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ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
Published since 13 May 2013
Having thought about it though, it did occur to me that the real problem with that Treasure Detectives malarkey was not even the fact that they had no clue what they were on about … more the fact that to someone “normal” it would be really hard to tell. If I were wandering the earth all besotted with books and suddenly had a windfall from a mysterious Romanian Great Uncle I’d never previously heard of, and I wanted to start collecting books … how would I go about it? First … there are rules. They are for you, and like all of the best rules, they are rules that don’t just apply to book collecting.
Published since 01 May 2013
Most of my bookselling life has been a lonely business: waiting for trains, scouring shelves of dull books in the hope of finding one good one. But for five years I had a shop, and that wasn't lonely at all. It was in one of the world's best spots for a bookshop: London's Cecil Court. We had some serious customers; some serious thieves; and some world-class time-wasters. In fact, when I finally sold the lease, I wrote the names of the worst ten on a piece of durable cardboard, so that I could take it out and look at it if I were ever again tempted into retail. (It hasn't been needed). Dr O---, Mr S---, Ms G---: have no fear, your secrets are safe. (Unless you should make any attempt to contact me via the Internet, in which case I will zap you into outer cyberspace. You have been warned.)
Published since 28 Mar 2013
When it comes to rare books, condition is everything. Any kind of damage, discoloration, or flaws can significantly impact a book's value. One of the most common flaws we see in rare and antiquarian books is a condition called ghosting or shadowing. This condition occurs when a page fades unevenly, leaving a visible outline on the page.
Published since 26 Mar 2013
One of the most popular components of a private library is the mystery genre, which comprises a vast array of sub-genres such as detective fiction. The genesis of the detective fiction sub-genre may be traced to a short story penned by Edgar Allan Poe in 1841 titled The Murders in the Rue Morgue. All the elements of what we today recognize as the essential characteristics of the sub-genre are found in this short story: a brutal murder; baffled police; an independent investigator that solves the case through superior intelligence, humbling the police in the process.
Published since 14 Dec 2012
I’ve ranted before about lighthouses being one of those subject areas from which collectors have mysteriously vanished. People scrabbling and clawing in the most fearsome way for lighthouse literature and then one day, more or less out of the blue, they don’t want any at all. Not even the rarest material. I suspect that in this case, eBay and print-on-demand technology killed the market. The field was largely information driven, and once people got access to cheap reprints or bargain copies of scarce texts, the game was over for dealers like me.
Published since 21 Jun 2012
"If you keep an open mind in this business, you learn something new every day." Greg Gibson on collecting the unusual: "Fire insurance mapping began in London in the 1700s, but it had never been applied with a systematic approach. In 1867 Daniel Alfred Sanborn, a surveyor from Massachusetts, saw the need for such a service, and quickly occupied that niche. By the late 1800s he had offices spanning the continent, sending out thousands of surveyors to record the footprints and construction details of buildings in American cities. Insurance companies could then use this information to write accurate policies, based on potential fire risk as documented by Sanborn’s company."
Published since 18 Jun 2012
"One of the most unusual bindings one is likely to encounter among books purchased at yard sales, garage sales, friends-of-the-library book sales and the like is papier mâché." L.D. Mitchell on Papier Mâché and The Private Library.
Published since 06 Jun 2012
Ask any book collector about his favorite classic of collecting, and Nick Basbanes’ Gentle Madness, first published in 1995, is undoubtedly at the top of the list. Now an updated edition of this book about the “Eternal Passion for Books” has been published. Rebecca Rego Barry asked Nick Basbanes about the book, how it affected his career, and what he’s currently working on. Some snippets:
Published since 03 Jun 2012
Here's an interesting idea for a private library: collect nothing but titles that have been penned by prisoners. If you think such a book collection might contain mostly accounts of prison life, think again ... some of the world's greatest, as well as some of the most influential, literature ever written was penned by prisoners.
Published since 25 May 2012
Given that the first book printed from moveable type in Western Europe, the Gutenberg Bible, contains numerous references to wine, and given that the technology for printing that first book may itself have been modeled upon the screw press used to extract wine from grapes, this writer has always found it puzzling that the cultivation, processing, distribution and consumption of wine is rarely a major thematic element in works of fiction.