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ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade
Published since 13 Nov 2014
January 29 is the birthday of early American political activist Thomas Paine (1737), whose pamphlet Common Sense (1776) credited with inspiring American colonists to embrace the idea of independence from Great Britain. The American Revolution had already started but the work served to spur volunteers for the Continental Army. It was widely distributed throughout the colonies, read aloud in taverns, and unabashedly pirated. Some scholars say it was the first American bestseller.
Published since 29 Apr 2014
This week we celebrate Nelle Harper Lee, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in the sleepy town of Monroeville Alabama. As a girl, she became friends with another future writer: Truman Capote. The two were outsiders among their peers but discovered an affinity for each other. According to Capote biographer, Gerald Clarke, “Nelle was too rough for most other girls, and Truman was too soft for most other boys.”
Published since 21 Jan 2014
In 1878, when Chief Thunderwater was 13 years old and not yet a chief, his uncle gave him an extraordinary book, titled The Life and Adventures of Black Hawk: With Sketches of Keokuk, the Sac and Fox Indians, and the Late Black Hawk War.
Published since 17 Jan 2014
The Counter-Reformation began with the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and lasted a full century, until the close of the Thirty Years’ War (1648). The movement sparked conflict all over Europe, challenging the very foundations of people’s daily lives. As nationalism fermented, states like Venice began to assert their autonomy – and the Catholic Church often took drastic measures in response. In the case of cleric and statesman Fra Paolo Sarpi, they even hired a hitman. Though Sarpi consistently stood up to the Church in an official capacity, he also chose to publish his greatest work, The History of the Council of Trent, under a pseudonym.
Published since 16 Jan 2014
It is the birthday of murderess Marie LaFarge (1816), whose 1840 trial for poisoning her husband with arsenic became a cause célébre throughout France, with the public deeply divided over her innocence or guilt. She was the first person convicted by direct forensic evidence, and the case was one of the first followed closely by the public with daily newspaper reports. The trial was a spectacle attended by people from all over France. It included all the twists and turns of a good whodunit, including a celebrated expert witness and setbacks for both the prosecution and the defense. Marie LaFarge wrote her Mémoires(1841) while in prison. The novel The Lady and the Arsenic (1937) was based on the case as was the French film L’Affaire Lafarge (1938).
Published since 11 Dec 2013
We celebrate literary giant John Milton, author of Paradise Lost. His poetry profoundly influenced English literature and in particular the works of William Wordsworth, William Blake, Alexander Pope, and John Keats. Now, over three centuries since his death, Milton remains one of the greatest of all English poets.
Published since 26 Nov 2013Only three issues of Theo were published, but it still took me a couple of years to track down a complete set. I'd been fascinated by the magazine ever since I first ran across a copy of number 2, which has a rather unique design; the covers are stapled off center, so that the fore edge is layered; the front wrap ends before the first leaf, so that the name of each contributor is visible, and the rear wrap extends past the text block.
Published since 15 Nov 2013
Robert Frost wasn’t much of a farmer but he loved living on a farm. Though he was born in the city (San Francisco), some of his formative years were spent on his grandfather’s farm in Massachusetts. Indeed, much of his poetry seems influenced by his rural life.
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.