Portrait of a lady?

portrait miss-benedetta-ramus

I have collected many “things” over the years, often unconsciously. An assemblage of mezzotint portraits of ladies of repute from the second half of the eighteenth century had a certain purpose, and even a policy. 

The ladies kept coming, so long as they were attractive, good impressions and preferably priced at less than one would have paid 100 years ago. Miss Benedetta Ramus, by Dickinson after Romney, sold for £672 in 1910, while a First Folio of Shakespeare was knocked down to Quaritch at Sotheby in the same year for £400. Nowadays an unmade bed excites the wealthy more than a carefully coiffured beauty resting her chin on volume 4 of Johnson’s Shakespeare. Perhaps there was a chivalric, or Gladstonian, motive in my retrieval of these fallen ladies. Combined with a degree of curiosity – who were Miss Young and Catherine Trapaud?

Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections


ABA Support for the Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections in the UK and Republic of Ireland

Like all academic books, the new edition of the Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections began with a proposal for the publisher detailing aim, scope, market and so forth. Support from the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA) was evident early on, as an encouraging comment offered to publicise the published Directory, the ABA has stated: “It’s obviously a book every serious bookseller should have. (May every acquisitions librarian feel the same way about libraries!) Beyond that, the ABA is helping to ensure that the Directory will be as good as it can be, in two key ways.

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ABA New Member - Tom Lintern-Mole (Antiquates Ltd.)

Tom Lintern-MoleI started in the book trade at thirteen, after being offered a job in a local Dorset bookshop. It was, admittedly, the third consecutive Saturday I'd spent browsing, so the owner's noncommittal offer was not wholly surprising:  

"You may as well come and work here next week; you spend more time than I do looking at these shelves".

This was 2000, just before the paradigm shift for book selling: when local shops could still support themselves by selling a combination of last-year's bestsellers to holidaymakers, local topography and military history to carefree retirees with big houses and the spare time to spend reading. The best stock was often kept back and put into the 'London boxes'; for taking monthly to the Royal National. 

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Save the Warburg Institute!

WarburgThe University of London has taken legal action to challenge its own deed of trust concerning the care and integrity of the Warburg Institute. Possible results of this action include the dispersal of the library, or its relocation abroad.

This is not the first time the Institute has been threatened: it was relocated from Hamburg to London in 1933, endangered by Hitler's rise to power, and although the University of London accepted the collections in 1944 (the agreement currently under review), similar action was considered in 2010.

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Collecting Dickens


Charles Dickens collectors see prices rise as signed book fetches £275k - the Financial Mail on Sunday talks to Brian Lake about collecting Dickens 

Brian Lake, president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, says the key appeal of Dickens is that there is a wide range of books and ephemera to suit all pockets.

"Dickens prided himself on being a man of the people and insisted his publishers offered his books cheaply so they could be widely read. His popularity meant print runs tended to be high and this means there are now large numbers of collectable editions available. No matter what your budget, there is something you can afford."

Read Toby Walne's full article here

A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps

A History of the 20th Century in 100 Maps

The October 2014 seminar in the book-collecting series organised jointly by the Institute of English Studies (London University) and the ABA Educational Trust will be given by Tim Bryars and Tom Harper.

Tim Bryars is a well-known mapseller, with premises in London’s Cecil Court, while  Tom Harper is a curator at the legendary Map Library at the British Library.  Their book, A History of the 20th Century in 100 Maps, is scheduled to be published in September 2014.  The twentieth century was a golden age of map-making, and maps permeated almost every aspect of daily life.  It was a century overshadowed by war which was also marked by tremendous social and technological change ...

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Chelsea Book FairEVER FANCIED OWNING a First Edition of Diamonds Are Forever or The Hobbit?

Are you curious to know what your aunt’s dusty old leather-bound copy of Bleak House might be worth?

If you are, then the Chelsea Antiquarian Book Fair in November should be right up your street. Held at the stunning Chelsea Old Town Hall on the King’s Road, this event has become a magnet for collectors and dealers alike who travel from far and wide for two days of book dabbling and dealing.  For nearly a quarter of a century the Chelsea fair has been a fixture in the November calendar for those who love to buy and sell old books, maps, manuscripts, prints and related ephemera.

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The ABA is increasing its membership

ABA/ILAB BadgeThe ABA is increasing its membership - have you thought about joining the best booksellers in Britain? 

A message to all ambitious sellers of rare and antiquarian books from Brian Lake, President ABA and Steve Liddle, Membership Secretary, ABA.

Why join the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association?

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De Caro Thefts - List of confiscated / withdrawn books


De Caro and the Girolamini thefts - Notice from ILAB president Norbert Donhofer, concerning the list of books confiscated or withdrawn from auction No 59 at Zisska & Schauer (Munich), May 2012.

BTHC Brochure and Booking Form 2014

bthcBookshops have been at the centre of the trade’s activity from the beginning. This year’s conference will explore some aspects of the arrangement of bookshops and the way in which they framed social and commercial interaction of many kinds. Leading scholars in the field will present original papers, drawing evidence from different countries and different historical periods.

The Book Trade History Conference will take place on Sunday 16th & Monday 17th of November 2014 at Stationers' Hall.

Download the BTHC Brochure and booking form here

Books Thefts: Pontremoli


Hundreds of books – incunables and early printings – and historical sketches have been announced missing from the Biblioteca del Seminario vescovile di Pontremoli and the Archivio storico della cattedrale di Massa. The attached list contains pictures of the library stamps and ex-libris as well as book descriptions.

If you come across of one or more of the items listed in the pdf file below, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (President of ALAI) or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Download the Pontremoli List of stolen books here

De Caro and the Girolamini Thefts - ILAB Protest Note

Official Note of Protest of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellersilablogo14

Since spring of 2012 the issue of the massive thefts in the Girolamini Library and other Italian libraries had kept busy both the Italian Justice as well as the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). ILAB understands fully that this is a complicated issue as the main suspected person, Marino Massimo de Caro, has carefully – and partly successfully - tried to cover up the traces of plundering he had left in the National Heritages. ILAB has, however, offered from April in 2012 onwards its help and cooperation to clear up this mess in many ways, an offer, which unfortunately had never been accepted and had not even been answered by Italian authorities. 

The latest developments in this case – the arrest of the Danish dealer Christian Westergaard and the confiscation of eleven books out of his stock – gives ILAB no other choice as to announce an official note of protest against the department of investigation. This note of protest will be sent to officials in both the Ministry of Culture of Italy and the Ministry of Justice of Italy, and it will be spread out to librarians, journalists, and the public worldwide.

Grief, grit and humour at the British Library

women of britain say go

Grief, grit and humour – Enduring War opens at the British Library to mark the centenary of the First World War, running from 19 June to 12 October 2014

Key items in the exhibition include a letter from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to his mother describing his worries about his son serving at the Front, written in the light of his belief in Spiritualism. Also included in the exhibition on rare display is a letter from Isaac Rosenberg and the manuscripts of well-known war poets, such as Rupert Brooke.



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First edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's third novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. £1500.00. 

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Next Fair

Chelsea FairThe 24th Chelsea Book Fair will be held at the Old Town Hall, King’s Road, London on 7-8 November 2014.

The Chelsea fair has become a strong fixture in the November calendar for book collectors and dealers. Warmer than Boston, more intimate than York, less formal than Paris – Chelsea has it all.

For more information visit: www.chelseabookfair.com

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Fairs and Events

This fictional account of the day-by-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of considerable interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional gamekeeper. Unfortunately one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savour these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer's opinion this book cannot take the place of J.  R.  Miller's Practical Gamekeeping.

Ed Zern, reviewing a reissue of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, in Field and Stream, November 1959