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World's Oldest Book! This is incredible...


Rare or Just Old?

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. 

By the way... a great resource: Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America 



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.





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