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Edward Nudelman and the art of selling beautifully illustrated books


Art makes the world go round, according to Edward Nudelman, owner of Nudelman Rare Books in Seattle. This discerning dealer, with more than 30 years bookselling experience, relishes beautiful illustrated books and has a particular passion for European art movements from the 19th and 20th century.

In fact, a tour of his inventory is a stroll through the European art movements that shaped our world. There are examples of Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna’s Workshops), the early 20th century collective of artists and designers famous for its black and white designs and patterns. There are also examples from the Victorian Arts and Craft movement. You will find a good helping of Pre-Raphaelite items ranging from The Flower Book by Edward Burne-Jones (priced at a cool $15,000) to poetry by Christina Rossetti, famous for writing Goblin Market.

Bookseller Edward Nudelman

You will see the word ‘Jugendstil‘ mentioned when browsing Edward’s inventory- Jugendstil is a style of art that originated in Germany at the end of the 19th century that took its name from a Munich magazine called Die Jugend (The Youth), which extensively used Art Nouveau designs.

“I am drawn to the books that were published in Germany between the 1880s and the 1920s,” said Edward. “Some beautiful books were produced and I studied this period for years. The artwork is often highly symbolic. I also offer manuscripts, letters and ephemera from this era. I am usually drawn to items that are scarce and interesting rather than simply just expensive.”

A member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America since 1983, Edward’s original career was working as a scientist in cancer research. He began collecting at the end of the 1970s and started selling books in the 1980s while juggling his medical career.

He became a full-time bookseller after retiring from life in the laboratory. Today, his knowledge of art and children’s illustrated books ensures strong demand for his services – aside from book dealing, he builds book collections for clients and consults for major auction houses.

In the early days of his bookselling career, Edward favored classic children’s books. Jessie Willcox Smith – the American illustrator who worked for the likes of Good Housekeeping, Collier’s and Harper’s – has been close to his heart for many years. That accumulated knowledge about Smith resulted in Edward writing a biography and bibliography about the artist, who illustrated more than 60 books.

For more information about Edward, read this Fine Books Magazine interview from 2012.

Select items from Nudelman Rare Books

The Book of the Child offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1902 in New York by Frederick A Stokes, The Book of the Child features cover inserts on the front and back by Jessie Willcox Smith, and also three full-page color plates from the illustrator and four more by Elizabeth Shippen Green. This is considered to be Smith’s greatest book, both in size and color and composition, and produced in collaboration with Shippen Green. Learn more

Les Mois offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1895 in Paris, Les Mois is an excellent example of Art Nouveau offered by Nudelman Rare Books. Folio sized, this item has three-quarter vellum-style boards with handmade marbled paper boards and morocco label on its spine. Eugene Grasset designed the artwork for the 1896 calendar of the Parisian department store, La Belle Jardiniere. Learn more

Der Buntscheck offered by Nudelman Rare Books

One of the finest of all Jugendstil books, this title contains full color illustrations by Konrad F.E. von Freyhold, Karl Hofer, Ernst Kreidolf, Emil Rudolf Weiss and others. An important item in the history of German publishing. Learn more

Rumpumpel offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1919, this color pochoir is illustrated by Karl Hofer, one of the greatest Jugendstil artists.  Learn more

Stories from Han Andersen offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1890 by Ernest Nister in green cloth. Features six chromolithographic plates by E.S. Hard and black and white line drawings throughout. Learn more

A Strange Experiment offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1897, the scarce first title from the Philosopher Press with an Art Nouveau-style cover design by Gardner C. Teall. Learn more

L’Annee Chretienne offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1899, the boards of L’Annee Chretienne feature a fine Art Nouveau illustration. Inside are 12 full page color plates by French artist Leon Rudnicki. Learn more

Der Fliegende Konig offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1900, a scarce Jugendstil title with a striking cover reminiscent of Wiener Werkstatte design. Learn more

Leda ou La Louange des Bienheureuses Tenebres offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1898 in Paris, this is #319 of 600 copies. A beautiful example of French Art Nouveau featuring artwork by Paul-Albert Laurens. Learn more

Deutsche Marchen; Jungbrunnen Marchen offered by Nudelman Rare Books

A first edition from 1900 – an example of Jugendstil with black and white illustrations detailing stories by Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and others. Learn more

Nussknacker und Mausekonig offered by Nudelman Rare Books

Published in 1909, another example of Jugendstil in gray-green cloth with a pictorial design stamped in black and white on the cover. Color plates throughout by Otto Bauriedl and Ernst Kutzer. Learn more

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