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€500 Million Ponzi Scheme

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The cosily niche books and manuscripts market may be about to be hit by one its biggest scandals in recent years. And Paris's Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits, as well as itssister organization the Institut des Lettres et Manuscrits, is in the eye of the storm.

Le Point reported that on November 18, France's anti-fraud brigade raided the museum and the various branches of Aristophil, a company owned by the museum's founder, Gérard Lhéritier. The company is suspected by the tax authorities and Tracfin—a public body fighting money laundering and terrorism financing—of “deceptive marketing practices," and “gang fraud." At time of writing, the Aristophil website as well as the websites for the museum and the institute appear to have been taken offline.

The implications of the case are far-reaching, and could have significant impact on the rare manuscripts world as a whole. According to Le Parisien, Lhéritier owns five percent of the global books, letters, and manuscripts market, worth an estimated €3 billion a year.

Read the full article by Coline Milliard (on Art Net News) here

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World's Biggest Collector Dies

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Sheikh Al-Thani wasn't a big deal in art buying circles, he was massive. He alone was responsible for putting several degrees of heat into what is today's scorching hot art market. When he was in town - so the rumour goes - art dealers and auction houses would dust down their best stuff, add a nought or two, and await his visit.

by Will Gompertz, BBC Arts Editor

 

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Collecting Early Printed Books - Christopher Sokol

Christopher SokolThe December 2014 seminar in the book-collecting series organised jointly by the Institute of English Studies (London University) and the ABA Educational Trust will be given by bookseller Christopher Sokol.

Christopher Sokol is the founder and proprietor of Sokol Books Ltd., an antiquarian bookseller specialising in 'early books' (i.e. manuscripts and printed books books up to about 1640), in most subjects and most European languages and occasionally others.

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ABA New Member - Mark Crocker (Somer Books)

Mark CrockerI was thirteen and the cashier at our local cinema had decided the youth with the suspiciously deep voice and wearing an obvious school blazer with the badge removed was under age.  Unmoved by my carefully rehearsed date of birth she refused to sell me a ticket for “War Of The Worlds” (the Gene Barry version).  In a fit of pique I went into W. H. Smith and bought a paperback copy and spent the rest of the weekend reading it. 

That first experience of enjoying a book I’d chosen for myself was my introduction to “grown up” reading and the gradual discovery of a wide range of authors and subjects.  Most of my books were kept, so over time a sizeable collection built up which by my early-fifties had to be thinned out. 

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Portrait of a lady?

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I have collected many “things” over the years, often unconsciously. An assemblage of mezzotint portraits of ladies of repute from the second half of the eighteenth century had a certain purpose, and even a policy. 

The ladies kept coming, so long as they were attractive, good impressions and preferably priced at less than one would have paid 100 years ago. Miss Benedetta Ramus, by Dickinson after Romney, sold for £672 in 1910, while a First Folio of Shakespeare was knocked down to Quaritch at Sotheby in the same year for £400. Nowadays an unmade bed excites the wealthy more than a carefully coiffured beauty resting her chin on volume 4 of Johnson’s Shakespeare. Perhaps there was a chivalric, or Gladstonian, motive in my retrieval of these fallen ladies. Combined with a degree of curiosity – who were Miss Young and Catherine Trapaud?

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Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections

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ABA Support for the Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections in the UK and Republic of Ireland

Like all academic books, the new edition of the Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections began with a proposal for the publisher detailing aim, scope, market and so forth. Support from the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA) was evident early on, as an encouraging comment offered to publicise the published Directory, the ABA has stated: “It’s obviously a book every serious bookseller should have. (May every acquisitions librarian feel the same way about libraries!) Beyond that, the ABA is helping to ensure that the Directory will be as good as it can be, in two key ways.

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ABA New Member - Tom Lintern-Mole (Antiquates Ltd.)

Tom Lintern-MoleI started in the book trade at thirteen, after being offered a job in a local Dorset bookshop. It was, admittedly, the third consecutive Saturday I'd spent browsing, so the owner's noncommittal offer was not wholly surprising:  

"You may as well come and work here next week; you spend more time than I do looking at these shelves".

This was 2000, just before the paradigm shift for book selling: when local shops could still support themselves by selling a combination of last-year's bestsellers to holidaymakers, local topography and military history to carefree retirees with big houses and the spare time to spend reading. The best stock was often kept back and put into the 'London boxes'; for taking monthly to the Royal National. 

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The ABA is increasing its membership

ABA/ILAB BadgeThe ABA is increasing its membership - have you thought about joining the best booksellers in Britain? 

A message to all ambitious sellers of rare and antiquarian books from Brian Lake, President ABA and Steve Liddle, Membership Secretary, ABA.

Why join the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association?

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Collecting Dickens

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Charles Dickens collectors see prices rise as signed book fetches £275k - the Financial Mail on Sunday talks to Brian Lake about collecting Dickens 

Brian Lake, president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, says the key appeal of Dickens is that there is a wide range of books and ephemera to suit all pockets.

"Dickens prided himself on being a man of the people and insisted his publishers offered his books cheaply so they could be widely read. His popularity meant print runs tended to be high and this means there are now large numbers of collectable editions available. No matter what your budget, there is something you can afford."

Read Toby Walne's full article here

 
De Caro Thefts - List of confiscated / withdrawn books

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De Caro and the Girolamini thefts - Notice from ILAB president Norbert Donhofer, concerning the list of books confiscated or withdrawn from auction No 59 at Zisska & Schauer (Munich), May 2012.

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De Caro and the Girolamini Thefts - ILAB Protest Note

Official Note of Protest of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellersilablogo14

Since spring of 2012 the issue of the massive thefts in the Girolamini Library and other Italian libraries had kept busy both the Italian Justice as well as the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). ILAB understands fully that this is a complicated issue as the main suspected person, Marino Massimo de Caro, has carefully – and partly successfully - tried to cover up the traces of plundering he had left in the National Heritages. ILAB has, however, offered from April in 2012 onwards its help and cooperation to clear up this mess in many ways, an offer, which unfortunately had never been accepted and had not even been answered by Italian authorities. 

The latest developments in this case – the arrest of the Danish dealer Christian Westergaard and the confiscation of eleven books out of his stock – gives ILAB no other choice as to announce an official note of protest against the department of investigation. This note of protest will be sent to officials in both the Ministry of Culture of Italy and the Ministry of Justice of Italy, and it will be spread out to librarians, journalists, and the public worldwide.

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Gutenberg Bible Theft

gutenbergbibleRussia has sentenced three of its Federal agents after they attempted to sell off a Gutenberg Bible. Colonel Sergei Vedishchev had offered it to a collector for under $1.15m (£700,000; 1.07m euros), a fraction of its estimated value.

Court spokeswoman Irina Zhirnova said the book was "priceless" and that experts expected it to fetch at least $20.4m. "These people were not art specialists," she explained. 

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The British Library's Online Treasures

As the British Library posts its greatest literary treasures online, new research reveals that young people could be struggling to engage with the classics. 

The British Library has posted over 1000 of its greatest literary treasures online in a new website, Discovering Literature – including the manuscripts of Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Austen, Dickens and Wilde, the largest collection of childhood writings of the Brontë sisters, and other unique artefacts which shed new light on their life and works.

“The launch of Discovering Literature enables lovers of literature to come face-to-face with some of our most treasured collections online anywhere in the world."

Visit Discovering Literature

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Next Fair

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Edinburgh Book Fair - 6th & 7th March 2014

The Edinburgh Book Fair represents an important union between the two pre-eminent national bookseller associations and this two-day event provides an excellent opportunity to see and buy a wide selection of rare, antiquarian and secondhand books, manuscripts, ephemera and artwork from some of the country's leading bookdealers.

Venue: Radisson Blu Hotel, 80 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 1TH

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Fairs and Events

Words are all we have.

Samuel Beckett