair and professional relationship between rare book dealers and their customers. In 1971, the members of the association had increased to a few dozen when the Circle became the Associazione Librai Antiquari d'Italia. The history of the ALAI, the Italian Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, by:
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

People, Prints and Progress – Or, Why are Prints Important?

First, the basics: a print is a repeatable image made by a variety of processes, usually on paper or fabric (sometimes other materials like treated animal skin). Ink is transferred from the printing surface – usually a metal plate, woodblock or limestone block – by exerting pressure, usually by means of a press. The most widely practised traditional processes include woodcut and linocut, etching, engraving, lithography, and, in the 20th century, screenprinting. One person's idea of what constitutes a print is often very different to another's. For much of my specialist period, the 18th and 19th centuries – much of it pre-photography – printing was the only medium of mass visual communication. So the prints I sell can be illuminating 'primary sources' for our history.
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Article

SLAM Bibliography Prize 2012 - « L'Imitation de Jésus-Christ (1470-1800) »

The Bibliography Prize 2012 of the Syndicat National de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (SLAM) will be awarded to Martine Delaveau and Yann Sordet for: « L'Imitation de Jésus-Christ (1470-1800). » Etudes et catalogue collectif des fonds conservés à la bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, à la Bibliothèque Nationale de France, à la Bibliothèque Mazarine et à la Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne. Coédition BnF / Bibliothèque Mazarine / Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, 2011. 21 x 29,7 cm, hardcover, 520 pages, 113 illustrations.
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Article

How Many Ways?

How many ways are there to do this business? Here is my old friend Adrian Connolly of Connolly's Book Shop, Cork City,Ireland ... Adrian once told me he buys his books by the pallet load from a jobber in London. Like bales of rags. He then prices them at € 3 - € 10 and shelves them. All day people wandering through the busy Paul Street square, or shopping at the adjacent Tesco supermarket drift into his shop, spot a book they've never seen before, and purchase it. There are many books on Adrian's shelves that people have never seen before, because most of them expired and disappeared very soon after publication.
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Booksellers

Pierre Berès, Disparition d’un bibliophile

Pierre Berès est mort dans sa maison de Saint-Tropez le lundi 28 juillet 2008, peu après avoir fêté son 95ème anniversaire et quelques mois seulement après la dernière des six grandes ventes au cours desquelles furent dispersés, du 5 juillet 2005 au 18 décembre 2007, le fonds de la librairie de l’avenue de Friedland ainsi que le cabinet personnel de manuscrits littéraires et de livres rares qu’il avait conservés dans son appartement de la rue Barbet de Jouy.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Admirable Artifice: John Napier’s Mirifici logarithmorum

John Napier discovered the logarithm — at least, he was one of several in the early seventeenth century to understand the principles behind logarithms, and the first to publish the fruits of his research in Mirifici logarithmorum.
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Article

Collecting - Famous Manuscripts and the History of Handwriting

In the digital age, it is no secret that calligraphy is a dying art. Why work laboriously and imperfectly on something that takes days to cross the country, when the computer will set it in flawless text that can be transmitted instantly? A careful look at the grand history of handwriting is not kind to the craft, either. Some historians consider Gutenberg's press, the very device that liberated us from writing by hand, to be the single most important invention of the second millennium. Not only did it make books more accessible, it gave the works themselves unprecedented longevity. Think of all the masterpieces of antiquity (if you can bear) that were lost to rot and ruin because scribes could only produce a handful of them at a time. Aeschylus wrote some eighty plays, of which only seven survive. Shakespeare may have suffered a similar fate, as a writer who luckily had the printing press to immortalize his works - he leaves us with nearly nothing written by hand.
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