"A catalogue is like an alibi to me, it makes separating from those books that I particularly love less painful, when I am forced to sell some so that I can buy some other ones. Having studied them and having published their description on one of my catalogues, allows that particular book, with that particular binding, with those notes of ownership, that water staining and those worms holes, to be still a little bit mine, anyhow, in spite of whom will own it in the future.”
Booksellers’ firsts are as rare as some rare books. Often printed and produced with much love and energy, yet on cheap paper and for a still small company of customers, they are “used” – and thrown away. Who started when? What did he or she offer? And for what price? Only the first catalogues can answer such questions. How did he or she present the material? With illustrations, elaborate descriptions, old-fashioned, modern, sophisticated or funny? A fine selection of 100 titles, or the abundance of 4000 items in one volume? In form of a “real” print catalogue or as a photocopied list? The catalogues, and especially their covers, reflect the taste and customs of the decades in which they were printed.
Some time ago Tom Congalton of Between the Covers Rare Books started publishing pictures of rare booksellers’ first catalogues on Facebook. Since then, the most outstanding examples have been presented here, with Tom's permission. Now the famous series continues with new catalogues, Tom Congalton has thankfully received from Andrew Gaub and Bruce Gventer. Click here and enjoy, browse the first series or have a look at booksellers' first catalogues from Europe!
>>> Don't throw them away! Keep them! Send us more first catalogues!