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What was a Green Book?

By Rich Rennicks

In the Jim Crow era, travel was fraught with difficulty for African Americans. The growing black middle class could afford to buy cars and travel for leisure, and throughout the South, the purchase of a car was an important goal for black families as it allowed them to avoid segregated public transport. However, traveling by car to new towns and cities, African Americans did not know which restaurants would serve them, which gas stations would fill up their car, and where it was safe to spend the night. Enter Victor H. Green, a mail carrier in Harlem, who had the idea for a guide book for African Americans to help them navigate the country without injury or harassment — based, in part, on similar guide books from Jewish publishers. The Negro Motorists Green Book (later renamed The Negro Travelers Green Book, but known colloquially as the “Green Book”) was first published in 1936, and initially focused on the area Green knew best, New York; but he quickly expanded it, drawing on the knowledge of his fellow postal workers, who knew their neighborhoods intimately. The guide covered the obvious essentials of travel — where to stay, where to eat, where to buy gas — as well as the less obvious ones — where to find a doctor, a tailor, or black-owned businesses. As the guide book became established, both white and black business owners would seek out Green hoping to be included. At its peak, the guide sold over 15,000 copies a year, and was sold in Standard Oil (later Ess... [more]

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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.) Nice to see so many ABAA members mentionned in this report on the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair... The film Green Book hits our multiplexes this week. What was a Green Book? Read on to find out... National Book Award The winners of the 2018 National Book Awards have been announced... Stan Lee, (1922-2018) American comic book writer, editor, publisher and former President of Marvel Comics Stan Lee died on Monday, November 12, 2018, at the age of 95. NPR Obituary... Blogis Librorum, the literary blog of ABAA-member Books Tell You Why?, tells us all about Raymond Benson, the fourth "James Bond" writer... ABAA-member The Raab Collection share a few of the steps that go into authenticating historical documents, such as these signed by Alexander Hamilton. Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect The Smithsonian Libraries presents a new exhibition, “Magnificent Obsessions: Why We Collect,” at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History through July 1, 2020. “Magnificent Obsessions” tells the captivating stories of the book collectors whose diverse interests and passions helped shape—and continue to contribute to—the Smithsonian Libraries. Allan and Kim Stypeck, owners of Second Story Books, are acknowledged as contributors to this magnificent exhibition. BTW, Second Story Books (Rockville, MD and Washing... [more]

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Latest Rare Book Catalogs

By Rich Rennicks

For decades, rare-book dealers have used printed catalogs to inform collectors of their available items. In the internet age, these print catalogs persist -- in fact, have often become things of beauty -- but can also take the form of electronic lists, .pdfs, Google docs, electronic magazines, email newsletters, videos, blog posts, even Instagram and Facebook posts! In order to keep up with the rapidly evolving trade, we will try to include all such listings here, in whatever form our members choose to release them. Browse the latest catalogs, newsletters, e-lists, etc., of rare books, fine bindings, incunabula, print ephemera, and much more from the members of the ABAA below... (Image above: detail from Between the Covers Rare Books' latest catalog: Catalog #227: World War I. Scroll down for more info.) Please note, this list is updated weekly, usually on Wednesdays. *New* indicates any catalogs added this week. We aim to include the most-recent catalog (or catalogs if appropriate) from members, because not every member issues new catalogs every week -- and not every collector can browse this list weekly. AARDVARK BOOKS/EZRA THE BOOKFINDER Recent Acquisitions CHARLES AGVENT Spring Miscellany 2018 -- Contains 46 select items, all new arrivals, in a variety of fields. Summer Miscellany 2017 ANDERSON BUTLER RARE BOOKS E-list #13: Miscellany E-list #12: Publishers' Prospectures, Ephemera, More... NICK ARETAKIS October New Acquisitions *New* September New Acquisitions ARTISAN BOO... [more]

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New Members

By Rich Rennicks

Welcome the latest full- and associate-members of the ABAA. Full Members David Meikle, Archway Books (Dover, NH) David Meikle bought his first “old books” at age eleven, paying a bargain price for three handsome 125-year-old books. Only when he got home did he realize most of the engravings were razored out and had probably been for sale individually in that very stall. Still, he was hooked on old books. Twenty-five years later, he jumped at a chance offer to manage a used bookstore in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and spent ten years there, eight as an owner. As his own antiquarian interests developed, he realized that running a general-interest used bookstore would not remain fulfilling for the rest of his working life. So, he sold his share and for nearly twenty years has sold primarily on the internet and at shows. While he characterizes his inventory as “general antiquarian,” over time themes have emerged that reflect a fascination with artifacts where cultures meet — missionary Bible translations and tracts; sailors' photograph albums; foreigners portrayed in Japanese printed books; Western primers and textbooks transmogrified into Greek, Chinese, Armenian or whatever; photographs of the first Japanese/Chinese/Burmese students/diplomats/entertainers in Britain/France/America; relatively unknown US military incursions in Asia prior to World War II; and immigrant religious and political publications in the US. David Spilman, David Spilman Fine Books (Sebastopol, CA... [more]

Enjoy this selection of preview items that our members will be exhibiting at the upcoming 42nd annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair. We'll be adding items to this page all week, so check back daily for more extremely rare and beautirful items! Fantaisie-Fantasia-Fantasie-Fancy- Scenes for Ladies of Leisure to Construct c1840. A large folio with die-cut opening in cover to create a "picture frame". It includes 2 plates and an array of cutout hand finished engraved images of women, children and accessories. The two 12" x 9 ½” plates have numerous slits at the base Each of the images has a tab at the base. The individual women are placed in the incisions or slits creating elegant scenes from the serene to the severe. Includes two pattern sheets with eight (8) different scenes. Endless scenes can be created beyond the scenes shown. Twenty-four (24) images and accessories. Offered by Eclectibles (Booth 204). CROZE, Austin de. . La Lumière Magique. Paris, 1920. 4to. 92pp. 37pp. text and illustrations, distributed over 92pp. overall. Various papers and media utilized running the gamut from heavy card to glassine via what appears to be brown wrapping paper and other diverse elements. Bound in later full burnt yellow morocco gilt, black title labels to spine, embellished with pentagrams to both boards. A beautiful volume, strong, clean and clearly well looked after. Original cover and spine bound in. Filled with numerous pen, ink and watercolours designs with the unpu... [more]

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ABAA Members Expanding

By Rich Rennicks

A number of ABAA members have either opened new stores or renovated their existing premises recently. This is significant because for years, antiquarian booksellers were either retiring or converting to “closed shops,” which only sell by appointment, on the internet, and/or at rare book fairs. It's an expensive undertaking to keep a shop open to the public with regular business hours, staff, utilities, etc., and many rare booksellers — like their trade bookselling counterparts — found it challenging to maintain an open shop. Unlike those in the new-book trade, antiquarian booksellers have the option of operating as a “closed shop,” and focusing on rare-book catalogs, rare book fairs, and selling to institutional collectors directly instead. Recently, a new trend has emerged, with the five ABAA members below opening new stores or significantly expanding their existing ones. Whitmore Rare Books (Pasadena, CA) Whitmore Rare Books recently moved from a second-floor walk-up space to a ground-level showroom on a much more heavily trafficked street in Pasadena. Owner Dan Whitmore explains the attraction of the new space: "We opened our new retail shop at 121 E Union St., Pasadena, CA 91103 in October 2018. The space was previously used as an art gallery. I fell in love with the high ceilings, the vintage purple-lead glass, hardwood floors and big window bays. We sit just on the edge of Old Town Pasadena and a short walk to the convention center where the CA International... [more]

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Boston Book Fair 2018

By Rich Rennicks

It's back! The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair returns to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston's beautiful Back Bay for its 42nd year, November 16-18, 2018. Special events at this year's event include documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman on the making of Ex Libris: The New York Public Library; political guru Michael Goldman on 1968: The Year of the Century; Sumio Yamazaki from the Kyoto Book Artists Society in discussion with Charles Vilnis on Japanese art books; Editor Peter K. Steinberg on Sylvia Plath; and the 17th annual Ticknor Society Roundtable panel discussion on starting a collection. One of the oldest and most respected antiquarian book shows in the country, the Boston Book Fair offers a top selection of items available on the international literary market. Attendees have the unique chance to get a close look at rare and historic museum-quality items, offered by some of the most prestigious participants in the trade. Whether just browsing or buying, the Fair offers something for every taste and budget—books on art, politics, travel, gastronomy, and science to sport, natural history, literature, music, and children's books—all appealing to a range of bibliophiles and browsers. TICKETS Admission is free on Saturday and Sunday! Friday night's exclusive Opening Night event is ticketed ($20). HOURS Friday, November 16, 5:00-9:00pm Saturday, November 17, 12:00-7:00pm Sunday, November 18, 12:00-5:00pm Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street, Boston,... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

A couple of literary first editions caught to eye this week, along with an original WWII propaganda poster, and an entertaining and very honest description of a first edition Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. THE COLOSSUS AND OTHER POEMS by Sylvia Plath New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962. First edition. Hardcover. Fine/Fine. 84 p. First American Edition. With this startling, exhilarating book of poems, Sylvia Plath (1932-63) burst into literature with spectacular force. In such classics as "The Beekeeper's Daughter," "The Disquieting Muses," "I Want, I Want," and "Full Fathom Five," she writes about sows and skeletons, fathers and suicides, about the noisy imperatives of life and the chilly hunger for death. This copy belonged to Anne Wilder, the confidant and lover of poet Anne Sexton, with Wilder's signature to the front flyleaf. The two engaged in a passionate affair and a prolific correspondence (Wilder is identified as "Anne Clarke" in Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters), which reveals much about Sexton's work and her psychological struggles during the mid- to late 1960s. Like Plath, with whom she shared a brief but intense friendship while attending Robert Lowell's graduate writing seminar at Boston University, Sexton was among the finest confessional poets of her generation. The two remained inextricably linked by their work, which explores the darker, feminine aspects of the American experience, and by the nature of their untimely deaths. Octavo. Or... [more]

The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest is sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), the Grolier Club, and the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division (the Library of Congress), with major support from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. The 2018 winners are: First Prize: Samuel Vincent Lemley, University of Virginia: Biblioteca Genealogica: Sicilian Printing, 1704-1893 Second Prize: Paul T. Schwennesen, University of Kansas: Borderlands: A Manifesto on Overlap Third Prize: Hanaa J. Masalmeh, Harvard University: Far From the Eyes, Far From the Heart: My Life as a Syrian-American Muslim Essay. Ena Selimovic, Washington University in St. Louis: Ja, Ben, I, Je: A Book Collection in Translation We asked each some questions about their respective collections and their path to becoming a book collector. ---- First prize-winner Samuel Vincent Lemley of the University of Virginia collects items printed in Sicily between 1704 and 1893. Read his bibliography and essay here: Biblioteca Genealogica: Sicilian Printing, 1704-1893. Q: Could you give us a brief description of your collection? Samuel Vincent Lemley: My collection is an experiment in what might be called 'biblio-genealogy': it tells the story of my Sicilian ancestry in the form of books printed in Sicily during the years for which genealogical records of my ancestors survive. The chronological limits of my... [more]

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Modern First Editions

By Rich Rennicks

The ABAA Glossary of Book Terms defines a first editon, in part, as "all of the copies printed from the first setting of type," which can "include multiple printings if all are from the same setting of type." So, the term is rooted in the physical act of printing the pages of a book. But, the term also has a second meaning, specifically the first form given to a book, i.e. before any later changes (which could include corrections, additional copy, introductions, etc.) These changes, if minor, are referred to as the second (or later) "state" of the book, if major, they constitute new editions of the book. The phrase "modern" is more difficult to define, as it has been often used as a synonym for "contemporary," thus what was considered a modern first editon in the 1940s might not be regarded in the same way in the second decade of the 21st Century. Noted bibliophile John Carter observed that the term modern first edition "is, and probably always will be, quite unstandardised" in his classic guide to the terminology of the rare book trade, ABC for Book Collectors. For our purposes, we've culled a selection of first edition novels from the 20th century to showcase some of the first appearances of some of the canonical works from the past century. You can browse our members' full catalog of first editions here... The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Hardcover. First Edition, Matches all points on pages 60,119,165,205 and 211. Has a new wrappe... [more]