Medieval peace treaty to modern, international rallying cry


On the eve of Independence Day in the United States, we are excited to announce that original copies of two of the most famous documents in the world, the Declaration of Independence and the US Bill of Rights, will be on display at the British Library next year. They will be major highlights of our exhibition to celebrate the 800th anniversary of that other extremely famous document, Magna Carta. Our exhibition – Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy – will provide the first opportunity to see these American documents on display in the UK. The exhibition, which will include our two original copies of the 1215 Magna Carta, will tell the story of its medieval roots and track its evolution from medieval peace treaty to modern, international rallying cry against the arbitrary use of authority. Open from 13 March to 1 September 2015, the exhibition is sponsored by Linklaters, the global law firm.

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Original copies of US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights


“We hold these truths to be self-evident” – original copies of US Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights to be displayed in UK for first time at British Library’s Magna Carta exhibition next year

Two of the most celebrated documents in American History - the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence - will be on display in the UK for the first time next year on loan from the US National Archives and New York Public Library. They will be displayed at the British Library as part of a landmark exhibition: Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy, which runs from 13 March - 1 September 2015 and is sponsored by Linklaters, the global law firm.

The Declaration of Independence is loaned by New York Public Library, and is the text which Thomas Jefferson copied in his own hand in 1776, incorporating the changes made by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to a draft version. Jefferson’s document also indicates the passages subsequently excised in Congress, notably his lengthy condemnation of slavery. The Declaration established the separation of America from Great Britain, and paved the way for the drafting of the American Constitution as we know it.

British Library Website

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.


Gutenberg Bible Theft

gutenbergbibleRussia has sentenced three of its Federal agents after they attempted to sell off a Gutenberg Bible. Colonel Sergei Vedishchev had offered it to a collector for under $1.15m (£700,000; 1.07m euros), a fraction of its estimated value.

Court spokeswoman Irina Zhirnova said the book was "priceless" and that experts expected it to fetch at least $20.4m. "These people were not art specialists," she explained. 

Collecting Private Press Books - David Chambers

Kelmscott ColophonThe July 2014 seminar in the book-collecting series organised jointly by the Institute of English Studies (London University) and the Rare Book Society will be given by David Chambers.

David Chambers is one of the foremost collectors in the field of private press books and has published books and articles on a wide range of related subjects. Since 1979 he has edited, or co-edited, The Private Library, the quarterly journal of the Private Libraries Association, a society of which he has been Chairman since the 1970s. As a printer himself, he has operated the Cuckoo Hill Press since the late 1950s, printing a number of significant illustrated books over that time.

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An interview with ILAB President Norbert Donhofer

President Nobert“My highest priority is to build up confidence in the professional antiquarian book trade” - ILAB President Norbert Donhofer

In mid-April 2014 the Austrian antiquarian bookseller Norbert Donhofer was elected ILAB President. In this interview he talks about recent challenges of the international antiquarian book trade and his plans for the upcoming two years of his presidency. 


By Bettina Führer

The British Library's Online Treasures

As the British Library posts its greatest literary treasures online, new research reveals that young people could be struggling to engage with the classics. 

The British Library has posted over 1000 of its greatest literary treasures online in a new website, Discovering Literature – including the manuscripts of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Austen, Dickens and Wilde, the largest collection of childhood writings of the Brontë sisters, and other unique artefacts which shed new light on their life and works.

“The launch of Discovering Literature enables lovers of literature to come face-to-face with some of our most treasured collections online anywhere in the world."

Visit Discovering Literature

Grand Theft in Dublin

allhallowsGardaí have been called in at All Hallows College, Dublin following the discovery that several very valuable items have gone missing.

Fr Patrick McDevitt, president of the College, told The Irish Times that the Gardaí were called in early May when it was discovered “a sizeable number” of items were missing. McDevitt said their collective value was estimated to be “in the thousands”. However, valuer and expert in rare books Owen Felix O’Neill recently updated this claim, suggesting that the loss to the college infact amounted to “quite a few million.”

The items included prints by Raphael, 37 engravings by 18th century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi which featured views of Rome as well as a first edition - in two volumes - of a book by Isaac Newton.

Read full article: The Irish Times

ABA New Member - Jonathan Frost

Jonathan FrostMy earliest memory of an old book is a copy of Oliver Twist, purchased from a car boot sale near my grandparents when I was eight years old. The story itself frightened me at that age, but the damp musty smell that tickled my nostrils as I read, combined with an awareness that the book had been printed in London around the time of the events described, heightened the reality and inspired a visceral terror that the words alone would never have achieved. It was the first time that I became aware of the importance of books as objects, beyond that words which they contain. I started collecting books when I was ten, through a colleague of my father, who used to stand at the book fairs around Buckinghamshire and, over the next five years, amassed quite a substantial collection. 

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Norbert Donhofer's speech to the ILAB Congress

Norbert DonhoferDear Anne, dear Presidents, Presidents of Honour, Treasurer of Honour, Members of Honour, colleagues and friends, 

The 41st ILAB Congress, which is this time an accompanying programme for the 100th anniversary of the SLAM, is coming to an end, and on behalf of ILAB, its member nations and all its affiliates, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to you, dear Anne, in your capacity as representative of the many people who have assisted in bringing to life this towering event. As in 1988, and that was one of the earliest congresses I personally attended, not only is it difficult to single out any particular one of the magnificent libraries we had the privilege of visiting in the last few days or the riches within them, it would be utterly unfair ...

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Zisska & Schauer Statement


Norbert Donhofer, president of ILAB, has posted the following statement from Zisska & Schauer concerning further developments in the case ofthe Girolamini Library thefts and the withdrawn books from the October 2013 Zisska & Schauer auction.

ABA New Member - John Atkinson

John AtkinsonJohn Atkinson Books has been operating since 2007. My interest in first edition books stems back to a North Yorkshire car boot sale, when, at the age of 7, I bought my first 'Just William' first edition and (several years later of course) started selling books to fund my University fees. 

Now, from a private residence on the border of North Yorkshire and County Durham, I sell first edition fiction novels to a number of collectors across the world. 

We specialise in modern first edition fiction primarily, but have built collections and libraries with books from the eighteenth and nineteenth century before ... 

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Sheila Markham’s “Second Book of Booksellers” to be published on 1st May, 2014

Markham“I can think of more sensible occupations, but I can’t think of any more pleasurable”. (Charles Cox)

Good news for all book lovers: On 1st May, 2014, Sheila Markham’s “Second Book of Booksellers” will be published. Sheila’s “conversations with the antiquarian book trade” are legendary. Her interviews with the most influential figures of the antiquarian book business first appeared in the Bookdealer, and were then published in book-form as “A Book of Booksellers” in the year 2004. Ian Jackson called it “an essential archive of book trade history”.

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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

A bookshop is powder-magazine, a dynamite-shed, a drugstore of poisons, a bar of intoxicants, a den of opiates, an island of sirens (John Cowper Powys).