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Blog posts by Rich Rennicks

Content creator and publicist for the ABAA. 



Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

We're debuting a new recurring feature this week, in which I detail the top items that caught my eye as I perused new listings on the website and new catalogs announced by members. This is no more than a reflection of my idiosyncrasies, interests, and unfailing ability to be distracted by colorful photos and vintage adverts, but hopefully they will highlight the range of amazing books and other items you will find when you examine our members' listings carefully. Let's lead off with something I think is utterly spectacular: an original copy of Alexander Hamilton's infamous “Reynolds Pamphlet” (featured in the latest catalog from Nick Aretakis). From the catalog copy: The Infamous “Reynolds Pamphlet,” in Which Alexander Hamilton Admitted to Adultery in Order to Preserve His Public Virtue Hamilton, Alexander: OBSERVATIONS ON CERTAIN... [more]

Every week, our members release catalogs of rare books, and collectors excitedly scroll through them in search of the beautiful, rare, or unexpected. Catalogs can be as general as the "New Acquisitions" a dealer has made and cataloged over the past month, or as specific and focused as catalogs devoted solely to an individual author or artist (like Parigi Books' catalog dedicated to Weird Tales and the Art of Margaret Brundage (as seen in the picture above) or encompass a large genre like vernacular photography (William Reese Company's latest catalog), but collectors find they learn much about rare books simply by reading through catalogs and absorbing some of our members' decades of experience and knowledge along the way. One member has recently launched an experiement in rare book catalogs on Instagram. Follow @adamweinbergercat to find ... [more]

The idea of the beach read encapsulates how most people seem to regard reading in the 21st century: a solitary activity, preferably performed in a comfortable place, and accompanied by an alcoholic beverage. Modern readers display their bona fides on Instagram with stylish photos of reading nooks and “still life”-type imagery featuring books (or, I'm sad to note, Kindles and iPads) and beverages of choice (most often, cups of coffee or glasses of wine). There's even a curious trend of people posting pictures of themselves reading alone in bars, sending a slightly odd mixed-message: are they in search of company, or advertising the fact that they are above the need for company? Whatever the motivation for sharing these photos, they all reflect the dominant view of reading as a virtuous, solitary, and slightly hedonistic act. However, t... [more]

The ABAA co-sponsors the three largest annual antiquarian book fairs in North America, the Boston, California, and New York Antiquarian Book Fairs. Antiquarian book fairs are the high points of the book collector's year, representing an unmissable chance to connect with other collectors and rare book experts from top libraries, universities, and other institutions, expand your knowledge of both your chosen areas of interest and rare books in general, as well as an opportunity to get to know the booksellers personally, and insure they know your interests and what items are top of your wish list! Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair November 10-12, 2017 Boston, MA In November, the first fair of the season takes place in Boston, MA. Dealers from all over the world will rendezvous at the Hynes Convention Center for three days to display... [more]

This fascinating blog post about the history of vellum and parchment is written by Richard Norman, an experienced British bookbinder now living in France, where he runs Eden Wookshops with his wife and fellow bookbinder, Margaret, specializing in Family Bibles and liturgical books. The article originally appeared on www.edenworkshops.com, and is reprinted below with the author's permission. --Editor According to the Roman Varro and Pliny's Natural History, vellum and parchment were invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamum, as a substitute for papyrus, which was temporarily not being exported from Alexandria, its only source. Herodotus mentions writing on skins as common in his time, the 5th century BC; and in his Histories (v.58) he states that the Ionians of Asia Minor had been accustomed to give the name of skins (diphtherai)... [more]

Happy 20th anniversary of Harry Potter! It's hard to believe it has only been twenty years as the characters have become such a large part of popular culture, but the first Harry Potter book was published twenty years ago, today! A lot of people now collect J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. In fact, the major book collectors of tomorrow will likely bond over their memories of midnight-release parties and argue the merits of Mary GrandPré versus Thomas Taylor's cover illustrations. My own book shelves host two complete sets, one American (hardcover) and one British (paperback), and one set-in-progress (the illustrated editions). My children are lobbying for the addition of a set of the new American paperbacks, illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi, because the spines of each form an image of Hogwarts Castle when displayed in sequence (known as a ... [more]

ABAA-member Books of Wonder, which specializes in new, classic and collectible children's books, have announced they plan to open a second storefront later this summer in the Upper West Side. Owner Peter Glassman, told the New York Times that he'd been searching for a suitable space for years, but economic conditions had not been optimal for the project. "Now that the city is thriving again the time seemed right to finally expand to the Upper West Side.” The new store will be located on West 84th Street. Books of Wonder owner Peter Glassman at a recent event in the store. Books of Wonder first opened its doors in 1980. It has since outgrown the original "tiny, hole-in-the-wall" storefront in Greenwich Village -- through several bigger and better spaces -- to its current location on 18 West 18th Street. Longtime customer Nora Ephron used... [more]

The ABAA Benevolent Fund recently received the largest contribution in the fund's history from the estate of Gyngr Schon, who owned Old London Books in Bellingham Washington with her husband Michael Schon. Gyngr Schon became an ABAA member in 2008, after her husband's death, though the Old London Bookshop had been an ABAA member firm since 1994. She had worked as a secretary in her twenties and befriended a rare book librarian at The Huntington, later entering the antiquarian book business with her husband. In 1988, like many other antiquarian booksellers, the Schons began operating their business out of their home — a large, 17-room Victorian in Bellingham. After her husband's death, Schon established a presence on the internet, and through what her colleague Ed Smith describes as “hard work and a positive attitude” kept the busine... [more]

Pioneering screenwriter Anita Loos was born on April 26, 1889. After learning her trade acting and writing one-act plays for her father's somewhat-disreputable theater troupe, Loos began submitting unsolicited scripts to film companies. D.W. Griffith directed The New York Hat, a film based on her screenplay, starring Mary Pickford and Lionel Barrymore in 1912. In 1915 Loos became the first “staff writer” for a film production company, when she signed on with Griffith's studio. She wrote hundreds of scripts during the silent era of cinema, most of which went unproduced, but the films that were made were noted for their wit and humor — all the more remarkable for being silent! Her collaboration with director (and future husband John Emerson) began by working on several romantic comedies which made Douglas Fairbanks a star. In later ye... [more]


Editing Shakespeare

By Rich Rennicks

A look at some of the items currently offered by ABAA members can present a partial, but nonetheless illuminating, history of various editors' attempts to complete, "improve," or make Shakespeare more accessible over the centuries. For a guy who's been dead for 400 years, Shakespeare gets more press than many movie stars. Every week there's another theory about what he looked like or whether he was high while writing his plays. This week, the headlines are driven by British designer Jamie Rector, who created a series of new conceptual covers for several plays by Shakespeare, attempting to summarize the plays in a series of emojis. Although this was a concept design, the images caught the eye of Creative Review magazine, who are now using them for a series of posters aimed at attracting new design talent -- evidence that Shakespeare's work... [more]