Saturday, 6 September 2008

Antiquarian Books

Do all used book stores carry Antiquarian Books? What about rare books? What about out of print books?
What is an antiquarian book?
The antiquarian book trade in the United States is an aspect of book collecting and publishing. The term antiquarian, in general, refers to antiquities and collectible items usually considered old and rare, usually in reference to books, but not limited to books.
Well, sometimes that is open for debate, but usually anything from the 1920's back could be considered antiquarian. But, it has to be a collectible book. What is a collectible book? Another good question. A collectible book is one that has proven the test of time, and is always in great demand, and creates a situation where the first printings become more valuable to book collectors.
John Steinbeck is a good example. Any of his books bring a premium if they are in first edition or even in second condition. However, a lot of people would consider this to be no more then a modern first edition.
So, books before the turn of the century, that are collectible, that have historic value, are considered for the most part to be antiquarian. Here is three examples.
Theodore Roosevelt. Autograph manuscript signed. 1918. Autograph manuscript draft of the essay, "The Great Adventure," signed by Teddy Roosevelt. Handsomely framed with a contemporary broadside edition of the essay. $60,000.
FITZGERALD, F. Scott.Tender is the Night. New York, 1934. First edition, in scarce original first-issue dust jacket, boldly signed by Fitzgerald. A lovely, bright copy. $75,000
Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. Washington, 1863. First public notice of the December 8, 1863 Presidential proclamation offering amnesty to citizens of the Confederacy, providing they take an oath that they "will abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves" (i.e. the Emancipation Proclamation). $26,000
So, jump right in. Yes, it can get expensive, but there not printing anymore of these books so the investment is considered to good. However, great responsibility goes with a purchase like this.
Collectible books, and antiquarian books is a time consuming passion for those who want to invest. You can start very small and build a nice investment portfolio over a period of years.