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Early Book Collectors: George Washington and the Founding Fathers

By Andrea Koczela. Jul 1, 2021. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, Book Collecting

On July 3, 1776, John Adams wrote to his wife, “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival… It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other.”

Adams was nearly correct in his prediction. Americans have indeed memorialized the Declaration of Independence as he envisioned; however, the celebrations have been on July 4th—the date written on the Declaration of Independence—instead of July 2nd, the date the Second Continental Congress adopted the resolution of independence. Today, as we celebrate the birthday of George Washington, let us salute the Founding Fathers not only for creating a great nation, but also for being the country’s first book collectors.

     
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Rare Books We Love, Just in Time for Valentine's Day

By Kristin Masters. Feb 11, 2021. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Rare Book Gift Ideas

When Pope Gelasius established Saint Valentine’s Day in 496 AD, he certainly had no idea that the holiday would persist for centuries. The holiday was first associated with romance and love during the High Middle Ages, thanks to the burgeoning tradition of courtly love in Geoffrey Chaucer’s day. And nothing says “love” like giving the perfect book! Here’s a look at some favorite Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the bibliophile and rare book collector.

     
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Is My Inherited Book Collection Worth Anything?

By Audrey Golden. Feb 4, 2021. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

So you say you recently inherited a book collection from your grandparent, your parent, a distant family member, a neighbor, or a family friend? If you’re not familiar with the rare book trade and you don’t have too much experience buying or selling rare books, you might feel lost among the boxes or shelves. Most likely, you’re wondering if this inherited book collection is worth anything. Many rare booksellers and archivists have tales about being approached with old books that the owners believe to be valuable solely based on age or incorrect assumptions about the book’s provenance. Of course, terms like “worth” and “value” are always relative, and we’ll say more about that in just a few minutes. But before we do, we want to tackle the complicated question of whether an inherited book collection has any market value and what that means for your inheritance.

     
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Should I Buy Rare Books at Auction?

By Audrey Golden. Jan 21, 2021. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

If you are a rare book collector, or if you’re thinking about starting a rare book collection, you might be wondering about buying at auction. Whether you’re going to travel to an auction in person or you’re browsing online auction offerings, you’ll need to think about the pros and cons of buying rare books at auction. Certainly, adding to your collection by participating in an auction can be great fun, but we want to make sure you know precisely what it is you’re getting yourself into. Here are some key questions to consider before you place a bid.

     
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Fore-Edge Gilding and Decorating

By Shelley Kelber. Jan 12, 2021. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Condition

Storing books standing on their edges is a relatively new practice. The most common storage prior to the 16th century was to pile them horizontally with the fore-edge facing out. The fore-edge is the edge opposite the spine of the book. Identification issues were resolved by marking the books with a design on this edge or writing the book's title there.

     
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Building Your Rare Book Collection During a Pandemic

By Audrey Golden. Dec 29, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

A global health pandemic is devastating for a wide variety of reasons, from tragic illnesses and deaths to the closures of beloved community businesses. Of course, not being able to add to your rare book collection during a pandemic due to limited travel and funds is probably the least of your worries. Yet we also know that thinking about your rare book collection can be a welcome reprieve from a world that feels as if it’s in chaos with no clear light at the end of the tunnel. So, if you’re following all of the social distancing rules, and you’re taking the pandemic seriously, sheltering at home can offer a new chance to fall back in love with your collection and to dream up new ways of adding to it. So, in the spirit of self-care, we want to give you some tips for building your rare book collection during a pandemic. We hope these ideas will help you to get through the long months ahead until a vaccine becomes available, and we also hope that you’ll be able to use some of the tips and tricks even when you return to book-buying travel again in what will hope will be the not-too-distant future.

     
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What is a Bookplate?

Let’s say you found a rare book you want to add to your collection, and the bookseller’s description says it has a bookplate. You might be wondering precisely what a bookplate is, whether it is a newer addition to the book, and how it affects the value. These are all good questions, and there’s not a single answer to any of those inquiries. In all cases where a book contains a bookplate, it depends. We’ll give you some basic information about bookplates to help you understand how these additions to books came to be and how they can affect the value of an object. We’ll also tell you a little bit more about sources for discovering new information about bookplates if you get particularly interested. In the end, you could decide to establish an entire rare book collection around the bookplate, seeking out objects that contain them or seeking out the bookplates themselves.

     
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Boston's Rare Book Scene

By Audrey Golden. Dec 10, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Literary travel

Are you thinking about a trip to Boston at some point in your future? Boston’s rare book scene is unparalleled when it comes to a city featuring stellar rare bookstores, literary historic sites, and fabulous special collections libraries and archives. Whether you are planning to shop for rare books while you’re in the historic city or in Cambridge just across the Charles River, or you’re hoping to learn more about rare books and ephemera through research in archival collections, Boston has more than something to offer. If you’re traveling to the Boston area for work or pleasure, there are a wide variety of rare book options that you might consider indulging in while you’re there, and the options get even better if you decide to visit during Boston Rare Book Week.

     
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Rare Book Terminology You Should Know

By Audrey Golden. Nov 26, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

When you first enter into the world of rare books, you might think you’ve encountered a new language in some ways. Rare booksellers, collectors, and archivists use many words and phrases that can be difficult to parse. In addition, there are simply a lot of those words and phrases to learn. Some refer to the condition of the book, others refer to the way the book was made or to its style and aesthetic, and yet others still reference information about the book’s publication or ownership. And in many cases, there are multiple terms in use that refer to the same thing! We couldn’t possibly provide you with every word or phrase you might see used in a description of a rare book, but we can certainly get you started. We’ve separated some of those words and phrases into distinct categories to help you get acquainted with the language of the rare book trade.

     
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Collectible Irish Literature

By Audrey Golden. Nov 12, 2020. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature

 Whether you already have a collection of Irish literature or you are thinking about starting one, you should begin thinking about where you want to start and, ultimately, where you want to end up. There are many different ways you could approach an Irish literature collection, from eighteenth-century Irish literature up to the present. You might, for example, consider a collection made up entirely of Irish poetry. Or you might develop a collection that focuses on Irish independence and is linked to the 1916 Easter Rising. There are a lot of different possibilities. We don’t want to frame your collection for you—that’s your job! But we do want to give you insight into some of the most collectible and sought-after works of Irish literature. If you ultimately want to add these texts to your collection, you’ll need to do some serious reconnaissance work, and you’ll need to start saving your money.

     
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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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