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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Thomas Paine

Published on 13 Nov. 2014
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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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Secret Life of Harper Lee

Published on 29 April 2014
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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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Fra Paolo Sarpi, Scholar, Priest, and Heretic

Published on 17 Jan. 2014
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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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Marie LaFarge was convicted of murder

Published on 16 Jan. 2014
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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Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - The Irritable Tribe of Poets

Published on 26 Nov. 2013
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


77.000 Japanese Yen to support literacy in South Sudan, donated by ABAJ

The antiquarian booksellers of Japan are preparing for the great day on 23 April 2015. At the general meeting of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Japan (ABAJ) in Tokyo on Monday evening they discussed the final plans for the big ILAB Pop Up Book Fair at the World Antiquarian Book Plaza where the Japanese booksellers will welcome visitors and raise money for the UNESCO literacy projects all day. As a big step ahead the ABAJ booksellers themselves made a very generous donation of 77.000 Japanese Yen! The pictures show how they fill their first Empty Bookcase poster with symbolic spines.
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Rudimentum Novitiorum Sells For $1,150,000 At California International Antiquarian Book Fair

A scarce copy of Rudimentum Novitiorum, the first printed history of the world, published in 1475, and the first printed book to feature maps, sold for $1,150,000 at the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair this past weekend in Pasadena, CA, as did "The World's Worst Copy of Gatsby," a first edition, first printing train wreck with a significant remnant of the $175,000 dust jacket pasted within, for $500. Some thought it was worth twice that, a true silk purse stitched from a sow's ear.
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A Working Life: The Rare-Book Dealer - Ed Maggs

"For someone who loves old and rare books, buys and sells them, Ed Maggs hardly comes across as bookish, more of an energetic sporting type. But then, Maggs, 51, had ambitions of becoming a reggae superstar – not quite what his parents had in mind after an expensive private education at Westminster. Maggs played in a band called Talkover, worked as a DJ in various minor clubs and in department store stockrooms and other undemanding jobs, before fetching up like a prodigal son in the family business he initially wanted to avoid."
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Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany

A collection of fairytales gathered by historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth had been locked away in an archive in Regensburg for over 150 years. Now they have been rediscovered, writes Victoria Sussens-Messerer in The Guardian
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Bob de Graaf 1927-2011

It is with great sadness that both the Dutch Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (NVvA) and ILAB have to report the death of Bob de Graaf (1927-2011). He served the NVvA as Secretary (1963-1969) and as its President (1971-1974). In 1973 he joined the ILAB Committee, and accepted both the position as editor of ILAB's Newsletter and as Secretary. From 1979 to 1982 he served as ILAB President, in 1985 he was made, and deservedly so, ILAB President of Honour.
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