A Treasure Trove of Art Inside Books.
Annotated Reference Guide to Collectible Books
New! Subject and Topic Catalog!
Private Press and Publishers
Authoritative Authors: Collecting by Author
Collecting books by author
is an experience in treasure hunting. Say your favorite author since childhood is the renown Virginia Woolf
and you've decided to build your first collection. Where to begin? Do you focus first on the Duckworth early editions? First American editions? Or do you start with small print runs from the Hogarth Press? You could collect all editions of a single title, one of each title, a particular publisher, or one of each publisher. Or perhaps you seek out Woolf's autograph, or inscribed copies or limited editions from the Arion Press. Or authors of the Bloomsbury Group, Woolf along with T.S. Eliot
and James Joyce
? The possibilities are endless...and that's just for Virginia Woolf!
Art IN the Book: Collecting by Artist
No only can a beautifully printed book by itself be art, but more remarkably, many books actually contain
original works of art, such as lithographs, etchings, woodcuts, engravings and more. When you collect books by artists
, you may literally find a piece of original art under wraps (or perhaps under the wrappers). The medium that gave this website its name opens up new possibilities unknown to most collectors. Take for example, the French publications of XXe Siecle
or Derriere Le Miroir
, many issues bursting with original printed artwork from the likes of Chagall
. And, of course, no discussion of art books would be complete without mentioning livres d'artiste and catalogues raisonne, some of which could occupy an entire shelf in your collection.
Art OF the Book: Collecting the Private Presses
In the case of the private press
, it's often the book itself which is art, the art of
the wraps, not just art under wraps. When we think of the private press, we first turn to William Morris and the Kelmscott Press
, Thomas Mosher and the Mosher Press
, and later such institutions as Nonesuch Press
and Golden Cockerel
. But consider broadening your perspective to include small and specialty presses and the world opens up to the Book Club of California
, City Lights Press
, and the Limited Editions Club
, just by example. Collecting books from these specialty houses and small batch printers often evokes certain eras, political and social movements, and moments in history. Savor these books as you would a fine wine (or for those of you like me, artisan chocolates).
Subject Matter Experts: Collecting by Topic
Unlike book collectors who focus on the antiquarian, art or author, my experience with the subject matter
collector, is that books are typically but one facet of a wider collection. The mariner may assemble a collection of sailing and yatching
books to go with other artifacts of the sea, the mountain climber may seek out volumes on Mt Everest
incident to the very best in climbing equipment, and of course the golfer may supplement his Master's ephemera with a signed copy of Arnold Palmer's A Golfer's Life
. And for the devout, the Holy Bible
itself is the ultimate holding, with copies of the Gutenberg Bible selling at auction for $2-5 million.