The rare book trade lost one of its most active members earlier this year. Besides his achievements as a remarkable bookseller of Americana material and the respect he gained in the bookselling community, William Reese is also remembered for his series of essays on the rare book market and Americana which were published in 2018. In a tribute to Mr Reese, ILAB will publish two chapters of his book over the next few weeks on this website with the permission of William Reese & Co.
The opportunity to travel to distant lands opens up new worlds for anyone. I am no exception. This particular adventure to attend the International League of Antiquarian Bookseller's Congress in Budapest was so much more meaningful to me on a larger scale.
The differences between paper and digital catalogs are obvious, but some of the results of those differences continue to surprise me. For example, in the old days orders from my paper catalogs would dribble in over a period of weeks. I used to mail them all first class, in three staggered mailings, hoping to achieve some kind of evenness in delivery, but customers were always complaining that their catalogs arrived late, and demanding exclusive previews. Others, more laid back, would wait for moments of leisure to read their catalogs, and some overworked acquisitions librarians required days or weeks to claw through the pile of incoming mail to discover where my list of treasures was buried. Digital catalogs, on the other hand, play out in an eyeblink. Everyone gets their catalog announcement via a Mail Chimp email blast within the same hour or so. Those who are highly motivated know that they must read it and respond immediately. Consequently, most of the orders arrive by email within the first few hours of the catalog's life. Maritime List 238 was posted Sunday night. By Wednesday even the laid back orders had arrived.
Hard to believe, for me anyway, but we've just shot past the sixth anniversary of Bookman's Log. Yes, I should have written this entry after the fifth anniversary, and I don't know why I didn't. The post dated June 8, 2015 is about my dimwitted attempt to sell rare maritime books through an eBay store. (Results for the 6 months I tried it were one sale and two offers, both for less that 50% of what I had listed the book for.)
Moved by this conference in Lucca, I had the chance of dealing with some incunabula belonging to Martini, whose library is considered one of the richest private collections of Italian literature in the world. Reconsidering them one year after Norbert's presentation at Lucca, invites me to consider how our profession has been changing. As there has been enough talking of stolen books, forgeries, laws and export licenses, I would like to reflect on the evolution of the booksellers' job along the 20th century.
A "Fair-Less" Year: For the last ten years, this catalogue was issued on the occasion of the Antiquarian Book Fair at the Passenger Terminal in Amsterdam. Members of the Dutch Antiquarian Booksellers Association presented their treasures through the catalogue but also referred to the Fair, where one could view and touch books and prints in tangible form.
Imagine - you live in an area where no flooding has taken place for 38 years and your stock is held in a professional storage area surrounded by some 200 other units. Sounds a good bet? . . . Read on. Here is one dealer's first-hand experience. Bon Summers was hit by a flash flood and it took her 20 day's solid hard work in temperatures exceeding 90°F with high humidity to recover the remaining stock. This is her account.
I am the owner of Barry R. Levin Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, a firm of rare book dealers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and I was discussing with her the acquisition of a manuscript written by one of her authors. When I say manuscript, I mean the physical artifact — the words on the paper. Manuscripts are the most important literary collectible and over the years my firm has handled many of the major ones, a number of them for award-winning novels. We always try to purchase all notes and drafts, so that the creative process can be traced from the original idea to the final setting-copy. To that end I asked Perkins to make sure that her client included in the final manuscript package the final draft, the setting-copy (this is the manuscript copy sent to publisher from which the publisher's printer sets the type). She told me that the author had submitted his copy on a disk - that no setting-copy was sent to the publisher at all. From the standpoint of collectors, archivists and literary scholars, this has to be the last straw.
And indeed it was fun last week at the Chelsea Book Fair. Over eighty exhibitors, fabulous books, huge attendance figures, smiling faces all round and very healthy sales. Slight disappointment that the record sales of the first day didn't quite carry through to the Saturday – but a large sale or two made or not made, reported or not reported, can (as always) so easily distort the picture. Still pondering over whether one figure in a crabbed hand read £1,500 or £7,500 (only the lower figure included in the totals). But make no mistake, this was a hugely successful fair – well advertised, excellent press coverage, outstanding sales for some exhibitors. Leo Cadogan and his team, supported to the hilt by Marianne Harwood, the rest of the ABA staff, and exclamation! pr are to be thoroughly congratulated – all the more so as Leo had a fraught week trying to get back from storm-tossed New York in time for the opening.
Retracer l'histoire, pour ne pas dire la 'pré-histoire' du Syndicat Français de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne (S.L.A.M.) n'est guère chose aisée. Les témoins de la première heure ont disparu et les documents font souvent défaut. Les archives n'ayant pas été conservées avec soin, faute de locaux définitifs (acquis seulement en cette année 1985 dans la rue Gît-le-Coeur), les traces que nous avons pu déceler sont parfois légères, quelques fois contradictoires, toujours inconsistantes. Le Bouquiniste Français, organe officiel du SLAM, n'apparaissant que 7 ans après la fondation du Syndicat, soit en 1920 !, nous nous trouvons en présence d'une zone d'ombre de 1914 à 1920 sous la présidence d'Edouard Rahir. De 1920 à nos jours, le Bouquiniste Français, acquis par le SLAM en 1945 puis devenu le Bulletin de la Librairie Ancienne et Moderne en 1963, nous permet de mieux cerner les problèmes, les préoccupations et les activités du SLAM.
Hundreds of books – incunables and early printings – and historical sketches have been announced missing from the Biblioteca del Seminario vescovile di Pontremoli and the Archivio storico della cattedrale di Massa. The attached list contains pictures of the library stamps and ex-libris as well as book descriptions.
Once more "dear old London" proved to be the best place to buy books. The delegates from the United States, Austria, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland and Italy followed an invitation of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association in September 1956. During the 9th Congress held in the history of the League they were overwhelmed by British hospitality, the "inconceivably rich stocks" of British rare book dealers like Quaritch, Edwards, Joseph or Maggs, a reception at Sotheby's, an evening at the opera house and a gala dinner worth to remember with acrobatic dancers and cabaret singers. A look into the archives of the ABA and ILAB.
Some time ago Fine Books & Collections reported that the Albion handpress on which William Morris printed his Kelmscott Press masterpiece, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer was auctioned. The iron press, manufactured by Hopkinson & Cope in 1891, was sold to the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Philip C. Salmon of Bromer Booksellers was acting as agent. In August 2015, Philip C. Salmon went to Rochester, NY, to attend the official ceremony and to print a broadside on this famous handpress. His thoughts about printing in the footsteps of giants: