The rare book trade is the place where “old” meets “new”, where tradition is communicated by means of the 21st century. Expertise and experience has not always been gained throughout one life but throughout many generations. “Used” booksellers have been known since the 16th century, the first antiquarian book catalogues were published in the 18th century. Between 1800 and 1900 many companies were founded, some of them are still in business, still printing catalogues, and they belong to the “big names” of the trade like Erasmushaus (1800, Basle), Herman H.J. Lynge & Søn (1821, København), J.A. Stargardt (1830, Berlin), Librairie Auguste Blaizot (1840, Paris), Bernard Quaritch (1847, London), F. A. Brockhaus (1856, Leipzig). Besides, there are firms who have made a huge career within a few years during the 1920s or during the 1960s and 1970s, which are considered as “the golden years” of the trade. In the upcoming weeks ILAB.org will look back into the history of the rare book trade with histories of antiquarian bookshops, biographies of booksellers, essays, historic photographs and a gallery of “booksellers’ firsts”.
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