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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
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


Collecting Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)

The prominence of printed material relating to Van Diemen's Land – that is, Tasmania before 1855 – amongst desirable Australiana is not at all surprising given that it was the second of the Australian colonies to be established (some three decades before Port Phillip/Victoria or South Australia).
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Extremely Rare Turkey Mill Ream Wrapper Surfaces

Beginning as a cloth fuller, by the early eighteenth century the Turkey Mill had wholly converted to making paper. In 1740 James Whatman assumed tenancy of the mill, enlarged it, and, assisted by famed British printer, John Baskerville, developed a new form of fine quality paper suitable for a greatly expanded range of printing and art work; the paper became the sought-after choice of artists such as J.M.W. Turner and Thomas Gainsborough.
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Collecting - The Serio-Comic Mapmaker Fred W. Rose

Fred W. Rose (1849-1915) stands out as the most influential figure in the design and authorship of the so-called "Serio-comic" political cartoon map in late Victorian Britain. His remarkable maps include: A Serio-Comic War Map, 1877 (published in three slightly different versions); England on Guard, 1878; A Comic Map of the British Isles, 1880; Angling in Troubled Waters, 1899, and John Bull and his Friends, 1900. All were published in London by G W Bacon & Co.
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Bibliographies - Religion

Online: Biographisch-bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) - The Catholic Encyclopedia - Katalog der Leichenpredigten (Funeral Sermons) - Bibliotheca theologica, by Enslin, Winer and Löflund
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“You’ve got to keep rolling the dice”

"I didn't decide to become a bookseller; I fell into it by accident. In my early 20s I was determined to be an artist and that's what I was until I reached about 25. Then I started helping a friend with a stall outdoors on the Portobello Road on Saturdays and, after a while, I got my own pitch. I happened to do better with the stall than I was doing at painting and I enjoyed it more than painting to a point. Then I started having children and so needed money, and I realised that I was doing more bookselling and less painting and I was actually enjoying it. The day I realised that, I stopped painting and just started focusing on bookselling." - Shelf Fullfillment, the new blog of the ABA, starts with a very interesting series of interviews by Beatie Wolfe.
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