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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


A Talk at the Library of Congress

The relationship between collectors and libraries, which sounds as if it should be simple, has a way of becoming complex. Consider the following story, with the names omitted to protect the innocent. A well-known collector gave his books and manuscripts to a large university library.
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ILAB on the Road - Antiquarian Booksellers of Santiago de Chile, Montevideo and Buenos Aires

From the 25th of October until the 11th of November, I visited the antiquarian booksellers in the capitals of the Southern South American countries of Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. The first book published in the Americas was published in Mexico in the 16th century and thus Latin America has had a rich and long history of printing and publishing and therefore is an important part of the global history and culture of the book.
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Collecting Science Fiction - Karel Čapek and the Origin of the Word Robot

Karel Čapek's Czech play RUR, (Rossum's Universal Robots) is notable for numerous reasons. Written in 1920, the play's commentary on the politics of its day earned its author a spot on the Nazi most-wanted list. RUR details a robot revolution that would overthrow the dominant class, humans, and lead to their extinction. Above all, the play is most well known for introducing the world to the word, "robot." In fact, before Čapek's play, what we think of as robots were mainly called "androids" or "automatons," with "automaton" meaning a self-operating machine. In Czech, "robota" translates to "forced labor." It's associated with the type of work done by serfs during the feudal ages.
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Salon International du Livre Ancien, Paris - 27th to 29th April, 2012

From manuscripts to avant-garde, from medieval psalm books with magnificent illuminations to handwritten letters by artists and writers like Picasso and Marcel Proust, from the great works of the great philosophers and thinkers to futurist manifestos: At the Paris International Antiquarian Book Fair bibliophiles will browse the shelves filled with thousands of stunningly diverse documents. Around 20.000 book fair visitors will enjoy the elegant venue of the Grand Palais and discover some of the most magnificent treasures from five centuries of book printing. When the Paris International Antiquarian Book Fair opens its doors to visitors from 27th to 29th April, the fair will be accompanied by various concerts, exhibitions and events.
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À la découverte d’une œuvre d’art inconnue : la reliure

Ainsi l'on a des reliures carolingiennes, romanes, gothiques, Renaissance, d'autres reflétant les caractéristiques de style des différents règnes et enfin des reliures symbolistes, art nouveau, art déco, cubistes, surréalistes, etc. À partir de la fin du XIXe siècle la créativité des relieurs a été reconnue et, au siècle suivant, ils ont osé s'affranchir des vieux codes de corporations. En pratiquant des techniques nouvelles et en utilisant des matériaux inusités, les relieurs d'art ont donné pour certains la pleine mesure de leur génie et ils se sont mis enfin à signer leurs oeuvres. Le mot de génie n'est pas trop fort lorsque l'on énonce les noms de Pierre Legrain, Rose Adler, Paul Bonet, Pierre-Lucien Martin, Monique Mathieu, Jean de Gonet, pour n'en citer que quelques-uns.
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