Rare Finds: Well, Are You Coming? 30 Years of The Polar Express

Polar Cover

On November 19, 2015, author Chris Van Allsburg pulled into the Great Hall in Chicago’s Union Station as part of a multi-city book tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of his beloved 1986 Caldecott Medal-winning picture book, The Polar Express. The author signed books from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m., but the enchantment didn’t end when Van Allsburg left. Children wishing to ride the magical line may do so at Union Station now through January 3. (The Polar Express rides are organized by Rail Events Inc.).

Fast-tracking throughout the Midwest, the book tour started in Kalamazoo, worked through Grand Rapids (Van Allsburg’s hometown), Cincinnati, Louisville, then Chicago, and will reach its final destination today (November 20) in Milwaukee. Fans who missed the connection needn’t go off the rails, though: publisher Houghton-Mifflin recently released a commemorative edition of the book. (more…)

Germaine Greer’s 30,000-Word Love Letter to Martin Amis

While waiting for her airplane at London’s Heathrow Airport in 1976, Germaine Greer began penning a 30,000-word love letter to Martin Amis. The letter, which was never sent, was uncovered in the Germaine Greer archive at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Greer sold her lifetime archive to the University in 2013. The archive was opened to researchers for the first time this fall. In 1976, Greer was 37 years old and already famous for her early feminist masterpiece The … Continued

#GivingTuesday 2015: Donate with Biblio


Biblio is an excited participant in #GivingTuesday 2015!

#GivingTuesday comes after #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday – the holiday hashtag trifecta. Instead of telling you to buy, buy, buy, it encourages you to give, give, give. Give time, give energy, and if you can, give money to charitable organizations that are doing good in your community.

I’ve seen articles written by those who grumble that the #GivingTuesday movement is being abused by marketers trying to make their brands look better. While we can see why some would feel that way, we continue to participate because the heart of #GivingTuesday is true. The flow of holiday consumerism has a mighty tide, and any message that can break through to remind people how their money or volunteer time can help in the communities around them is worth boosting! (more…)

$35k copy of the Principia sold on Biblio

$35k copy of the Principia: Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton is the most expensive book sold on Biblio in 2015.
$35,000, 2nd edition of the Principia

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton is the most expensive book sold on Biblio in 2015.

Our booksellers find new homes for their unusual, rare, and often beautiful books on Biblio. There are hundreds and thousands of books that are sold each and every day, but one recent sale caught our attention.

How could it not? At $35,000, this is one of the most expensive books ever sold on Biblio.

And beyond the price, the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica is nothing to scoff at!  Translated as “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy,” this groundbreaking work was written in 1687 by Sir Isaac Newton. It is in this work that Newton first stated his laws of motion. It is considered one of the most important works in the history of science and it revolutionized the study of physics.

Two more editions of The Principia were published in Newton’s lifetime – in 1713 and 1726.  The second edition of the Principia included updated chapters, a new preface, and a General Scholium by Newton. It was one of the 750 copies of the 1713 editions which just gained a new owner through Biblio.

Fanny Kemble’s Manuscript Cookbook

It’s here: Rare Book Week Boston. So all week on the blog of Fine Books & Collections, we’ll be highlighting items from the book fairs, auction, or events going on this week and weekend. For today’s installment, we take a page from our fall issue feature on collecting cookbooks and highlight the manuscript recipe book of actress and author Fanny Kemble. It will be on offer from Rabelais Books at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair beginning Friday evening. Kemble … Continued

Jackie Kennedy Fashion Archive Goes to Auction

Doyle-KennedyComing to auction later this month at Doyle New York is a remarkable collection of designs, sketches, and fabric swatches that reveals the emergence of “The Jackie Look,” referring, of course, to the fashionable former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. It includes, for example, three large-format color drawings of evening gowns–the cream dress she wore on the September 1st, 1961 cover of Life magazine, the pink gown worn at a dinner during a state visit to Canada in February 1961, and the yellow suit and pillbox hat worn during an official state luncheon with French President Charles De Gaulle–each bearing annotations from Mrs. Kennedy, such as “Make sure skirt is not too slinky.”

This unpublished archive was created by Irwin Karabell, assistant and sketch artist to designer Oleg Cassini, for much of the sixties. In 1960, Cassini was named Mrs. Kennedy’s official wardrobe designer. He is credited with making A-line dresses, pillbox hats, and Nehru jackets fashionable.

Portions of the archive were exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute’s landmark 2001 exhibition, Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years. And now, it is for sale, estimated at $10,000-15,000.

Browse related collectible books:

Rare Books on Fashion and Costumery

Ephemera and collectibles related to Jackie Kennedy

Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, Rebecca Rego Barry, author

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89 Years of Winnie-the-Pooh

“Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders.”
“Winnie-the-Pooh lived in a forest all by himself under the name of Sanders.”

Winnie the Pooh, the first in a series of children’s books about the eponymous toy bear and other cuddly inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood appeared between hardcovers on October 14, 1926, making 2015 the 89th year the world has reveled in the sweet tales penned by A.A. Milne and illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. Since then, the four original books in the Pooh canon have been translated into fifty languages, including a Latin version, which spent 20 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list in 1960. Movies, merchandise, Disney adaptations, and subsequent stories continue to charm new generations of children worldwide.

While this isn’t exactly a milestone year for Pooh and pals, a few events are sure to draw the attention of fans and collectors alike. First up is the auction of a rare 1932 sketch of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet, available at Nate D. Sanders in Los Angeles. The watercolor includes a note from Shepard to his agent, Carter Brown, thanking him for all his good work. Minimum bidding starts at $50,000, and the auction runs until October 29. (Interested parties can follow the auction here.) Readers may recall the impressive December 2008 sale at Sotheby’s London, where a 42 lot sale of Shepard’s artwork that included 22 original Winnie the Pooh illustrations fetched £1.26 million ($1.97 million). (more…)

The Big Three: FDR, Churchill, and … Longfellow?

In a letter dated January 20, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt waxed poetic with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, scribbling some verses from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Sail on, O Ship of State!” FDR preceded the patriotic lines, originally written in 1849, with these words, “I think this verse applies to you people as it does to us.” America had not yet entered the World War II, but his letter was meant to provide support and encouragement. According to the Library of Congress, Churchill was so moved he had the letter framed and displayed at his home. (more…)

Marion Post Wolcott Images at Auction

Jitterbug by Wolcott (from Wikimedia Commons)

A stunning, Depression-era bathing beauty graced the cover of the Fine Books & Collections summer issue. The photograph was taken in 1939 by Farm Security Administration (FSA) photojournalist Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990). In that issue, writer Jonathan Shipley profiled her life and career, and we heard about (and saw) some of her better known images. Which is why, when paging through Swann Galleries’ catalog for its October 15 sale of Icons & Images: Fine and Vernacular Photographs, I was pleased to recognize Wolcott’s work among the offerings, alongside Walker Evans and W. Eugene Smith.


New York Superheroes

Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist), Action Comics (No. 1, June 1938). Published by Detective Comics, Inc., New York. Courtesy of Metropoliscomics.com.
Courtesy of Metropoliscomics.com

What do Wonder Woman, Superman, and Captain America have in common? Besides otherworldly strength and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, they all hail from New York. New York frequently appears in the stories themselves – Metropolis (Superman) and Gotham City (Batman) are thinly veiled references, while Marvel Comics has always maintained a city-based storyline, giving the Fantastic Four an office in Midtown and making Queens Spider Man’s home.

Why New York? Well, can you really be a superhero without skyscrapers, dark tunnels, and jam-packed crowds? New York’s instantly recognizable skyline and landmarks also provide the perfect “All-American city” background. Starting today, superhero fanatics can explore the role of New York as a creative force in these stories, as well as the origins of other characters at the New York Historical Society, which unveils its latest exhibition, Superheroes in Gotham. Visitors are greeted by a working Batmobile, one of three that was created for the 1966-68 Batman television series, and three galleries full of books, artwork, and video clips that chronicle the meteoric rise of superheroes in popular culture. The show also examines superheroes’ enduring influence on artists and producers today. Remember the Broadway musical Spider Man: Turn off the Dark ? There’s a costume from the show, and a look at what went into creating the most expensive production in Broadway history. (For a time, the show also held the box office record for most ticket sales in one week, generating nearly 3 million dollars.)