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All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
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Americana

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Thomas Paine

January 29 is the birthday of early American political activist Thomas Paine (1737), whose pamphlet Common Sense (1776) credited with inspiring American colonists to embrace the idea of independence from Great Britain. The American Revolution had already started but the work served to spur volunteers for the Continental Army. It was widely distributed throughout the colonies, read aloud in taverns, and unabashedly pirated. Some scholars say it was the first American bestseller.
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Literature

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Secret Life of Harper Lee

This week we celebrate Nelle Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in the sleepy town of Monroeville Alabama. As a girl, she became friends with another future writer: Truman Capote. The two were outsiders among their peers but discovered an affinity for each other. According to Capote biographer, Gerald Clarke, "Nelle was too rough for most other girls, and Truman was too soft for most other boys."
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Religion

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Fra Paolo Sarpi, Scholar, Priest, and Heretic

The Counter-Reformation began with the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and lasted a full century, until the close of the Thirty Years' War (1648). The movement sparked conflict all over Europe, challenging the very foundations of people's daily lives. As nationalism fermented, states like Venice began to assert their autonomy – and the Catholic Church often took drastic measures in response. In the case of cleric and statesman Fra Paolo Sarpi, they even hired a hitman. Though Sarpi consistently stood up to the Church in an official capacity, he also chose to publish his greatest work, The History of the Council of Trent, under a pseudonym.
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Women

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Marie LaFarge was convicted of murder

It is the birthday of murderess Marie LaFarge (1816), whose 1840 trial for poisoning her husband with arsenic became a cause célébre throughout France, with the public deeply divided over her innocence or guilt. She was the first person convicted by direct forensic evidence, and the case was one of the first followed closely by the public with daily newspaper reports. The trial was a spectacle attended by people from all over France. It included all the twists and turns of a good whodunit, including a celebrated expert witness and setbacks for both the prosecution and the defense. Marie LaFarge wrote her Mémoires(1841) while in prison. The novel The Lady and the Arsenic (1937) was based on the case as was the French film L'Affaire Lafarge (1938).
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Mimeo

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Irritable Tribe of Poets

Only three issues of Theo were published, but it still took me a couple of years to track down a complete set. I'd been fascinated by the magazine ever since I first ran across a copy of number 2, which has a rather unique design; the covers are stapled off center, so that the fore edge is layered; the front wrap ends before the first leaf, so that the name of each contributor is visible, and the rear wrap extends past the text block.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives

Article

A Book on Discovery Rediscovered

For immediate press release: Under circumstances not precisely known an utmost rarity has been discovered in a rather minor collection of miscellaneous books, novels and pamphlets by an antiquarian bookseller from Southern Germany.
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Short Story and The Private Library (Part I)

Given the tremendous demands on one's time in modern industrialized societies, we have always thought it interesting that more book collectors do not have a number of collections of short stories on their bookshelves. This literary form, born of oral storytelling traditions, is less complex, with fewer characters and plot devices, and appears far better suited to the pace of modern life, than its wordier cousins, novels and novellas. Short stories are just the right length for consumption during a subway ride, or a break during a hectic day, or the hour before dawn when one's household (hopefully) is still abed.
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Article

We All Have Issues

"Dear Bibliodeviant, I miss you terribly. I long for those sultry evenings we spent in your simple, rustic lakeside retreat sipping Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and eating sweetmeats. Most of all I miss curling up on your ethically sourced Kilim rug in front of a roaring log fire while you told me those gloriously witty stories about how the printers misspelled "Wade" for "Wabe" in the first edition of Through The Looking Glass, or how bookdealers in the past have charged high prices for copies of the Time Machine that didn't have Hall Caine's The Manxman on the first page of advertisments. I yearn for you, and your thrilling tales of the swashbuckling world of the rare book trade. Return to me immediately, and talk to me of fine bindings! Monica"
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Article

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Dismal Science of the Mimeo Revolution

Digging through used bookstores, I always keep a look out for books that covered aspects of the Mimeo Revolution when it was a current event. Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture is a good one of course. There are many more books on the Underground Newspaper as opposed to the little magazines and Roger Lewis' Outlaws of America and Robert Glessing's The Underground Press in America are two examples.
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Article

John Updike’s Archive: A Great Writer at Work

"Updike was a private man, if not a recluse like J. D. Salinger or a phantom like Thomas Pynchon, then a one-man gated community, visible from afar but firmly sealed off, with a No Trespassing sign posted in front."
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