Interested in collecting old and rare books but don’t know where to start?
The following points may be helpful.
Collect an author whose books you enjoy reading.
Part of the pleasure of possessing a collection is being able to pick up a particular book at any time or just “dip in”. If the author’s books were published in the last seventy years or so it is possible to acquire first editions. Some writers have become very collectible so expense may be an issue but others are not and it is possible to build a collection with modest means.
Collect books about something you enjoy.
If you have a hobby or interest it would make sense to collect in that subject area. No doubt there would be differing points of view about the subject that have been published over a number of years. By referring to such a collection expertise would grow. It is also possible such a collection will increase in value.
Collect books about a popular or trending topic.
If neither of the above apply consider areas in which enthusiasts already collect. Some collect different editions of the same title eg: Pride and Prejudice, Don Qixote and Alice in Wonderland; others by publisher eg; Adams and Black, Blackie and Son and still others by illustrator eg; Dulac or Rackham. Style of binding is popular too, perhaps leather with all edges gilt.
Popular subject areas include: natural history, shipping and railways, WWI, philosophy, arms and Armour, cricket, the American Civil War, children’s annuals and so on. Notable figures from the past also feature, particularly Winston Churchill and Napoleon. Popular areas for Australian collectors include: James Cook, exploration, local history, the colonial period, bush-ranging and the gold rushes.
Also think about collecting
Still other collectors have a passion for miniature books (less than 7cm in height) or ephemera (printed items not in book form: pamphlets, letters etc)
Every Title in a Series
Finally there is the satisfaction of collecting all the titles in a series eg: the first thousand Penguins or all the Saturday books.
Some recommended references are: The Book Collector’s Fact Book by Margaret Haller; A Primer of Book Collecting by John Winterich and; ABC For Book Collectors by John Carter.
Whatever you decide to collect, it is wise to buy only books in very good condition or better. This applies both to the dustwrapper and the book itself. Start by looking at the books in our online database.