The dread and envy of them all

In the wake of the British “Brexit” vote that not only begins the process of withdrawing from the European Union, but also potentially triggers the break-up of the United Kingdom, the libretto to a piece of eighteenth-century theatre illustrates the tangled history of Britain and Europe. In 1700, England faced a succession crisis: twelve years previously, the Roman Catholic king James II had been ousted by his daughter, Mary Stuart and her husband, the Dutch Protestant William of Orange. They … Continued


Trending on Biblio: The First Bible printed in America

The Aitken Bible, The Bible of the Revolution - the first Bible printed in America - trending on Biblio.com #rarebooks
The Bible of the Revolution
The Aitken Bible, The Bible of the Revolution - an early American printed Bible trending on Biblio.com #rarebooks
Interior page with provenance of previous owners.

The Aitken Bible was the first Bible printed in America.

The first complete Bible in the newly formed nation was printed in Philadelphia in 1782 by Robert Aiken, although there had been copies of the Bible printed when the land was still considered British colonies, as well as copies printed in German.

THE HOLY BIBLE, CONTAINING THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS: NEWLY TRANSLATED OUT OF THE ORIGINAL TONGUES; AND WITH THE FORMER TRANSLATIONS DILIGENTLY COMPARED AND REVISED

Printed and sold by Robert Aitken, this Bible was created in response to a shortage of the Holy Book on American soil due to the embargo on goods from England during the American Revolution.  The Continental Congress itself endorsed the creation of this Bible, leading to this often being called “The Bible of the Revolution.

This specific edition that everyone has been looking at so far today is listed on Biblio by William Reese Company – Americana.

Read more about this specific listing here, including details on its condition, provenence, and history.

Now Trending...

 

Amber is the current marketing coordinator at Biblio. A lifelong love of the written word brought her to Biblio and she happily spends her days talking about books and delving into the wide world of antiquarian books.

You can also find her in the garden or writing about brewing and plant adventures at Pixie’s Pocket.


Biblio offering CABS scholarship to a Bookseller

A talk by Michael Suarez, titled "Ecosystems of Value: Thinking about the Circulation of Antiquarian Books"
A talk by Michael Suarez, titled “Ecosystems of Value: Thinking about the Circulation of Antiquarian Books”

In support of Biblio’s commitment to excellence in bookselling, we are pleased to once again pay the tuition for a bookseller to attend the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.

The Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar is one of the single greatest resources available for professional booksellers of every experience level to increase their knowledge.

This is the eighth year that Biblio has offered a bookseller a scholarship to attend the Seminar. Biblio’s scholarship awards:

  • The full cost of tuition for the Seminar
  • $250 toward accommodations at the facilities provided by the seminar
  • $250 donation to a non-profit of the winner’s choice which promotes literacy and/or education
  • One year of Biblio’s lowest commission option with all monthly fees rebated.

Past scholarship recipients have reported the amazing depth of information available during this 5 day event, and we are proud to be able to help booksellers attend.

To apply, please provide:

  • A few paragraphs on why you hope to attend the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. (no more than one single-spaced page)
  • A brief description of the charity you would choose to receive the donation and why you chose them (no more than one single-spaced page)

Email your entry to scholarship@biblio.com by May 30, 2016.
We’ll announce a winner by June 10th.

Amber is the current marketing coordinator at Biblio. A lifelong love of the written word brought her to Biblio and she happily spends her days talking about books and delving into the wide world of antiquarian books.

You can also find her in the garden or writing about brewing and plant adventures at Pixie’s Pocket.


Svetlana Alexievich Awarded 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature

Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievich is seen during a book fair in Minsk, Belarus, in 2014. Photograph: Reuters
Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievich is seen during a book fair in Minsk, Belarus, in 2014. Photograph: Reuters

The Swedish Academy awarded Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel Prize in Literature today, Thursday, October 8, 2015.

The Belarussian journalist and prose writer is the 14th woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and she is also one of the first nonfiction writers. Alexievich is best known for her works about female Russian soldiers, the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The Nobel Prize in Literature is given in recognition of a writer’s entire body of work rather than a single title. The Swedish Academy praised Alexievich’s collections of oral histories and “polyphonic writings” as a “monument to suffering and courage in our time”.

Sources:

The Guardian: Svetlana Alexievich wins 2015 Nobel prize in literature

NY Times: Svetlana Alexievich Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Rare Finds are a special feature from Biblio and the wonderful writers at Fine Books & Collections. Visit their site to see more about the rare book trade.


A Brief History of the Dust Jacket

As most collectors are aware, a dust jacket in fine condition can greatly enhance the value of a book. Indeed, for modern first editions, a book without the dust jacket will sell for only a fraction of the price. Once intended to be temporary and disposable protection for beautifully bound books, dust jackets have become–in some ways–more valuable than the books they protect. How and when did this change occur? Prior to the 1820s, most books were issued as unbound … Continued


Thoreau Institute Obtains Major Collection of Rare Books & Manuscripts

draft manuscript leaf of Thoreau's Walden
A draft manuscript leaf of Thoreau’s Walden, in which he writes, “Oh Baker Farm!” Courtesy of the Walden Woods Project.

The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, a research facility that holds the most comprehensive collection of Henry David Thoreau-related material in one place, has acquired what its curator of collections Jeffrey S. Cramer calls “a dream collection, the last truly great Thoreau collection in private hands.” The collection was amassed over 45 years by bookseller Kevin Mac Donnell of Mac Donnell Rare Books in Austin, Texas.

The highlights are thrilling: A Walden first edition–“the cleanest copy in existence,” says Cramer–plus Thoreau’s Aunt Maria’s annotated copy of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack, two manuscript leaves from his “Walking” essay, unbound sheets of “Civil Disobedience,” two books from Thoreau’s personal library, Thoreau family pencils, and unrecorded variant editions. Topping all of those is an extremely rare manuscript leaf from Walden that references Baker Farm (seen below). “That sold it for us,” says Cramer. Baker Farm is where the Thoreau Institute is located, so it feels very much “like it’s coming back home,” he adds. (more…)

Rare Finds are a special feature from Biblio and the wonderful writers at Fine Books & Collections. Visit their site to see more about the rare book trade.


A Treasure of a Pirate Book

History of Pyrates
A General History of the Pyrates

You might think that our whole popular image of pirates—peg legs, buried treasure, the “Jolly Roger” flag—comes from Disney movies and amusement rides. In fact, much of that image comes from one book: A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most Notorious Pyrates. (reprint editions here). It was published in 1724, and was a bestseller—it turns out that pirates’ entertainment value is nothing new, either. The book’s author was given as Captain Charles Johnson. However, this is usually considered a pseudonym, and debate continues about who the real author was. In addition to forming our modern conception of pirates, the book also remains our primary source for the biographies of famous pirates like Blackbeard and Calico Jack, and Anne Bonny and Mary Read—the two most famous women pirates. (more…)

Amber is the current marketing coordinator at Biblio. A lifelong love of the written word brought her to Biblio and she happily spends her days talking about books and delving into the wide world of antiquarian books.

You can also find her in the garden or writing about brewing and plant adventures at Pixie’s Pocket.


Why Rare Books Matter: Rewriting History

The Kangaroo - Photo: Debbie Cuthbertson
The Kangaroo – Photo: Debbie Cuthbertson
One little marsupial could change it all.

A kangaroo grasping for some leafy greens in an illuminated letter is making some researchers reconsider the commonly accepted dates of the European discovery of Australia and its people.

As reported in the Guardian, a small kangaroo or wallaby was found drawn inside a letter in a Portuguese manuscript believed to date from between 1580-1620.  This means that Portuguese explorers could have set foot on Australia before the earliest known encounter in 1606 by Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon. (more…)

Amber is the current marketing coordinator at Biblio. A lifelong love of the written word brought her to Biblio and she happily spends her days talking about books and delving into the wide world of antiquarian books.

You can also find her in the garden or writing about brewing and plant adventures at Pixie’s Pocket.


The Most Expensive Book Sold at Auction – The Bay Psalm Book

N09039_385_2Bay Psalm Book Auctioned for 14 Million Dollars

Setting a world record for the most expensive book ever sold at auction, the Bay Psalm Book was sold for $14,165,000 to David M. Rubenstein from Sotheby’s auction house.  Rubenstein works for an investment firm in Washington, DC, and according to the New York Times, Rubenstein plans to lend it to libraries across the country.

There are only 11 known copies of the Bay Psalm Book, which makes it an incredibly rare find.  Printed in 1640, it is the first book printed in English in North America, just two decades after the Mayflower carried the Pilgrims to the New World.

This particular Bay Psalm Book contains numerous printing and spelling errors, typical of the very early printing presses.  The New Yorker explains that the preface of the first edition includes the disclaimer that the printers

“…respected rather a plaine translation, then to smooth our verses with the sweetnes of any paraphrase, and soe have attended Conscience rather then Elegance…” (more…)


Memento Mori – Macabre Collectibles

Books and Ephemera on Death and Funeral Customs

Memento mori is a Latin phrase that means ‘Remember that you will die’ and it is meant to serve as a reminder that we all shall pass from this plane.  A commonly accepted story of the origin of the phrase claims that a slave was commanded to sing “Memento Mori” as he paraded behind his master, a triumphant war hero returning to Rome, to remind him that even though one may be strong, man’s time on earth is ultimately finite.

The phrase and concept caught on with the growth of Christianity and spread throughout the world.  There are chapels in Rome, Portugal, and the Czech Republic that have chandeliers, towers, sculpture and even walls made from or inlaid with hundreds of thousands of human bones.  There are many ornate tombs covered in laughing skeletons and angels alike, artwork depicting the danse macabre – the dancing death – taking away poor and rich alike, and later on, complicated clocks and watches decorated with reminders that your final second is ever just around the bend.

The Victorian era was rife with dramatic funerary customs, many modeled after Queen Victoria’s intense and life-long mourning of her beloved husband, Prince Albert.  It was common to clip locks of hair from the head of a deceased loved one to keep as a physical reminder of them.  Some women even wove the hair into a fine mesh and made jewelry from it, or tucked it into lockets.  Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes were growing more popular and many photographers specialized in post-mortem photography.  Those pictures were then inserted into cards, lockets, or handmade frames crafted by the grieving women of the family who weren’t allowed to do much else during their restrictive mourning period.

We’ve found a few amazing historically significant Memento Mori broadsides spanning the centuries, as well as books, ephemera and some modern writings on the subject. Click through to see!

(more…)