On Collecting Books

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... The Great Gatsby (Limited Editions Club) by FITZGERALD, F. SCOTT Lunenberg: Limited Editions Club, 1980. Hardcover. Orig. decorated gray pebble grained cloth stamped in black and silver. Fine in fine black slipcase spine lettered in silver. Fred Me. 224 pages. 22.5 x 17.5 cm. Illustrated with fourteen color gauches by Fred Meyer, designed by Frederick Stinehour, printed at the Stinehour Press. Limited edition, copy 1267 of 2000 signed by Fred Meyer. Printed in Bodoni, cast by the Bauer foundry in Germany. Laid-in the LEC Monthly letter. NEWMAN & WICHE 516. Bright, very fresh copy. Offered by Roy Young, Bookseller. AB: Bookman's Weekly, For the Specialist Book World, November 21, 1994, Vol. 94, No. 21: Special Issue on Books About Books & Printing History by CHERNOFSKY, JACOB L., EDITED BY (Clifton, New Jersey): AB Bookman Publications, 1994. Softcover. Near Fine. First edition. Quarto. 2,163-2,274pp. Stapled wrappers, near fine. This issue contains Thomas Frognall Dibdin and Bibliomania, Kepler As Author, Printer and Publisher. Offered by Between the Covers Rare Books. The Good Boy's Soliloquy; Containing his Parent's Instructions Relative to his Disposition and Manners London: Darton, 1811. 32mo. 16pp., + 16 inserted plates. Each engraved image depicts the titular good boy engaged in less desirable activities, such as... [more Selected Highlights]

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]

Wouldn't you like to automate the process of searching our members' listings for the books or other items you desire? Well, you can easily let us do the searching for you! WANT LISTS Customers can set up “Want Lists” — saved searches for the books or items you are actively hunting for — which alert you (by email) anytime a new copy is listed or an existing listing changes substantially (new price, image added, etc.). You can tailor the frequency of these emails to suit your needs: Daily emails let you know within hours of any change or new copy being listed. Weekly or monthly emails will send you a digest of all new titles listed in the preceding week or month (and not sold by the time the email is sent). The default setting is for daily emails (as that's what ABAA members prefer). If you're actively trying to collect a popular niche or subject area, you may want more frequent emails, so no other collector beats you to your prize. CREATING A SAVED SEARCH "Want List" searches can be as general or specific as you wish. You can search for any books by a particular author, or just first editions, with or without dust jackets, or a very specific edition within a certain price range, etc., etc. If you want to monitor new listings in a broad category, enter the salient information in the “Keyword” field. (Ex: "Anarchy" or "Poetry, Ireland"). Once you've set up the search parameters, you can sit back and relax in the knowledge that if a book you want is offered for sale o... [more Let Us Do the Rare Book Searching for You!]

Like any field of endeavor, the rare book trade has its quirks and rituals, its habits and history, its jargon and secrets. Unlike some other trades, book dealers have never been afraid to commit their secrets, memories, and insights to paper. There are many, many fascinating and educational books detailing the inner workings of the rare book trade. We polled some dealers and collectors and arrived at this list of the top ten books every book collector should read. Let's start with the more-educational books: 1. ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter The classic reference work on book terminology. First published in 1952, the current edition (the 9th) has been updated to include terms spawned by the internet and -- for the first time -- illustrations! With subtle wit and humor, first John Carter and now Nicholas Barker unpeel the layers of meaning from phrases that -- although once more-common -- now appear terribly obscure outside of rare-book circles. In a field where it's essential that buyers and sellers understand what they're talking about, ABC for Book Collectors is an excellent guide to our common language. After one learns the terminology used in the used book trade, the next thing one needs is a guide that can help you determine whether the book you have come across might of particular value and/or interest. While an acquaintance with an experienced rare book dealer is the best way to access this kind of information, there are several good books that ABAA members an... [more 10 Books Every Book Collector Should Read]

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Identifying First Editions

By Rich Rennicks

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]

What's better: a simple author signature, or an inscription? As a longtime bookseller -- a veteran of Borders, Waldenbooks, and independent stores -- 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 "inscribed" i... [more Signed Books Vs. Inscribed Books]

The ABAA has launched a program where seasoned ABAA members act as mentors, i.e. business advisors and guides, to novices in the rare book field and/or those not currently in the trade but whose background and interest in the vocation would make them good candidates to enter the field. The goals of this program are to: • Provide dealers early in their careers with the opportunity to advance their professional development • Build a recruitment pipeline for the Association that enhances the number of qualified applicants and diversifies the membership • Afford mentees the opportunity to build a relationship with an ABAA member • Educate potential candidates about a career in the trade (for example, graduate students looking for a profession outside of academia) Structure ABAA Headquarters is responsible for coordinating and implementing the program. Mentors and mentees will be paired with consideration of a variety of factors such as any specific requests, specialization/area of focus, and business structure. Location could also be a point of consideration but, with the availability of technology like Skype, need not be a requirement. Once paired, mentors and mentees will be introduced via ABAA Headquarters and, if both felt that it was a suitable fit, would commence a one year period of mentorship. Over the course of the year, mentors and mentees are required to have face to face communication for a minimum of 1-2 hours each month (this could be completed electronicall... [more ABAA Launches Mentorship Program for Novice Book and Manuscript Sellers]

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The Books of Downton Abbey

By Rich Rennicks

The makers of Downton Abbey go to great lengths to get their period details and history correct, and one of the ways they do this is by incorporating contemporary books into conversations and even at times the main plot. In fact, it can be difficult to find an episode of Downton where the references to Dickens, Trollope, or now-obscure English historians are not flying thick and fast. When Lady Edith started dating a London editor, one expected to meet Virginia Woolf or E.M. Forster at a party any moment. Alas, poor Michael Gregson died before the producers could work a Bloomsbury party into the show. (Post script: After this post was first published, I attended the "Dressing Downton" exhibition at Asheville, NC's Biltmore House -- which has a stunning library -- and discovered that Virginia Woolf was a guest at that London party, albeit in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it, non-speaking role. Her costume is the one on the right of the photo below. The exhibition was so popular it went on tour, and an expanded version will open at the Biltmore House in November 2019 and run until early April 2020.) Outfits worn by Lady Sybil (left) and Virginia Woolf (r) in Downton Abbey. Shown in the Biltmore House as part of the "Dressing Downton" exhibition in early 2015. (Source: Cincinatti Enquirer.) Given creator Julian Fellowes' attention to detail and habit of tangling the fictional Crawleys in real historical events, those featured books are genuine and are generally well-chosen. The disce... [more The Books of Downton Abbey]

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Collecting Faith Baldwin

By Rich Rennicks

Faith Baldwin was once one of the bestselling authors in America, although she was never a lauded award-winner. Instead, Baldwin practiced what was variously called “light” or popular fiction, and today is generally called romance — usually with a touch of superiority. In her obituary, The New York Times declared her 'the doyenne of American light fiction writers.” Raised in relative wealth and comfort in Manhattan, Baldwin initially saw acting as a means for a single women to gain independence, but as her writing career took off, she embraced it. At the start, she wrote for the women's magazines, publishing poetry and prose -- whatever there was a market for. In 1921, she published her first novel, Mavis of Green Hill, and by 1927 she was able to regularly sell the serialization rights for many of her novels to mainstream magazines, assuring herself of a steady income. Critics have alternately praised Baldwin for being a proto-feminist and dismissed her for being too conservative, which is unsurprising as Baldwin generally wrote about the domestic concerns of love, marriage, and a woman's career, concerns which tend to be under-appreciated in any age. But, in novels like Private Duty (1935), Hotel Hostess (1938), and Career By Proxy (1939) she often returned to the question of whether a woman could be fulfilled through work and also find marital bliss — although her heroines often had to accept their fate of leaving their job after marriage — and she frequently f... [more Collecting Faith Baldwin]

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Carnegie Library Theft

By Susan Benne

In an effort to assist in the recovery of materials missing as a result of the Carnegie Library theft, the ABAA would like to bring to the public's attention the list of items believed stolen. Click this link to view the list. Update 8/20/18: The following list includes more details. Should any member of the public identify having purchased or otherwise having knowledge of the disposition or current location of any items from the Carnegie Library—whether on this list or not—please contact one of the following detectives from Allegheny County District Attorney's Office: · Det. Fran Laquatra (412) 388-5305 flaquatra@alleghenycountyda.us · Det. Perann Tansmore (412) 388-5307 ptansmore@alleghenycountyda.us ` · Det. Lyle Graber (412) 388-5316 lgraber@alleghenycountyda.us Please note, the detectives do not have reason to believe that anyone who may have purchased any of these items was necessarily aware that the material had been reported stolen. The ABAA appreciates your attention and assistance with respect to this grave matter. Please check our post from March for further details, including additional information on collection markings. Sincerely, Vic Zoschak President, ABAA Brad Johnson Chair, ABAA Security Committee Susan Benne Executive Director, ABAA [more Carnegie Library Theft]