Rare Books or Just Old Books?

Collecting old books? If you are not already an expert understand a few things and terminology about old publications and enjoy the hobby.

Old, rare, out-of-print, "signed by owner", inscribed by owner, "antique" -- what's does all this mean? Let's stay with the term old for a bit and cover some of the more interesting terms you are likely to run across.

Inscribed by Owner: Handwriting in an old by a former owner of the book. This is not the same as inscriptions written in by the author.

Signed by Owner: Handwritten name of the owner of the book (again, this is generally NOT the same as the author).

Rare: Don't be mislead. A rare book is much more than just old. It must be scarce and desired by collectors. There are books printed in the 1700's that have no real value. They are old and even scarce, but not rare because the demand from collectors is missing. Keep this in mind -- scarce and in demand!

X-Library: Simply means the book has at one time or another been in the inventory of a library (not included is a private library). These will quite often have library stamps, bookplates or labels.

Book Plate: Is simply a printed label affixed to the front inside or flyleaf of a book by a former owner of the book. Book plates often have the owner's name printed on them. 

Shaken: When a clothbound book becomes loose in its binding. 


You Decide... 

Antique books were defined as pre 1800 until some collectors began describing antique books as those over 100 years old. Now that the interest of many collectors has turned to modern first editions - which are not necessarily that old or rare - the definition of antique books has become "more blurred." 

In the past, collecting of antique books has been a relatively small field, designed for the wealthy, with collectors of antique books often more financially capable than knowledgeable. The dealers often supplied the antique books to collectors, as well as collecting advice. Generally, it seemed cost was not an issue and the antique books were often given to institutions or were resold. Past collecting of antique books was more about prestige than about economics. 

As collectors of antique books became more knowledgeable their interest in the details increased, causing an increase in prices. What many collectors had considered a hobby eventually developed into a viable intellectual search. Each year book prices began to rise, fueled by a rather controlled scarcity in which dealers would withhold copies of titles, thus creating a demand. 

After the introduction of the Internet in the 1990's, a new horizon was available to collectors of antique books for displaying and selling their material. It is estimated that there are seventy-five times as many books for sale on the web, as there are owned by all the major dealers in the world. The broad exposure of the Internet has allowed collectors not only the opportunity to easily access resources around the world, but to resell antiques attractive prices.

World's Oldest Book Exhibited in Sofia 05/28/2003 

The world's oldest book in the history of mankind written in Etruscan, the language that is now lost, can be seen in Bulgaria's National Museum of History.

The world's oldest book in the history of mankind written in Etruscan, the language that is now lost, can be seen in Bulgaria's National Museum of History in Sofia. The rarity consists of 6 pages made of 24-carat gold and fastened together; the pages are covered with text and carry images of a horseman, a mermaid, a lyre and warriors.

The small book which age is over 2.5 thousand years was accidentally discovered 60 years ago in an old tomb with frescoes. The tomb was discovered in the Valley of Bulgarian Struma River during road construction works.

A Bulgarian who lives in Macedonia presented the museum with the artifact on condition of anonymity. The benefactor discovered the book himself. As is known, the man is 87 years old now.

The authenticity of the book was confirmed by two independent experts in Sofia and London, Director of the Museum Bozhidar Dimitrov says. As is considered, the 6 gold pages fastened together are unique; only single plates with texts in Etruscan have been discovered until recently.