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Are You Ready for the 48th California Antiquarian Book Fair?

By Andrea Koczela. Jan 31, 2015. 12:00 PM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Book News

If you are near Oakland next weekend (February 6th-8th), we would like to invite you to the California International Antiquarian Book Fair. Allow us to provide you with complimentary tickets and come spend a few hours browsing remarkable books.

     
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Tolkien Spotlight: The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

By Leah Dobrinska. Jan 31, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, J. R. R. Tolkien

For fans of the great J. R. R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil provides yet another avenue to experience the unmatched storytelling and myth-spinning for which Tolkien is so famously known. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a compilation of sixteen poems and a true potpourri of material. It is presented as if it is a literal translation from the manuscript known as the Red Book of Westmarch.

     
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An Interview with NCBCC Winner Audrey Golden

By Matt Reimann. Jan 30, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Interviews

Audrey Golden's paper "Pablo Neruda and the Global Politics of Poetry" won the third prize at the 2014 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest. She recently earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, and won first prize at her school's Student Book Collecting Contest. Her scholarship not only highlights Neruda as an author to be collected, but as a poet whose destroyed library must be remembered. We were fortunate to be able to interview her about her work and her discoveries about the legendary poet. 

     
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The Six Wives of Norman Mailer

By Neely Simpson. Jan 29, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

"Notorious philanderer," "egomaniac," "pugnacious" and "pompous" are a few of the milder epitaphs that have been used to describe controversial and larger-than-life Norman Mailer. His New York Times obituary was even titled, "Norman Mailer, Towering Writer With Matching Ego, Dies at 84." Known in the literary world as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, Mailer won two Pulitzer Prizes in literature and one National Book Award. He is credited with having pioneered creative nonfiction as a genre, also called New Journalism. During his life he became as famous for his relationships with women as he did for his literary work. He was married six times and fathered eight children. Here is a brief look at the six wives of Norman Mailer.

     
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Isaiah Thomas, the American Antiquarian Society, & Other Resources

By Leah Dobrinska. Jan 28, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Book Collecting

Isaiah Thomas was a patriot and a printer. His work as a publisher antagonized the British presence in the colonies, and he was the first to proclaim the Declaration of Independence in the state of Massachusetts. Furthermore, Thomas’ research of the printing process and his subsequent library of titles formed the basis for what is now the American Antiquarian Society (AAS), one of the major organizations dedicated to book collectors and history enthusiasts alike.

Arguably, Thomas’ legacy can be seen in both the AAS and in the other organizations which have taken up the torch of championing book collectors and their fervor for rare and authentic written works. 

     
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Collecting Signatures & Modern Firsts: An Interview with Vance Morgan

By Andrea Koczela. Jan 27, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Interviews

Vance Morgan was born in New Jersey and raised in Florida. He obtained a Doctorate in School Psychology and Counseling from the College of William and Mary, and worked as a school psychologist for 38 years. After becoming interested in collecting as a boy, Vance ultimately acquired a collection of over 2,500 signed books. In the following interview, Vance shares with us his collecting story as well as his insights into corresponding with authors and acquiring their signatures. 

     
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Juliana Berners and the Creation of Fishing Literature

By Matt Reimann. Jan 26, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Fishing

By reliable accounts, The Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle (1496) is the earliest surviving volume on the subject of fishing. It was published by St. Albans Press, the third printing press established in England. Treatyse is a well-written volume: both an intriguing artifact of the history of the sport and an insightful guide for today's modern fishermen. Interestingly enough, given the time period in which it was written, Treatyse was penned by a woman: a prioress named Juliana Berners.

     
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Through the Looking Glass of Lewis Carroll: Master Photographer

By Neely Simpson. Jan 25, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Children's Books

It was Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that made Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, a household name. However, during his own time Charles Dodgson was known for several other vocations besides that of authoring children's books. In addition to being an author, Dodgson was a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, an ordained deacon in the Anglican church, and a very accomplished photographer.

     
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Collecting Jorge Luis Borges at the University of Virginia

Jorge Luis Borges was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1899. Borges spent many of his early years abroad in Geneva, Switzerland and later in Spain, where he became acquainted with Western literary trends and the shift into the period that we now describe as "modernism." He returned to Buenos Aires in the early 1920s and published his first book, Fervor de Buenos Aires, in 1923.

     
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Celebrating Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott

By Lauren Corba. Jan 23, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

"for what else is there
but books, books and the sea,
verandahs and the pages of the sea,
to write of the wind and the memory of wind-whipped hair
in the sun, the colour of fire!"
-- Derek Walcott,  Collected Poems 1948-1984  

Caribbean writer and Nobel Prize winner, Derek Walcott, was born on January 23, 1930 in Castries, St. Lucia in the West Indies. His father died in his early 30s, leaving Walcott’s mother, a teacher and lover of the arts, to raise him, his twin brother, Rodrick, and their sister, Pamela.

     
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Arthur Miller: International Playwright

By Matt Reimann. Jan 22, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Drama

In 1983, Arthur Miller directed his masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, for an audience in China. At the time - in the midst of the Cold War - Communist China was viewed by many as an opposite cultural pole to the capitalist America dramatized in Miller’s famous tragedy. As a result, bringing to life the Brooklyn of the 1940s for a Chinese audience in the 80s was a momentous task for the performers. But, Miller was deliberate in shifting the focus from matters of national and cultural identity. On the first day of rehearsal, Miller said, "the first thing I want to discuss with you is the problem of how to act like Americans. The answer is very simple...You must not attempt to act like Americans at all...One of my main motives in coming here is to try to show that there is only one humanity."

     
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Ian Fleming, Real-Life Secret Agent and World War II Commando

By Neely Simpson. Jan 21, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond, History

Before he was Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, he was Commander Fleming, an intelligence officer in the Royal Navy and right-hand man to Admiral John Godfrey, Director of British Naval Intelligence. As such, Fleming was responsible for the creation of what came to be known as Assault Unit 30 (AU 30), a top-secret British commando unit specifically formed to gather intelligence. Fleming proposed the concept of AU 30 to Admiral Godfrey in a March 10, 1942 memo titled, "Proposal for Naval Intelligence Commando Unit."

     
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The History and Techniques of Marbled Paper

By Katie Behrens. Jan 20, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book History, Book Making

The art of marbling paper is very, very old. Unfortunately, like many historical facts involving paper, no one is exactly sure how old it is. Paper doesn't tolerate the ravages of time like stone or metal. However, historians agree that the technique of marbling has been making paper exceptionally beautiful since 10th century Japan.

     
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Libraries and Special Collections: The Abbey Library of St. Gall

By Katie Behrens. Jan 19, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Libraries & Special Collections

In its most basic form, a library is just a collection. Traditionally, it’s a collection of books, but these days, people have music or movie libraries. The collection acts as a storehouse of information. As much as we like to think of a library as an unchanging thing in a changing world, they are just as susceptible to the influences of politics, money, and time. The Abbey Library of Saint Gall is a perfect microcosm of history as fact and the progression of time.

     
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17 Essential (and Authentic) Winnie-the-Pooh Quotes

By Andrea Koczela. Jan 18, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Children's Books, Literature

Today we celebrate the life of A. A. Milne, beloved author and creator of Winnie-the-Pooh. Although renowned as a novelist and playwright during his own lifetime, his children's storiesinspired by his son, Christopher Robinhave become Milne's enduring legacy. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, his story collections Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928)not to mention his poetry collections When We Were Very Young (1924) and Now We Are Six (1927)have become indispensable children's classics. 

     
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Undercover Art: Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Clandestine in Chile

By Katie Behrens. Jan 17, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, History

The late, great Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) is best known for his fiction, flowing prose, and use of magical realism.  His non-fiction, though somewhat lesser-known, is just as important to his memory.  Take for example Clandestine in Chile (1986) – written from an eighteen hour interview with filmmaker Miguel Littin, who sneaked back into Chile after exile to expose the realities of the Pinochet dictatorship. In García Márquez's hands, the already thrilling true story becomes both electrifying and fraught with meaning.

     
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Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father and Publisher

By Matt Reimann. Jan 16, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, American Literature, Book History

Benjamin Franklin founded the ideal of the American polymath. He was a statesman through and through, performing roles as theorist, diplomat, and governor; he was an inventor and famously dabbled in the nascent science of electricity. But the portrait of Ben Franklin the publisher is frequently forgotten or understated. His press eventually became the most successful in the Colonies, printing everything from hardcover volumes to almanacs, newspapers, pamphlets, and even lottery tickets.

     
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Eight Decades of the Randolph Caldecott Medal

By Brian Hoey. Jan 15, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Caldecott Medal, Children's Books

For sixteen years, the illustrators of children’s books were neglected during awards season. Since 1922, the Newbery Medal had been awarded yearly to a work of distinguished children’s writing, but no such equivalent existed for illustrations in picture books. Not, that is, until 1938, whereupon a veritable dark age in the recognition of great illustrators was extinguished with the inception of the Caldecott Medal.

     
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Case Studies in Collecting: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

By Audrey Golden. Jan 14, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Book Collecting, Literature

How much do you know about Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame? It’s considered a seminal text of Gothic fiction, a style that’s often characterized by settings in looming castles with dark passageways, and general elements of the macabre or supernatural. Yet the Gothic isn’t a genre of literature unto itself, but rather a style that can make its way into various literary forms.

For Hugo, the Gothic tradition provided him with a way to conjure the medieval period in France in the early 19th century. Given that the term "Gothic" initially referred to a mode of art and architecture produced in the late middle ages, Hugo connected present-day Paris to the 15th century period in which he set the novel. Indeed, such a link proved necessary to discuss the historical importance of the Notre Dame cathedral, which was completed between the mid-13th century and early 14th century.

     
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The Power of Language: Emile Zola and the Dreyfus Affair

By Neely Simpson. Jan 13, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world," Robin Williams's character, Mr. Keating asserts in the film "Dead Poets Society." Mr. Keating could have used French writer Emile Zola and the letter he wrote to a Paris newspaper in January 1898 to illustrate his point. Simply titled "J'Accuse" ("I accuse!"), Zola's letter shone a light on the injustice and antisemitism of 19th century France. So powerful was the document that it ultimately led to the exoneration of an innocent man and the passing of a French law separating church and state.

     
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Albert Schweitzer's Nobel-Worthy Reverence for Life

By Brian Hoey. Jan 12, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners

It has been suggested that Alfred Nobel created the peace prize in his will to assuage his guilt at the destruction and harm caused by his own inventions (dynamite among them). It is perhaps fitting, then, that in 1952 the prize was awarded to a man whose medical work in an African mission transcended guilt about colonialism to yield a legacy of saved lives, as well as a globally-praised philosophy.

     
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The Global Appeal of Haruki Murakami

By Matt Reimann. Jan 11, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Haruki Murakami is one of contemporary literature’s true international stars. American readers, not known for their fondness of translations, cannot get enough of the Japanese writer's work. One of his most recent books, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, was released in August 2014 and topped The New York Times bestseller list, selling one million copies in Japan alone. He is also immensely popular in his native Japan, and cannot jog in his suburban Tokyo neighborhood without being recognized, a distinction he has called burdensome. 

     
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Charles Perrault: French Aristocrat and... Mother Goose!

By Katie Behrens. Jan 10, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, History

You might think you’ve never heard of Charles Perrault, a French aristocrat who lived 1628 to 1703, but you definitely know his work.  A little volume written for his children and published near the end of his life has dwarfed his other contributions to history and made him famous under another name: Mother Goose.

     
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Rare Collection of Early Dust Jackets Available for Purchase

By Andrea Koczela. Jan 9, 2015. 2:52 PM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Dust Jackets

Books Tell You Why is pleased to announce a significant collection of 19th-century books in dust jacket, featuring a number of scarce and rare items, including several one-of-a-kind copies. While subject to adjustment, preliminary estimates of the collection's value range from $300,000 to $500,000. The collection spans the 19th century, with a heavy concentration in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s. It includes fiction, biographies, travel journals and guides, natural history, and more.

     
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Ten Interesting Facts About Jack London

By Neely Simpson. Jan 9, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

Jack London's characteristically raw, edgy writing influenced and inspired such literary giants as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, George Orwell and Upton Sinclair. He was also one of the first writers to gain fame and wealth from his fiction. However, London's short life was one marked by poverty and struggle from beginning to end. Here are 10 interesting facts about this often abrasive American author:

     
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A Night with Teju Cole and Salman Rushdie

By Matt Reimann. Jan 8, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

In December, at The Symphony Space in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, professional actors dramatized the work of two famous authors. Before the performance, the writers personally introduced their work to the audience. These authors were Teju Cole, author of the 2011 PEN/Hemingway winner, Open City, and Salman Rushdie, writer of The Satanic Verses and the classic novel Midnight’s Children.

     
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Karel Čapek: Sci-fi Genius, Nazi Nemesis & Creator of the Word "Robot"

By Leah Dobrinska. Jan 7, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science, Science Fiction

When recollecting writers who utilized the science fiction genre as a means for political and social commentary, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, and Isaac Asimov often come to mind. But in the early part of the 20th century, a young writer named Karel Čapek also used sci-fi to expertly grapple with topics like totalitarianism and control, challenging the harsh Nazi rule in his native Eastern European homeland.

Credited with inventing the term “robot,” Čapek’s life and work provide an interesting study for many reasons. Not only did he greatly influence the science fiction genre, but he also played an integral part in the continued revival of the Czech written language.

     
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Re-Writing War: Famous Literature About Modern Warfare

By Audrey Golden. Jan 6, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

The twentieth century witnessed more than its fair share of war. Indeed, most of our conceptions of modern warfare began with World War I in the early twentieth century, and our views have grown and shifted with the onset of World War II, the violence that took place throughout the Cold War, and the most recent face of war in the Middle East. For many of the writers who chronicled wartime in the twentieth century, they did so with first-hand experience. What can literature tell us about modern warfare and the traumas that soldiers face at home and abroad?

     
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Caring for Handwritten Documents

By Matt Reimann. Jan 5, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Care, Learn About Books

Handwritten documents belong to a special part of a branch of print-collecting called ephemera. The Ephemera Society of the United Kingdom defines such artifacts as "the minor transient documents of everyday life." Ephemera encompass everything from leaflets to tickets to trading cards. There is a particular challenge in the preservation of ephemera, as ephemera are not made to last beyond their brief application. This often means that the materials used are less durable than those of a typical book. Thus, there is a gleeful rebellion in the act of preserving ephemera. While the documents were intended to be discarded, as the collector, it's your duty to ensure it lasts through the ages.

     
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An Interview with NCBCC Winner Katya Soll

By Matt Reimann. Jan 4, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Interviews

Katya Soll is a doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas. She won first prize in the 2014 National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest with her essay, "Dictatorship, Recovery, and Innovation: Contemporary Theater of the Southern Cone." She has amassed an impressive collection of playbooks, programs, and performance tickets that document her immersion into a remarkable theatrical culture. Her scholarship illuminates a quintessential example of how a people reckon with a difficult history through art and creativity. We were lucky enough to get the chance to interview her about her work and collection.

     
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10 Surprising Facts about Umberto Eco: Comic Books, Crime, & Trumpets

By Katie Behrens. Jan 3, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Umberto Eco

In 1980, at age 48, Umberto Eco made his debut as a novelist with The Name of the Rose (originally in Italian Il nome della rosa) and has been a literary and philosophical juggernaut ever since.  In addition to his impressive publishing rap sheet, Eco also had a successful academic career in the fields of literature, semiotics, medieval history, and quite a few others. Given that he curated a 2009 exhibition at the Louvre in Paris on the essential nature of lists, we honor this great thinker today with one of our own.

     
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Libraries and Special Collections: The Beinecke Library at Yale

By Katie Behrens. Jan 2, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Libraries & Special Collections

Many major universities maintain a special collections library, either for areas of department expertise or to preserve older books from overuse. However, not all of them are as beautiful as the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Thanks to the iconic glass tower of books at the center of the Beinecke, the library is well-known around the world in pictures. It also has a fascinating history and a very noteworthy collection.

     
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A Brief History of Poetry

By Audrey Golden. Jan 1, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature

Unlike other literary forms that we can date to precise texts and time periods, it’s a challenge to pinpoint the earliest work of poetry. In one form or another, poetry has been around for thousands of years. However, we might think of the epic poem as the first instance of poetry, appearing as early as the 20th century B.C. Jumping hundreds of years ahead, we might turn, then, to the sonnet form and its early appearance in the 13th century. Before moving into more modern poetic forms, it’s important to consider Restoration poetry of the 17th century and the satirical verses of John Dryden and Alexander Pope. 

     
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About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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