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Found this gem hidden amid the creased romance novels in a thrift store

The Penguin 1972 paperback edition of A Clockwork Orange

I found this 1972 Penguin paperback edition of A Clockwork Orange in a thrift store at the weekend. I could see row after row of creased romance novels and then spotted some orange spines, so I reached in to see what the books were.

This came out. At the counter, the volunteer – a lady who would have been in her prime when this novella was first published in 1962 – could not remember whether she had to charge me 50 cents or 75 cents, so I bargained her up to 75 cents.

The book is slim but that eye-catching cover design is truly memorable.

Seventy five cents isn’t really a bargain because you can find copies for $1 plus shipping on the AbeBooks marketplace.

I started to read it within minutes and, frankly, it’s not easy. Anthony Burgess’ language is difficult to grasp and the reader has to keep referring the glossary at the back. The story is set in the future but Burgess was probably thinking 2015 would be radically different to how it has turned out.

I have always been mildly amused that the story begins in a milk bar. I remember visiting milk bars during family holidays to Wales in the 1970s when they could still be found before McDonald’s took over. You cannot imagine a less threatening location (unless you have a dairy allergy).


31 Matted Japanese & Indonesian Costume Prints

Today’s amazing book find: Not a book at all, this collection of 31 matted Japanese & Indonesian costume prints is just gorgeous. The 31 prints come from Emile Gallois’ 1920 French book Costumes Japonais et Indonésiens and were manually printed and matted in pochoir by M. Henri Hus in Paris in 1930. See five here:

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One last word on World Book Day and the ILAB pop-up book fairs

AbeBooks’ Jessica Doyle (far right) with the booksellers at the Portland, Oregon, pop-up rare book fair

Thanks to everyone in Munich, Tokyo and Portland, Oregon, who made AbeBooks’ staff feel very welcome at yesterday’s pop-up rare book fairs.  The ILAB pop-up book fair blog is filled with great pictures from the events. It was wonderful to see rare books put in front of so many people around the world. My personal favorite is the VW campervan (called Celeste) that was touring around southern England yesterday although the boat in Amsterdam comes a close second.

And here’s Jessica Doyle’s summary of her visit to Portland….

Some of the books on display in the Portland brew pub

The final edition of the worldwide 2015 ILAB Pop-up Book Fair in support of Unesco World Book and Copyright Day took place in Portland, Oregon at a neighborhood brew pub.  Few things make a better pair than books and beer, and it should be noted that not a pint was spilled as browsers, booksellers, and avid collectors perused the tables.

Organized by Elisabeth Burdon of Old Imprints, the event showcased an impressive and eclectic selection of ephemera. Elisabeth exhibited antique maps and prints, while at the next table Glenn Mason of the Ephemera Society of America displayed one-of-a-kind treasures including a Press Ticket from the 1886 Illinois State Fair and an assortment of cheerful vintage advertisements.  Across the room, a Seattle-based collector displayed quite a different kind of ephemera – his extensive personal collection of Civil War era posters, newspapers, and the like.

Also exhibiting at the fair was Charles Seluzicki of Charles Seluzicki Fine & Rare Books, Nathaniel Des Marais of Nat Des Marais Rare Books, and Rachelle Markley of Crooked House Books & Paper – each with a beautiful sample of inventory ranging from vintage children’s books to limited edition poetry.

The pinnacle of the event was the moment I realized that there are far less than six degrees of separation between myself and Ernest Hemingway.  In a conversation about modern literature, AbeBooks seller Charles Seluzicki informed me that he had been a close friend of Malcom Cowley, author of Exile’s Return: A Literary Odessey of the 1920s.  Cowley, Charles informed me, was real pals with Hemingway and the Lost Generation crew.  So there you have it – I am acquainted with a friend of a friend of Ernest Hemingway’s.


Unesco World Book and Copyright Day. ILAB Pop Up Book Fair

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From guest blogger and AbeBooks staff member Colin Laird, in Tokyo today.

One of the most fascinating things about Japan is the harmonious blend of old and new. If you spend enough time there, seeing a thousand-year-old temple set among skyscrapers or watching as elegant ladies dressed in kimono rush past teens sporting the latest (and often bizarre) fashion trends will start to feel perfectly normal. Today, as I headed into Tokyo to attend the Pop-Up Book Fair put on by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) aboard a Shinkansen at more than 300km/h, I knew that I was about to experience one of those special paradoxes.

Tokyo’s edition of 2015 ILAB Pop-up Book Fair in support of Unesco World Book and Copyright Day took place in the World Antiquarian Book Plaza (WABP) – a permanent fixture on the third floor of Maruzen Bookstores in centrally-located Nihonbashi. Founded in 2011, the WABP is a treasure trove of rare and antiquarian books, and collectible printed materials from 22 world-renowned antiquarian booksellers from 11 countries.

Thoughtfully laid out with a museum-like feel, WABP offers an impressive selection of items ranging from ancient clay tablets to intricate pop-up books; and from 15th century illuminated manuscripts to 20th century modern signed first editions. The partner booksellers often refresh their inventory and local curators make great effort to elegantly display the material. A large part of the collection is displayed out in the open, available for anyone to view up close and personal.

My host, Mr. Naoyuki Seki (Secretary of ABAJ, and Manager of Antiquarian Books for YUSHODO Co) kindly took the time to show me some very interesting books and other collectible printed material, including some of the following collections:

• A series of books published in the late 1800s as Tokyo opened its doors to Western influence. Written in languages other than Japanese (including English, French, German, and Danish) these books were printed to give a first glimpse of Japanese culture and folktales to foreigners wanting to know more about this fascinating land. Beautifully illustrated and printed on “Crepe Paper” – a cloth-like type of paper – Mr. Seki was more than happy to bring the collection out from behind the glass case to allow for a closer look, and to feel the beautiful texture.

• A special-themed monthly collection put together by the WABP members: April’s focus was on paper – including Japanese Washi, and many other types of beautiful and collectible hand-made paper and paper products.

• A stunning selection of visually-pleasing items including woodblock prints, lithographs, and rare hand-colored early photographic postcards. It also included several rare pop-up books, depicting scenes such as the Voyage of Marco Polo, or Little Red Riding Hood.

• A set of gorgeous ancient copperplate-engraved maps printed in Germany including some of the earliest foreign-made depictions of Japan.

• A set of ancient Japanese playing cards containing phrases from historical Japanese poets.

Maruzen Bookstore is well-worth a trip on its own merits, but the addition of the WABP makes it a must-visit for any booklover in Tokyo. Take a moment to step out from the bustle of Tokyo and spend a quiet moment taking in some of the best collectible books Tokyo has to offer.
World Antiquarian Book Plaza is open every day (except January 1) from 10:00 – 20:00.

Here are just a few of the treasures Colin was lucky enough to see:

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Seven beautiful vintage photographs – from card cheats to a Zulu rickshaw driver

We have a new seller. Rarities etc, from Warwick, New York, specializes in rare photographs and prints.  Welcome aboard – take a look at these wonderful photographs from bygone ages.

A humorous set-up shot of cheating card game players. More details.

An image taken in 1977 of the QE2 passing the Twin Towers in New York. The photographer was George Forss. More details.

Four shriners in mufti, strolling along the Atlantic City boardwalk. More details.

VeniceVenice in the second half of the 19th century. More details.

A Zulu rickshaw driver in South Africa, printed in 1928. More details.

A woman with a bicycle in Munich. More details.

A young woman seated between two dogs. More details.


Gorgeous and Divergent Editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales

A miniature edition, dark green with inlaid morocco design and paint by Philip Smith. Book published 1970, art completed 1978.

A miniature edition, dark green with inlaid morocco design and paint by Philip Smith. Book published 1970, art completed 1978.

In the early 19th-century, two German brothers named Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm put together a collection of Germanic folktales, to preserve and share. In 1812 they released them as a book – Grimm’s Fairy Tales, originally actually titled Children’s and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). Dark, often harsh and scary, these were a far cry from the nursery rhymes typically aimed at children. It’s been over two centuries since that first volume was published, and many others followed in its footsteps. In that 203 years, the Grimm’s tales have fallen under the pen of many an editor, some more liberal than the last, and many more recent editions will bear little more than a passing resemblance to their original counterparts. Justice is gentler, lessons learned are less bloody, and stories are overall softened little by little.

The collection has had its share of ardent admirers over the years, but also much criticism and detraction, as well. A not-insignificant number of readers found passages in the book to be questionable not only in terms of violence and cruelty, but also anti-Semitism, most notably in the original editions. Again, you’ll find most or all of that sentiment absent from recent editions.

Here are ten very different, very beautiful editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales from over the years.

UK 1930 Reprint, published by Dent, with 102 B&W drawings by R. Anning Bell, with beautiful decorative cloth covers.

UK 1930 Reprint, published by Dent, with 102 B&W drawings by R. Anning Bell, with beautiful decorative cloth covers.

A 1919 edition published by A. &. Black and ullusrated by Charles Folkard. Complete with 8 color plates, including frontis.

A 1919 edition published by A. &. Black and ullusrated by Charles Folkard. Complete with 8 color plates, including frontis.

1909 First edition illustrated and signed by Arthur Rackham. Limited to 750 copies, edition bound in white vellum and gilt.

1909 First edition illustrated and signed by Arthur Rackham. Limited to 750 copies, edition bound in white vellum and gilt.

UK 1st edition thus published by Cassell in 1916. Decorated cloth over boards, 8 color plates, numerous B&W illustrations.

UK 1st edition thus published by Cassell in 1916. Decorated cloth over boards, 8 color plates, numerous B&W illustrations.

First American edition, 1900, Published by J.B. Lippincott Co. According to description, this is the original Rackham edition.

First American edition, 1900, Published by J.B. Lippincott Co. According to description, this is the original Rackham edition.

An unusual 1920 edition by Raphael House Library from 1920, with 12 full-page color plates, and adorable cover illustrations.

An unusual 1920 edition by Raphael House Library from 1920, with 12 full-page color plates, and adorable cover illustrations.

Miniature more modern edition published by Hillside Press in 1963, limited to just 350 numbered copies. 6 cm by 5 cm.

Miniature more modern edition published by Hillside Press in 1963, limited to just 350 numbered copies. 6 cm by 5 cm.

1940 edition by The Children's Press, UK, with four full-page color illustrations. Uncommon in condition as good as this.

1940 edition by The Children’s Press, UK, with four full-page color illustrations. Uncommon in condition as good as this.

Published by S.W. Partridge & Co. in the UK, this 1910 edition has gorgeous rust-colored decorated cloth over boards.

Published by S.W. Partridge & Co. in the UK, this 1910 edition has gorgeous rust-colored decorated cloth over boards.


A Chance to Attend the 2015 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar

Learning from the experts at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar

Have you just started to sell collectible books? The Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar is a week-long educational event held in Colorado Springs in July, 2015 for booksellers, librarians and collectors that offers expert discussion about rare books.

This is your opportunity to enter for a chance to win admission to attend the event, including instructional materials, breakfasts and lunches, and accommodations. There will be two lucky winners. Each prize package is worth U.S. $1,636.00. Transportation to and from the event is not included.

The Book Seminar provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience in a comprehensive survey of the rare book market, both antiquarian and modern.

More details on how to enter.


14th-Century Medieval Manuscript Receipt for Rent Payment

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Sometimes we like to highlight a specific amazing item we stumble across for sale on the AbeBooks web sites. We have such a wide, deep, varied array of inventory that its easy to miss gems. Like this, for example. Offered by Alembic Rare Books, with a publication date of 1353, this gorgeous piece of historical ephemera is a rental receipt. More from Alembic:

A compelling record of a medieval woman managing business affairs. This fourteenth-century manuscript receipt records Jane, widow of Lord Gilbert of Tokeryngton, accepting a rent payment from Master John of Hawkesworth, parson of the church of Guiseley, for lands and tenements in Lofthouse (in what is now West Yorkshire) at the Feast of St. Martin in Winter, 1353. In recent years historians have thrown new light on medieval women’s economic roles. Far from being restricted to housekeeping and childrearing, a medieval woman was likely to be a partner in her husband’s business, often working by his side in a trade, being entrusted with complex financial affairs while he was away, and made executor after his death.

As Barbara Hanawalt argues in The Wealth of Wives, “Husbands and wives cooperated in business ventures, and men put considerable trust in the judgment and business acumen of their wives. 85 percent of the men leaving wills in the Hustings court named their wives as executors. In the Archdeaconry court, which recorded craftsmen and the poor rather than the substantial property-holders, 82 percent made their wives executors. Making a wife an executor indicated a husband’s high level of trust in her knowledge of his business and her honesty. To settle a will, the executors had to know who owed money to the husband and to whom he owed money. The wife had to know the business factors who were handling merchandise, what merchandise was abroad or in the country, who owed craftsmen payment, and what the craftsmen might owe for raw materials. Men seemed to feel that their wives were well equipped to handle these matters, perhaps indicating a confidence that arose from a joint discussion of debts and deals. Husbands who were out of the country or in the provinces left their wives in charge of their affairs, including the training of apprentices. Some men even assumed that their wives would be able to take over their businesses in the event of their deaths” (pp. 120-121).

In this case Jane seems to be a widow managing either her own property or that of her husband, as the receipt states, “Let it be plain to everybody by these presents that I Jane who was the wife of Lord Gilbert of Tokeryngton, Knight, have received from Master John of Hawksworth, parson of the Church of Gysele, twenty-four shillings, five pence and one half penny from the term of St. Martin in Winter for lands and tenements which he holds of me in Lofthowsom. Concerning which twenty and four shillings, five pence and one half penny I acknowledge that I am fully paid and that the aforesaid Master John is free forever. In witness whereof I have set my seal to these presents. Given at Tokeryngton at the Feast of St. Martin in Winter in the 26th year of the reign of Edward the Third after the Conquest.”


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Women’s Prize for Fiction Announces Final Six

The Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction

They started with a longlist of 20 novels written by today’s brightest female authors, and now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction judges have whittled down the list to only six. To our surprise, the critically acclaimed apocalyptic novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel did not make the cut, while the widely adored Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey was also knocked out of the running. Even still, it’s an impressive shortlist to say the least. Chair of judges, Shami Chakrabarti, says of the shortlist, “You’ve heard of fantasy football? Well, short-listing for the 2015 Baileys Prize was the fantasy book club of a lifetime.” Take a look at the shortlist here, and happy reading.

Outline by Rachel Cusk

The Bees by Laline Paull (find signed copies)

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (find signed copies)

How to be Both by Ali Smith (find signed copies)

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (find signed copies)

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (find signed copies)


To Fall in Love with a Reader, Do This:

By now, you’ve likely seen the list of questions published in the New York Times in January 2015. The 36 questions, designed to accelerate intimacy between two strangers in an effort to bring on quick love, has made its rounds to most corners of the internet.

The Millions blog put out their own spin on it today – another 36-question list, all about books, with the more reasonable goal of igniting a great conversation about books.

Still, they make the point (and I agree) that after talking about books with someone for two hours, odds are good you’ll fall in love with them anyway. I’ve included the questions, below. Take them to your next party, and see what happens.

Part 1.
1. What was your favorite book as a child?

2. What’s the last really good book you read?

3. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why?

4. Do you finish every book that you start? If you don’t, how do you decide when to stop reading?

5. List your 10 favorite books in four minutes or less. Write it down because you’ll revisit it at the end.

6. Do you reread books? Which ones?

7. Do you read poetry? Why or why not?

8. Do you remember the first “grown-up” book you read?

9. Are there any authors whose work you have read completely?

10. How often do you read books that are more than 100 years old?

11. Is there a type (or types) of book you never read?

12. How do you choose what to read?

Part 2.
13. What’s more important to you: the way a book is written, or what the book is about?

14. What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?

15. If you could hang out with a literary character for the day, who would it be?

16. If you could be a literary character, who would it be?

17. Have you ever written a fan letter to an author?

18. Is there any book that, if I professed to love it, you would be turned off? Is there any book that would impress you in particular?

19. Is there a book you feel embarrassed about liking?

20. Are there books you feel proud of liking or having finished?

21. Have you ever lied about having read a book?

22. Do you keep track of the books you read?

23. How do you form opinions about what you read?

24. What authors do you think are overrated? Underrated?

Part 3.
25. Do you ever read self-help books?

26. What’s a book that shocked you?

27. If you could force every person you know to read one book, what would it be?

28. What book would you recommend to me in particular?

29. What books/authors have you been meaning to read for years? Why haven’t you read them yet?

30. What kind of book do you consider “a guilty pleasure?”

31. Has a book ever changed your mind about something?

32. If you were terminally ill, what book or books would you read?

33. Do you have any passages of poetry or prose committed to memory? Can you recite something to me?

34. If you could change anything about the way you read, what would it be?

35. Was there any time in your life when you felt as if a book guided you in a profound way?

36. Return to the list you made at the beginning. What titles, if any, would you change after our conversation?