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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade

Collecting Rare Books and First Editions: Time Travel for Dummies

When my accountant said, "Hey, you've had another good year," my response was, "You've got to be kidding!" But then, looking back, I remembered some happy referrals, several fascinating consignments and, in general, quite a bit of successful book scouting. Ten Pound Island's invoices and check stubs (all digital!) told the story in detail. My "new business model," concocted so painfully over the past year, paid off. I dropped the California, Florida, and New York book fairs, cut expenses way back, moved from hard copy to web based catalogs, and quoted a lot more books using specially tailored, richly illustrated e-based catalogs.
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Unfinished Books and The Private Library

The term completist, as applied to book collectors, has always struck this writer as something of a misnomer. In one sense, the term certainly is applicable: i.e., it describes the attempt to collect everything a particular author ever wrote, or everything a particular publisher ever published, or everything ever written about a particular topic. On the other hand …
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The Gravell Watermark Archive: Taking watermarks online

The Gravell Watermark Archive ( is bringing together more than 50,000 watermarks from America and Europe, including 7,500 images collected by American-watermark expert Thomas L. Gravell and about 45,000 unpublished marks documented by Charles-Moise Briquet. On the website, you can search for stags, swans, or unicorns, creatures from a medieval bestiary produced long ago by wire attached to a paper mould. (Watermarks are made by placing a design made with thin wire on a paper mould. The paper formed over the wire is thinner and translucent when held up to a light source.)
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Manuscripta mediaevalia - Medieval Manuscripts Online

75.000 medieval manuscripts, available online: Manuscripta mediaevalia is a joint venture of the State Library Berlin (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin / Preußischer Kulturbesitz), the State Library Munich (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München) and the German Documentation Centre for the History of Arts (Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte - Bildarchiv Foto Marburg).
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Early Printing

Digital Finding Aid for Early Copies of Edmund Spenser's Works

The Spenser Archive Finding Aid is the first bibliographical database with links to collections all over the world that house 16th and 17th century copies of works by the English poet and colonial administrator Edmund Spenser. The database is open to editors, bibliographers, scholars and students of the history of the book, curators of collections, rare book dealers and private collectors. You can browse editions and folio parts, and you can search for copies in libraries in North America, Europe and Australia. The information has been gathered and carefully checked over many years by dozens of contributors.
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Online Archive of the John F. Kennedy Collection

The archive at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (Boston, MA) includes thousands of historical papers, documents and images: irreplaceable records of the struggle for Civil Rights, the conflict with the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, the efforts to land a man on the moon, the prevention of a nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and American art and culture in general.
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From the Vault

A sneak peek in our archives


Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Kerouac: The road, the books, the people

Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922. He died in St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg 47 years later. In the intervening years, he went to Columbia University, did a stint in the Merchant Marines, joined the Navy twice, hitchhiked across America, wrote 19 novels as well as books of poetry and other works, and drank - a lot. He hung out with the likes of Beat poets Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Gregory Corso, writers Williams S. Burroughs and Herbert Huncke, and editors Robert Giroux and Lucien Carr. An eclectic selection of Kerouac's writings is in the collection of rare and unusual books at Lighthouse Books, ABAA. Among them: Visions of Gerard, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, Vanity of Duluoz, Pomes All Sizes and Pic. Another slim volume, The Kerouac We Knew, contains essays by people who had met Kerouac at various stages in his life.
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ILAB and ABEBooks – Negotiations Postponed to the Future

The ILAB Committee has decided to postpone any agreement to the future. We will, of course, not turn our backs on Abebooks, in fact, we encourage you to discuss such a collaboration with your members, and if any association wishes to move immediately forward with a deal with ABEBooks, we will not have any objection and only ask that you keep up informed of your progress and the terms of your agreement.
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Books in Hard Times Draws a Crowd

"The hotly anticipated Books in Hard Times conference held at the Grolier Club on September 22, 2009 drew 150 collectors, booksellers, and librarians. The usual suspects were in attendance along with a few new and young faces. One might have expected the mood to be dark and somber, but even before the opening remarks, the tenor of conversation in the audience was optimistic."
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Sotheran’s: 250 Years of Bookselling

It's rare that an antiquarian bookshop should have a history as long and rich as the jewels of its stock. But with Sotheran's in London's Sackville Street celebrating its 250th anniversary this year, it can justifiably lay claim to the title 'oldest antiquarian bookshop in the world'. James Sprague tells Beatie Wolfe about an amazing history and the unique pressures of maintaining such an important name.
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Peering Into the Exquisite Life of Rare Books

Snippets from Jennifer Schuessler's article on one of the most important institutions for young booksellers and the whole rare book trade: Rare Book School at the University of Virginia.
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