On Collecting Books


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... THE COMPLETE ANGLER by RACKHAM, ARTHUR, ARTIST. WALTON, IZAAK Philadelphia: David McKay, . First American Trade Edition. 250 x 188 mm. (9 7/8 x 7 1/2"). 223, pp. Publisher's green cloth boards with gilt lettering, original (price-clipped) pictorial dust jacket. Housed in the original box with the dust jacket image pasted onto the top, as issued (the box with a little wear along edges, a couple of tears and neat repairs to corners and sides, but in excellent condition overall). Illustrated title page and endpapers, 24 illustrations in the text, and 12 COLOR PLATES (including frontispiece), all BY ARTHUR RACKHAM. Latimore & Haskell, p. 67; Hudson, p. 172; Coigney 313; Oliver 276. Dust jacket with very minor imperfections (a small stain near head of backstrip, very slight yellowing on spine and a hint of soiling on lower wrapper), but essentially in fine condition, and the binding and contents pristine. This is an outstanding copy of a classic that is as much a meditation on the tranquility to be found in nature as it is a guide to the sport of angling, with illustrations that bring the charming countryside to life. Hudson says that in this work Rackham turned to an emphasis on "historical costume and river landscape, in which he had long been supremely accomplished and successful." As indicated on the copyright page, the... [more Weekly Highlights]

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 recent trend to keep popular young-adult novels -- Veronica Roth's Allegiant and John Green's Turtles All the Way Down, for two examples -- in hardcover for several 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 subseque... [more Identifying First Editions]

When I hear contemporary politicians invoke Churchill, I usually feel like I'm watching King Louie, the Orangutan who wants to be a man, sing “I wanna be like you” in the 1967 Disney version of The Jungle Book. “You!” sings King Louie, “I wanna be like you I wanna talk like you Walk like you, too” Yeah. Not so much. If you happen to draw a comparison between King Louis and another loud, big-headed, oddly orange, wanna-be-king with impulse control issues and destructive inclinations, well, that's up to you. I refer you to another Disney movie. Cinderella. If the shoe fits… But I digress. “I'm tired of monkeyin' around!” Sure, there's a lot of ways in which most of those who self-flatteringly invoke Churchill fall short. Intelligence. Eloquence, Historical perspective. Foresight. Principle. Conviction. Courage. General capability. But, to me, none of these are the biggest shortcomings of the chorus of King Louie/wannabe Churchills. In my book, here's the most important and most regrettable thing the Louies typically lack – a presumption of shared purpose and the primacy of decency. Churchill could be fiercely partisan and relentless in pursuit of a policy or cause. And he was a true combatant by nature, whether on the battlefield, at the rostrum, on the backbenches, in Cabinet, leading a Government, or leading the Opposition. But Churchill did not confuse mere opponents with actual enemies. He regarded sincerity of convictions that he did not share. He was a... [more Two Pugnacious Personalities]

The ABAA Gender Equity Initiative Committee is proud to announce the second round of the ABAA Mentorship Program. In an effort to further the Association's mission, the mentorship program builds relationships between ABAA dealers and early-career booksellers, provides professional development opportunities for prospective ABAA members, and creates a recruitment pipeline that increases the number and diversity of qualified applicants to the ABAA. Apply as a Mentor (ABAA Members only) Apply as a Mentee During the year-long mentorship period, with support from ABAA Headquarters, mentors and mentees meet monthly to discuss aspects of their individual businesses and the trade as a whole. Knowing that “fit” is key to a successful mentorship, ABAA Headquarters and the Gender Equity Initiative Committee carefully match mentors to mentees, taking into consideration special requests, areas of focus, and business models. Location may also be a factor, but with the availability of technology like Zoom, need not be a requirement. ABAA Headquarters will be available throughout the entire process, from applications to mentorship pairings through the completion of the program, to address any questions or concerns that may arise. More information including a full list of requirements for mentee and mentor applications can be found here... Please feel free to pass this opportunity along to employees, colleagues, or others who may be interested. Don't hesitate to reach out to Xin Yi Zhao, t... [more 2023-2024 ABAA Gender Equity Initiative Mentorship Program]

The ABAA is accepting entries for the 2023 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest, which is jointly administered 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 (Library of Congress). The National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest is open to all prizewinners of college book-collecting contests, as well as to interested students whose institutions do not offer formal contests. (More information can be found here...) All entries should be submitted at https://www.abaa.org/ncbcc/ncbcc-application... All entries for the 2023 competition must be submitted by June 15, 2023. For more information on the contest, please visit https://www.abaa.org/ncbcc/the-national-collegiate-book-collecting-contest... 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 Center for the Book in the Library of Congress was established in 1977 to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries, as well as the scholarly study of books. Noted collector, bibliophile, and philanthropist Susan Jaffe Tane funds the prizes for the Nation... [more 2023 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest]

Recently, I got the opportunity to contribute a short article about the multi-talented architect, engraver, collector, writer, and naturalist Simon Schijnvoet (1652-1727) to the website of the Panpoëticon Batavûm (in Dutch). Schijnvoet not only was a moralistic and witty writer with great knowledge of history and natural philosophy, but he also designed the cabinet called the Panpoëticon Batavûm. So what is the Panpoëticon Batavûm? Many people know the most famous painters from the Dutch Republic, for instance Rembrandt and Vermeer. Besides that, however, around 1700, the painter and engraver Arnoud van Halen (1673-1732) thought that Netherlands' most famous poets and writers also deserved a place of honor. Therefore, he decided to initiate a cabinet in which these writers could be united, and he painted their portraits encasing them with list in the form of a golden laurel. The collection was very progressive for its time, also containing portraits of female and Flemish writers. Even decades after Van Halen's death, his successors kept organising elections to add more authors to the growing collection. In the end it contained over 350 portraits. Unfortunately, in 1807 a catastrophe happened: close to the room in which the Panpoëticon was housed in Leiden, a ship full of gunpowder exploded, ruining a large part of the town. Although the Panpoëticon survived the disaster, it was severely damaged. The explosion financially ruined its owners, so there was no money to res... [more Simon Schijnvoet in the Panpoëticon Batavûm]

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]

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]


Jacketed Three-Deckers

By Mark Godburn

I would like to record any three-deckers with surviving dust-jackets. I have one, and have heard of another, but there probably aren't many more than that. Three-Decker under Canvas. Three-Decker under Paper. A Thomas Hardy three-decker of unknown title is reported to retain remnants of jackets printed with rules and lettering. Does anyone know what title this is, and where it is today? My own three-decker is J. M. Barrie's The Little Minister (London, Paris and Melbourne: Cassell & Co., 1891) in the publisher's fine-ribbed cloth with plain white wove tissue jackets. This copy, described as the finest example extant, sold for $1,100 in 1938, quite a sum during the Great Depression. The plain jackets are definitely original: they exactly match the plain white tissue jacket on another Cassell novel, Robert Louis Stevenson's and Lloyd Osbourne's The Wrecker (1892), whose jacket was even cut short in the same way as the Barrie jackets, a fairly common occurrence then. And on both titles, the jackets have one flap wider than the other, again a common occurrence, at least on British jackets. And another Stevenson novel published by Cassell, Catriona (1893), also has the same white jacket. The uniform paper, cut and fold of all these jackets and the flawless condition of the bindings on three Cassell novels from 1891-92-93 is ample proof that the plain jackets are original. Someone, perhaps a bindery or bookstore clerk, put graphite on The Wrecker jacket to make the title stand out;... [more Jacketed Three-Deckers]

We asked the winners of the 2022 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest about their collections, and learned about the importance of physical media during the Covid pandemic! First Prize Daria Rose Evdokimova (Harvard University): "Ardis Publishers and the Immigrant Identity." ABAA: Could you give us a brief description of your collection? DRE: My collection focuses on the publishing house Ardis Publishers, the first (and only) US-based publishing house which focused on Russian and Soviet literature. More specifically the majority of my collection consists of Ardis editions of works by Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Brodsky. Both of these authors were born in Saint Petersburg and eventually immigrated to the US for political reasons. As someone who was exiled from Russia for political reasons as well, I feel a very personal connection to both of these authors. Like them I am also using the acts of reading and writing as attempts to construct a new life in the US. Books printed by Ardis Publishers are a fundamental part of that journey. Frequently immigrants feel that the narratives of their lives become somewhat disjoined, there's a before and after, two islands separated by different languages and cultures. Ardis books were published in the US, by a wife and husband team of American academics, and provided the only outlet for Soviet writers who couldn't be published at home. So for me these books provide the necessary bridge that helps connect two parts of my identity – ... [more Meet the 2022 NCBCC Winners]