by Rebecca Rego Barry, reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections This year marks the 350th anniversary of the publication of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The sixteenth-century Buckinghamshire house where he completed the epic poem is now a museum known as Milton’s Cottage, which debuts today an exhibition titled Paradise Lost & the Private Presses. Curated by James Freemantle, who collects private press books (see his Bright Young Collector profile), the exhibition focuses on editions of Paradise Lost from … Continued
By Barbara Basbanes Richter No matter how you feel about today’s inauguration, take heart and consider the first swearing-in ceremony of America’s sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. On March 4, 1861, the country was a scant six weeks from entering the Civil War, seven states had already seceded from the Union, and rumors of plots to assassinate Lincoln were already swirling in the air. In addition to taking the helm of an ideologically divided country, Lincoln was the first president to … Continued
by Rebecca Rego Barry A small but interesting archive of material relating to Alfred Lord Tennyson and Charles Dickens has turned up at London-based Chiswick Auctions, consigned by a distant relation of the Ellis family. The product of that family’s long-term association with the two authors, the collection contains correspondence, envelopes, clipped autographs, stereoscopic photographs, a rare program pamphlet (1868) produced for a series of Dickens’ “Farewell Readings,” and a pencil drawing of 48 Doughty Street by a member of … Continued
The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina, not far from the world famous Pinehurst No. 2 golf course, has an expert stocking its shelves. Bill Maher, a retired history professor, gets people coming back to the shop for one reason: He knows his stuff.
Antiquarian book collectors sometimes forget that there is another class of book collector. These collectors do not collect books for their beauty or rarity but rather attempt to assemble a collection that represents mankind’s current state of understanding of a particular topic. Sometimes misidentified as readers, these collectors do not find their treasures in the dusty and dim shops of the antiquarian collector. Their books often come off the “new releases” table at their local lively and hip bookstore.
Although declining in numbers, many bibliophiles say indie bookstores offer the best way to buy new books because indie stores have the best staff. Being able to be recommended books and talk about books with a knowledgeable person makes indie customers feel that their shopping experience is unique and fun. (more…)
Two New York rare booksellers claim to have purchased–on Ebay, no less–an annotated dictionary that belonged to William Shakespeare. George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler, both members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, and the Grolier Club, astounded the book world on April 21, 2014 with what might be the literary find of the century, or millennium.
The book, John Baret’s An Alvearie or Quadruple Dictionarie, was published in London in 1580. Koppelman and Wechsler bought in for $4,050 on Ebay in 2008, thus beginning an incredible journey. Though the dictionary is unsigned, it holds thousands of annotations in a sixteenth-century hand, including what the booksellers believe are subtle clues to Shakespeare’s writing process. It is, as the booksellers write, “A most obscure book. A humble copy. An extensive network of annotations that, through obscurity and a lack of attention, comes to light only now, never previously studied or speculated upon. These are the basic stepping-stones to providing plausibility to the dream that such a monumental discovery is possible. The rest is in the evidence.” (more…)
Poor Lewis Carroll detested the fame that his “Alice” books brought him. In a letter written to a friend, Mrs. Symonds, in 1891, he explains how he hates signing autographs or having his letters put into autograph books. “All that sort of publicity leads to strangers hearing of my real name in connection with the books, and to my being pointed out to, and stared at by, strangers, and treated as a ‘lion.’ And I hate all that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish I had never written any books at all.” That vituperative letter from a man best known as a children’s author will be sold at Bonhams London on March 19. The auction estimate is £3,000-4,000 ($5,000-6,700).
According to Bonhams, the shy Carroll (real name: Charles Dodgson) added insult to injury by printing something called The Stranger Circular, which he sent to would-be collectors with the message that Mr. Dodgson bluntly refused to have anything to do with books published under another name, i.e. Carroll.
Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, Author: Rebecca Rego Barry, Image credit: Bonhams