Seminars on various aspects of book collecting are held regularly at the University of London’s Senate House in central London. Organised jointly by the Institute of English Studies (London University) and the ABA Educational Trust, the speakers are all drawn from among the leading booksellers, academics, historians and collectors in the field. Admission is free to all – and all are welcome.
The seminars are aimed at a very broad audience including book-collectors, would-be book-collectors, book-dealers, historians of all kinds, librarians, indeed at anyone with an interest in collecting any sort of text from the sixth-former to the retired professor. The atmosphere is friendly and informal, as are the presentations. They commence at 6pm, last for an hour or two, questions are always welcome, and there are always signs at Senate House directing you to the right seminar-room.
Details of the coming season are given on the flyer - and there are always up to date details in the Seminars section and in the Events Calendar.
From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg is the motto of the first ever ILAB International Antiquarian Exhibition and Fair in Budapest, which is held on 24 and 25 September, following the 42nd Congress of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) from 19 to 23 September. Over a hundred booksellers from across the world will be welcomed to the bi-annual congress, exhibitors from Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Russia, Japan and of course, Hungary are expected to display most rare and most beautiful books and manuscripts at the succeeding International Antiquarian Book Fair. The items on display at the Vigadó target collectors with different interests and economic possibilities, and guarantee the active participation of international collectors.
Television adaptation is a wonderful way of opening up literary history to the reading public in all its diversity. You’ll get Dickens, Tolstoy, Jane Austen and — so garlanded by now in TV adaptation terms that she joins their ranks — Hilary Mantel. You might get the odd better-known Brontë, if you’re lucky, and Hardy always goes down well. Then what?
The ABA Educational Trust exists to promote and support education and research across the entire field of rare book studies and antiquarian bookselling. This includes: the organisation and funding of courses, bibliographical research, support of apprenticeships including cataloguing skills, encouraging the reading and collection of books, promotion of exhibitions and publications, making grants to individuals and institutions, research into the history of the book, liaison with and support of rare books librarians and archivists, promoting lectures and seminars, and awarding bursaries and grants.
Living With - And From - Books: A Century of Manuscripts and Early Printed Books of Literature, Fine Arts, Science and First Editions By Umberto Pregliasco
"An insatiable passion possesses me, which even today I cannot and would not stop … I never grow tired of books. Perhaps I have more than necessary ... as they give us so many benefits, they don’t need any food or drink and they are satisfied with cast-off clothing and a place to lay their head”.
(Francesco Petrarca, 14th century)
We are rare book dealers and from the items we bought and sold over these decades, we had the opportunity to learn something about history, literature, art, life and the world (past and present). We realised that editing a text in English which should be read almost as an “historical tale” is a very hard job, something totally different from the usual bibliographic descriptions with our familiar technical terms. In any case, this pamphlet will be a much more comfortable way for you to share our history with us: let’s say that this text was guided by the same “Italian passion” that we have been putting in our works for a century...
The Meaning of a Catalogue
“in that depth, saw in one volume bound with love, whatever the universe unfolds” (Paradiso XXXIII, 86-87)
At the same time when Italy celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Italian Unification, the Libreria Pregliasco turns one hundred years old. Therefore Italy was merely fifty years old when young Lorenzo Pregliasco, born in 1894 in the Piedmontese Langa, asked his family to sell a farm house to be able to buy a dusty second-hand bookshop in the centre of Torino. After returning from World War I, in 1921, together with his brother, Secondo, he published catalogue no. 1, offering for sale four hundred books, among which the most expensive one was an illustrated incunabulum offered for 65 liras.
Since then we printed out about 300 publications, such as cyclostiled short-title lists, pamphlets for exhibitions, “Convivia” of various subjects and monographic catalogues. For this occasion we are presenting the “Catalogue 100” of the third series, one more reason to celebrate now one century of our activity. The custom for some antiquarian booksellers is to honour important events with catalogues limited to a few highly valuable books. On the other hand, we wanted to present a catalogue with the purpose of documenting the history of our activity under every aspect, as a bookshop moved by a passion that is beyond the financial aspect, aimed at bibliographical research, the conservation of books and manuscripts, and at the re-evaluation of what was not well known yet or has already been forgotten.
One of the bookseller’s duty is also to share culture, stimulating the book lover’s curiosity, offering books within every price range: throughout the chapters of this catalogue dealing with previously approached topics, and monographic catalogues, that followed one another through the years. we are also presenting, therefore, some volumes that assume their meaning when they are introduced side by side with the more expensive ones, dealing on the same subject. Once more we have decided to go through some of the aspects of the booksellers’ business along the 20th century, through the history of our bookshop, that is intended to guide the book lovers in the reading of this catalogue.
“When a writer dies, he embodies the books he has written”, Borges declared; paraphrasing this significant quotation, we could say that a rare-book dealer relives through the catalogues he has published. Very few memories might be left of the books that have been purchased and sold, while the collection of his own catalogues is the bookseller’s true spiritual last will, the story of his life and of how he was able “to sell his own soul”, transmitting with every sale his knowledge and passion to the bibliophiles.
A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. (William Styron)
In his quite messy bookshop, Lorenzo used to receive visits from the cream of Turin intellectual elite: Benedetto Croce, Piero Gobetti, Franco Antonicelli and from a young man interested in political economics: Luigi Einaudi.
As Francesco Fadini wrote in his introduction to the Risorgimento catalogue of 1978: “Croce really liked the ‘ excellent Pregliasco’, recalled by his daughter, Donna Elena in her Ricordi familiari when in the Libreria he used to meet his friends: Einaudi, Gioele Solari, Francesco Ruffini, Domenico Bulferetti, Gobetti, Federico Patetta”. Einaudi, the future President of Italy used to confess: “I would rather buy, after years, on the rare-book market, and for 50 lira, the book that was sold out and that had become famous, which I would have bought new for 10 lira. So, I can save the money that I would have risked to spend on useless books”.
A great hunger for antique books drove the founder of the Bookshop throughout Italy – “travelling in the smoking section of the third class”, as he loved to remember – searching for libraries; his most important purchase is the one of the famous library put together by Francesco Melzi d’Eril, viceroy of Italy during Napoleon’s occupation.
And it was the dispersion of the Biblioteca Melziana, that in the period after the war gathered bibliophiles and book dealers from half-way around the world in the bookshop in Torino.
“Whoever has entered rooms which used to house volumes, maybe over the course of centuries, is aware of the feeling of holding ancient documents and books, and can imagine the emotion to give a new life to works that a long sleep has laid still for years. Through the bookseller’s search there will be a new stage of the mysterious route that the books follow in a time that is longer than the one allowed to their owners. Tracing the map of the trip is not possible, in some cases we are talking about hundreds of years that the book spends from library to library. It would be interesting to know where and from whom the volumes chosen by Melzi d’Eril had originated and where they have ended up. The Pregliasco family has been the means of a sudden return to life and, although it is obvious that a bookseller does not operate for this purpose, the result is fascinating and we cannot avoid recognizing the merit for a work that is not merely business.”.
Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
To be continued ...
Part 1 of "Living With - And From - Books: A Century of Manuscripts and Early Printed Books of Literature, Fine Arts, Science and First Editions", published by Umberto Pregliasco on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Libreria Antiquaria Pregliasco. The text is presented here by permission of the author.
A stolen copy of Christopher Columbus’ account of his voyage in 1492 to the New World is being returned to the Old World. The book had been stolen from a library in Florence and then ended up as a donation to the Library of Congress in 2004. Last week American officials returned it to Italy.
"It's a print of undisputed historical value, said Fulvio S. Stacchetti, head of the Riccardiana library in Florence, “and has made a unique two-way trip ... five centuries after its writing. And now it's back home.
The investigation began several years ago when U.S. agents, working with the Italian Carabinieri art department, received a tip that the "Plannck II edition" at the Florence library had been replaced with a forgery.
Examinations of the forged copy carried out by scientific experts with the military police in Italy discovered that: "the text of the forged letter was a high-quality photocopy, that there was no original library stamp from the [Riccardiana] Library and that the stitching patterns did not match original stitching patterns for known Plannck II Columbus Letters."
Experts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington carried out their own studies and found that chemical agents had been used “to remove the ink of the Riccardiana library stamp and that printed characters had been retouched to further disguise the letter's provenance, or place of origin.”
Officials said that the Florentine letter was bought by a rare-books collector in Switzerland in 1990 and was sold to an anonymous buyer for $330,000 at Christie’s auction house in New York in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s first voyage to the New World.
Mr. Franceschini, the culture minister, said on Wednesday that the original letter would soon be returned to the Riccardiana library, “its legitimate home.” This is “the story of a very sophisticated theft,” he added. “For many years, we didn’t discover that the libraries had copies of the original. It shows that our level of attention has to remain high.” Particularly at a time when collecting is taking off in emerging markets, he said, “the temptations start now.”
We are an award-winning leading London-based rare bookseller with a global client base and at the forefront of our industry both for product and business approach. You are an experienced, self-starting Digital Content and Campaign Manager who will expand our presence and profile and create, develop and lead our digital, social and traditional marketing activities.
Become our Digital Content and Campaign Manager and you’ll help deliver an outstanding digital experience, connecting us with our customers across a range of touch points. You’ll join a small, highly-focussed team driving positive change at the heart of our business, reporting to our Digital Marketing Manager and liaising with our team of expert booksellers and marketing partners to ensure consistency of content in fully integrated campaigns. Our aim to stay fresh and ahead of the curve in our industry means the role is dynamic, challenging and rewarding.
£23,000 - £25,000 + benefits
What you’ll do:
- Write great copy and sub your colleagues’ work, dealing with tight deadlines and flimsy briefs
- Deliver content for our catalogues, newsletters, blogs and across our digital channels
- Play a key role in generating new marketing and brand campaigns
- Identify and implement improvements in system policies and processes
- Support complete accuracy and consistency across the digital team
- Be an experienced copy-writer and content/project manager
- Have worked in digital content role with a proven track record
- Be happy planning and prioritising your workload
- Have competency with blogging and email software (knowledge/use of either Wordpress or Mailchimp highly desirable)
- Ability with Adobe software, particularly inDesign and Photoshop
- Have excellent interpersonal skills: the vast majority of projects will be undertaken in conjunction with other members of staff
- Historical and/or literary areas of interest & knowledge
- A good general understanding of social media
We’d love you to have:
- Fluency or competence in a major second language – Spanish or Russian would be particularly helpful
- Previous experience working in a library, bookshop or relevant institution or the luxury industry
- Self-motivation in planning and prioritising your workload
- Flexibility in regards to working occasional evening events
What’s in it for you:
- Competitive salary
- Generous contributory pension
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If you would like to apply please send a CV and covering letter to email@example.com
'The Bard' as he is known, is widely considered the greatest writer in the English language, and his plays and poems have become an integral part of Western culture. Over the course of his 52-years, Shakespeare produced 38 plays, 154 sonnets and a number of other works. But how have they managed to remain relevant for over four centuries?
Celebrations have taken place through out the day in Stratford-upon-Avon to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death and the Bard is back where he has always belonged – centre-stage.
Prince Charles attended one of the evenings events, Shakespeare Live - a televised performance celebrating the playwright's life at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
With a line-up that includes leading architects, scientists, novelists, politicians, scholars and poets, the 27th edition of Charleston Festival (20 - 30 May 2016) is peerless in the quality of its speakers. 2016 is a special year for Charleston, marking 100 years since Bloomsbury Group artists, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, arrived to make Charleston their Sussex home creating an artistic and intellectual hub, which would later host distinguished literary figures John Maynard Keynes and Virginia Woolf.
Annotating Woolf, Saturday 9th (10:00 - 16:00), explores the challenges of producing new editions of Virginia Woolf's novels and, in particular, the Cambridge University Press editions of her first three novels. The event features lectures from Stuart Clarke, Dr Emma Sutton (University of St Andrews) and Dr Michael Whitworth (Merton College, Oxford).
Collectors, Collections and Collecting, Friday 15th, will cover a range of topics including the future of private collections, Ruskin and his legacy, and features a plenary lecture by Dr Stella Panayotova, Keeper of Manuscripts and Printed Books, The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.
“One of the many things I’ve learnt is that our suggestions for the preservation and betterment of Bath often take considerable time – years – to come to fruition. Conversely, sometimes we can make an important and immediate impact, such as our work behind the scenes with Network Rail to install appropriate railings and fittings through our World Heritage Site." - Edward Bayntun-Coward of George Bayntun bookshop and chairman of the Bath Preservation Trust
Read the full article from The Bath Magazine
The Bolton Library, a national treasure of early printed books and manuscripts dating back to the 13th century, has been placed in the care of the University of Limerick, where work is under way to restore the collection.
The Library, which contains many items of great rarity, “at least 50 not recorded elsewhere in the world and some 800 not recorded elsewhere in Ireland,” is considered to be one of the most important private library collections in Britain and Ireland.
Comprising of some 12,000 early printed books, maps, manuscripts and prints, the collection belonged to Theophilus Bolton, an early 17th-century Church of Ireland archbishop of Cashel.
Rare and antiquarian books is a broad category and encompasses manuscripts, medieval handwritten pages, first prints and first editions of both fiction and nonfiction and even some contemporary publications.
One might think that in this age of Kindle and Nook, when used book stores are rapidly disappearing and real estate is at a record premium, that the world of rare book collecting should be similarly declining. However the rarefied world of rare book collecting is not a dying art and a rich field of booksellers continues to operate.
Technology may, in fact, help to facilitate rare book collecting, as buyers are able to locate and acquire sought-after books online sometimes more effectively than if they browsed one place after another. “I’ve put together two or three collections that I wouldn’t have been able to assemble as comprehensively and in such a short period of time without the Internet,” said Eric Holzenberg, a collector of books on architecture and the decorative arts, as well as director of New York City-based The Grolier Club.
We are an established Shipping and Logistics Company currently operating in the antiques, fine art and rare book world looking to expand our market. The ideal candidate will demonstrate sales experience, preferably in our general sphere of operation, administrative skill and genuine enthusiasm.
The position requires a part-time minimum 3 day week based on a full time gross pay of £34,000.00 pa. with proportionate holiday pay and an additional profit sharing incentive bonus scheme.
Please send your CV and a supporting covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org using the phrase “Job Application” in the Subject field. Interviews from 29th February.
Lady Hertford jazzed up her dining room with bird pictures cut from what is now said to be the world's most expensive book
When Lady Isabella Hertford sought to brighten up her 1820s dining room, cutting colourful birds out of a handy book must have felt like an inspired idea. The decision could in fact have cost £7.3 million. For the book she chose was not just any old ornithology survey, but a rare copy of John James Audubon’s famous Birds of America.
His ornate sketches of exotic birds from around the world now adorn the walls of Temple Newsam House in Leeds, in a decorating decision which has now lasted for nearly 200 years.
The full story of Lady Hertford and her Chinese Drawing Room will now be told, after the curators spent weeks undertaking “painstaking” protection and preservation work to help restore it to its best.
Similar first edition copies of the original book which have recently sold for more than £7 million at auction.
The rare nature of the books means that if Lady Hertford’s copy had survived, the current owner could have been in line for a multi-million-pound nest egg today. The house will reopen to the public in February, in time for spring visitors, as a new curator unveils the conservation work. Built in 1518 the stately home also boasts gardens designed by Capability Brown and 40 rooms which have held a notable selection of art and furniture.
Easily the most colourful is the Chinese Drawing Room, which was almost entirely decorated by Lady Hertford in the 1820s after she inherited the house from her parents. A mistress of the then-Prince of Wales, who went on to become George IV, she accepted rolls of “extravagant” wallpaper from him as a show of his affection. But once they were on the walls, experts said, she “decided it needed to be more lively”. She turned, naturally, to her copy of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, carefully cutting out the creatures inside and pasting them onto the wallpaper. In 2012, the text was proclaimed “the most expensive book in the world” after a series of sales, with different copies making $8.8m at Christie’s New York in 2000, and £7.3m at Sotheby’s London in 2012, and $7.9m again at Christie’s.
In 2010, The Economist estimated that five of the ten highest prices ever paid for printed books were for copies of Birds of America, when adjusting for inflation. Printed in the 1820s, its pages will be famous to anyone with even a passing interest in birds, with image after image plate of nature studies painted in bold colours.
The 43-room house, which was once home to Mary Queen of Scots husband Lord Darnley, was sold to Leeds Corporation by Edward Wood, the 1st Earl of Halifax, in the early 1900s, with Leeds City Council now overseeing its running. Its latest makeover, overseen by new curator Rachel Conroy, has seen all items of furniture and art work removed from the drawing room while specialist cleaning with brushes and miniature vacuums takes place.
Bobbie Robertson, principle keeper at Temple Newsam, told the Telegraph that both the wallpaper and the book are “rare and significant” in their own right, becoming “absolutely unique” in the hands of Lady Hertford.
“Both items are fantastic, but combine them in this rather humorous way and they become quite wonderful,” she said.
"We absolutely love the wallpaper and commend Lady Hertford for her flair and creativity as it’s created a total one-off and a real showpiece."
Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We absolutely love the wallpaper and commend Lady Hertford for her flair and creativity as it’s created a total one-off and a real showpiece. “However, if anyone at the time had realised the potential value of the beautiful illustrations, I’m quite sure they wouldn’t have become part of Lady Hertford’s DIY project.”
Born in 1759, Lady Hertford was the daughter of Charles Ingram, 9th Viscount of Irvine, and married Francis Seymour-Conway, the second Marquess of Hertford at the age of 16 before catching the eye of the Prince of Wales. The house was passed down the family line until the 1st Earl of Halifax, when it was moved to the authority of the council.
Had the book survived, it is likely that it would have been sold off as one of many items offered on tables on the lawns of the house in 1922.
Read the full article from The Telegraph
A reference librarian at the National Library of Norway came across an old Ottoman atlas in the collections there that seemed perfect for a Reddit board devoted to the appreciation of maps. Weeks later, he figured out that the map in question was a previously-unknown copy of one of the rarest atlases in the world: the Cedid Atlas.
The librarian, Anders Kvernberg, otherwise known as Reddit user PisseGuri82, posted an image from the atlas to r/mapporn a couple of weeks ago. He simply identified the map — which he pieced together from scans of different pages from the atlas — as an Ottoman world map from 1803.
At first, it appeared the atlas he found was just one of many of the dusty, untouched maps hiding out in their collection. “Of about 150,000 maps and atlases, I would guess a couple of thousand are used during a year,” he wrote in a Reddit post explaining the whole situation. The atlas wasn’t digitally cataloged, and the librarian doesn’t read Ottoman Turkish, so he didn’t have much more information on it at the time.
The atlas went back into the library’s collections, where it would have stayed, ignored, had Kvernberg not seen a post two weeks later from another r/mapporn user who posted an Ottoman map of Africa from the same year. It was easily identified as a scan from the Library of Congress’s copy of the Cedid Atlas, which can be seen online:
Kvernberg hadn’t yet made the connection to his own find, but he was intrigued by the Cedid Atlas, and began reading about its rarity.
The “Cedid Atlas Tercümesi” was the first atlas based on western cartographic techniques and geographic research to be published by Muslims, according to the Library of Congress‘s 1998 announcement of its acquisition of its copy of the atlas. The Ottoman Military Engineering School Press published it as an educational and strategic resource for the military. There were only 50 total copies printed.
As Kvernberg learned more about the rare book, the Library of Congress’s page scans started to look very familiar. “Then I realized this was the very same atlas I had held in my hands a few weeks earlier,” Kvernberg wrote on Reddit.
“I ran off to tell our expert on maps, Benedicte Gamborg Briså, that I had something I thought she should take a look at,” Kvernberg told The Post in an email. “She was excited, of course, and we started leafing through the old card catalog, researching the names scribbled by previous owners, and so on.”
“At first, we just assumed we had a later edition or a common reprint,” Benedicte Gamborg Briså, the National Library of Norway’s maps expert, said in an emailed statement to The Washington Post. But there was only one edition of the atlas ever printed, and the atlas in their collection was “clearly genuine old paper and leather binding.”
“We compared every single page with online scans from the Library of Congress. Every page, as well at the title and printing year, was identical,” she wrote. “Also, there was only one edition ever printed, and as far as we know there are no known reprints. That’s when we realized this was the real thing.”
Here, for comparison, is a page from the atlas Kvernberg found:
Briså told The Post that the National Library of Norway’s copy of the Cedid Atlas is the 15th known surviving copy — 14 others are held by various libraries around the world.
Her research indicates that about 20 copies total of the atlas may still exist.
“Even modern libraries’ collections, dating centuries back, rely heavily on physical catalog cards, not searchable on the net. This means looking through the shelves can sometimes turn into a serendipitous treasure hunt,” Briså wrote.
The book is still being cataloged, but Briså shared some of the information that she and Kvernberg were able to find on how the rare book may have ended up in Norway, although its exact path from its publication in Istanbul in 1803 to its rediscovery in 2016 remains a “mystery.”
“The previous owner, an Oslo textile importer, is known to have travelled in the Balkans during the late 1930s,” Briså wrote. “He may have purchased the atlas there, just years before the devastating German invasion during WWII. He might just have saved it from destruction.”
“Luckily,” she added, “it has been kept in air-, light- and humidity controlled environment the past 60 years.” After it’s cataloged, the map will be examined by paper conservation experts to ensure that it lasts even longer.
This piece by Abby Ohlheiser originally appeared in The Washington Post.
The German-language volume, digitised for the first time, uses paper flaps to demonstrate the different layers of the human body. Nowadays, pop-up books and flap books are mostly found in the children's section, but centuries ago, they served a much more educational purpose. As early as the 16th century, paper flaps were integrated into anatomy books to illustrate how the parts of the body all fit together and overlap.
They are things of deeply intricate beauty and craft, but also highly delicate and rare. The average person will never get a chance to handle one in person, but, thanks to the wonders of digitisation, we can pore over the pages at leisure.
"Kleiner welt spiegel, das ist, abbildung göttlicher schöpffung an dess menschen leib : mit beygesetzer schrifftlicher Erklärung : so wo zu Gottes Weissheit : als dess menschen selbst erkandtnuss dienend" is the somewhat tongue-twisting title of a volume recently digitised by the Archives & Special Collections at Columbia University's Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library.
Published in 1661, the volume is a German translation of an earlier work, the more concisely titled "Catoptrum Microcosmicum," written in Latin by Johann Remmelin and published in 1613. It was intended more as an informative tome for curious-minded laypeople than a textbook for the medical professional. And it appeared that people were curious indeed, as the book became a bestseller.
Getting the delicate book fit for digitisation was a tricky prospect. Many of the flaps had become tangled, and needed to be carefully flattened and mended so that they wouldn't tear. Also, the book had been stained, which obscured the text and made the pages brittle. This was painstakingly lightened using moisture and a suction device. Finally, the book was rebound.
The book was then imaged with every flap folded and unfolded. There is only one page that includes flaps, showing bodies of a man and a woman, the torso of a pregnant woman between them. Multiple flaps lift to show nerves, veins, muscles, and bones.
In all, the page contains over 120 flaps. These had to be lifted using fine brushes and spatulas to avoid damage, with pieces of glass placed between them to make the flaps appear as though they are standing. Lifting each flap and placing the glass required the work of as many as four librarians. Then a glass was placed between the book and the camera, and the page was photographed.
Text by Michelle Starr @riding_red originally published on CNET 11th January 2016.
View: 'A Medical Pop-Up Book from the 17th Century'
A rare edition of the poems of Keats has been given to the library of the Glasgow School of Art.
The edition, from 1898, has been given to the school, which lost much of its collection in a disastrous fire last May, by the ABA.
The cover design of John Keats His Poems, gilt-tooled in Glasgow School style, was created by GSA teacher and designer, Ann Macbeth.