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Important Elements of Provenance in Rare Book Collecting

By Nick Ostdick. Apr 25, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

Condition. Binding. Completeness. These are all relatively easy to understand concepts in the rare book world when judging the value of a piece. But what about provenance? What is provenance? Why is it so important? Why does it impact the value of a book in such a significant way? These are the questions rare book enthusiasts need to ask as they come across rare or unique volumes where the term provenance is bandied about as a crucial indicator as to why a book is valued in such a way. And confusing though it can be, once understood, provenance adds an interesting layer of complexity to a volume’s value and place in the rare book landscape.

     
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How to Prevent and Reverse Foxing in Rare Books

By Kristin Masters. Apr 23, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Book Care

There is never a wrong time to think about the effects of moisture and humidity on rare books. Just as too much sun can damage your rare books, so can too much moisture. And we'’re not just talking about direct moisture, such as liquid spills. The relative humidity of the air is also a concern. Excess humidity (usually relative humidity above 75%) can encourage the growth of fungi and mildew, which can lead to foxing. If foxing occurs, what are the best ways to reverse it? Better yet, how can you prevent foxing in your rare books?

     
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Franklin Library Editions: Ideal for Book Collectors?

By Kristin Masters. Apr 16, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Modern First Editions

The Franklin Library, affiliated with the Franklin Mint, produced classic books, designed especially for collectors. Many of these publications have become more scarce over the years, but they've remained perennial favorites among many collectors. Why are Franklin Library editions so sought after? What should you know if you're hoping to collect Franklin Library editions?

     
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First Books vs. First Editions: The Difference and Significance

By Nick Ostdick. Apr 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting, Modern First Editions

Everyone thinks they understand the value of a first edition. The first printing of a book automatically makes it rare, right? Because X or Y novel is a first run, it’s immediately valuable and worthy of collecting, yes? While this is certainly the case with a number of books throughout the literary landscape, first editions are not necessarily sought after by collectors just because they’re the first run. In fact, when you think about it, every book ever published has a first edition printing, but some were not lucky enough to see a second or third.

One factor that truly makes a book rare, valuable, and the apple of a collector’s eye is the combination of a first edition and a first bookthat is, the first printing of an author’s first novel, usually an author of great regard or with a long, profound literary career. These literary Easter eggs are usually printed in small quantitiesremember: we’re talking about first novels from predominantly debut authorsand are often hardcover and ornate or individualized in cover design as subsequent printings tend to reduce artistic quality for mass reproduction. By the time these authors publish their second, third, or fourth books, first print runs usually increase based on demand, which makes the first editions of these first novels even more rare and valuable.

     
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Collecting Limited Editions Club Publications

By Leah Dobrinska. Mar 28, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

As book collectors, we know the importance of the book as a physical object. From marginalia to dust jackets, numerous factors come in to play when determining what to collect and how much any given collectible is worth. Indeed, the condition of the physical book goes a long way in determining its value to collectors, and in many case the look of a book—from its illustrations to its binding and everything in between—charts the course for collectors.

Many ‘groupings’ of collectible books exist, and they often direct the collecting ways of interested bibliophiles. For example, some collectors focus on collecting the leather-bound Franklin Library editions. Others have a special place in their hearts for the Penguin Classics, either the Deluxe Editions or the familiar black-spine series. Still others look to fine-press operations for their aesthetic outputs. One of the most important and valuable ‘groupings’ of collectible books is the Limited Editions Club and its publications.

     
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The Importance of Condition in Rare Book Collecting

By Nick Ostdick. Nov 15, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book Collecting

Condition. Condition. Condition. It’s something of a mantra heard from the novice rare book collector to book collecting experts and everyone in between. Perhaps just as important as whether a book is a first edition or the first of its kindprimacythe condition of a book is crucial in helping assess its value and place in the rare book collecting universe. This is especially true when looking at modern classics such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby where the number of original copies is quite large compared with other classic American novels published just 10 or 20 years before. For example, copies of Gatsby in prime condition can significantly differ in value from copies in fair or poor condition published during the same era.

Given the importance placed on condition by collectors, it’s critical to understand the key elements that define the term. What should collectors look for when considering condition? What are the prime factors that determine the condition of a given book? And how do these elements work together in both large and small ways to help collectors accurately assess the value of a certain book?

     
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Primacy and Rare Book Collecting: The Value of Being First

As the old saying goes: ‘It pays to be first.’

In the world of rare book collecting, this is also a well-known fact. First editions. First printing. First drafts of manuscripts. These are usually the kinds of 'firsts' book collectors are on the look-out for when evaluating a book’s worth and value, and it’s these elements that factor largely into how much rare books fetch at auction and how sought-after they become.

However, the concept of primacy, or being recognized as the first incarnation of something within the literary canon, goes well beyond the simple notion of first editions or first printings. First mentions of a character, a setting, a theory, an idea, or even the first location where a book was printed all factor into the primacy of a book and are important elements book collectors and evaluators must weigh when determining a book’s worth and value.

     
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Five Facts About Thomas Hardy

By Matt Reimann. Jun 2, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Literature

Thomas Hardy’s long life, spanning from 1840 to 1928, positions him between two critical points in literary history. His legacy connects the masterful British writers like Wordsworth and Eliot to the era of Modernism that culminated in the likes of Woolf and that other, more poetic Eliot. Hardy’s most significant work spans some five decades, comprising novels and poetry that today are regarded as classics of the canon.

     
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The Bond Dossier: Live and Let Die

By Nick Ostdick. May 18, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Book History, James Bond, Dust Jackets

The saying goes that an artist has his or her entire life to create their first major work, but only a few years to finish their second. It’s an adage often used to rationalize a drop-off in quality or ambition between an artist’s first two major pieces, which is an all too common occurrence. But Ian Fleming is perhaps the shining exception to this rule.

Fleming’s second James Bond novel, Live and Let Die, was published April 5, 1954 and was completed just a few months before the release of the debut Bond novel, Casino Royale—in fact, some Bond scholars contend portions of Live and Let Die were actually composed before Casino Royale was written. Live and Let Die defied the expectations of diminishing returns in following up such a massive success with great critical acclaim in both the U.K. and U.S., coupled with brisk sales in Great Britain and throughout Europe.

     
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Announcing Our 2016 Rare Book School Scholarship Winner!

By Leah Dobrinska. Apr 4, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Rare Books, Libraries & Special Collections

We love rare books. We love librarians. We love Rare Book School. As a result, we’re excited to be able to send one deserving librarian to an RBS course for free. After reading through dozens of noteworthy applications, Books Tell You Why is delighted to announce the winner of our first annual Rare Book School Scholarship: Rosemary K. J. Davis. Read on for more information about Davis’s work, and please join us in congratulating her on her accomplishment.

     
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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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