On Collecting Books

Magpie-Audubon

Weekly Highlights

By Rich Rennicks

Our members list new acquisitions and recently cataloged items almost every day of the year. Below, you'll find a few highlights from these recent additions... American Aeronaut and Aerostatist - Vol 1, No 1 October, 1908 by MACMECHEN, T. R. (EDITOR); KAUFMAN, A. (GENERAL MANAGER) St. Louis, Mo: Published Monthly at Greeley Printery, 1907. First Edition. Wraps. Good. First Edition. , 32 pages. 7 3/4 x 10 3/4 inches. Illustrated wrappers, stapled. Dampstaining upper right third of the first 4 pages, and a bit of unobtrusive marginal dampstaining to the last half of the magazine. Upper spine corner bent with associated creasing. Overall light soiling. Otherwise clean internally. Wraps. The first issue of this rare periodical. Subsequent issues were titled "American Aeronaut". This issue contains many interesting articles including "Ballooning as a sport" by J. C. McCoy, "International Balloon Races" by Grant Richardson, "pending European Experiments in Flying" by Octave Chanute, "The Battle to Conquer the Air" by Hon. S. M. Gardenhire, "First Woman Passenger in an Airship" by Leo Stevens, "Photographs by Automatic Camera from a Captive balloon" by Griffith Brewer, and other material. A rare and irregularly published periodical. We find these issues documented in OCLC: Vol. 1, no. 1 (as here, Oct. 1907, titled American Aeronauut and Aerostatist), v. 1, no. 2 (Nov.-Dec. 1907), Vol. 1, no. 3 (Jan. 1908), v. 1, no. 6 (June 1908). Succeeded by and with the same title: (New York : Th... [more Weekly Highlights]

The 2021 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest is now accepting entries! Established in 2005 by Fine Books & Collections Magazine to recognize outstanding book collecting efforts by college and university students, the contest is now 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 of the Library of Congress. The contest aims to encourage young collectors to become accomplished bibliophiles. Book-collecting competitions are held at more than three dozen colleges and universities across the United States, and some of these contests have been conducted for many 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 may also enter. The contest rules can be viewed here... Applications may be submitted here, and all entries for the 2021 competition must be submitted by June 15, 2021. The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America promotes ethical standards and professionalism in the antiquarian book trade, encourages the collecting and preservation of rare books, and supports education and research. The Fellowship of American Bibliographic Societies was formed in 1993 as a national organization of member book collecting groups. The C... [more National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest 2021]

This fascinating blog post about the history of vellum and parchment is written by Richard Norman, an experienced British bookbinder now living in France, where he runs Eden Wookshops with his wife and fellow bookbinder, Margaret, specializing in Family Bibles and liturgical books. The article originally appeared on www.edenworkshops.com, and is reprinted below with the author's permission. --Editor According to the Roman Varro and Pliny's Natural History, vellum and parchment were invented under the patronage of Eumenes of Pergamum, as a substitute for papyrus, which was temporarily not being exported from Alexandria, its only source. Herodotus mentions writing on skins as common in his time, the 5th century BC; and in his Histories (v.58) he states that the Ionians of Asia Minor had been accustomed to give the name of skins (diphtherai) to books; this word was adapted by Hellenized Jews to describe scrolls. Parchment (pergamenum in Latin), however, derives its name from Pergamon, the city where it was perfected (via the French parchemin). In the 2nd century B.C. a great library was set up in Pergamon that rivalled the famous Library of Alexandria. As prices rose for papyrus and the reed used for making it was over-harvested towards local extinction in the two nomes of the Nile delta that produced it, Pergamon adapted by increasing use of vellum and parchment. Writing on prepared animal skins had a long history, however. Some Egyptian Fourth Dynasty texts were written on vel... [more The History Of Vellum And Parchment]

One thing that distinguishes the book collector from the casual reader is a preference for owning first editions. What is a First Edition? A first edition is the format a book took when it was first made available for sale. The ABAA glossary of book terms states: First Edition: “All of the copies printed from the first setting of type; can include multiple printings if all are from the same setting of type.” Collectors distinguish between a first edition (the first printing of a book) and a modern first edition (which more-or-less applies to books printed from 1900 on -- although, the exact definition is open to debate between dealers). What is a First Printing? The first printing is the first batch of books printed from this first setting of type. For a small press, this might be the only printing a book gets, so all copies are first edition, first printings. (The ABAA glossary is a master of understatement when it says “Every printed book has a first edition, many never have later editions.” For others, there might be dozens of printings, especially if a book becomes wildly successful. (Witness the current trend to keep popular young-adult novels -- Veronica Roth's Allegiant and John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, for two recent examples -- in hardcover for years, rather than replace the hardcover with a paperback edition a year after first publication.) How Can You Tell if a Book is a First Edition? In general, books before 1900 did not indicate first or subsequ... [more Identifying First Editions]

The Antiquarian Booksellers' Benevolent Fund Since its founding in 1952 by a group of ABAA members, the Antiquarian Booksellers' Benevolent Fund has been dedicated throughout its history to providing timely financial assistance to those in the book trade who find themselves in a time of need. Originally known as The Charles Grand Memorial Fund (a founder's reminiscence can be found below), it was specifically meant to provide “for the assistance of needy persons, regardless of affiliation, who are or have been engaged in the business of selling and dealing in books, manuscripts, and printed matter in general,” with the only proviso being that funds may be granted only for personal needs, not for business needs. In a typical year, the Fund gives a total of $40,000 in one-time disbursements to booksellers in need, the majority of whom are not members of the ABAA. Historically, the Fund has been sustained by donations from ABAA members, their generosity born out of their understanding of how precarious a livelihood in the book trade can sometimes be. Most antiquarian booksellers are individual proprietors with limited capital, and are especially vulnerable to unanticipated ill-health, accidents, natural disasters or other types of misfortune. The Antiquarian Booksellers' Benevolent Fund is administered by a group of Trustees comprised of the three most recent Presidents of the ABAA. The ABAA regards its stewardship of the Benevolent Fund as one of its most important responsi... [more Donate to the Benevolent and Woodburn Funds]

What's better: a simple author signature, or an inscription? As a longtime bookseller -- a veteran of Borders, Waldenbooks, and independent bookstores -- I thought I knew the answer. But, once I began working for antiquarian booksellers, I discovered the question is much more complex. A comment on the ABAA Facebook page recently asked why some booksellers appear to prefer plain signed books, rather than inscribed ones? While trying to find the answer, I encountered an interesting tale of changing fashions and the dark side of book collecting. The prevailing wisdom in literary circles over the past decade or two has been to ask an author for a plain signature when getting a book autographed (some collectors even purchase two copies, asking the author to inscribe one to them for their 'permanent collection,' and to simply sign their name to the other one, which they will hold onto in the hopes its value appreciates -- sellers of new books have no qualms about endorsing this point of view, although antiquarian booksellers know there is no certainty of modern firsts becoming valuable collectibles, and strongly caution collectors against viewing them as such). To my shame, I've organized and helped run hundreds of book signings and never previously gave this standard advice much thought. inscribed -- a book, or other printed piece, with a handwritten and signed statement usually written for a specific named person(s) and often located on the end paper or title page; when "inscribe... [more Signed Books Vs. Inscribed Books]

Rare books and ephemera can be a fascinating avenue to examine the past and understand what was really happening during significant events or time periods. We took a deep dive into the database to see what light our members offerings could shine on America's new favorite drama... The Queen's Gambit Netflix's #1 new show is the coming-of-age story of a female chess prodigy struggling with addiction and the chauvinism inherent in 1960's American society. Based on Walter Tevis's 1983 novel of the same name, the show is being talked about for many reasons, not the least of which is the way it revels in decidedly analog pleasures -- the slow, methodical game of chess itself and the fashions of the 1960s -- and a very retro style of editing at odds with the frantic pace of modern television. At the same time, its vision of glass ceilings shattering and the importance of a team of like-minded friends to support each other speaks directly to issues very much on our minds at the current moment. Chess lovers have noted the accuracy and care with which the chess games themselves are depicted, which is no surprise considering the show recruited Grand Master Garry Kasparov and noted chess instructor Bruce Pandolfini (who also helped proof-read the original novel!) to oversee the gameplay and coach the actors on the nuances of competitive chess. In this time of social isolation, games like chess are discovering new fans and inspiring older ones to return to the board (the so-called "pandem... [more Behind The Queen’s Gambit]

Visiting-Lovecraft-Country

Exploring Lovecraft Country

By Rich Rennicks

HBO's latest hit show, "Lovecraft Country" is based on Matt Ruff's 2016 novel of the same name which mines the horror and mythology of H.P. Lovecraft, but instead of hiding his racist views, highlights them by having a group of African Americans from Chicago encounter both racists and supernatural forces in Lovecraft's New England during the Jim Crow period. H.P. Lovecraft has long been praised as a visionary and trailblazer for American fantasy; and is regarded as "second only to Edgar Allan Poe in the annals of American supernatural literature" by critic Michael Dirda. A prolific writer, Lovecraft was nevertheless unable to make a significant income from his fiction during his life. His reputation and influence only increased after his death, and there are now many collectors of his work, both serious and casual. Most of his stories were published in pulp magazines during his life, which can present challenges for collectors who wish to own copies of the magazines in which various stories made their first appearance. His work has been widely collected and anthologized in recent decades. After his death, his friends and fellow horrow writers August Derleth and Donald Wandrei attempted to interest major publishers in a collection of his best work, but found traditional publishers had little interest in occult horror. They formed a publishing company, Arkham House, specifically to reprint Lovecraft's stories, and over the decades published much of Lovecraft's fiction, as well ... [more Exploring Lovecraft Country]

Every so often an ABAA member lists an item that gets people in the business talking, regardless of whether it fits with their own particular interests or specialities. One of those items is this exceptional letter from Jack Kerouac to a young boy tasked with writing to a published author for a school project. The response is generous, eloquent, and expansive, offering more of a window into the author than the typical high-school project might reasonably be expected to produce! Jack Kerouac Autographed Manuscript by Jack Kerouac Description: 1964. Jack Kerouac's candid handwritten reply to a young man's questions about being a "Beatnik," his life philosophy, his thoughts on Montana, and more. Students in Robert Dodd's ninth-grade class were given an assignment to contact their favorite writer with their own unique series of questions relating specifically to that writer. The young Dodd chose Jack Kerouac, and the author replied at length to his questionnaire, which includes queries about his classification as a "Beatnik" (his answer: "I never was a Beatnik - it was the newspapers and critics who tagged that label on me...."), life philosophy ("My philosophy is 'No Philosophy,' just 'Things-As-They-Are'"), career goals ("Be a great writer making everybody believe in Heaven"), the ideal way of life ("Hermit in the woods..."), his thoughts on fame ("My name is like Crackerjacks, famous, but very few people buy my books..."), and segregation ("he Irish and Italians of Massachuset... [more Jack Kerouac in His Own Hand]

Collecting-Film-Scripts

Collecting Film Scripts

By Rich Rennicks

Note: We're reposting this article on collecting film scripts in light of the growing difficulty in acquiring copies of classic mid-century films and movie studio's reluctance to make classics available for exhibition. It was originally published in August 2019. According to a great many people, the film (or movie, if you prefer) was the great art form of the 20th century, so it shouldn't be any great surprise that there is a large number of collectors — individual and institutional — focused on the movie business; but it might surprise many to learn that there's great interest in collecting the seemingly least-glamorous part of the entire filmmaking process — the scripts themselves. Collecting scripts is different from collecting many other forms of printed matter, as scripts were not mass-produced (excepting the relatively recent trade-paperback editions of hit films) or made available for sale to the general public. Scripts were typed out and mimeographed; changes were printed on different colored pages and the earlier pages thrown away; scripts went through innumerable drafts, and sometimes several sets of writers; and all that before the production technicians and artists got hold of the "finished" script and began annotating it for their own purposes. There are therefore multiple different types of script and an entire language of shorthand to decipher when evaluating a script manuscript. Different eras and areas of production had their own conventions and practic... [more Collecting Film Scripts]