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

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...
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...
March 5, 2009

The Bruce Kahn Collection

by Ken Lopez and Tom Congalton

We are pleased to offer, jointly with Ken Lopez, Bookseller, one of the finest collections of Modern Literature ever assembled: The Bruce Kahn Collection. For the first catalog from this collection we gathered some of its highlights, and both Ken and Tom wrote the introductions that follow. On Ken's website you can view currently available items from the original catalog, the full text of the catalog, or a 10MB PDF file of the fully illustrated catalog in all its glory. The catalog has received praise from several sources including Nicholas Basbanes.

But the original catalog was just the tip of the...

June 28, 2007

Misperceptions about White Gloves

by Dr. Cathleen A. Baker and Randy Silverman


The following article first appeared in the December 2005 issue of International Preservation News (the entire issue of which can be found at

As an indignant letter to the editor in an issue of Fine Books & Collections magazine illustrated, there exists a pervasive myth that rare and valuable antiquarian books should, indeed must be handled with white cotton gloves. In fact, handling books with gloves is apt to do more harm than good. Gloves are just as likely to be dirty as fingers, but gloves do not allow nearly as much dexterity as uncovered hands. Unless you...

March 21, 2007

Reply of a Gaul of the Old Continent

by Alain Marchiset


The following essay is a response to John Wronoski's speech Young Booksellers, Young Books. The author, Alain Marchiset, is a witty and thoughtful French rare bookseller, and a former President of SLAM (Syndicat National de la Libraire Ancienne et Moderne), the French national affiliate of the ILAB. Alain represents a more European view of the future of the rare book trade. His response is provided here with his permission, and our gratitude.

Tom Congalton

Reply of a Gaul of the Old Continent to an Indian of the New World

The text of the lecture given by our colleague Mr...

March 21, 2007

What Future for Rare Books

by Alain Marchiset

The speech which follows was given at the SLAM headquarters where a press conference was convened at the end of November 2002, and which was attended by journalists specializing in the Art World, as well as French public officers from the Ministry of Culture, the "Direction du Livre," the Archives and Public Libraries. The theme chosen was "What future for rare books," and the main object was to make the guests aware of the difficulties arising from the complex European regulations concerning cultural property.

As we move forward into the twenty first century with its electronic digital and virtual revolution...

December 13, 2006

Young Booksellers, Young Books: The Prospects of the American Rare Book Trade

by John Wronoski


The following article that I ran across on the ILAB.Org website is by John Wronoski of Lame Duck Books, and is reprinted here with the author's permission. I first met John in the mid-1980s, when he owned a scholarly bookstore in Philadelphia, near the University of Pennsylvania, just across the Delaware River from our own location. It was always a temptation to visit John, buy his books, and like as not to consume many libations and consume vast quantities of Ethiopian food at the restaurant down the block from his store.

In the late-1980s, John, Ken Lopez, and I....

December 13, 2006

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

by Rob Rulon-Miller
The holiday season is upon us, and before too many more copies of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are misdescribed. I thought I would share what little I know about the various printings of one of our most famous Christmas tales.

The story was written by Robert L. May of Evanston, Illinois for Montgomery Ward for free distribution during the Christmas season, 1939. There were two issues of the 1939 edition. The regular issue, of which some 2.4 million copies were printed, was given away to customers and customers' children at Montgomery Ward stores. This issue is bound in glossy red...
December 12, 2006

Highspots of Collectible Children's Books 1863 - 1963

by Helen Younger

100 YEARS / 100 Books

The world of collectible children's books has come of age. Although children's books have always been collected, it is only within the last ten years that they have blasted into the consciousness of the book collecting world in general and even into the minds of the non-collecting public. It now goes without saying that great first edition collections should also include firsts of classic children's literature as well.

A bit of explanation and a few caveats about this list are in order. The books included here are not necessarily representative of the best literature for...

April 27, 2006

Signed vs. Inscribed

by Ken Lopez

One of the questions I've been asked most often in recent years is "Which is better -- having a book just signed by the author or having it inscribed?" In general my answer has been that the more writing by the author in a book, the better. And most especially, I've encouraged collectors when getting their own books signed to have them personally inscribed by the author.

I know I'm bucking the current trend on this issue, but I continue to do so, and I think I'm right. Here's why.

For a long time -- generations, literally -- there was...