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Since the 16th century, when affluent purchasers sought out unusual specimens of illuminated manuscripts and old writings, rare book collecting has been a passion. Although this pastime may appear to be pricey and out of reach at first, you may really acquire several rare books without making a large investment. Before you begin your rare book gathering, you should be familiar with basic terms and tips, just as you should be with any other collecting arena. Continue to read this article and we will share some useful tips, which you can follow to save money as you collect rare books.
Understand the jargons associated with rare books
Many words related to rare books are interchangeable or have different meanings than we think they do. Knowing the difference will allow you to broaden your collecting horizons. The understanding you have on the jargons can help you to collect books while saving money.
Antiquarian books are ones that were published in the nineteenth century or before. Many books from the 18th century are very affordable, given their antiquity. “Antiquarian” does not automatically equal “expensive.”
A rare book is one that is difficult to come by and is in high demand. The rarity of a book has nothing to do with its age: books from the 17th century may be obtained for a fraction of the price of a book produced in 1920. The price is determined by demand.
One of the most misunderstood terms in book collecting is “first edition.” A first edition book might be extremely rare and expensive, or it can be as common as breathing. The term “first edition” refers to the book’s initial appearance in print in a certain format (it also means that the print run used only one set of printing plates.) A first American edition of Huckleberry Finn, produced for the first time in 1885, is available. You may also order a 1956 first edition of the book with pictures by a well-known artist. You’ll pay $38,000 for the first and maybe $500 for the second. Don’t be misled by a vendor who insists that a book is a first edition; the question to ask is, “Which first edition?”
Focus on what you should gather
The majority of rare book collections begin as a result of serendipity: you possess one book, then stumble across another that is related, and perhaps a friend gives you a third. The bookshelf is suddenly filling up, so making a collecting strategy might save you money in the long term.
“What should I collect?” is perhaps the most essential question to ask when starting a rare book collection. The answer is whatever it is that you enjoy about rare books, such as:
- Fine editions: Fine editions are leather-bound and illustrated publications in which the process of creating the book takes precedence over the content. You may have to construct your collection book by book if these were published in sets.
- Bindings from the nineteenth century: In the past, a book buyer would buy a book bound in thick boards (cardboard) and then have it custom rebound to his liking. Bookbinders were well-known for their leather and gilded work, which was valuable in and of itself.
- Titles: If you have a favorite book, why not collect all of its many editions? The Sketchbook by Washington Irving and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain are two rare works in this category. Since the 19th century, both works have been published hundreds of times.
- A specific author: Choose your favorite author and gather each of her works as closely as possible to the original version. Expect to pay extra for autographed copies if you come across a rare book signed by the author. However, there’s nothing quite like touching the author’s autograph to transport you back in time. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s signature is one of the most sought after.
- A topic: Collecting all of the rare books written on steamboats or magic may take a lifetime of searching but buying by topic allows you to look at rare books from various times.
Trying to save money as much as possible
It’s simple: a rare book is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. This is why the projected price is sometimes exceeded by thousands of dollars; two persons were interested in the book enough to spend extra. Shapero told us that despite this peculiarity, dealers follow basic criteria when setting book pricing, which should help you understand why the market costs what it does.
- Do your own research before you buy a book: They look at auction catalogues, other book websites, and news stories to find out how much and when a certain book sold for. When buying classics like Finnegan’s Wake or Sense and Sensibility, don’t expect to find many discounts because no dealer will sell a book significantly below the usual market price.
- Understand the true value of rare books: There were only a limited number made, and as demand grows, so do the prices. Prices may fluctuate, but seldom do they plummet.
- Get the help of expert dealers: A dealer has a good understanding of who buys what and how much they are prepared to spend. One rare book shop may have a volume for $100, while another may have a volume for $200.
- Do your own research on the internet: You must also do a bit of a research on the internet before you buy a rare book. Because you can compare hundreds of copies online, website listings help keep book costs stable. Shop around because the price of the same book might vary by $10 or $100.
- The higher the price, the better the condition: A clean copy will fetch considerably more than one that has been dog-eared and scraped. Expect to pay a fair price.
- Make sure you do your research and compare pricing, descriptions, and vendors. With prices surpassing $250,000., Bauman Rare Books will expose you to the upper end of book collecting.
Follow these tips and you can find the best deal when buying rare books.