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Rare Books and the Rare Book Trade
 

From the Vault

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Die Unsterblichkeit der Sterne – Francisco de Goya, Walter Benjamin, Václav Havel

Blank, specialist in 18th to 20th century literature and philosophy, reconstructed Kafka's library which was given as a present to the city of Prague by the Porsche AG in the year 2002. His other life long passion was Walter Benjamin. After the Kafka project Blank reconstructed Benjamin's library. He compiled all the books Benjamin had owned before his library was lost during the Nazi regime. Blank's catalogue "In Walter Benjamins Bibliothek. Dokumentation einer verlorenen Bibliothek" was published in 2006. Now the books most important to Walter Benjamin, and some of the most rare and beautiful ones, are exhibited at the Centre for Persecuted Art in Solingen. A model of the memorial at Port Bou, where Benjamin took his life after his failed escape from the Nazis, is also shown.
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Booksellers

„Wo man hintappt, trifft man auf Gestalten“ - 19th century antiquarian book dealers seen through the eyes of a colleague

Julius Friedländer used to wear a Turkish fez. With his curly black hair Jacques Rosenthal, fiery in his youth, was a real heart-throb. Karl W. Hiersemann resembled a Catholic priest so much that children sometimes kissed his hand, believing he was the parish priest. Even in winter J. A. Stargardt personally climbed up all the stairs to the attic of his house where the valuable books were kept. One day he was found there grappling with a cat who was nursing her kittens on a pile of incunabula. Max Ziegert's "Schattenrisse deutscher Antiquare", a witty and moving of the 19th century trade.
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The Wonders of the Shore in Color

Long before Darwin's Origin was published in 1859 there was in Victorian society a strong popular interest in natural history. Not only did the microscope reveal previously hidden wonders, exposing for the first time the sexual life of plants, but advances in printing technology made it possible to reproduce and disseminate such images – in color – among the new and rapidly growing middle and working class populations. An excellent example of this historically unique intersection between science, technology and religion just appeared on my desk: the 1855 edition of Rev. Charles Kingsley's Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore.
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The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald through the Eyes of Fellow Authors

In 2010, online literary magazine The Fiction Circus hosted a seance for Fitzgerald at New York City's KGB Bar. A writer and artist known as Xerxes Vedammt offered his body to be inhabited by Fitzgerald. Once the departed writer made his, um, appearance, participants called out questions. One person asked what books Fitzgerald had read. The response: "I don't have a lot of time to read. But I enjoyed Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley. I wish I had written The Talented Mr. Ripley."
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