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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade

From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

ILAB History

1951-1960

“Considering the dubiety with which our activities were treated it is pleasant to record that the Congresses in London in 1949 and in Paris in 1950 were very successful both socially and professionally, while the standard of hospitality in both cities was impeccable." (Muir)
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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: Poe and Rafinesque in Philadelphia

It is not often that one discovers the work of an overlooked or forgotten genius, or a previously-unknown work of an established master. This is, of course, the hope which moves us to carefully examine all sorts of periodical publications and ephemera. So when Tom Congalton asked me to catalog two large folio volumes of the Philadelphia-based Saturday Evening Post, from 1827 and 1828, I was pleased to find the puzzle poem "Enigma" attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, and "Psalm 139th" by his brother Henry Poe. Perhaps the most interesting contributions to these volumes are not the Poeiana, but rather a whole series of botanical sketches and other contributions by an eccentric genius with the evocative name Rafinesque.
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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Divers Press: Founded in Translation

Proensa, Paul Blackburn's translations of the Provencal poets, was the first publication realized by Robert and Ann Creeley's The Divers Press. Earlier in 1953, Creeley abandoned Roebuck Press, a publishing venture with fellow Mallorca expat, Martin Seymour Smith, due to a disagreement in just what writers that Press should give voice to. Smith wanted to publish his mother, which Roebuck in fact did. Creeley wanted to publish his friends. Creeley: "I was just determined to publish Americans of my own interests. I was far more idealistic than Martin." Poets such as Blackburn spoke in a language that Creeley could understand and enjoy. Creeley felt Blackburn's work was the ideal choice for Divers Press's first statement to the world.
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Six Days On The Road & I’m Gonna Make It Home Tonight: Part 1 of a 3 Part Series

"For a few years now, there's been a crisis* brewing in the rare book industry.** Small, regional book fairs all over the country are disappearing at a rate matched only by that of the (not coincidental) disappearance of brick-and-mortar used bookshops. Why or whether we should be concerned about either phenomenon is a matter of open debate among antiquarian booksellers." Are bookshops, and book fairs, silent victims of the Internet terror? There are many articles on this subject, this article by Lorne Bair is excellent.
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The Art of American Book Covers - An Iconic Book Cover From 1876

Gold stamped peacock feather on blue cloth over beveled boards. It is a brilliant example of the engraver's art - both in the quality of technique used to execute it, and the illumination that emanates from the image. The extremely fine detailing in the stamping die makes the image shimmer as the book is held, with even slight movements causing one part or another to flash more brightly, and creates illusionistic dimensionality with flat gold stamping that made me touch it to see if it's embossed.
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