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Blog posts by Rich Rennicks

Content creator and publicist for the ABAA. 


One phrase you might hear at a rare-book fair is mapbacks. No, that's not some sort of tattoo favored by rare map dealers; a "mapback" is the informal name for a series of pulp paperback books published by Dell between 1943 and 1950. Initially, the back cover of these books featured bland art, but starting with the fifth book in the series, Four Frightened Women by George Harmon Coxe, Dell added an illustration showing the locale where the book's events took place. (Note: the previous book in the series, The American Gun Mystery by Ellery Queen, was later reprinted with a map on the back cover, but it was the fifth book in the series that was the first to feature a map.) The “maps” were not all conventional maps by any means, with cut-away illustrations of buildings being a frequent option the various artists used when the action was ... [more]

Browse the latest catalogs, newsletters, and e-lists of rare books, fine bindings, incunabula, print ephemera, and much more from the members of the ABAA below. (Also includes podcasts, blogs posts, and other digital formats.) *New* indicates any catalogs added this week. AARDVARK BOOKS/EZRA THE BOOKFINDER Recent Acquisitions CHARLES AGVENT Walt Whitman Spring Miscellany -- Early Baseball, Travel, Botany, Signed Books, Hand-colored Plates, etc. ANDERSON BUTLER RARE BOOKS E-list #13: Miscellany E-list #12: Publishers' Prospectuses, Ephemera, More... ANTIPODEAN BOOKS, MAPS, PRINTS Cook's Last Voyage ~ the Artistic Vision in John Webber's Prints Australia in Maps: 1540-1898 NICK ARETAKIS Reference Books from the Collection of Ian Jackson (Part 2) October New Acquisitions ARTISAN BOOKS & BINDERY New Acquisitions: May 2017 Holiday Catalog 2016... [more]


Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

Our members list new acquisitions and recently catalogued items almost every day of the year. Below, you'll find a few highlights from these recent additions... Ulysses (First Edition) by James Joyce Paris: Shakespeare and Co, 1922. First edition. Original wrappers. Very Good. FIRST EDITION IN UNRESTORED ORIGINAL WRAPPERS. Number 349 of 750 printed on handmade paper (out of a total edition of 1000). Paris: Shakespeare and Co., 1922. Quarto, original blue-green wrappers, early custom half-leather box. Wrappers with light rubbing to edges, wear to spine with approximately one-inch chip below first spine band, very mild crease to about first 30 leaves; front wrapper holding, but very tender at joint. Some wear to slipcase. A very good copy of what is generally considered the most influential novel of the twentieth-century; rare in unrestored... [more]

ABAA-member Claudia Strauss-Schulson, her son Todd and daughter Caren, have written a book -- Scrawl: An A to Z of Famous Doodles -- based on the extensive collection of illustrated letters and sketches built by the late David Schulson, founder of David Schulson Autographs, Ltd. (now Schulson Autographs). We asked the three Strauss-Schulsons to tell us about the book and the collection on which it draws. ABAA: How did this collection come about? Claudia Strauss-Schulson: The collection began with the intent to combine art with history. The collection built out from illustrated letters to include drawings of all sorts from the full range of human endeavor. The criteria for selecting a letter or drawing for the collection had to do with adding diversity and curiosity as the collection grew. ABAA: How large is it? Claudia: Larger than the nu... [more]


Rare Book News

By Rich Rennicks

A quick roundup of the news about rare books and collectors from around the world. (Regularly updated, with the latest news items added at the top.) A Look at the Rare-Book Trade in India “Not many people know what it takes to find a rare book. Our search often takes us from the pavement book markets in Delhi and Kolkata to fellow antiquarian dealers in remote European villages.” (Read more...) By Her Own Hand Rare book and manuscript specialist Miranda Garno Nesler & Dan Whitmore, founder of ABAA-member Whitmore RareBooks (Pasadena, CA) have created a new publication, By Her Own Hand, that highlights the rare written work of women and women of color. LA Times published this article... UP CLOSE AND BOOKISH: Booksellers' Showcase Tours at RBMS19 The RBMS Membership and Professional Development Committee is pleased to announce the annua... [more]


Horatio Alger, Jr.

By Rich Rennicks

In his day, Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832-1899) was one of the most-famous authors in America. While his books have largely fallen out of print today, everyone is familiar with his main idea, because Horatio Alger, Jr. popularized the “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps” ideal that permeates so much of American life. It's not too much of a stretch to say that Alger gave America its great national myth, that hard work (and clean living) can allow anyone to achieve success — although people often seem to overlook the amount of sheer luck that comes into play in his fiction. A more-jaundiced reading of Alger's oeuvre would assert that success for Alger was usually defined as social advancement or preferment, and it was usually achieved by finding a wealthy patron through performing a selfless deed or some service (returning a lost wallet ... [more]


New Members

By Rich Rennicks

Meet the latest members of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America. New Members Lillian Fraker, Savoy Books (Lanesboro, MA) Lillian Fraker was born in New York, grew up in Westchester County and met her husband-to-be, Robert Fraker in college. In 1971 they settled in a rural town in Massachusetts' Berkshires where they started Savoy Books, later moving home and business to Lanesboro, Mass. They kept a general stock of pre-1900 books and paper, specializing in antiquarian horticulture/agriculture, and 19th-century American popular music, and putting together various quirky subject collections -- history of Shorthand, American education, etc. Savoy Books joined the ABAA under Robert Fraker's name in 1974, exhibiting in every Boston ABAA book fair since then, and in the 1970s and '80s participating in a few New York and Californi... [more]

On March 5, 2019, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) held the symposium Who Owned This? Libraries and the Rare Book Trade Consider Issues Surrounding Provenance, Theft and Forgery at the renowned New York book collectors club, the Grolier Club, jointly organized with the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA). Rare booksellers are faced with increasing demands from institutions to have strong provenance on materials they buy. Booksellers need to know how to deal with this and have a good understanding of what libraries need. The symposium brought together a range of experts and scholars from the antiquarian book trade and libraries, as well as the fields of investigation, insurance, art law, and technology. April 10, 2019 is the first International Provenance Research Day with more than 60 cultural i... [more]

Longtime ABAA member John J. DeMarco of Saratoga Springs, NY passed away on March 26, 2019. He was 70, and was being treated for cancer. His store, Lyrical Ballad — which DeMarco opened after graduating from college in 1971 and ran with his wife Janice — has been a fixture in Saratoga Springs for almost 50 years, and is “hog heaven for a book lover,” according to fellow ABAA member Kevin Mac Donnell. Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly paid tribute to DeMarco's resiliance through decades of economic ups and downs, saying “Lyrical Ballad outlived most of the big box stores and really was the foundation for much of the revitalization of Saratoga Springs. His store survived it all due to the strength of his personality.” DeMarco had a knack for uncovering some truly rare items over the years, such as a cache of Herman Melville mater... [more]

The ABAA is accepting entries for the 2019 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, once again supported by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation, the generous underwriter of prizes for this contest. The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest is open to all prizewinners of college book-collecting contests, whether or not first prize, as well as to interested students whose institutions do not offer formal contests. (More information can be found here.) All entries should be submitted at apply.abaa.org. All entries for the 2019 competition must be submitted by June 13, 2019. For more information on the contest, please visit contest.abaa.org. The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest is jointly administered by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), the Grol... [more]