Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2006 Issue

A Visit To the Oldest Bookstore in the World


Shelves of old books, and an even older book press, at Sotheran's.

On asking him what was the best advice for a bookseller getting into the rare book business, he responded with "Try to get a job with an established dealer, who deals with a wide range of things, and the person can decide what they want to deal in, and also get a rough idea how the rare book trade works."

Of the current rare offerings that Sotheran's has available, several items noted as being the most valuable include the book The Heart of the Antarctic by William Heinemann, 1909, first edition, signed by all members of the shore party of explorers (L18,500). Rare, hand colored lithographed plate drawings, titled A Monograph of the Trochilidae, or Family of Humming-Birds by John Gould, 1887, is valued at L25,000.

On asking about the best values right now for book collectors, Sprague offered "Probably at present the quickest rises in book prices are in the modern first editions, but you have to find the correct ones and collectors should choose the ones that interest them. I never advise people to collect books for investment reasons...but because they like them. At least if you like them and they do not rise in value, you have had some pleasure from them."

I will be writing more articles about some of my London experiences that focus on the places of interest to the collector, including a visit to some of the many museums.

Carl Burnham

Rare Book Monthly

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