Since the 16th century, when affluent purchasers sought for exceptional specimens of illuminated manuscripts and old writings, rare book collecting has been a passion. Although this activity may seem to be pricey and out of reach at first, you may really obtain several rare books without making a large investment. Before you begin your rare book gathering, you should be acquainted with basic terminology and tips, just as you should be with any other collecting location.
Understand jargons in buying antique books
Many terminologies related to rare books are interchangeable or have different meanings than we believe they do. Knowing the difference will allow you to broaden your collecting horizons. Antiquarian books are ones that were published in the nineteenth century or before. Many books from the 18th century are rather affordable, considering their antiquity. “Antiquarian” does not automatically equal “expensive.”
A rare book is one that is difficult to come by and is in high demand. The rarity of a book has nothing to do with its age: books from the 17th century may be obtained for a fraction of the price of a book produced in 1920. The price is determined by demand.
One of the most misunderstood terms in book collecting is “first edition.” A first edition book might be very rare and costly, or it can be as common as breathing. The term “first edition” refers to the book’s initial appearance in print in a certain format.
A first American edition of Huckleberry Finn, produced for the first time in 1885, is available. You can also order a 1956 first edition of the book with illustrations by a well-known artist. You’ll pay $38,000 for the first and maybe $500 for the second. Don’t be deceived by a vendor who insists that a book is a first edition; the question to ask is, “Which first edition?”
Understand what you should get
The majority of rare book collections begin as a result of serendipity: you possess one book, then stumble across another that is related, and maybe a friend gives you a third. The bookshelf is suddenly filling up, so making a collecting strategy might save you money in the long term.
“What should I collect?” is perhaps the most crucial question to ask when starting a rare book collection. The answer is whatever it is that you like about rare books, such as:
Fine editions are leather-bound and illustrated publications in which the process of manufacturing the book takes priority over the content. You may have to construct your collection book by book if they were published in sets.
In the past, a book buyer would buy a book bound in thick boards (cardboard) and then have it custom rebound to his liking. Bookbinders were well-known for their leather and gilded work, which was valuable in and of itself.
If you have a favorite book, why not collect all of its many editions? The Sketchbook by Washington Irving and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain are two rare novels in this category. Since the 19th century, both novels have been published hundreds of times.
Choose your favorite author and gather each of her works as closely as possible to the original version.
Expect to pay extra for autographed copies if you stumble across a rare book signed by the author. However, there’s nothing quite like touching the author’s autograph to transport you back in time. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s signature is one of the most sought after.
How to take good care of your antique books
Your collection is precious, and older books need some basic maintenance. The paper is typically delicate, and the covers have been worn and have a few minor rips. What should I do? If your books need assistance, contact a book conservator who can advise you on the best methods for preserving and storing your collection.
Never use household items to repair a book, such as tape, glue, or staples. Anything you put to a book must be totally reversible, which is practically difficult with today’s glues. Finally, keep your books in a place with low humidity, good air circulation, and indirect sunshine; too much moisture or light may promote decay in a book.
It’s simple: a rare book is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. This is why the anticipated price is sometimes exceeded by thousands of dollars; two persons were interested in the book enough to spend extra. Despite this peculiarity, dealers follow basic rules when setting book pricing, which should help you understand why the market costs what it does.
Dealers devote a significant amount of time on research. They look at auction catalogs, other book websites, and news stories to find out how much and when a certain book sold for. When buying classics like Finnegans Wake or Sense and Sensibility, don’t expect to find many deals since no dealer would sell a book considerably below the typical market price.
Rare books will always be rare. There were only a limited number made, and as demand grows, so do the prices. Prices may fluctuate, but seldom do they plummet. Each dealer is aware of the limits of her market. She has a good understanding of who buys what and how much they are prepared to spend. One rare book store may have a volume for $100, while another may have a volume for $200.
Dealers must now fight with the Internet, where everyone can see what prices are available. Because you can compare hundreds of copies online, website listings help keep book costs stable. Shop around since the price of the same book might vary by $10 or $100.
The greater the price, the better the condition. A perfect copy will fetch considerably more than one that has been dog-eared and scraped. Expect to pay a fair price. Make sure you do your research and compare pricing, descriptions, and vendors. With prices reaching $250,000., Bauman Rare Books will show you to the upper end of book collecting.
Now you know how to go ahead and buy antique books. Adhere to these tips and you will be able to end up with purchasing the right books, which will add more value to your collection in the long run.