Bibliophiles are collectors of the written word, and for many, antiquarian books are their passion. These books, as the name suggests, are old and sometimes rare editions. They cover myriad topics and may be illustrated, but the common thread is that they were written and published many years ago. Some collectors only add extremely rare antiquarian books to their libraries, while others choose volumes because they cover subjects that interest them or for the pure joy of handling tomes that are antique and have passed through many hands.
Vintage antiquarian books may be nonfiction or novels, and their original markets included both genders as well as children. Gardening books from the late 1800s and early 1900s include gems about wild flowers, roses, and rock gardens, with volumes describing plants in America, Europe, Japan, and other faraway places. Kids' antiquarian volumes, such as early copies of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or The Boy's Own Annual, which was last published at the start of World War II, are collector pieces for those who follow the development of children's literature. Topics covered in antiquarian books may be as basic as manners and etiquette of the times, military history, or obscure topics by unknown authors.
When you're deciding to buy antiquarian books, it's a good idea to do a little research first to find out what to look for; the term 'antiquarian books' is a fluid and not easily defined phrase. In fact, when the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America convened their first meeting in 1949, they were unable to fully define the phrase. Book Finds: How to Find, Buy and Sell Used and Rare Books by Ian C. Ellis shows how to find rare books and avoid beginner mistakes, while The Care of Fine Books from Jane Greenfield describes in very practical terms how to preserve and protect the antiquarian books in your collection.