Blog posts by Simon Beattie

Our one British contributor, Simon Beattie has been in the book trade since 1998. After almost a dozen years working in London for Bernard Quaritch and Simon Finch Rare Books, he set up on his own in 2010, specialising in European (cross-)cultural history. When he became a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association in 2011, the Association’s Newsletter described him as ‘a dealer to watch’: his catalogues have won seven design awards to date, on both sides of the Atlantic, and in 2012 he was included among the winners of the Smarta 100 Awards for ‘the most resourceful, original, exciting small businesses in the UK’.

In the spring of 2016, I set up a Facebook group called 'We Love Endpapers'. My idea behind it was to create a forum where like-minded people—booksellers, librarians, collectors, book designers—could share, or just drool over, pictures of particularly unusual or beautifully patterned endpapers as and when they came across them. I have always enjoyed the surprise of discovering a hidden gem of an endpaper when opening a book, and thought there may well be others out there who might like to join me in such a group. Sure enough, there are now over 2000 members, and I regularly get people coming up to me at book fairs thanking me for setting it up and saying how much they enjoy it! One thing I have realised since setting up the group is how confusing the terminology of decorated paper can be. With that in mind, here's a brief outline of t... [more Decorated Book Papers: a Beginner’s Guide]

The Show is My Shop

By Simon Beattie

Three years ago, I took part in one of the ABA's Book Collecting Seminars at the University of London: Book Collecting and the Web. Now, there are many different views about what the internet has done for booksellers (watch a few of the earlier interviews conducted by Michael Ginsberg) and for collectors (a very recent view here). For my part, I like the internet: it has given me access to a wealth of information previously unavailable to me to help me research the books I have for sale, and given me access to a much wider audience than before it existed. But what about you, the collector? Certainly, any worries you may have about buying books on the internet are nothing new. In the late 1990s, when people first began to look for books online and booksellers began listing their stock, the exact same concerns were voiced then as they are n... [more The Show is My Shop]

I've always enjoyed the international nature of the book trade. Buying books from all over the world, and selling them to collectors all over world: what could be better than that? Livres sans frontières. The coming month will see me do just that. This week, I shall be in Stuttgart for the 54th Stuttgarter Antiquariatsmesse. Then, two weeks later, I travel to Oakland for the 48th California International Antiquarian Book Fair. Both fairs will see lots of British booksellers in attendance, whether 'shopping' or as exhibitors. There's always a certain buzz about Stuttgart: the first major fair of the New Year, everyone keen to get hunting to see what they can find. I can remember going to my first Stuttgart fair, back in 1999. In those days, you still had the 'running.' For those who never experienced it, I shall explain. At German book fa... [more On Your Marks, Get Set…]


By Simon Beattie

'Deckle edges' are the rough, untrimmed edges of a sheet of handmade paper (the deckle, from the German Deckel, 'little cover,' being the thin wooden frame around the mould on which the pulp is placed). John Carter's ABC for Book Collectors notes that deckle edges are 'much prized by collectors, especially in books before the age of edition-binding in cloth, as tangible evidence that the leaves are uncut; for the deckle edge normally would be—and indeed was meant to be—trimmed off by the binder.' I should note here the distinction made by booksellers between the terms 'uncut' (or 'untrimmed'), which means the deckle edges have not been cut off, and 'unopened,' which is used to describe a book where the conjoined leaves of a gathering have not been cut open with a paper knife, in preparation for reading. Carter has a separate entry for... [more Deckle-Fetishism]

Not Boston

By Simon Beattie

The recent posts by Peter Stern, Rusty Mott, and Joyce Kosofsky made me wish I was in Boston last weekend for the book fair, but circumstances conspired against it this year. However, in a spirit of Bostonian collegiality, I thought I'd write about something I have noticed in the past here in Europe: the false Boston imprint. Last year, Mitch Fraas at the University of Pennsylvania made a study of fictitious American imprints before the year 1800. By his count, there were 173 European books which purported to have been published in America, but weren't. The vast majority of those (136) took Philadelphia as their imprint, but Boston comes second, with 19. These 'not Boston' books are quite scarce, but you do see them from time to time. Here are a couple of examples. This is a translation of the spurious Memoirs of an unfortunate Queen, ori... [more Not Boston]


By Simon Beattie

Two weeks ago, I was in York for the inaugural York Antiquarian Book Seminar (a British equivalent of the highly successful Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar). The whole experience was hugely invigorating. Here were 25 students, young and old, starting out in the rare book trade, full of promise, eagerness— and questions! One of the sessions I led was on cataloguing. For, as Roger Gaskell notes in his Terms of the Trade, "a large part of the trade in antiquarian books is conducted by catalogues, whether printed or online, and books offered in shops or at book fairs will usually be accompanied by a written description." It's those printed catalogues I want to talk about today. Earlier this year, Lorne Bair, on this very blog, waxed eloquently on the benefits of producing printed catalogues, and I agree with him wholeheartedly. People oft... [more Catablog]

Hello. And greetings from England. When I was asked by the ABAA to become a contributor to The New Antiquarian, I was delighted. But what to write? Much is made of the differences between British and American English—two nations divided by a common language, and all that—and I'll admit that I enjoy discovering differences between the two forms of English on my regular visits to the US. There are words which American booksellers use which we don't in the UK, such as inventory ('stock' over here) and booth, at a book fair (we say 'stand'), but one thing I have particularly noticed in the last few years is the use of the word 'rare', as in 'rare books'. (The word 'antiquarian' is another difficult one, but I'll leave that to Laurence Worms over at The Bookhunter on Safari.) So, what of 'rare'? The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ... [more In Search of ‘Rare Books’]