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ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
Published since 22 May 2013
How to identify a rare book? "I got stumped last week, trying to catalog a book I’d recently purchased. It was the first full length biography of the American naval hero James Lawrence, and it was supposed to be 244 pages long. However, my copy seemed complete at page 240, which ended with the word “finis.” I must’ve spent an hour pouring through my reference books trying to reconcile the discrepancy. I had a dim recollection of the pagination issue being explained to me by the gentleman from whom I’d purchased the book. But I couldn’t remember the details, and I couldn’t piece it together from the bibliographies ..."
[+] More Fifty First Editions, Annotated by their Authors – Sotheby's Charity Auction in Support of the English PEN
Published since 17 May 2013
“It’s like discovering a herd of unicorns”, says Rick Gekoski. “For a time, when you see them together, you think they must be quite common. But when you buy your unicorn and take it home to your little smallholding, then your neighbours will fall over with astonishment. That’s what’s going to happen with these books. After a year or two passes, each one is going to look like a little marvel and the prices will seem reasonable, even cheap, in retrospect.”
Published since 16 May 2013
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."
Published since 14 May 2013
It’s a common enough problem: you’re a young buck newly arrived in the big city, you’re eager to find a prostitute, but you don’t know where to start — you don’t want to be ripped off and you don’t want to come down with a disease. Enter Jack Harris, the “Pimp General of All England,” with his eminently useful reference book: a guide to London’s strumpets, their specialties, and their fees. Even though prostitution was illegal, both the author and the users would have taken comfort in the fact that there was no organized law enforcement to do anything about it.
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 10 May 2013
Over the course of what is now a legendary international career, Mason shows unerring instincts for the logic of the trade. He makes good money from Canadian editions, both legitimate and pirated (turns out Canadian piracies so incensed Mark Twain that he moved to Montreal for six months to gain copyright protection). He outfoxes the cousins of L.M. Montgomery at auction and blackmails the head of the Royal Ontario Museum. He excoriates the bureaucratic pettiness that obstructs public acquisitions, he trumpets the ingenuity of collectors and scouts, and in archives around the world he appraises history in its unsifted and most moving forms. And above all: David Mason boldly campaigns for what he feels is the moral duty of the antiquarian trade: to preserve the history and traditions of all nations, and to assert without compromise that such histories have value.
Published since 09 May 2013
One of the few artists to gain true celebrity from illustrating children’s books, Kate Greenaway was one of the most influential illustrators of her age. Greenaway, along with Randolph Caldecott and Walter Crane, revolutionized illustration. Popular in both Europe and the United States, Greenaway has remained highly sought after, even among contemporary children’s book collectors.
Published since 08 May 2013
Swimming Rhine maidens, by special permission of H.M. the King of Bavaria – Wagner’s “Ring” came to London in 1882. "He planned to open his campaign in London, and visited in October 1881 to inspect the stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre, and again in April 1882 with his entire technical staff, just a month before the first performance was to take place. Although the Theatre was in theory ready, it reneged on its contract and it fell to Neumann to arrange everything, from the orchestra and chorus to the advertising (presumably why the flyer here was printed in Leipzig), even the carpets in the foyer."
[+] More Absences - "Lost, Stolen or Shredded": Rick Gekoski's Stories of Missing Works of Art and Literature
Published since 07 May 2013
As you may already have realised, I like books which have a story to tell. By this I mean not just the book’s own internal narrative, but a copy of the book with its own individual history. Not necessarily a fine and obviously important provenance (although that’s always very welcome), but just a tale of its own career in the world. I’m not deterred by a book with a previous owner’s inscription, far from it – this can lead into that narrative and document some evidence of the book’s initial audience and reception. Who bought this book when it first came out? Where did the book fit into that world rather than ours?
Published since 03 May 2013
Discovering a fore-edge painting is always a pleasant surprise. When I first started my bookselling apprenticeship, it was one of the first things I was told to look out for (along with interesting bookplates, and ephemera tucked into the books). If you have not come across fore-edge paintings, let me first explain what they are.