Monday, November 26, 2007

Antiquarian Dreams

So if you don't know what an Antiquarian is, here is the definition from Wikipedia: An antiquarian or antiquary is one concerned with antiquities or things of the past. Also, and most often in modern usage, an antiquarian is a person who deals with or collects rare and ancient "antiquarian books".
When I started my masters program in 2002, I was enrolled in a double major program, a MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Science) from Dominican University and a Masters in Public History from Loyola University. I decided the life of a publishing professor or museum curator was not for me and decided to focus soley on my MLIS. Of all my classes including those in law school, the ones I enjoyed the most combined my love of history and books.
I have been studying the rare book collection at the Chicago Botanical Gardens for the past 2 months while enrolled in a History of the Printed Book class and have discovered the allure of antiquarians. The first book I was assigned to was published in Venice in 1548 and tracking down the history of the author, publisher and historical significance of the text was just great fun.
My home book collection is varied and includes many of my favorite books from childhood, dozens of my son's favorites, a vast collection of travel books, history books, decorating books and biographies. A few of my books are truly in bad repair, mainly my small collection of fairy tales that have been read over and over. After learning about truly rare and old books in class, I decided to start my own rare book collection with an emphasis on fairy and folk tales. The first 2 books I acquired at auctions are:
The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley, 1850

and The Legends of the Rhine by F.J Kiefer, 1869

I look forward to building a valuable collection of rare books over the years and hopefully sometime in my life acquiring a first edition copy of Pride and Prejudice. However the last time I looked, a first edition copy was up for auction for just over $151,000.

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