There's a richness to antique books that transcends their status as one of the world’s most beloved collectibles. Books document the evolution of our need to make sense of the world around us. This urge can be seen in the first Gutenberg bible of 1455; the ‘First Folio’ of plays by William Shakespeare, published in 1623; John James Audubon’s monumental “Birds of America,” which was printed between 1827 and 1838; and even the pocket-size Beat-poetry paperbacks, published by City Lights bookstore in the 1950s and ’60s. Each, in its own way, reveals the priorities and passions of the culture.
Whatever the genre—be it biographies or cookbooks, children’s books or classic works of science fiction—and regardless of the title, most collectors focus on first editions. First editions are coveted because their print runs tend to be small. They're also considered to be the closest a reader can get to the author’s original intent for his or her work. Thus, first editions are particularly desirable if a book has been changed for the second printing.
Especially collectible are first editions of books that went on to win literary awards. The landmark children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” earned author and illustrator Maurice Sendak a Caldecott Medal in 1964, so its first-edition cover from 1963 does not feature the famous Caldecott seal.
Another, more recent, famous first edition is the 1997 version of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” which was published by Bloomsbury in the U.K. in a print run of 1,000. The book went on to sell millions of copies for Scholastic in 1998, when it was re-titled for the U.S. market as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” No wonder copies of the Bloomsbury first edition routinely sell in the five figures.
Some people collect books for their aesthetic value. For these collectors, antique and vintage leather-bound books and sets are particular favorites. Some are covered in calf skin, which book binders found easy to dye. Others were made of Levant leather, which is goat skin and sometimes called Moroccan leather.
Examples of leather-bound books include individual works or collections by 19th century authors, from naturalist Charles Darwin, whose “On the Origins of Species” was first published in 1859 before being re-titled as “The Origins of Species” in 1872, to novelist Charles Dickens, whose monthly and weekly serialized stories were bound into classics such as “The Adventures of Oliver Twist” and “A Tale of Two Cities.”
American 20th-century novels such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” (1925), John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939), and J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” ...
Prized science-fiction books from the past 150 years include Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” which was first published in France in 1870 before being translated into English in 1872. H.G. Wells gave us “The War of the Worlds” in 1898 and “When the Sleeper Wakes” a year later. Collectible modern science-fiction authors range from Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke to Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, and Philip K. Dick, whose 1968 “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” was the basis for the 1982 sci-fi-film classic, “Blade Runner.”
In all cases, a book that has been signed by its author is more sought-after than one that has not, although books with inscriptions (eg: ‘To my dear friend, so-and-so’) are usually not as collectible as ones with just a signature. Biographies and memoirs are a favorite of former politicians and retired generals, who have been known to use the bully pulpit of a book to tell their version of history. Such books can often be found with the author’s signature on the title page.
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Books Inspiring Global Tours, JourneysHartford Courant, July 31st
Literarytourist.com, a travel planner for book lovers, is filled with thousands of listings detailing literary destinations, events and activities around the world, including: bookstores, rare book libraries, writers festivals, authors' homes...Read more
South Lyon area community briefsHometownlife.com, July 30th
New and antique books will be sold and proceeds will help maintain the Jarvis Stone School and Dickerson Barn. If you have books you would like to donate, drop them off the morning of the fair between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.. Various demonstrations will be ...Read more
Biographies, 1880s book on assaying gold in silent auction in RedlandsRedlands Daily Facts, July 29th
Ted Parsons, Friends of the Library volunteer and head of the Friends' antiquarian book committee, selects the books for their collectability and affordability. The books are up for bids until 1 p.m. Tuesday in the silent auction area of the A.K...Read more
Auctioneer Surprisingly Released from Jailartnet News, July 28th
Schauer was accused of being part of a conspiracy to sell stolen antique books belonging to the Biblioteca dei Girolamini, embezzled by the Neapolitan library's former director Massimo de Caro. Although the rare books in question, which included a...Read more
Personal Journey: A need for natural beauty and healing watersPhilly.com, July 27th
Arriving in Berkeley Springs at dinnertime on a Sunday, my antiquarian-book-seller husband and this former teacher realized we had made the right choice. The sleepy town was centered on the springs. The Berkeley Springs buildings in the town square ...Read more
'Happiness' is a place called Charlottesville, Virginia, a new study revealsRaw Story, July 26th
Now it's flourishing,” says antiquarian book dealer Scott Fennessey. “We've got Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones come through.” As Kennedy found, and Jefferson before him, the region's rich farmland remains its bedrock. “To know the land, you have to ...Read more
Local Arts Index: Scott MassarskyNyackNewsAndViews, July 26th
My personal work ranges from creating small environments in glass jars with plants and herbs, to assemblages with old printers drawers, boxes and antique books, to what I call fine art illustration that is somewhere between Shel Silverstein, Tim Burton...Read more
Wizard Of Oz Convention Comes To San DiegoCoronado Eagle and Journal, July 24th
Winkie Con attendees can explore more than fifty daytime presentations on everything from antiquarian book collecting to Oz crafts, from Oz comics to make-up demonstrations, and there's the Oz Costume Contest on Saturday morning where attendees can ...Read more