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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The Big Shed to get big clear-out auctionThe Inverell Times, March 6th
Everything from a fully restored 1940s sulky, early-model vehicles, Caters antique books and steel Tonka toys to a cedar glasstop chemist display, solid timber furniture pieces and other items too numerous to list, are up for grabs. It's a sentimental...Read more
Salon International du Livre Ancien & 25th ILAB International Antiquarian Book ...ILAB, March 5th
Most elegant! The Paris International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Grand Palais, in this year's edition the 25th ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair, offers its ever increasing number of visitors a panorama of the highlights of our written...Read more
Antiquarian book fair March 14-16 highlights children's literatureTampabay.com, March 4th
F or those of us who are mad for books, that love most likely first struck in childhood. Whether it was a picture book lovingly (and repeatedly) read to us by parents or the first books we read ourselves that expanded our minds into other times, places...Read more
Leicester man ordered to pay restitution for rare books stolen from Becker CollegeWorcester Telegram, March 3rd
Sometime between May and September 2012, a collection of antique books called the "May Collection" was moved to a secure area so the college could begin work on new shelving that would allow for a more prominent display of the books, court documents ...Read more
Antiquarian book expert coming to Portsmouth libraryFoster's Daily Democrat, March 2nd
BOSTON, Mass. — Kenneth Gloss, proprietor of the internationally known Brattle Book Shop, will give a free and open talk Monday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m. titled, “Is There value in your old and rare books?” in the Levenson Room of the Portsmouth Public ...Read more
Rare antique books available at World Book FairJagran Post, February 18th
A visitor at the New Delhi World Book Fair said the common people may not buy rare antique books because they are pricey. "But such rare books have to be preserved," he said. Besides books, Jaitely's stall also has collections of old posters with...Read more
Antiquarian Book Fair Kicks Off in PasadenaThe Beverly Hills Courier, February 7th
(CNS) – A book of the history of Troy from 1473 and valued at $1 million was one of the items on display today as the Antiquarian Book Fair, billed as one of the world's largest exhibitions of rare books, kicked off in Pasadena. The fair, which is in...Read more
Younger book dealers are diving into the antiquarian tradeLos Angeles Times, February 5th
The organization, which has more than 400 members nationwide, is presenting the 47th California International Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend in Pasadena. This new generation of antiquarian booksellers has turned to the trade during the ascendancy...Read more