Monday, October 23, 2006


Bibliomania strikes again

I am constantly surprised by books I never even knew existed. That's the most exciting thing about trawling for used books - recognizing something simultaneously special and unknown. In this case, Ryan found me a few good books in Boston, he just got back from a work trip to the big city. At Commonwealth Books he turned up a copy of the following: Ticketed Bookbindings from Nineteenth-Century Britain by William Spawn and Thomas E. Kinsella, with an essay by Bernard C. Middleton (Bryn Mawr College Library and Oak Knoll Press 1999). A larger-than-life example of one of the illustrations appears here. The actual ticket measures a bit over three by three inches. The book has around two hundred black and white illustrations of bookbinders' tickets and stamps, many of which are also booksellers' tickets. And a section of color illustrations of some of the fine bindings in question. Who knew there was such a book! The madness! The ecstasy! I was so happy I was hopping around the living room, doing a little happy-dance. I settled down and spent time poring over the text, the writers of which generously remind us several times that serious scholarship in this field is just getting started. Most of these tickets I will never see in real life, but the next best thing is surely a great book about them, especially one with such meticulous detail. That's the first book Ryan found for me, the second follows tomorrow.

Dear Sarah,
Funny you hadn't come across this book before — stange also that Greg Kindall didn't include it in his short bibliography about book labels. To me, this has become a classic reference book, as well as a model of bibliographic method regarding book labels. I believe you got the hardcover edition : had you seen the paperback, you surely would have mentioned the color reproductions of bookbinders' tickets on both covers (60-70 of these) — in my opinion, this alone is worth getting the paperback, as I think Oak Knoll didn't issue a corresponding dust-jacket for its hardbound edition (?).

There are two other books I would definitely recommend for book label enthusiasts. First, a great book in German by Reinhard Ohlberger, "Wenn am Buch der Handler Klebt" (Locker Verlag, Vienna, 1999), which deals with booksellers' labels around the world, with special emphasis on German language sellers, fully illustrated in color, along with a sampling of original labels in an envelope... Although hard to read for a non-German (I don't read German, but I found my way to the essentials), it remains a masterpiece in this field — and a sure treat for a person like you !

A second book is Piero Piani's "Questioni di Etichetta" (Edizioni Libreria Naturalistica, Bologna 2002), illustrated in color with hundreds of labels from around the world (emphasis on Italy), with very useful indexes — very little other text, so it's quite readable if your Italian is approximative. Both these books may be found on Abebooks (and I think you can get the German book on

Of course, there is also Larry Dingman's "Booksellers' Marks" (Dinkytown Antiquarian Bookstore, Minneapolis 1986) which deals with American booksellers in B&W. This has become harder to find, but well-worth the price.

Hope this teases you a bit...
Pierre, I do have the plain hardcover edition, no dust jacket. Now I see that I must also own the softcover edition. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Kidding aside, thanks - really...

I know of the Ohlberger and the Piani books, though I have yet to see them. Each month I think I will have enough extra cash to order them from overseas, and each month I put it off one more month (of course I have usually bought something else in the meantime that has eaten up any extra cash I might have had sitting around). Last year, though, I did find a signed copy of Larry Dingman's very pleasing little book. Love it.

You are ably aiding my obsession.
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