Bookselling

I've been a full-time antiquarian bookseller for over two years now, specializing in selling original materials that tell interesting American stories, with an emphasis on social movements. So my every day involves intellectual adventure as I make a living helping to preserve bits of history. Until the first week of January though, I hadn't quite experienced anything like I'm about to share, so with all due respect to Mr. Everitt, I couldn't think of a better title. I hope you'll keep reading and agree. It started the morning of Christmas Eve a couple weeks ago, when an eBay seller listed several books by the important civil rights activist, W.E.B. Du Bois. Du Bois was a prolific writer, and his books are not uncommon. But, what made these special was they had their dust jackets -- which I knew were rarely seen for these particular titles. The seller also listed a few other scarce African-American pieces, so I sent an email asking if there was anything else. 90% of the time I send an email like that the answer is "no." The other 10% will occasionally involve interesting pieces. I was having dinner at a restaurant with my family later that evening when I heard back from the seller, and his response almost caused me to choke. The seller had bought a storage unit that included the contents of several generations of a black family from Ohio, where at least two women attended Wilberforce University (the first black-owned-and-run university in the United States) and one of the men ... [more]

Love old books, book stores, or just a good story? Tune in to Brattle Book Shop's well-produced podcast: BRATTLECAST! At one of America's oldest bookshops, there are just as many stories to be told outside the pages as in them. Join bookseller Kenneth Gloss and co-host Jordan Rich as they share entertaining conversations and histories surrounding Brattle Book Shop, one of Boston's favorite spots for bibliophiles. Recent episodes cover questions about the care and preservation of books, the day in 1980 when Ken learned his shop was burning, and behind the scenes reveal of Ken's best and worst segments from his time as an expert on the Antiques Roadshow! (Photo credit: Jeffrey Dunn) Don't miss an article from The New Antiquarian blog. Subscribe to the ABAA email newsletter! * indicates required Email Address * Email Format html text #mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:420px;} /* Add your own MailChimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */ [more]

On March 11th, the ABAA Women's Initiative hosted a panel discussion on Collecting and Women during the New York Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory. Elizabeth Denlinger, Sarah Gordon, and Molly Schwartzburg discussed topics relating to representations of women in collections, women as collectors, and women-focused institutions as Nina Musinsky moderated. More than 100 men and women booksellers, librarians, and enthusiasts attended. If you missed it, we have a recording below. Since 2016, we have held networking receptions for women in conjunction with book fairs, and honored Carol Sandberg — a longtime bookseller who has championed women in the trade. This panel is our first foray into programming and we are thrilled to have so many of you here. Please do leave your business cards or add your name to our mailing list so we can keep you informed about events and ideas. We would like to thank and acknowledge the people who have worked on this project: Claudia Strauss-Schulson — the Initiative's chairwoman — Heather O'Donnell, Rebecca Romney, Kim Schwenk, Kait Manning, Cokie Anderson, Susan Hirsch, Laurelle Swan, Joyce Kosofsky, and Mary Gilliam. We would also like to thank Jennifer Johnson and Sunday Steinkirchener for their help in organizing events. We also want to recognize the many people who have shared their stories, put forth ideas, and voiced support publically and privately for this important work. Subscribe below to receive alerts and information ab... [more]

On February 8th, at the Book Fair Exhibitor Reception in Pasadena, the ABAA Women's Initiative sponsored the first in a series of tributes to women booksellers who have left a lasting impression on the American trade. Our first honoree was Carol Sandberg, an accomplished career bookseller whose contributions extend beyond the great businesses she helped to build. Carol started bookselling in 1974, when Ken Karmiole hired her fresh out of UCLA library school to join Ben and Lou Weinstein at Heritage Book Shop. In 1985, Carol went into partnership with Michael and Kathleen Thompson at Michael R. Thompson Rare Books, working for more than three decades to make that firm a mainstay of the trade in Los Angeles. At the Pasadena event, Carol's longtime friend and colleague John Windle toasted her as “one of the finest individuals our trade has ever employed,” and shared Chris Loker's tribute to Carol as “a quiet powerhouse in our trade, and a jewel in our crown . . . with the warmest heart and kindest way I know.” Carol's long-standing commitment to California Rare Book School and the Southern California Chapter, organizing events from small seminars to international book fairs, helped create a vibrant community of booksellers and collectors on the West Coast. To her junior colleagues, she has been a generous and inspiring role model. One of those booksellers, Chris Lowenstein, contributed the following memory, read at the reception by ABAA Executive Director Susan Benne: ... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

What caught the eye while exploring the website and perusing new catalogs this week? Why these colorful items... Group of 19th Century Cuban Cigarette Labels This set of slightly risqué 19th-century cigarette cards from Cuba caught the eye. What a perfect gift for the collector of print ephemera or advertising gimmicks! From the description: Description: “Complete series of twelve chromolithograph "Marquillas de Tabaco" labels from the Para Usted Gran Manufactura de Cigarros de Eduardo Guillo, each showing a "mentira de hermosura", or a trick of beauty women use to disguise their age or less attractive feature, with a surprised man viewing each deception through a spyglass.… Each label approx. 10.5 by 14 cm. Loose as issued, housed in photograph album pages. Havana (Eduardo Guillo) n.d. (circa 1865). It was in the early 1860s that tobacco factories in Havana began to package cigarettes with illustrated labels called "marquillas de tabaco" or "marquillas cigarreras". For the tobacco companies, the newly-available chromolithography techniques provided an attractive and cost-effective way to package and advertise their products in an increasingly competitive market. Approximately 20 to 25 cigarettes were packaged together in rolls, each wrapped in one of these labels. The labels were often eye-catching combinations of text and bright colors, many incorporating humor and whimsy.” Offered by F.A. Bernett Books. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches Du Bois, W.E. Burg... [more]

We first learned that Jack Hanrahan died from his friends Rusty and Veta Mott, who wrote to us, "It is with sadness that we yet again pass along the news of the death of a wonderful friend and colleague. Jack Hanrahan, of Wells, Maine, died at 7:30 last night, age 85. Jack, a long time member of ABAA, was a man who contributed to the world not only as an antiquarian bookseller, but as a Milton scholar, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, and as restaurateur in Brussels and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was a scholar, a bon vivant, and a delightful companion. Our sympathies and best wishes go out to Joyce, his wife and friend." The entire ABAA echoes the words of the Motts. Jack was a very New-England bookseller, slightly crusty but full of humor and a genuine raconteur. He started selling books soon after getting out of the Navy in 1954, and had a shop in Portsmouth, NH and also a by-appointment business in Short Hills, NJ (at one point, he and Joyce attempted to open a "fancy restaurant" in Portsmouth, but this was not successful). The two of them moved around quite a bit, spending a number of years in Brussels, Belgium, Pittsburgh, and finally back to the North East. In Brussels, Jack would buy bindings for $2, send them back to the States for $1 postage, and sell them for $6. In time, he began to specialize in early American imprints. In the old days, he says in his interview with Mike Ginsberg, people didn't pay much attention to that kind of material. He reme... [more]

Belle da Costa Greene Scholarship With the goal of actively working to achieve a more diverse and inclusive community of booksellers and librarians, thanks to the generosity of Lisa Unger Baskin, The Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminars (CABS) is pleased to offer a 2017 scholarship for $2,000 to cover the cost of tuition, room and board ($1,646) with the additional $354 intended for travel or incidental expenses. The scholarship is intended for a bookseller or a librarian from an historically underrepresented community. We encourage applications from booksellers and librarians from the African American, Latino/a/x, Asian American/Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, working class, persons with disabilities, or other self-identified communities of booksellers or librarians who might benefit from this scholarship. Applicants should submit a short 1- or 2-page essay on why they want to attend CABS. They should include in the statement a brief personal and professional history, and something about their relationship to books and the book trade. We also ask for a CV and one letter of support from a member of the book trade, a professional librarian, or another member of the antiquarian book world. This scholarship is named for Belle da Costa Greene, the African-American librarian, bibliographer, and director of the Morgan Library. The deadline to submit your application is May 1, 2017. We will notify the winner by or before May 15, 2017. Submit your application by mail or by email to Garrett S... [more]

You've no doubt heard the great news that Assembly Bill 228 has been introduced by California State Assembly Members Gloria and Chiu. If passed, this bill will provide significant relief from the most troubling and onerous provisions of AB 1570, California's new autograph law. The ABAA, IOBA, PBA Galleries, and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, The Manuscript Society, The Ephemera Society, The Professional Autograph Dealers Association, Horror Writers Association, The Grolier Club, Biblio and The Easton Press have formally expressed support for this pending legislation in the linked letters. The legislative process is long and complicated. Bills pass through policy committees in each house of the legislature and the process takes many months. What this bill needs to help ensure that it becomes law is your support. We encourage members and interested parties to write a letter of support for AB 228 addressed to the bill's primary author: Assemblymember Todd Gloria P.O. Box 942849 Sacramento, CA 94249-0078 You can also add your name and comments to the change.org petition. We'll keep you updated on progress here. [more]

Bookseller Ed Smith (Ed Smith Books) interviewed Kurt Brokaw, a professor and film critic, who likes to moonlight as a rare bookseller (specializing in noir paperback originals) on the streets of Manhattan. I got to know Kurt Brokaw through a mutual friend. When I was in Manhattan for a movie memorabilia auction at Bonham's that I'd partly consigned, I stopped at his weekend table of 1940s paperbacks and earlier pulp magazines. He often sets up outside Zabars at 80th & Broadway, or further down Broadway in Lincoln Center. He's the only bookman doing high end vintage paper on the street that I've ever met, and he explains an actual New York City book law from the 1890s that gives him the legal right to vend written matter on NYC sidewalks without a license. This 6-minute spontaneous and unrehearsed interview should be of interest to collectors. (Photo by Lynda Bullock/Flickr via cc license) [more]

The fourth installment of Kaitlin Manning's series on taking better pictures of rare books and ephemera. No matter what kind of camera you use, there are a few basic practices you can apply before you start shooting to improve the look and quality of your images (and to avoid fixing time consuming mistakes later on). While it is true that editing programs like Lightroom, Photoshop, and Gimp can work wonders and correct a myriad of errors, you will want to spend as little time as possible in these programs, especially if you are dealing with hundreds of photos at a time. Starting with good quality images from the beginning will eliminate the need for major edits -- and this begins before you even click the shutter. Make sure you have enough light. I've covered the basics of putting together a home studio in a previous post, but let me reiterate the need for good, diffuse light now. If your photos continuously look dull or underexposed, consider adding more light to the scene, but always make sure that it is properly diffused (i.e. there needs to be something translucent between the light and the object). Bare bulbs look harsh, create shadows, increase glare, and can either wash out or obscure details. Invest in a tripod. This was also mentioned briefly in a previous post, but let me elaborate a bit here: if you don't have the steadiest of hands and/or you routinely shoot manually in low speeds (generally less than 1/60 of a second) a tripod is a must. Camera shake can make you... [more]