On Collecting Books

Robert Jordan was the best-selling author of The Wheel of Time fantasy series, and (because I need to get my utter impartiality out of the way at the start) one of my favorite authors. I've collected his books for the past 25 years. If you're unfamiliar with The Wheel of Time, think of it as a 14-volume The Lord of the Rings set at a future point in Earth's history when society has regressed technologically and forgotten most of our history -- but discovered magic, naturally! Total sales for the series are estimated to be in excess of 80 million copies, although those figures are several years old and at least one of his publishers has suggested the estimate is on the low side. With a total readership of that magnitude, it seems likely there are many people collecting Jordan's books and related items, so we have assembled this guide to the major works and significant associated items. Jordan's real name was James Oliver Rigney, Jr., a Vietnam veteran who later worked for the US Navy as a nuclear physicist. Rigney began writing for his own amusement in 1977, and published under several pseudonyms in the 1980s. The first book of The Wheel of Time (WoT) series, The Eye of the World, was published in 1990, and sold well. By 1993, when the fifth installment, The Fires of Heaven came out, WoT books were huge bestsellers. Rigney was diagnosed with amyloidosis in 2006, and died in September 2007 after undergoing extensive medical treatment at the Mayo Clinic. After his death, one of ... [more]

The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America is pleased to announce the 2018 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest! Established in 2005 by Fine Books & Collections Magazine to recognize outstanding book collecting efforts by college and university students, the contest aims to encourage young collectors to become accomplished bibliophiles. The magazine conducted the annual competition program for three years before turning over leadership to a collaboration of institutional partners (The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA), the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS), and the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, with major support from the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. Competitions are held at more than three dozen colleges and universities across the United States. Some contests have been conducted for decades, dating back to Swarthmore College's first competition in the 1920s. All college or university prizewinners are encouraged to enter. Student collectors whose institutions do not offer a book collecting contest also may enter. All entries for the 2018 competition must be submitted by June 15, 2018. Full rules and details can be found at https://www.abaa.org/ncbcc/the-national-collegiate-book-collecting-contest... Meet the 2017 NCBCC Winners! Enter the 2018 Competition.... [more]

On October 4th, 1862, a children's literature tycoon was born. With his humble beginnings, of course, no one ever would have suspected that a talented writer and publisher was in their midst. Edward L. Stratemeyer was born the youngest of six children in Elizabeth, New Jersey to a young tobacconist and his wife. Both of Edward's parents had immigrated from Hanover, Germany in 1837, and yet Stratemeyer's main language was English growing up. As a child, Stratemeyer read Horatio Alger often, enjoying his rags-to-riches tales immensely. He later was said to have remarked on how much Alger's stories influenced him as a young man, and gave him some of the confidence he later used to begin his career. It looks as though even as a teenager Stratemeyer had some idea of what he wanted to do as an adult, as he opened his own amateur printing press in the basement of his father's tobacco store. He printed local & homemade flyers and pamphlets, and a few short stories such as The Newsboy's Adventure and The Tale of a Lumberman. After graduating high school, Stratemeyer worked daily in his father's shop, and kept up printing a few items here and there. It wasn't until he turned 26 that he sold his first story to popular children's periodical Golden Days, and received $76 for his contribution (a fact that the helpful internet informs us was over six times the average weekly paycheck for the average U.S. citizen at the time). After experiencing this hint of fame and riches, the young writer... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

Which books and pieces of ephemera caught the eye among this week's crop of new listings? First editions of The Lord of the Rings, a medieval manuscript in a 15th-Century binding complete with library chain, and a contemporary fine-art binding of Sinclair Lewis' classic, It Can't Happen Here, among others... THE LORD OF THE RINGS comprising THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS & THE RETURN OF THE KING (First Editions) by TOLKIEN, J. R. R. "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all And in the darkness bind them"THE LORD OF THE RINGS comprising THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS & THE RETURN OF THE KING, Allen & Unwin, 1954, 1954 & 1955 respectively, each in first edition, (first printing), all 3 volumes vg+ or better in vg dust-wrappers save for some light fading and wear and tear to the dust-wrapper spine extremities. INTERNATIONAL FANTASY AWARD winner and an enduring classic of literature. The quintessential fantasy quest saga from which all others are derived !!! A set of books which in fine condition, first printing & first edition has increased its value 100 fold over the last forty years. Offered by Fine Books Company. 1948 World Series Braves vs. Indians Program, 4to, pictorial covers, illustrated, 40 pp. Slight edgewear, one signature (4 pages) loose, one inch margin tear through loose signature, otherwise bright and clean; very good overall. This program is the Braves edition, featuring pictures of both managers on the ... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

What caught the eye among this week's crop of new listings? Why a signed letter from P.T. Barnum, a bound set of the Harvard Law Review (1984-2004), and a signed Christmas card from (arguably) the most-famous Royal couple of the last century, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, among many other things... Princess Diana and Prince Charles Signed Christmas Card Royal Christmas card embossed with the Prince of Wales' feathers, Order of the Garter motto and the Spencer family arms with an affixed color photo of Diana and Charles seated and posing with young Prince Harry and Prince William, and their dog Murphy. Boldly inscribed in fountain pen, "To you both--from Charles and" and "Diana." In fine condition. Double matted and framed. The card measures 10.25 inches by 7.25 inches. The entire piece measures 15.75 inches by 13 inches. Rare and desirable signed by both Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer were married on July 29th, 1981 at Saint Paul's Cathedral in London, the ceremony reached a global television audience of over 750 million viewers. The royal couple had two sons, princes Harry and William who became second and third in the line of succession to the British throne. As Princess of Wales, Diana became involved with dozens of charities including the Landmine Survivors Network, British Lung Foundation, British Deaf Association, Meningitis Trust, and the Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund for Children, among a roster of others. Through... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

A selection of rare books and print ephemera newly listed or catalogued by members of the ABAA. The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells London: William Heinemann, 1896. Pictorial ochre cloth, stamped in black and red. Frontis. Rear inner hinge cracked (but sound), some rubbing to cloth and small offset spots to lower cover, some shallow splashmarks along the top edge of the front free endsheet and pastedown, a bit of foxing to the tissue-guard, otherwise a very good copy. First UK edition, in the preferred state of the binding, with the blindstamped logo in the lower corner of the lower cover. The terminal catalogue is the 32pp. form beginning with THE MANXMAN and concluding with OUT OF DUE SEASON. Among Wells's most important works, functioning as both an imaginative entertainment, and as a cautionary tale about scientific progress unconstrained by ethics. The sourcework for three film adaptations of varying degrees of success. Offered by William Reese Company. Preliminary Cover Design for Penny Candy, by Edward Fenton Gorey, Edward (illus.) c. 1970. Watercolor and ink on paper, measuring 8 1/4 by 7 1/4 inches. Archivally matted and framed. Preliminary artwork for the cover design of Fenton's book, a fantasy story based on the English “Tinker Tailor” rhyme. A copy of the trade paperback edition of the book, which was published by Holt in 1970, is included in a sleeve affixed to the back of the frame. The key differences between this preliminary drawing and the finished... [more]

Why is it that we love tales of book heists? Two new films set in the world of rare books, both crime thrillers, are coming in 2018. The first trailer for "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", based on Lee Israel's career as a forger of literary letters was released this week, and the trailer for "American Animals" based on a 2004 robbery of the Special Collections Library of Transylvania University, in Lexington, Kentucky has been playing for a short time. The proximity of these two films may simply be coincidence, but the source material for these tales -- magazine articles about book thieves and true-crime accounts of heists succesful and unsuccessful -- are abundant. Perhaps it's simply an extension of the idea that everyone has a book in them -- which makes so many people think they could be an author "if they had the time" -- that draws people to these stories? Or, perhaps it's the popular "cash in the attic" idea that makes people think they might already possess some valuable books, and they can relate better to stories about book thefts than to thefts of say, gold bullion, plutonium, or casino profits? Articles declaring that rare books are the hot collector's item of the moment, or claiming that certain categories of books are somehow recession proof, do nothing to disabuse people of this notion. (For the record, the ABAA cautions against viewing rare books as financial investments, and encourages collectors to focus instead on their interests.) It's not news to book collecto... [more]

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Rare Book News

By Rich Rennicks

Our monthly roundup of the stories bibliophiles are reading, sharing, and discussing. Kenneth Karmiole Establishes Research Fellowship at UCSB ABAA_member Kenneth Karmiole has established the Kenneth Karmiole Endowed Research Fellowship, which will support scholars working with primary resource materials and rare books in the University of California Santa Barbara Library. How a rare Revolutionary War-era document ended up in Utah “Who knows what's in anybody's garage, right?” Read more... 2018 Pulitzer Prizes Andrew Sean Greer won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel Less; Caroline Fraser won the Biography Price for her biography of Laura Ingalls WIlder, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder; and Frank Bidart won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his volume of Collected Poems, Half-light. Read about all the winners here... Police Recover "Potentially Stolen" Rare Books Here's a minor literary mystery that some book collectors might be able to help the Welsh police with. During a separate investigation, police found an old suitcase containing some "potentially rare" Victorian books and jewelry. The books, including a Bible and a copy of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, were dedicated to a "Mary Elizabeth Taylor" and carried dates between 1892 and 1894. Anyone with any insight into the rightful owner should contact North Wales Police. Bromer Booksellers Temporarily Relocates If you are book-hunting in Boston, be advised that ABAA-member B... [more]

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Books of the Week

By Rich Rennicks

A selection of rare books and print ephemera newly listed or catalogued by members of the ABAA. The Sun Also Rises (First Edition) by Ernest Hemingway New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1926. First edition, first issue of the first printing, with the misprint ("stoppped") on page 181 line 26. Octavo, original black cloth. In good condition with some rubbing to the extremities, name to the endpaper. The Sun Also Rises was published by Scribner's in 1926, and a year later in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape under the title Fiesta. Though it initially received mixed reviews, it is now "recognized as Hemingway's greatest work" (Meyers, 1985). The fictional plot depicts a love story between war-wounded and impotent Jake Barnes and the promiscuous divorcée Lady Brett Ashley, but the novel is a roman à clef; the characters are based on real people and the action is based on real events. Hemingway proposes that the "Lost Generation," considered to have been decadent, dissolute and irretrievably damaged by World War I, was resilient and strong. Naturally, themes of love, death, renewal in nature, and the nature of masculinity are heavily investigated. For example, the characters engage in bull-fighting, which is presented as an idealized drama: The matador faces death and, in so doing, creates a moment of existential nothingness, broken when he vanquishes the possibility of death by killing the bull (Stoltzfus, 2005). The Sun Also Rises is seen as an iconic modernist novel for fu... [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]