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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]

Every month, ABAA members release catalogs and electronic lists highlighting their new acquisitions and showcasing books and ephemera on various themes. Serious collectors peruse these catalogs immediately, ever on the lookout for books they covet for their personal collections. We invite you to examine the latest catalogs linked below, and contact the dealer if anything catches your eye. (Note: the items featured in these collections are not listed on, so will not appear in search results.) BACK OF BEYOND BOOKS Recent Acquisitions -- list only available to mailing list subscribes. Sign up here... LORNE BAIR RARE BOOKS E-List 16: New Arrivals -- 55 items in the realm of American Social Movements and Radical History, including books, manuscripts, graphics, and ephemera. E-list 17: Fine Books -- The Scarafoni Collection, Part II BAUMAN RARE BOOKS July 2016 Catalog Summer Escapes Aubrey Beardsley BETWEEN THE COVERS RARE BOOKS African-Americana #207 BOLERIUM BOOKS Vote Early & Often -- Presidential campaign ephemera, mostly from outside the two-party system New & Recent Acquisitions "American Negroes Want Freedom" -- A shortlist on China and the African-American struggle BROMER BOOKSELLERS The Objects of Childhood BUDDENBROOKS, INC. Literary First Editions Recent Acquisitions: July 2016 THE COLOPHON BOOK SHOP List 224 -- Books about Books, Press Books, Literature JAMES CUMMINS BOOKSELLER Catalog for Melbourne 2016 The Robert S. Pirie Catalog DIVISION LEAP Occupations: Ar... [more]

The 56th Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair returned to the Park Avenue Armory from April 7-April 10, 2016. From April 7-10, 2016 book lovers will find a fascinating treasure trove at the Park Avenue Armory. Over 200 American and international dealers will exhibit at The ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair, bringing a vast selection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, illuminated manuscripts and ephemera. The diversity of specialties includes art, medicine, literature, photography, autographs, first editions, Americana, and much more. This book fair is officially sanctioned by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. This means that the consumer can rely upon the experience and professionalism of participating dealers and the authenticity of the items available for purchase. Simply stated, all books, manuscripts and related material have been carefully examined for completeness and bibliographic accuracy. Preview: Thurs, April 7, 5pm-9pm Fri, Apr 8, noon-8pm Sat, Apr 9, noon-7pm Sun, Apr 10, noon-5pm Tickets are available for purchase in advance or at the door. (Preview Ticket: $50, Run-of-Show: $40, Daily: $25) Discovery Day Sunday, April 10, 1pm-3pm Featured Items A few of the items ABAA members will be exhibiting at the 2016 New York Antiquarian Book Fair: Drawings, Jean-Michel Basquiat NY/Zurich: Edition Bischofberger and Boone, 1985. #757 of 1000cc Signed by Basquiat on the verso of the title page. Ver... [more]

“The book was a vehicle to connect a family.” –Henry Roth For more than 35 years, Lawrence Fox has served as the ABAA's legal counsel and also as one of our members' good customers. Larry is known for his collection of the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and American literature. His copy of Henry Roth's Call it Sleep—a first edition, first state with first state dustwrapper—is “among the finest, brightest and most crisp copies of this scarce book.” In recognition of his many years of service with the ABAA, Larry has donated the copy to the Association's charitable entities with proceeds from the sale going to the Elisabeth Woodburn and Benevolent Funds. George Lowry and his team at Swann will offer the book for sale, without commission to the Funds, on May 18, 2016. But it gets better. Larry was Roth's personal friend and Trustee of the Henry Roth Literary Properties Trust and this copy is inscribed to Larry Fox: “In awe at his incredible assiduity”. The book chronicles the story of David Shearl, a child immigrant growing up in the slums of early 1900s Brooklyn. It beautifully captures the pain and honesty of families amidst a background of Jewish life and community. We at the ABAA are so excited to have these long friendships come together to benefit something so deeply important to us and to Larry: creating knowledge, learning, and opportunity through education and aiding booksellers in times of need. View the auction, spread the word, and bid, bid, BID! [more]

The second installment of Kaitlin Manning's new series on taking better pictures of rare books and ephemera. (Review the first part here...) Setting up a home studio does not need to be an expensive affair. Besides your camera, there are two basic elements to a studio: a backdrop and lighting. For the backdrop, the simplest and most effective method is to create a “scoop” background (sometimes called an endless background) where there is no visible horizon line. This effect can be created very easily: place a box or other upright, sturdy object (even a folding chair will do) on your workspace and drape a large piece of paper or fabric over it so that it curves gently down onto the surface on which you will place your books. I find that a large roll of butcher paper works quite well – simply roll out a fresh background whenever it gets dirty or wrinkled (black, white, or a neutral grey are best). You can find this at arts and crafts shops or specialty photography shops for a very reasonable price. Lighting your workspace will take a little more effort and experimentation, but shouldn't be intimidating. The basic idea is to fill your background with a soft, diffuse light in order to capture every detail and avoid any harsh shadows. This effect can be achieved in several ways: you can buy several desk lamps (the clip-on kind works really well), or a couple of entry-level, standing flood lamps at a photography shop ($100 will get you a fine set at B & H Photo). Set these li... [more]

Kaitlin Manning introduces a new series of blog posts aimed at helping dealers take better pictures of rare books and ephemera for online use. Up until now, I have focused my blog posts solely on social media sites and how to best use them to your advantage. In the next few posts I will tackle a related and equally important topic, a source of much anxiety, confusion, and the desire to throw things at walls – the almighty digital image. Whether online or at the customer's demand, supplying images of our books and ephemera is quickly becoming the norm. It also requires that we as booksellers become acquainted with at least the basics of digital photography in order to meet that demand and present our inventory in the best possible light. So let's begin with the most basic tool of digital photography: the digital camera. I think there is a common misconception that unless you have professional (i.e. expensive) equipment, you cannot take great looking images. In fact, even very basic digital cameras can be effective when used correctly. By the same token, while there are many advantages to investing in a decent camera set-up, fancy equipment alone is useless if you don't have the time or desire to learn how to operate it properly. So before spending your hard earned cash on an upgrade, I would highly recommend spending a little time with the camera you already own. With a few tweaks and tips, you will be surprised at how good your images can look (so stay tuned). Take the time... [more]

Fight of the Century: Auction Houses vs. Dealers Editor's note (John Schulman): Greg Gibson of Ten Pound Island Book Co., a specialist in “wet books” (maritime books, manuscripts, ephemera, sea charts, etc.,) has for the past five years authored a weekly blog chronicling his life in the rare book trade. Because he is smart, observant, witty and outspoken, and because he is a gifted writer (the author of several books) Bookman's Log makes for great reading on many topics of interest to antiquarians – market trends, the effect of the internet, reviews of book and paper shows, and sundry anecdotes about fellow dealers and collectors. In the past, Gibson has made passing comments on the undeclared war between dealers and auction houses, but those were mere shots across the bow compared to the anti-auction cannonade of his last two contributions. Although many dealers and auction houses work together on all sorts of levels (referrals, consigning, bidding, cataloging) the two groups are joined in basic competition for the material being offered and for the clients who might buy that material. When the stakes are high, this competition can become fierce. Book dealers and auction houses each offer certain advantages over the other. A dealer can engage in a relationship with a collector, get to know what that collector needs, scout up material and offer it directly, advise the collector, and so forth. This increases the level of trust between dealer and client, and friendships o... [more]

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Carried Away

By Greg Gibson

People tend to get carried away by the romance of old books and paper, and it's easy to see why. The thrill of the hunt, the joys of discovery, and the marvelous stories locked up in dusty old letters, journals, and books provide a perfect escape – an antidote to the stresses of our daily lives. Unfortunately, overworked librarians and book dealers often find that their interaction with books and manuscripts devolves into an insistent time/money proposition. As much as we'd like to linger over an ancient text, or just sit down and read the damned thing, we've got to get that bugger cataloged and shelved. There's work to be done! We wind up stressing out over the very things that should be affording us relief. So it's a delight when, every once in a while, something comes along that is so arresting and charismatic that it commands our complete attention and gobbles up our time, productivity be damned. I came across just such a lot on my way to the Washington Book Fair ten days ago, and I'm happy to report that this material has been holding me hostage all week. The lot consists of thirty or so nineteenth century sea charts. They're all in good condition, and they're certainly marketable, so they merited some individual attention. Naturally, the closer I looked, the more interesting they became. Many of them bore pencil markings of courses sailed, of dates, of sailing directions, and of notes about navigational sight lines and hazards. On closer inspection the dates grouped a... [more]