Bibliographies and Reference

Reference works are the 'tools' of the Antiquarian Book Trade.  Ideally, they represent years of research & scholarship which delineate an authoritative view of a given subject, be it author, genre or specific topic, such the Civil War.  Bibliographies, a sub-set of reference works, provide information on the books, and other publications, that comprise an author's oeuvre, or a subject's breadth, or the works contained in whatever spectrum the bibliographer has defined.  

The reference works you see listed on this ABAA site are those that are found in frequent use by the professionals in the trade.  In other words, they are the 'go-to' works needed to properly identify the divers editions of books collectors seek, and are cited as the authority for stating 'such-n-so' volume is a first edition, or, for example, 'the first book published by San Francisco's Grabhorn Press'.  

The bulk of professional booksellers will only cite a reference that has been personally examined, hence if you see Sabin, for example, cited in one of this site's listings, then you know that particular reference has been personally checked with respect to the book in question, and not copied from some other source [which happens more often than you might imagine in this wild-and-wooly world of internet bookselling, with many knowing naught of what they cite & whether or not the citation they use actually applies to the book to which they have applied said citation].

The genres you see listed those most encountered in any given day of our respective businesses; the specific references there-under are those found to be most encountered and/or [still] useful in that genre, as determined by our antiquarian bookseller members.  

However, it must be emphasized that these lists are nothing more than that; the 'meat', if you will, with respect to the benefits & limitations of a given reference work can only be known by actual use of that reference.  The listings in the divers genres have no priority per se, and there are titles, while often cited in the trade, and so are found on the list, are limited in their true usefulness by no more than being able to say: "Not in".

In the list, the bolded name reflects the manner to which the reference is usually cited, e.g., Bleiler = The Checklist of Science-Fiction and Supernatural Fiction.

If one wishes to acquire some of the works listed, be aware many are available in reprints that are perfectly serviceable from a strictly textual-knowledge perspective...  e.g., the Pforzheimer catalogue, when found, is usually a four-figure set in the 1940 first edition, a more affordable 3 figures in the 1997 reprint.

Please note, we try to list the most recent edition of a given reference, as it's the most up-to-date information that usually best serves in rare book cataloguing-  if you're aware of a later edition of a title given on the list, please do let us know.

NB.  With respect to the DAB & DNB, we are aware these have been superseded by on-line versions.  We list the DAB & DNB as such, for they are still cited in that manner by many booksellers.

Finally, we hope you find these lists useful.  But remember, they are just a beginning.  We highly recommend you attend something like the Tavistock Books Reference Book workshop, or even better, the weeklong course by Joel Silver, [add hyperlink] for these lists do no more than make you aware of a given reference...  to 'own' it, you need to use it & experience it.


Basic Reference Books for the Antiquarian Bookseller & Collector
Compiled by Vic Zoschak - Tavistock Books, ABAA

I.  Literature, including Modern First Editions.

  • National Union Catalogue (NUC).  To 1956.  Fiche more space-friendly. 
  • New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (NCBEL).  Cambridge:  1970.  5 volumes.
  • Bibliography of American Literature (BAL).  New Haven:  1955 – 1991.  9 volumes.
  • NB.  Separate BAL Index complied by Michael Winship; issued 1995 by North American Press. 
  • Dictionary of American Biography (DAB). 
  • Dictionary of National Biography (DNB).
  • Divers Oxford Companions, e.g., The Oxford Companion to English Literature (OCEL). 
  • The Bibliographer’s Manual of English Literature.  Lowndes.  19th C, but still useful. 
  • First Printings of American Authors (FPAA).  Edited by Bruccoli.  Detroit: Gale, 1977.  5 volumes.
  • Ahearn.  Author Price Guides.  Book Collecting 2000.  Collected Books (2011 Edition). 
  • American First Editions.  Johnson, Revised by Blanck.  4th ed. latest, w/ 3rd useful for some authors. 
  • Bibliographical Introduction to 75 Modern American Authors.  Lepper.  Berkeley: 1976. 
  • 19th C. Fiction.  Wolff.  Based on the author’s personal collection; useful annotations. 
  • 19th C. Fiction.  Sadleir.  Based on the author’s collection; useful annotations. 
  • American Fiction.  1774 – 1900.  Wright.  3 volumes + V2 Supplement.  Checklist, not bib. 
  • Crime Fiction.  A Comprehensive Bibliography.  Hubin.  More a checklist, v. bibliography. 
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors, A Bibliography.  Currey, L. W. 
  • The Checklist of Science-Fiction and Supernatural Fiction.  Bleiler, E. F.  Rev Ed, 1978. 

II.  Americana, with emphasis on Western Americana & California.

  • A Dictionary of Books Relating to America.  Sabin. 
  • The American Bibliography.  Evans.  14 vols.  1640 – 1800.
  • American Imprints [sometimes known as Shaw & Shoemaker].  46+ vols.  1801 – 1846. 
  • European Americana: A Chronological Guide to Works Printed in Europe Relating to the Americas 1493 - 1750.  Landis.  6 vols. 
  • The Celebrated Collection of Americana Formed by the Late Thomas Winthrop Streeter.  NY: 1966.  8 vols, including Index.  Auction catalogue, with invaluable commentary.
  • The Plains & the Rockies.  Wagner-Camp[-Becker].  SF:  1982.  4th Edition. 
  • U. S. Iana (1650 – 1950).  Howes.  2nd ed.  Wright Howes: The Final Edition.  Hartley – ed.  1994. 
  • Dictionary of American History.  Revised Edition, 1976. 
  • The Zamorano 80.  LA: 1945.   (cf. Volkmann Collection Catalogue, Sloan). 
  • A Catalogue of the Everett D. Graff Collection of Western Americana.  Chicago: 1968. 
  • A Bibliography of the History of California, 1510 – 1930.  Cowan, R. E. & R. G. 
  • Mapping the Trans-Mississippi West.  Wheat, Carl I. 
  • California Local History.  Rocq, Margaret Miller.  2nd Edition.  Stanford:  1970.  + Supplement. 
  • The California Gold Rush.  Kurutz, Gary.  SF: 1997. 
  • A Mormon Bibliography, 1830 – 1930.  Flake.  2nd Edition, 2004.  2 volumes. 

III.  Children’s Books

  • The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books, 1566 – 1910.  Toronto: 1975.  2 volumes. 
  • Peter Parley to Penrod.  A Bibliographical Description of the Best-Loved American Juvenile Books. 
  • Blanck.  First published 1938. 
  • A Bibliography of American Children’s Books Printed Prior to 1821.  Welch.  AAS:  1972. 
  • Early American Children’s Books.  Rosenbach, A. S. W. 
  • A Bibliography of 19th C. Children’s Series Books.  Sternick.  2003. 
  • Farah’s Guide.  Farah, David.  12th prtg.  (Nancy Drew series). 
  • Hardy and Hardy Investigations.  Carpentieri & Mular.  5th Edition.  (Hardy Boy series). 
  • A Collector’s Guide to Hardcover Boys’ Series Books.  Mattson & Davis.   2nd Edition.  1997.
  • The Girls’ Series Companion.  By The Society of Phantom Friends.   
  • The Pictus Orbis Sambo.  Barton.  1998. 
  • First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books.  Younger & Hirsch.  2002. 
  • Bibliographia OZiana.  Hanff, et al.  2nd Edition.  1988. 
  • Children’s & Illustrated Books, 1880 – 1970.  Baumgarten.  3rd Edition.  2004. 
  • A Catalogue of the Cotsen Children’s Library.  20th C.  2 volumes.  (More in preparation). 
  • Les Livres de L’Enfance.  Gumuchian.  2 volumes. 

IV.  Early Printed Books, with a Focus on Books Printed in English. 

  • A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England…, 1475 – 1640. (STC).  Pollard & Redgrave. 2nd Edition.  London:  1986.  3 volumes. 
  • Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England…, 1640 – 1700.  Wing.  4 volumes. 
  • Catalogue of the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature.  5 volumes. 
  • Catalogue of the McAlpin Collection of British History & Theology.  5 volumes. 
  • Oxford Books, 1468 – 1680.  Madan.  3 volumes. 
  • Catalogue of Original and Early Editions of … English Writers from Wither to Prior.   
  • A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration.  Greg.  4 volumes. 
  • The Carl H. Pforzheimer Library.  English Literature 1475 – 1700.  3 volumes. 
  • Catalogue of Books printed on the Continent of Europe, 1501 – 1600.  Adams.  2 volumes. 
  • Les Elzevier.  Willems.  Martino reprint with 2 supplements. 


V.  On-Line References. 

  • English Short Title Catalogue. (ESTC).  Books printed before 1800.  (Google ESTC for the URL). 
  • OCLC/WorldCat.  Most detail available via subscription (e.g., ABAA). 
  • American Book Prices Current (ABPC).  Subscription service. 
  • Americana Exchange.  Subscription service. 
  • Early English Books Online (EEBO).  Subscription service (expensive).  Access through local univ. 
  • JSTOR.  Subscription service for journal articles (expensive).  Access through local university.