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While we often think our new catalogs are newsworthy, this time around so does The New York Times. Today they are running an article on an 1870s photo album that we are offering in conjunction with Ian Brabner showing the family of President Obama’s ancestors. Of particular interest is a photo of his Great-Great-Great Aunt Anna Wolfley, who bears a striking resemblance to our current President. We are offering the album in our latest African-Americana catalog, and Ian will be showing it at this year’s New York Book Fair. We hope to see many of you there.

Every Island Fled Away by John SanfordWhile browsing through Ralph Sipper‘s booth at this past weekend’s Los Angeles Antiquarian Book Fair, I came upon an interesting copy of book that at first seemed a little out of place at the fair: John Sanford’s Every Island Fled Away. It’s a 1964 novel that, these days, is typically a $30 – $40 book in collectible condition, and not that much more when signed or inscribed. Usually the booths at the three fairs sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (there’s also a New York show in April and a Boston show in November) are full of the best antiquarian books for sale in the country and the world (read highest quality, and consequently highest priced). Dealers usually trot out their top material, and Ralph’s booth was full of many stunning copies of notable literary first editions. Some of them, like his beautiful copy of William Faulkner’s first novel, Soldiers’ Pay, are genuinely rare in such condition. By comparison, the John Sanford book seemed to be a grade schooler lost at the senior prom. Read the rest of this entry »

In September the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the ABAA sponsored a mini bookfair at The Bookshop in Old New Castle. The event featured Joel Silver, professor, librarian, and curator of books at the Lilly library at Indiana University, who presented a day-long seminar surveying reference resources relevant to the trade. Joel was the lure that attracted a large number of booksellers to Bob Fleck’s grand Opera House, a beautiful, historic building in the heart of New Castle. He satisfied all present with his lively take on a comprehensive body of resources. He also contributed to a successful bookfair the following day, where he was on hand to sign copies of his new book, Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly: Book Collecting in a Golden Age.
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Life’s persistent problems, the business of Philosophy, was not a matter of grave concern to us at BTC, until the acquisition of two important first editions of Kierkegaard prompted a look into our holdings. What we found were several works by Nietzsche and other Germans both good and evil. They comprise the heart of a new catalog of select titles.

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BTC Catalog 1 - One of many images now archived at

For several months Tom has been gathering photos of the first catalogues issued by rare book dealers, and posting them on FaceBook. Many colleagues in the book trade have contributed to the project, and it has now been given a permanent home on the website of The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers thanks to the site’s editor, Dr. Barbara Werner van Benthem.

The catalogue shown here was actually the second Catalog #1 from Between the Covers – the print quality of the first, with a different cover, was so bad that it was never sent out, and then most copies were destroyed when Tom’s cabinet shop burned down.

I’ve been editing the 600+ items that will go in our next catalog, and thought I might take a short break to explain the process by which we produce a catalog here at Between the Covers. But this plan was derailed by an item that I can’t help but blog about instead. As I was reviewing the books Tom selected, one caught my eye: the book tie-in to the 1959 novelty film Scent of Mystery. It was the first and only film to feature Smell-O-Vision, a mechanical system that released odors into specially equipped theaters at crucial moments in the film. The movie was the brainchild of Michael Todd, Jr., son of the film producer Mike Todd (also known as Mr. Elizabeth Taylor #3). The Todds were no strangers to the 1950s efforts of the film industry to bring back audiences that the studios felt had been lost to television. Mike Jr. shot the rollercoaster opening sequence of This is Cinerama (1952) for his father.

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