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Did these toy building blocks inspire young Einstein’s imagination?

Albert Einstein’s toy building blocks

Albert Einstein’s much-loved childhood building blocks have been listed for sale on AbeBooks.co.uk.

Housed in two wooden boxes, the set features approximately 160 pieces with some chipped from use. Did these humble toy building blocks nurture the imagination of the boy who would become the world’s greatest physicist? It’s inspiring to think that these simple blocks were indeed the starting point for Einstein.

Einstein – who famously said “Imagination is more important than knowledge” – was born in the German city of Ulm in 1879, and according to his sister, Maja Winteler-Einstein, the young Albert built “complicated structures” with these blocks.

Albert Einstein

The set was created by Anker-Steinbaukasten – a German company famous for its toy stone building blocks that come in red, blue and tan colours. They are made from a composite natural material that includes quartz sand, chalk, coloring, and linseed oil. Anker-Steinbaukasten blocks have been enjoyed by millions of German children since the 1880s. German aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal started manufacturing them, using designs by educator Friedrich Fröbel, founder of the kindergarten system. The blocks are intended to stimulate manual dexterity, creativity and three-dimensional perception.

Under the leadership of Adolf Richter, who died in 1910, Anker ‘stones’ became extremely popular before going into decline around the start of World War I. Today, vintage Anker sets are much-sought after by collectors. Part of the joy of owning vintage Anker blocks is that they can still be used. The company was revived in 1995 and is once again manufacturing toy building blocks.

The blocks are listed for sale at $160,000 by Seth Kaller from White Plains, New York.

Kaller purchased the blocks at auction last year after they were put up for sale by an agent working on behalf of Einstein’s descendants. Kaller specialises in historic documents and artifacts. He will be displaying the blocks at this year’s New York Antiquarian Book Fair on March 9-12.

Kaller describes them as “a unique and important artifact of Einstein’s childhood.” He adds: “Fellow scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, as well as architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius, are among the geniuses who are known to have played with Anker blocks.”

Objects associated with Einstein are extremely collectable. For instance, a 1920 signed first edition of Relativity: The Special and General Theory written by Einstein sold for $12,500 on AbeBooks in 2007. Several letters from Einstein are listed for five figures on the AbeBooks marketplace. A cruise ship postcard from Einstein, featuring sketches by the scientist, is listed for sale at $49,000.

An 1894 advert for Richter’s Anker-Steinbaukasten


Eight Pancake Books That Go Way Beyond Shrove Tuesday

Pancakes – loved around the world

Pancakes are delicious enough to deserve our attention way beyond Shrove Tuesday (February 28) and the start of Lent. The editors at AbeBooks.co.uk have selected eight pancake cookery books offering recipes that span the world, from California to Russia and Scandinavia, and show numerous forms of this humble but versatile dish.

The original reason for eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday was so Christians could use the last of their rich foods (eggs, milk, sugar, and lard) before starting to fast for Lent. The French term, Mardi Gras, which is also celebrated at this time, translates as fat Tuesday. Mmmm, fat Tuesday!

A true global dish, pancakes are popular across the world and regional variations include crêpes from France, the buckwheat blini or bliny from Russia, jeons from South Korea, crepas from Mexico, Jewish latkes (potato pancakes) and injera from east Africa.

Eight Pancake Books Worth Stacking on Your Shelf

Bette’s Oceanview Diner (and her famous Pancake Handbook on the left)

1 The Pancake Handbook: Specialties from Bette’s Oceanview Diner by Steve Siegelman, Bette Kroening, & Sue Conley

Spending lazy mornings at your favourite diner eating pancakes is a way of life at weekends in the United States. Betty’s Oceanview Diner is located in Berkeley, California, and is famous for its buttermilk pancakes. Discover more than 75 recipes including blueberry yogurt pancakes, golden cornmeal pancakes, and double chocolate pancakes.

2 Crepes, Blinis & Pancakes by Valerie Ferguson

Thirty recipes that include classic American pancakes with bacon and syrup, and a Crêpes Suzette recipe with an boozy kick, as well as modern creations such as avocado cream blinis and oat pancakes with caramel bananas, and also Russian blinis topped with sour cream and caviar.

Pancakes: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes

3 Pancakes: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack by Adrianna Adarme

Food-blogger-turned-cookbook author Adrianna Adarme moved to Los Angeles and was inspired to write pancakes recipes for every occasion. You’ll find recipes for chocolate pistachio pancakes, cheddar bacon pancakes, smoked gouda potato pancakes, duck-fat pancakes, and kimchi fritters as well as buttermilk, vegan, and gluten-free pancakes.

4 Posh Pancakes and Fancy Fritters by Helen V Fisher

This book offers more than 50 recipes for pancakes and accompanying sauces that can be served for breakfasts, brunches, and light meals. Ingredients include fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood and cheese.

5 Perfect Pancakes and Crepes by Susannah Blake

More than 20 recipes, from pancakes, wraps and fruit-filled crepes to latkes and scones. A step-by-step guide offering more than 125 photographs.

Waffles Flapjacks Pancakes – a small but useful pancake recipe book

6 Waffles, Flapjacks, Pancakes, Blintzes, Crepes, and Frybread from Scandinavia and Around the World by Dianna Stevens

This tiny ethnic cookbook is small enough to be carried around the supermarket while shopping for ingredients. Recipes include German baked apple pancake, peanut butter pancakes, and lemon crepes. A host of breakfast ideas spanning a wide variety of cultures.

You too could make a giraffe from pancakes

7 OMG Pancakes! 75 Cool Creations Your Kids Will Love to Eat by Jim Belosic

American blogger Jim Belosic is famous for crafting unusual and elaborate pancakes – Star Wars pancakes (the Millennium Falcon as a pancake anyone?), caterpillar pancakes, unicorn pancakes, and pancakes suitable for almost every occasion, including Halloween. He started by cooking for his daughter and blogging about his creations, and then it took off. You will never think of pancakes as flat, spherical objects ever again after seeing Jim’s creations.

8 Pancakes: An Interactive Recipe Book from Phaidon Press

Children love pancakes and this simple recipe book is designed for young chefs to get busy in the kitchen. It has plenty of moving parts to make reading and cooking even more fun.

Pancakes – get interactive with the kids

And here’s a bonus book in case you wish to explore the development of pancakes since Greek and Roman times – Pancake: A Global History by Ken Albala. This book contains more than 50 illustrations and looks at regional variations including injera in Ethiopia and Japanese okonomiyaki.


Bookseller Q&A: Colophon Books, PBFA

Glorious books – some of Barlow’s collection

Today’s Bookseller Q&A comes from Staffordfshire. Mike Barlow is the owner of Colophon Books, PBFA in Leek. He has been selling books since the mid-1970s, and during that time has sold to major libraries around the globe, university collections, as well as serious private collectors, and has sold 1st editions of The Hobbit, a letter by George Washington, and a missing part 5 of a Mendelsohn symphony. He also spent two decades as a valuer for 4 auction houses, fighting temptation, and is now a member of the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association (PBFA). Barlow joined the AbeBooks bookseller ranks in early 2015, and no longer has a storefront, but sells online. Read on to learn more about Colophon Books, and to hear one of the best “Found in Books” stories we’ve ever heard.

AbeBooks: How did you become a professional bookseller?
Mike Barlow: In 1975 I walked into a shop in Finsbury Park in London, and bought 800 books on a whim for £50, all in tea-chests, after asking to look at  5 old-looking books on a top shelf I couldn’t reach without a chair or ladder. I sold about 45 books later that day from the collection for £120 to the author Iain Sinclair who was a bookseller in those days and I had bought off him several times. I began shortly afterwards selling books on Camden Lock and Camden Passage in Islington 2 days every week. I earned enough from the purchases I was making from Bob the bric-a-brac dealer in Finsbury Park to open a cafe/bookshop a few months later in Lincolnshire. I bought 3 quite large lots of books through him in the space of about 6 weeks. He was a house clearance man from the old war-time London days and sold anything under the business name of “The Stroud Green Bedding Company”. He didn’t sell beds or bedding and he wasn’t in Stroud Green. But his father had been till the Germans bombed his shop so he moved to Finsbury Park. He sold me the books in quick succession and as he liked me and wanted me to do well, he let me have them at very low prices like the £50 lot. To be fair I was taking the gamble as I knew so little, but did the maths and it seemed a good deal for me. He was getting books and other antiques out of a storage depot just around the corner from his shop. The second lot I bought, the depot employees had found these old wooden crates bricked up behind a wall (alcoves) since the 1st war in 1914 and they had just knocked a wall down and there they were. I was very lucky and as a gambler I took chances where others would have dithered. To be fair, at the time I knew enough about books only to want to read most of the literature and to try to ask a profit when it came to offer them out for sale, but little else. I remember selling a copy of Ulysses in the blue wrappers 1922 and a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in wrappers 1855 for an offer of £120. The Whitman is a book I have never seen again in any sort of original wrapper state. …What do they say about a little knowledge is dangerous?

The Pawky Pawk’s Book of Beasts

Abe: What is the most prized item in your inventory? Why?
MB: I have an illustrated manuscript called “The Pawky Pawk’s Book of Beasts” by a young girl aged about 9-10 called Joyce Mary Williams and perhaps with input from her brother Peter aged about 6 (aka Jimmy Smite – illustrator or co-writer). They were the son and daughter of a publisher Geoffrey Williams of Williams and Norgate Ltd. A London ouse no longer in business. It has never been published, it comes with other ephemera, photographs and school-day drawings and notes. It says a lot about the children, the period and the place. And it is unique. I have owned it since the 1980’s and it is for sale at present on Abebooks.

I also have a run of 1st world war period children’s annuals bought from a lady in Ingoldmells in Lincolnshire many years ago. And whom I befriended by her answering an advert I had placed in a local paper for buying books. Not because they are particularly valuable, But because as a spinster these were her mother’s and as she had no family herself she didn’t know what to do with them as they were taking her to a home for the elderly and she had nowhere to keep them and she was so distraught when I left as they were all she possessed of her mothers and she had looked after this lady all her life until she had passed away, She begged me to have them and I said well OK if she insisted! I would hang onto them for her for a few weeks until she made her mind up about what she wanted to do. Sadly later that week she died in tragic circumstances to awful to mention here. I have never been able to sell them due to this and the fact I never paid her and she had no one and died intestate. I felt responsible enough to never want to split them and probably never will. I feel so sad each time I see the books and the circumstances of how I got hold of them.

Abe: What do you love most about selling books?
MB: The history of it all. I can feel the previous lives, the hands that held things on the older material, the places they once resided in the world as it had been at that time. the fact they had lain in situ until I saw them perhaps for years and years or a century or two. The climate or situation in which they were bought originally . But mostly random association I have with with perhaps, in many cases, the only thing the original owner left of themselves on the planet to say “I existed” with their signature or bookplate being their legacy ass it were. That’s what I like about the things that come through my hands. I don’t understand the desire for no inscriptions, never will really. Unsightly scrawls yes, but a name or neat dedication how wrong can that be?

The Pawky Pawk’s Book of Beasts

Abe: What’s the one book you covet most? Why?
MB: I would love to own or find a Shakespeare manuscript or even a letter proving beyond doubt who and what he was and to settle the matter of authorship.

Abe: What’s the oddest thing you’ve found in a book?
MB: A fried egg fell out of an 18th century scientific pamphlet owned by Lord Walpole, which one I am unsure? Probably Horace. It was bulging and discolouring the pages when I discovered it in Wolterton Hall Library in the 1980’s. It had a beautiful binding by Sangorski and Sutcliffe done in the late 19th century and it was on Halley’s Comet dated about 1678 or slightly later. The egg fell like a stone and it had a powder blue centre that as I opened the book carefully and curiously this ugly cold ancient thing, this horrid visual dead thing dropped out onto my shoe and then the carpet, it bounced once, the white shattered in a thousand pieces and the yolk sending up a cloud of blue spore like dust that covered my shoes trousers and Aubusson carpet at one and the same time. And as I realised I had discovered both his old breakfast and a new bookmark idea, I quickly tried to cover it all up before Lady Walpole came back in and had a fit at her carpet and my dishevelment. I often wonder what was it that disturbed him so quickly to place it in the book, or how eccentric one has to be to use the fully fledged fried egg as a book accessory page marker?

The Pawky Pawk’s Book of Beasts

Abe: What’s your most memorable moment as a professional bookseller?
MB: I went to an auction in Norfolk and bought an Edward Lear Book of Nonsense manuscript for £26 and sold it at Sotheby’s for £16,000 later that year (1981). It was a proper cataloged book auction too, with about 100+ dealers, so many had the chance to appraise it. I did see the very same album about 13 years later for sale at £225,000 in the ABA London Summer Fair. It was on an American dealer’s stand. But they do say your first profit is your best and he still had to sell it.

Abe: And of course, what’s your favourite book?
MB: My desire, if I have any left, would be to collect all the rare editions of Dickens’ in all their variant 1st edition formats. The paper covered monthly parts, the plates pristine in them all (rare to find any not foxed these days). The association copies he presented to friends, the rare ephemera that was all part of his publishing legacy in his own lifetime. And of course the George Cruikshank engravings. You could easily spend two lifetimes trying to get all the first impressions in the best condition.
I started a good collection once of Dickens books after buying the library of a man who died of rabies in 1940 after being bitten by a mad dog in Lincolns Inn, London. Where he was a barrister and had chambers. A Mr Edward J. Ward was his name.

He left his collection to a young girl who was his adopted child or “ward” I think she said she was, Olive Harris, she had been sent to Wisbech as a war child-refugee where she was fostered out, but she married and then stayed all her life in that town. Strangely apropos of nothing really, Wisbech Public Library own the Manuscript of Great Expectations and can be viewed on request, or used to be?

The Pawky Pawk’s Book of Beasts

Anyway the collection was battered and needed a lot of money spent on it after rescuing it from further neglect and lack of knowledge. It had been kept in plastic bags in the garage for at least 30 years and a few other related items an old burr walnut 19th century bookcase in the hallway that blocked the front door. (They never used front doors in Lincolnshire), where the remaining few had managed to survive in better health. The books included a trial issue of A Christmas Carol 1843 with powdered green endpaper instead of the ordinary finally published canary yellow and a title page in red and green and not blue and red as appeared in the 1st trade edition, I believe it was one of only 12 trial issues ever. A binder ruined the book by throwing away the endpapers and binding it in a thesis plain buckram. I think he must still have my fingermarks round his throat. The collection had all his major and minor books as firsts with variant issues and some extra illustrated, but mostly bound in half or full leather and not original cloth and this leather had split and was in many cases damaged. A few had been bound in presentation morocco by Sangorski or Hatchards and this saved them for me.

I remember asking had there been any magazines at any time as a lot of Dickens works came out monthly? She said “yes there was, but as we had to remove them back to Wisbech and we couldn’t take everything so we took the nice books”. I sighed I think? It was enough regret in that statement to bring a tear to a glass eye. I had to sell these books a few years later to pay bills probably and help buy the next “must have”. I do regret that.

That just goes with the many other regrets in life, but we survive and after all we are only the guardians, so I would have lost them and eventually they would have been sold, but is was another lucky find and purchase and these always linger in the memory all your life. The good buys, the ones that keep you going when you think you must give up and get a proper job in banking or politics

BUT! What was it a bookseller once said? If you cannot sell ALL your books you’ll never be a good bookseller! A successful man is one who makes a profit and moves on, you cannot do that keeping books back to hold onto for that rainy day.

I feel today so many other things have crowded books to the very margin of our needs and requirements as a society. And that for many booksellers today making any profit selling everything you buy or not is a lot, lot, harder than it has ever been, although in most centuries for many it was always hard, but people did at least know how to read.

Lastly! One interesting thing I noticed when looking at the 1500 or so Sotheby catalogues I bought from old Alfred Lenton’s private bookstock the old Leicester dealer from the 1940’s to the 1990’s, from his son in 2000. And all dated from the 1890’s-1970’s that the books that were being sold for little money from the early 20th century and mid-20th century in the 1970’s catalogues and a few 80’s catalogues had almost all but disappeared today. So perhaps those books that we think will be around forever, do eventually just stop appearing never to be found. The 18th century material, the scientific and esoteric pamphlets, the 3 deckers in cloth, the leather in perfect condition in boxes for £10-12 and shelves of magazines from the 1900’s that were hardly making a £5’er, where is it all?
I’m off to list some more books now as I try to every day. I have another 3-5000 items, so only another 10 years or so to go…..


Vinegar valentine cards – vintage insults for 14 February

More than 150 years ago, Victorian ‘greeting card trolls’ were using the fledgling postal system to insult people with so-called ‘Vinegar Valentine’ cards. These anonymous cards, illustrated with caricatures and snarky poetry, were a major phenomenon as the ability to communicate regardless of distance became more accessible.

It appears vinegar valentines originated in the United States around 1840 and were used for around 100 years. They were also widely used in Britain. The artwork and verse mocked some characteristic of the recipient. Gluttons, drinkers, braggarts, windbags, ugly people, vain people, and stupid people – they were all fair game. The tone of verse ranged from gentle to downright vicious and abusive.

Learn more about vinegar valentines.


Bookseller Q&A: Meet Lucius Books

James Hallgate of Lucius Books

In the run-up to the 2017 London International Antiquarian Book Fair, which is proudly supported by AbeBooks.co.uk, we are celebrating the rare bookselling community. We begin by profiling Lucius Books from York, a seller with AbeBooks since 2000.

Lucius Books began trading in 1993, when James Hallgate started to buy and sell crime fiction first editions in Northeast  England. Embracing the Internet early on as both a buying and selling tool, the business grew quickly to serve customers far and wide. Whilst based in the historic city of York, Lucius Books have always travelled… to find customers, and rare and unusual books, exhibiting at fairs in the UK, Europe, New York, California, Hong Kong and Australia along the way.

In 2003, Lucius Books opened its first bricks and mortar shop, and Georgina Hallgate joined the company in 2005 (having previously worked for Nigel Williams Rare Books in London). Monica Polisca joined in 2011 as the business continued to grow. They occupied three different shops on Fossgate in York over 12 years until the devastating floods of Christmas 2015 forced the business into offices. The business plans to re-open in a new central York location later this year. Lucius Books are proud members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association and abide by their strict code of conduct.

Lucius’ inventory is broad and, at times, unusual. There’s the original artwork for Roald Dahl’s Danny The Champion of the World, a drawing by John Lennon, a graffiti jacket (and we’re not talking dust jackets) by various artists, and that’s before we get to the books, which are all accompanied with high quality photographs.

You will see Lucius Books at the 2017 London International Antiquarian Book Fair in Olympia between June 1-3 – the premier rare book event in the UK.

James, Georgina and Monica took a few moments to answer our questions.

AbeBooks: What do you love most about selling books and collectibles?

James Hallgate: “The entire process, really. The thrill of the chase, the travelling, not knowing what you will find from one day to the next – it certainly keeps things interesting. The discovery and research, then cataloguing and photography to present each item in its best light and concluding with finding a happy home.  The opportunity to help build and develop customers’ collections with them is a privilege and something we relish.”

AbeBooks: What is the most interesting collectible item you’ve come across?

George Orwell’s inscription to Osbert Sitwell

James Hallgate: “We are lucky to have had the opportunity to handle many landmark books, manuscripts and objects over the last couple of decades and to unravel the background, association or provenance of any of them – to be part of that snapshot in time and history – is fascinating and awe-inspiring. Stand-out pieces for me would be John Lennon’s handwritten manuscript lyrics for ‘Imagine’ and the first edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell inscribed and presented to Osbert Sitwell just weeks before Orwell died.”

AbeBooks: What’s the oddest thing you’ve found in a book?

Georgina Hallgate: “A couple of years ago, I decided to buy a book I remembered reading as a child, planning to read it to our own kids. There were several copies available on AbeBooks, and I went for one in the edition I remembered (a paperback) in nice condition. When the book arrived a few days later, I opened it up to find it had a handwritten dedication. It took a minute to take it in. The writing was as familiar as my own. The name of the dedicatee was familiar too. My mother’s writing, my brother’s name – I’d bought back the very copy I’d read as a child. My mum must have given it away or donated it once we had outgrown it, yet somehow here it was. It’s back on our shelves now as if it has never been anywhere else, despite having been who knows where for 30 years.”

AbeBooks: What’s your most memorable moment as a bookseller?

James Hallgate: “Most memorable and proudest moment is being admitted into the Antiquarian Booksellers Association as (at the time) their youngest member (by some 15 years or so I was told.). Things have moved on a bit since then and happily there are now lots of younger members coming through.”

AbeBooks: What is the most unusual paper collectible you currently have in stock?

James Hallgate: “That would have to be the London Fundergrounder paper spectacles (although I’m so fond of them I’m not sure we’ve got round to cataloguing them yet). Theoretically they are for sale though.

I’m a Fundergrounder Spectacles

AbeBooks: And of course, what’s your favourite book?

The Tyger Tray, available from Lucius Books

James Hallgate: The answer to that could probably change two or three times in any one year but the one I always go back to would be The Tyger Tray by “B.B.” (Denys Watkins-Pitchford), loved it since the first time I read it as a 10 year old.”

Georgina Hallgate: “As a child, my favourite books were about horses. Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series and the Jill books by Ruby Ferguson. I’ve bought them all again but don’t dare read them in case they don’t match up to my memories. In my 20s, I loved Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier. I still love that one, but I don’t hanker for the picturesque melancholy in the same way any more. I discovered Anagrams by Lorrie Moore when I was doing a creative writing masters in Manchester. My tutor, Suzannah Dunn, who can write note-perfect dialogue and interior monologue herself, put this book on our reading list. I have re-read it often- it’s like a puzzle held up to the light and examined repeatedly from different angles.

“Lately I have loved The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and am in awe of its clarity and purpose. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is another. And I couldn’t not include Emma by Jane Austen. And Georgette Heyer, thought I don’t know which I’d choose – like marmalade truffles, one is never enough.”

Monica Polisca: “Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, I’ve read it four times, in both Italian and English, one day perhaps I’ll be able to in Russian.”

Learn more about the London International Antiquarian Book Fair


PBFA’s Kensington Christmas Book Fair returns, 3 December

Get set for the PBFA’s 2016 Kensington Christmas Book Fair

The PBFA’s Kensington Christmas Book Fair returns on 3 December. Now a fixture on the British rare book calendar, the Christmas Book Fair has a new venue this year – the Hilton London Olympia Hotel at 380 Kensington High Street.

The fair opens at 11am and closes at 5pm. Entrance is £2 on the door or via a free ticket downloaded from the PBFA website. Thousands of rare books, prints, art and ephemera is available for sale from than 50 excellent booksellers.

The sellers in attendance include AshtonRareBooks, Worlds End Bookshop, Jonkers Rare Books, John Atkinson Fine & Rare Books, Peter Harrington, Holybourne Rare Books, Peter Foster Books, and Sophie Schneideman Rare Books. There is an intriguing mix of major sellers from London and smaller dealers from the rest of the country.

The hotel is a five-minute walk from Kensington Olympia Overground Station and 10 minutes walking from Earls Court (District and Piccadilly lines) or High Street Kensington (District and Circle lines) stations. Bus stops for the 9, 10, 27, 28, 49 and C1 routes are located just outside the hotel.

AbeBooks.co.uk is thrilled to once again be a sponsor of this event.


Video: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Favourite Fairy Tales

For more grisly truths about ancient tales, read our latest feature, The Gruesome Origins of Classic Fairy Tales.


Introducing INK LDN: London’s latest book fair

Two Temple Place, venue for INK LDN

There’s a new book fair in town… or least in London. INK LDN is a brand new international antiquarian book and art fair that takes place on October 21 and 22 at 2 Temple Place on the Embankment.

The brainchild of London-based antiquarian booksellers Ines Bellin and Leo Cadogan, and sponsored by AbeBooks.co.uk, INK LDN brings together dealers offering rare books, art, photography and manuscripts.

The Fair will focus on exhibitors offering exclusive items. “We don’t want dealers with 12 first editions of Ulysses,” said Ines Bellin. “We are emphasizing quality over quantity. INK LDN will be a sophisticated, elegant book fair.”

The venue is a magnificent building built by newspaper and property magnate William Waldorf Astor that still boasts beautiful artwork, and opulent décor. It’s where Downton Abbey filmed the marriage of Lady Rose and Atticus Aldrige.

You will find 2 Temple Place at London, WC2R 3BD. Admission is £10. The opening hours are Friday 21st October, 11am-7pm, and Saturday 22nd October, 11am-3pm. The nearest Tube station is Temple on the District and Circle lines.

Numerous sellers who use the AbeBooks marketplace will be present at INK LDN, including Peter Harrington, Bernard Quaritch, Maggs Bros, Shapero Rare Books, Sophia Rare Books from Denmark, and Libreria Alberto Govi di Fabrizio Govi from Italy.

INK LDN is staging a charity dinner is in aid of the London Library on 19 October at 7pm, at The Crypt at St Etheldreda’s, 14 Ely Place, London EC1N 8SJ.  There is also a champagne reception and preview on 20 October starting at 5pm at 2 Temple Place.

Visit the INK LDN website for more information and tickets.

One of the booksellers who will be attending INK LDN is Abby Schoolman from New York, who specializes in art bookbindings and artist’s books. Abby was kind enough to answer some questions about her line of work.

Bookseller Abby Schoolman

AbeBooks: Tell us about your business?

Abby Schoolman: “There are five incredibly talented artists with whom I work with exclusively. Whatever they make, I sell. I also include in my inventory a number of specially selected books by other talented bookbinders and book artists.”

AbeBooks: How did you get started in the bookselling business?

Abby Schoolman: “I was trained as an archivist and rare book librarian. In early 2000, while working for a historical society in New York, I was recruited by Bauman Rare Books to work in its then brand new Madison Avenue gallery. I jumped at the chance. For over 14 years, I worked with five centuries of the most interesting and beautiful books in almost every field of human thought. It was heaven.

“A few days before I started working for Bauman, I stumbled across an exhibit of contemporary bindings of books on angling at the American Museum of Natural History. For the first time in my life, I bought an exhibition catalog. Little did I know that, many years later, buying exhibition catalogs of contemporary bookbinding exhibits from the mid-20th century to the present would become my obsession.

“One thing I had often discussed was the lack of information available on the great contemporary binders of the Americas. Who were they and where? My French is terrible and I don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese. The Internet is pretty useless where art bookbinding is concerned. I started haunting The Strand‘s ‘on Books’ aisle and the Oak Knoll website for books and catalogs about modern binding. With those first few gems I picked up at The Strand, I started a blog, American Bound. It was just for fun. I had no idea where it would lead. I studied the work of and met so many wonderful bookbinders and book artists while writing my blog. A year later, I decided to go out on my own, do consulting work in the trade, and try to figure out how to create my dream job: selling art bookbindings and artist’s books made by living artists.

“Almost immediately, the strangest thing happened. A binding I had posted as part of one of my (then) weekly blog entries was purchased by a dealer. He is someone I know well. He sent me an email asking for the contact information for the binder. I didn’t know her personally, but her contact information was in the exhibition catalog in which I had seen the binding. I passed it along. The binder, Malina Belcheva of Chicago, sold the book (which is now in the book arts collection of the Boston Athenaeum) and asked me to be her agent. I quickly asked three of my favorite art binders if they would work with me. They all said yes. I was amazed that Christine Giard (France), Sonya Sheats (USA), and Mark Cockram (UK) would want to work with someone just starting out in their field. I started my business with all the bindings these four artists could send me.

“Less than a year later I took on a few books from Timothy C. Ely. He had worked with many great book arts booksellers such as Ursus Books, Granary Books, and the late Toni Zwicker, and many art galleries. Ely, in my opinion, is one of the greatest living book artists. For just over a year, I have had the great honor of being Ely’s sole bookseller. I recently published a book on eight of his most recently completed works. It’s called Timothy C. Ely: 8 Books. I call it a book, but really it is a bookseller’s catalog that got way, way out of hand: 58 pages on just eight books.”

One of Abby’s Timothy C. Ely books, called Gamma Cruxis

AbeBooks: You work closely with artists – what is that process like?

Abby Schoolman: “Mostly, I stay out of their way. I want them to make whatever they want, in whatever format or medium they choose, regardless of what they have made or sold in the past. The freedom to choose, and the freedom from the constraints of set book competitions, juried exhibitions, and traditional expectations allows the artists breathing space. The result is better art.

“My role as agent and bookseller for my five principal artists varies greatly based on individual needs or projects. Sometimes I am a sounding board for ideas, sometimes a safe space for venting frustration, sometimes I am a student learning about structure or technique or obscure bookbinder lore, sometimes I gently give deadlines by providing a list of dates of upcoming book and art fairs. For some I write or edit documents. I also try to hustle on the behalf of those artists who wish to line up lectures, workshops, or other gigs. Often I listen to their ideas for bookselling; some of my artists have been in the book business for far longer than I, though from a different angle.”

AbeBooks: What is the most prized item in your inventory?

Abby Schoolman: “Timothy Ely’s unique manuscript and binding Bones of the Book: An Oblong Identity is a masterpiece. There is simply no other way to look at it. It’s huge (44.5cm x 30cm x 3.5cm), very personal and, even for Ely, incredibly complex in scope. It is special in many ways, not least because it took him 25 years to complete. The title page says 1990 and it was exhibited. He didn’t sell it. Sometimes he showed it, but the truth is that it just didn’t feel finished to him. In 2015, he removed the original binding (now in the Ely archives), worked more on the original pages, added pages, and rebound the book. It is now truly complete, spectacular, and will be at INK LDN.

Bones of a Book by Timothy C. Ely

“Bones of the Book is the second in a three-book series that differs significantly from Ely’s other art. These books are both biographical and autobiographical. Each honors the important influence of family members in Ely’s life, and combines it with an aspect of bookbinding—the format Ely has chosen to house his artwork throughout his career. In each case, there is also a third narrative that plays a significant role in Ely’s identity as an individual and as an artist.

“The series began with Binding the Book: The Flight Into Egypt in 1985. Egypt is about Ely’s grandfather, the journal he left behind about his mysterious trip to Egypt between the wars, bookbinding, and the geography of Egypt. For much more information, see The Flight into Egypt: Binding the Book. It’s out-of-print, but there are often copies available on AbeBooks.”

AbeBooks: Why do you support and participate in bookfairs?

Abby Schoolman: “I love book fairs. When I worked for Bauman Rare Books, I loved to select the books, travel to the fair venue, set up the showcases, and walk around gaping at all the books. It’s glorious to see the best, the most interesting, their weirdest, the most beautiful books and ephemera from all over the world just lined up for you to look at and hold. There’s a buzz and enthusiasm among the dealers who have carefully selected the sexiest items in their inventory. It’s not at all the same as visiting a bookshop.”

AbeBooks: What’s your favourite book?

Abby Schoolman: “I can answer that a number of different ways, but I’ll stick with the book arts: I have an unreasonable obsession with Paul Nash’s Genesis.”


John le Carré: “The best book I have ever read on men and war”

Michael Herr co-wrote the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket

John le Carré described it as “the best book I have ever read on men and war in our time,”  while The Guardian placed the title on its list of the top 100 non-fiction books. The publisher was so proud of this quote from le Carré  that they emblazoned it on the cover of later editions.

Published in 1977, Dispatches by Michael Herr describes the author’s experiences in Vietnam as a war correspondent for Esquire magazine. It was an early example of writing revealing the awful truth about the Vietnam War.

A 1977 first edition of Dispatches by Michael Herr

Dispatches used the New Journalism style of writing where authors immerse themselves in a subject in order to go beyond the facts. An earlier example is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

Characters from Herr’s book inspired characters in Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. Herr co-wrote the screenplay for Full Metal Jacket along with director Stanley Kubrick and Gustav Hasford. The screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Herr later wrote a biography about Kubrick, whom he knew well.

His other books include Walter Winchell, a biographical novel about the American journalist and broadcaster, and The Big Room: Forty-Eight Portraits from the Golden Age, a book about Hollywood stars such as Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Frank Sinatra.


Introducing Collections: A new way of shopping for collectables

AbeBooks' Collections

We’re excited to announce that AbeBooks.co.uk has launched a new method of shopping for collectables – including art, ephemera and books – that combines the expertise of sellers around the world with the ability to discover hundreds of diverse, eclectic and often surprising items in a matter of seconds.

Collections is a new highly visual section of the AbeBooks marketplace that contains thousands of themed lists curated by our independent professional sellers. A large number of first edition and signed books are displayed alongside collectable art and photography, historic maps and atlases, and multiple types of ephemera.

The art and photography category offers drawings and sketches, original art, paintings, photographs and prints. The ephemera section displays broadsides, vintage magazines, pamphlets, postcards from numerous nations, and posters covering cinema, politics, travel, and other topics.

Customers can easily hop from one collection to the next, going deeper into niche subjects. It’s easy to become sidetracked by the things found inside Collections. Virginia-based seller Lorne Bair offers a curated collection of obscure books about Eccentrics, Cranks & Difficult People. Hungarian seller Földvári Books offers intriguing Eastern Bloc propaganda ephemera. New York-based seller Donald A. Heald offers historic American pocket maps. Dutch seller Librarium of The Hague offers beautiful military prints from the 19th century. San Diego’s Charles Lewis Best offers detailed black and white engravings of invertebrates.

Customers can browse lists curated by individual sellers or view ‘Master Collections’ that combine similar Collections into a single curated list that can extend into thousands of items.

Related lists are continually recommended, and look out for Collections that catch the eye of our editorial team in the editor’s picks section.

Visit Collections