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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Literary festival opened up a new worldThe Daily News of Newburyport, April 16th
Years before then, when I was a teenager, I would drive from Haverhill to the Old Book Shop where they sold antique books. It felt like walking into someone else's life. No one I knew liked to read or write. Not one person could understand how I could...Read more
Norbert Donhofer - President of the International League of Antiquarian ...ILAB, April 13th
In 1998 he organized the 34th ILAB Congress and 17th ILAB International Antiquarian Book Fair in Vienna. For his excellent organization of the Annual Meeting of the Association International de Bibliophilie (AIB) in 2009, in cooperation with the ILAB ...Read more
48th California International Antiquarian Book FairSFGate, April 11th
The world's preeminent celebration of the written or printed word returns to Northern California next year at a new venue in downtown Oakland. The 48th California International Antiquarian Book Fair will run from Friday, February 6 through Sunday...Read more
One Week in Paris - 41st ILAB Congress and 25th ILAB International Antiquarian ...ILAB, April 10th
ILAB Congresses and International Antiquarian Book Fairs are the real thing: They offer the chance to meet colleagues, collectors, librarians and real books, and the chance for collectors, librarians and real books to meet us! This is unique. One Week...Read more
ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian ...ILAB, April 9th
Search: ILAB Library - All You Need To Know About Rare Books and the Antiquarian Book Trade. [+] More Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Moving Pictures · Collecting Rare Books and First Editions - Moving Pictures. Published since 09 Apr 2014...Read more
Antiquarian Book & Paper Show comes to town with 59th editionLansing State Journal, April 6th
After 20 years, Herrick has collected thousands of vintage magazines and other items he sells at Old Stone Studio in Mason and twice a year at the Michigan Antiquarian Book & Paper Show at the Lansing Center. Sunday marked the 59th Michigan edition of ...Read more
Decisions, Decisions - 54th Annual New York Antiquarian Book FairILAB, April 2nd
This is always a rough week for me. The New York International Antiquarian Book Fair is hauling into view (April 2-6), and there are decisions to be made. What stays? What goes? It's the biggest fair on the circuit and it has the greatest upside in...Read more
Super Copy Of William Burroughs' Scarce Digit Junkie $15000 At New York ...Booktryst (blog), March 31st
A copy of the incredibly scarce first U.K. edition of William S. Burroughs' Junkie, published in London by Digit Books in 1957, is being offered at the upcoming New York Antiquarian Book Fair, April 3-6, 2014. Inscribed by Burroughs to his friend...Read more