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 Mau...
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” (1951) are also highly collectible. And as cooking shows have become a fixture on television, vintage cookbooks have enjoyed a surge of popularity, the most famous of which is probably “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which was written in 1961 by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck.
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.
Interviews & Articles
When we first encountered Alan Scherstuhl's "Studies in Crap" column over at the "SF Weekly," we knew he was one of us. Every week… [more]
The times they are a-changing: Last weekend, lesbian couple Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd made history, exchanging the first gay-… [more]
If you're a serious collector of literature, you'd probably think it horrifying to alter Hemingway's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" so … [more]
I suppose second only to manufacturer-produced cooking pamphlets, one of the least collectible forms of ephemera is the religious … [more]
Collectors of autographed baseball cards are alert to the existence of forgeries, so they know to be on their guard. But how many … [more]
When you walk into the Prelinger Library, the first things you notice are the three long aisles that run down the length of the sp… [more]
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read books. In grade school, I devoured library books. I also loved comic books, and was whe… [more]
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Gallery of Book Trade Labels
Rare Karate Book Collection
Czech Book Covers
Google Book Search
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Top eBay Auctions
Recent News: Books
Source: Google News
Colour: from concept to realityRegina Leader-Post, June 17th
Traditional flora and fauna motifs are translated into casual everyday designs. Other design elements include antique books, weathered maps and geological artifacts. ? The "seaside harmony" trend, which is all about "modern, resort chic," where the...Read more
Hôtel des Ventes to offer a unique collection of 16th to 19th century ...Art Daily, June 15th
In addition to this superb collection, our summer auctions at the Hôtel des Ventes will offer over 2500 lots of antique books, art objects, Middle East and Oriental art, vintage cameras, furniture, paintings, jewelry, and watches with a total estimate...Read more
Caravan Book Store: 60 Years YoungLA Magazine (blog), June 14th
Posted on 6/14/2013 10:44:00 AM by Leilah Bernstein. How do you celebrate six decades in the antiquarian book business in downtown L.A.? With a four-piece jazz band and Nutella crepes. This week my father, Leonard Bernstein, was honored for carrying ...Read more
Rare Books in the Big AppleMaine Antique Digest, June 14th
I'd been told by rare book dealers I knew from the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair that I needed to go to that show's New York counterpart to experience the real thing. Both are sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of...Read more
The New York Book Fair's Shadow ShowMaine Antique Digest, June 14th
The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair—billed as the “shadow show” of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair—took place on April 12 and 13 in the Altman Building at 135 West 18th Street in the downtown neighborhood of Chelsea. It featured no ...Read more
Wedded: Ashley Valis and Jim GillisBaltimore Sun, June 14th
The centerpieces contained antique books and mint julep cups filled with flowers. "We wanted to keep it simple because Cold Saturday is so beautiful and it didn't need a lot of decorating," says Ashley, whose bouquet was wrapped in a handkerchief from...Read more
Highlights of the London International Antiquarian Book FairArt Daily, June 12th
The Fair, which will again be held in the National Hall at Olympia (London W14) from Thursday, 13th June to Saturday, 15th June, 2013 has more than 180 exhibitors, who are travelling from all corners of the globe to take part in the longest running ...Read more
BOOKS GO LIVE! – The London International Antiquarian Book FairILAB, June 5th
The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association's London International Antiquarian Book Fair features a range of special activities in the LIVE! zone at this year's fair which will be held at the National Hall, Olympia from Thursday 13th to Saturday 15th June...Read more