Articles by our staff and guests on all aspects of the rare book world.

October 26, 2011

Complicated Lives: Association Copies as Artifactual Evidence

Tom Congalton

[Delivered at the Caxton Club, March 19, 2011]

When I was asked to give this talk, it was suggested that I have a title, and I found this one suitably grand:

Complicated Lives: Association Copies as Artifactual Evidence; or an examination of how association copies can reinforce and expand our knowledge of authors and their familiars, with a further look at the alchemical processes whereby booksellers and collectors attempt to transform ink into gold.

Well, as I hadn’t written it yet, I’m not sure that that this speech has anything to do with this title, but thank you in advance for indulging me. In...

May 10, 2010

Organized Labor Goes Feline

Admiral Muffin and Pirate Pumpkin
[Editor's Preface: Visitors to BTC will find on the staff room's refrigerator, held in place by magnets, the following declaration, composed by the aggrieved or their assignees around 2000. To some the notice came unexpectedly, but to more careful observers there had been warning signs.]

We the undersigned Kitties do hereby announce the formation of Local Number One of the International Kittyhood of Household Pets (Cat Division) and demand the following rights. Failure to comply will force labor actions which will result in the increase of mice on the premises, failure to be cute for visiting customers, increased urination in the...
April 27, 2010

Book Catalogs Galore

We offer an ever-increasing range of specialty catalogs, each devoted to a single author or subject. You can download them directly from our website as follows:

Edward Albee (3.19 MB pdf file)
Architecture (4.98 MB pdf file)
Poul Anderson (3.35 MB pdf file)
Sherwood Anderson (1.66 MB pdf file)
John Ashbery (2.04 MB pdf file)
Isaac Asimov (3.62 MB pdf file)
W.H. Auden (4.85 MB pdf file)
James Baldwin (2.95 MB pdf file)
Djuna Barnes (3.21 MB pdf file)
John Barth (3.11 MB pdf file)
Donald Barthelme (also includes Frederick Barthelme, 2.46 MB pdf file)
Basketball (4.56 MB pdf file)

April 14, 2010

The Bookshop in Old New Castle

Four Prominent Book Sellers Join Forces to Open The Bookshop in Old New Castle

On May 1 2010, Between the Covers Rare Books, Oak Knoll Books, The Kelmscott Bookshop, and the Old Bookshop of Bordentown will open The Bookshop of Old New Castle. Located on the second floor of the historic Opera House at 308 Delaware Street, the shop will sell books on all subjects from each individual store's inventory. For the May 1st grand opening, which is open to the public, the store will open at 9 am, with the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 pm. Accompanied by food and...

December 30, 2009

On Becoming a Specialist Dealer

by Tom Congalton

[Delivered at the 2005 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar]

When I was invited to speak here at the seminar as the "specialist dealer" I asked several of my colleagues what I was supposed to speak about, and received some, truth-be-told, dubious advice. Things like "talk about yourself, and then take questions" or "you know, books."

I can't thank the faculty enough for this helpful advice.

This assignment did however, give me cause to ruminate about the nature of booksellers — how some become specialists, why others remain staunch generalists, how these transitions are made, and what it all means to a young...

December 18, 2009

1889 Report of the American Rare Book Trade

by J.W. Bouton
The following text is a preface to an elaborate, and illustrated 1889 rare book catalog from the 19th Century New York bookseller J.W. Bouton. While it is always amusing to note how far book values have progressed in the past century (and Bouton addresses this issue), what is more interesting is that, if stripped of Bouton's 19th Century phraseology, the sentiments exhibited, including the camaraderie within the book trade, have not changed a bit. - Dan Gregory


It is with a feeling of satisfaction, not unmixed with, I trust, pardonable pride, that I send forth...
December 6, 2009

Bookselling in Hard Times: "Will work for rare books"

by Tom Congalton
On September 22, 2009, the Grolier Club held a day-long conference entitled "Books in Hard Times." The text that follows is a speech delivered there by Tom Congalton, one of three rare book dealers invited to speak.

Priding myself, as I do, on a majestic ignorance of bookselling history, I regret that I am unlikely to be able to provide you today with much of an historic overview of bookselling in hard times, beyond my own very personal experiences and observations.

In early 1987, I cast my fate to the wind and declared myself a full-time bookseller, after many years as a....
June 21, 2009

Silly Season in America

by Tom Congalton
The Silly Season in America, the seemingly interminable period of time leading up to the Presidential election, has finally ended, with the nation's expectations high about the victor, the Democratic candidate, and now President-elect Obama. Anyone who is even reasonably paying attention doesn't need to be told by me that, given America's checkered struggles with the question of race, the election of an African-American president is an historic event.

Interest in the election has run high. Unexpectedly, more Americans voted in the Presidential Elections than voted for the latest winner of the television talent show "American Idol." And while the...
June 21, 2009

Technology and the Future of the Antiquarian Book Trade

by Dan Gregory

The following speech was presented at the 2008 ILAB Congress, Madrid. It was delivered to an international audience of professional antiquarian booksellers, but may be of interest to others as well.

Presidents, Committee Members, and Colleagues. I would like to congratulate the Asociación Ibérica de Librerias Anticuarias for organizing and hosting their first ILAB Congress. And I thank them for the opportunity to speak to you today. When Tom and Heidi Congalton invited me to join them here at the Congress, I happened to be reading Aristotle's Children, by Richard Rubenstein. It reminded me that Spain is a very appropriate...