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Archive for the 'On Collecting' Category

February 15th, 2012 • Posted in On Collecting

Why rare books are the coolest collectible…


Stephen J. Gertz tells us here: "If you love to read, and appreciate art, craft, and the test of time as a measure of what’s true from what’s false, have an aversion to the artificial, a preference for content in the form that has yet to be improved upon, from the sacred to the profane and in the big middle, rare books are truly the coolest collectible."

April 25th, 2011 • Posted in On Collecting

Boots of Austin

It was

 Austin, Texas 228

doors knobs

Austin, Texas 226

in Le Mans

Austin, Texas 224

1950s American

Austin, Texas 221


Austin, Texas 217

and walls in Havana;

Austin, Texas 212

here in

Austin, Texas 207

Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas 203


 Austin, Texas 202


Austin, Texas 198


 Austin, Texas 197


 Austin, Texas 181

Allens Boots, where

 Austin, Texas 176

they also happen to sell

 Austin, Texas 240


February 28th, 2011 • Posted in On Collecting

Advice for beginner Book Collectors


…from ILAB President Arnoud Gerits

"Start building a collection around [a] subject or author or period [of interest to you, what your heart tells you, what you like, what you love, what gives you pleasure and satisfaction, what is meaningful or significant to you]. Continue to develop knowledge about your subject. Time will teach you and you will discover what you want to have and what you consider of less interest for your collection. Buy the best copy you can afford: you will always regret buying a bad copy, you will never forget what you paid for it and the book will always be irritating. Buy the best copy you can afford and you will forget what you paid for it but always look at the copy with pleasure. Discuss your collection and where you want to go with your collection with the dealers you trust and whose opinion you value. Many collectors have one or a couple of dealers who serve as their advisors and with whom they discuss a possible purchase. And of course, these dealers will be alert on any material they find which may be of interest to you and your collection."
March 12th, 2010 • Posted in On Collecting

Big Book Weekend Coming up in St. Pete’s and Tampa, Florida

James McNeil Whistler

First: The Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association is holding its annual bookfair at the Colliseum in St. Pete’s, starting tomorrow, with more than 110 National & International Dealers exhibiting their wares.


Second: Friends of the Tampa Book Arts Studio and University of Tampa Library will be hosting a free lecture by noted collector and scholar Mark Samuels Lasner who will talk about his experience “COLLECTING THE LATE VICTORIANS”; Saturday, March 13, 2010, noon-12:45 at the MacDonald Kelce Library, University of Tampa ( stay tuned for The Biblio File interview!).


 The talk will complement "Facing the Late Victorians" an exhibit of items from Lasner’s collection on display at the fantastical


Royal Pavilion-like

Brighton, England


H. B. Plant Museum, a building constructed in….the late Victorian era.

Also, in the Macdonald Kelce Library,  two more free exhibits for booklovers:  “The Bookbindings of Alice C. Morse,” prepared by Mindell Dubansky of the Thomas Watson Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and originally exhibited at the Grolier Club, plus a display of Victorian Publisher’s Bindings from the Tampa Book Arts Studio Library Collections.

December 10th, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

The Allegorist and the Collector

"The allegorist is, as it were, the polar opposite of the collector. He has given up the attempt to elucidate things through research into their properties and relations. He dislodges things from their context and, from the outset, relies on his profundity to illuminate their meaning. The collector, by contrast, brings together what belongs together; by keeping in mind their affinities and their succession in time, he can eventually furnish information about his objects. Nevertheless – and this is more important than all the differences that may exists between them – in every collector hides an allegorist, and in every allegorist a collector. As far as the collector is concerned, his collection is never complete; for let him discover just a single piece missing, and everything he’s collected remains a patchwork, which is what things  are for the allegorist from the beginning. On the other hand, the allegorist  – for whom objects represent only keywords in a secret dictionary, which will make known their meanings to the initiated – precisely the allegorist can never have enough of things. With him, one thing is so little capable of taking the place of another that no possible reflection suffices to foresee what meaning his profundity might lay claim to for each one of them."

From The Arcade Project by Walter Benjamin.

I like this. But I think I need to collect my thoughts – read this over several dozen more times to get a decent grip on it…to iron out the kinks in its swing…so that I can grasp its profundity. Because profundity for the allegorist is, I guess, not a matter of reflection, as it might be for the collector, but rather a flash of illumination which only, after the fact, shines profound light and unforeseen meaning on each affected thing…

Sort of.

This might read better after a toke or two.

September 8th, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

On-line Guide to First Edition Points

In checking to ensure that the copy of Jaws I own is not a first edition  (I’ll soon be purging the shelves in an upcoming personal library re-org/down-size)  - it isn’t - and likewise Silence of the Lamb – it is! – I happened across this great site: The on-line guide for rare book collectors, First Edition Points.
June 25th, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

Animal Farm, Martin Amis and the United Arab Emirates

Latest find: $5.00 Cdn. 

Described by bookseller Brainerd Phillipson Rare Books as follows: NY. Harcourt, Brace, and Company. 1946., 1946. First Edition (Stated "first American edition"). In first issue dustjacket with price and without "Printed in the United States" on the rear flap. NF/VG+ in shining black fine mesh cloth stamped brightly in gold on the spine with no flecking to the lettering. A very clean, crisp copy in a lightly edge-rubbed jacket printed in black, white, and orange designed by Art Brenner.The jacket is barely soiled on the rear panel and has the original price of $1.75 on the inside front flap. A handsome copy of this scarce title. First Edition (Stated "first American edition").

This find, which I announced (bragged about) on Facebook, brought on a comment by Dorota Wąsik who informed me that Animal Farm was banned by the United Arab Emirates in 2002: which strikes me as odd, in light of the new openness with which that country is promoting international discussion of Arab authored books. In fact, I note with interest that Martin Amis will be attending the 2010 Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature to air, clarify and discuss his position on Muslim fundamentalists and Sharia law.

June 22nd, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

Dust Jacket/Cover of the Week

John Piper, Romney Marsh, A King Penguin Book (1950)

This has to be one of the sweetest little books in my collection. Contains colour plates at the back, of the marsh itself, preceded by sketches of some of the churches in the district. Same format as those lovely Ladybird Books, only slightly wider. Here’s what abebooks has to say.

June 20th, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

Plan your summer vacation around Giant Used Book Sales

A few posts back I put together a list of literary festivals taking place in North American and Britain through out the summer months. Here, from BookSaleFinder, are some of the larger book sales taking place in North America this summer and early Fall:
June 26 – 28  Cincinnati, OH Anderson Township Library Association at Nagel Middle School 1500 Nagel Rd. 513-369-6030 Over 50,000 BOOKS!!!
July 11 – 15 Newtown, CT Friends of Cyrenius H. Booth Library 34th ANNUAL BOOK SALE OVER 120,000 BOOKS! at Reed Intermediate School 3 Trades Lane (Across from Fairfield Hills) Right off I-84, Exit 11, Routes 25 and 34 203-426-4533
July 11 – 12 Auburn, NY Book Bonanza Held at Fingerlakes Mall  1579 Clark Street Road Rts. 5 & 20 (Just west of Auburn) 315-255-1188
July 18 – 21 Westport, CT Westport Public Library Friends 20 Jesup Rd. (off US Rte 1) 203-291-4800 over 80,000
July 17 – 19 Reading (Leesport), PA BOOK BONANZA 2009 Leesport Farmer’s Market Banquet Hall Route 61 (North end of Leesport) Book Bonanza Info Line: 484-706-0731 60,000+ Books!
Aug 21 – 26 Saint Louis, MO YMCA Book Fair  Held at the Kennedy Recreation Center 6050 Wells Road (Near Meramec Bottom Road & I-55, 10 miles south of Carondelet YMCA) 314-353-4960

Sept 4 – 7  Redding, CT The Mark Twain Library Association Presents the 49th ANNUAL BOOK FAIR Redding Community Center 37 Lonetown Road (Route 107) 203-938-2545 ONE OF THE OLDEST AND LARGEST BOOK FAIRS IN THE NORTHEAST
Sept 17 – 20 Mississauga, ON Sponsored by the Mississauga Symphony held at Sheridan Centre 2225 Erin Mills Pkwy (just north of QEW) 647-866-SALE 60,000 books at bargain prices in 48 categories
June 13th, 2009 • Posted in On Collecting

Rookie Book Collector Mistakes

I’ve been buying books for as long as I can remember, collecting them seriously though, only for the past fifteen years. By seriously, I mean that I’ve bought and read quite a few books on the subject, starting with Ian Ellis’ Book Finds, John Carter’s ABC of Book Collecting and Taste and Technique in Book Collecting,  the Ahearns’  Guide to Values 2002 and their Book Collecting 2000, and First Editions by Zempel and Verkler, plus numerous others over the years; even took David Gregor’s Book Collecting seminar once. I’ve looked at and touched tens, if not hundreds of thousands of volumes, targeted a particular type of book: Modern First Editions of primarily British novelists and poets, selected a handful of authors for completist treatment (Huxley, Auden, Coetzee, Robin Robertson), and generally had a ball seeking out the best looking copies of these editions I could find, for the least amount of money.
Despite this ‘expertise’, I’m here today to admit to some egregious rookie mistakes committed this morning at the Experimental

Farms’ Annual

Used Book Sale. Not that the stakes were exactly high (Hardcovers $1.00, Paperbacks: 50 cents) but still, it’s embarrassing, and a reminder that identification of value is, and continues to be, extremely difficult. Also that Caveat Emptor is particularly applicable when trying to purchase First Editions, and that most used book sales do not yield much of monetary worth…the scouts have typically ransacked the place before you’ve even left the house.
But back to the mistakes: both were of the same strain: Book Club Editions nefariously disguising themselves as what they aren’t. 1) A Further Range by Robert Frost, published by Henry Holt in 1936. Covered in red buckram, with gilt lettering on the spine and front face. Paper is lovely thick and laid, with ragged fore-edges, and pages of varying widths. Normally Book Club editions are made with cheaper materials than original editions: not so in this case. No additional printings are indicated. Trouble is, as I searched the higher priced copies for sale on ABE and ABAA, the true first includes ‘First Edition’ stated on the copyright page… my jacketless book is worth $10-20 max. To add insult, when leafing through the book just before writing this post, a book club flyer advertising the title warfted out onto the desk.
2) The Reivers by William Faulkner, published by Random House, no jacket, red cloth, states: ‘first printing’. So…I did notice that my book was perhaps slightly smaller than it could have been…but still, it has red gilt lettering on the front…and, as I noticed when I had it back home…a very slightly indented small square punched into the bottom right hand corner of the back cover. Deadly Book Club indicator. Book worth maybe $6-7.00.
Okay, so much for the books as objects… Both, coincidentally, won Pulitzer Prizes, Frost’s for poetry in 1937, Faulkner’s for fiction in 1963…for what it’s worth.