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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

Tante Trude and the E-Book

"Well, yes", she answered, "but still, you know, real books … remember that time in London when I was allowed to touch that prayer book? THAT was a book, this is a reading machine." - A great day for all her fans. Tante Trude is back! Healthy, in good shape, reading Kindle and eating Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Grey Fox in the Chicken Barn

I have never been able to fully embrace the work of Lew Welch. He has been suggested to me numerous times over the years as a poet whose work I would enjoy, and thus I dutifully track down a copy of Ring of Bone or more recently his potluck How I Work As A Poet. And each time I come to the conclusion that he is not for me. That said, I greatly enjoy coming across anything by Donald Allen's Grey Fox Press, which kept Welch before a reading public after Welch walked away from poetry in 1971 never to be seen again. If not for Allen's efforts, Welch might very well have disappeared without a trace altogether.
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Article

How to Begin Collecting Economists

Over the course of history, the economy - and all the surmising and projecting and studying it requires - has given rise to some of the most remarkable works of human-thought. Economists in every generation provide a fascinating breadth of work and ideas. Today, we'd like to explore a couple of famous economists as well as some ideas for collecting economy-based works. A basic list of economists that merit our attention can be formed from a quick glance throughout history. These individuals punctuate the economic landscape of their times with their thought-processes, philosophies, and recommendations. So without further ado, we give you some noteworthy economists, and their contributions, to add to or to begin growing your economic collection.
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Article

The American Gift Book

In France the first gift book may have been ALMANACH DES MUSES, first published in 1765. This format was copied in Germany in 1770 with the publication of MUSEN-ALMANACH. In the 1790s some anthologies appeared in England that were clearly intended to be given as gifts, like ANGELICA'S LADIES LIBRARY, OR PARENTS AND GUARDIANS PRESENT (1794), which was followed by THE ANNUAL ANTHOLOGY (1799, 1800), edited by Robert Southey, and including twenty-seven poems and epigrams by Coleridge, plus contributions by Charles Lamb and Southey himself. A third volume was planned, but never appeared. These proto-gift books did not start a trend, and I know of no similar anthologies published in England during the next two decades. In the early years of the nineteenth century in Germany, some gift books (taschenbuch) were being issued in glazed paper boards, and in 1822 Rudolph Ackerman used those as his model when he published the first English gift book, the FORGET ME NOT, which he would publish without interruption for the next twenty-five years. Gift books like Ackerman's, which were issued year after year, became known as gift annuals, literary annuals, or simply "annuals." Since not all "annuals" were exclusively literary in their content, I will use the term "gift annual" to describe them as a subset of the broader family of gift books.
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Article

A Book Lover’s Haven Turns 100 (The New York Times)

After extensive renovations, the Grolier Club New York has opened again to the public. The New York Times spoke to director Eric Holzenberg.
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Article

Art and the World's First Novel

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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