Burney’s Box of Delights.

Originally posted on John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog:

A surprisingly eclectic mix of curios has been unearthed by Archive Assistant, Karen Jacques, from the E.L. Burney Collection. The Burney Collection, donated in 1975 – 1977, comprises of a large number of printed items, but also includes letters, notebooks and other papers associated with Mrs George Linnaeus Banks (1821–97), née Isabella Varley, the Manchester schoolmistress and authoress of The Manchester Man (1876) and her husband George Linnaeus Banks. However, the subject coverage is wide, with items of local history, women’s literature, general and popular fiction, book illustration and juvenilia, but one of the most interesting parts of the catalogue contains more than 40 items listed as relics, which were collected by Mr & Mrs Banks.

These are a few of our favourite things:

This item is listed in the catalogue as a silk purse made of two scallop (pectin) shells. Unfortunately there isn’t any information to explain how it…

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Treasures Unveiled (1): A Durham Missal from the 15th century

Originally posted on BedesBooks:

To launch our new blog, here we present a series of vignettes of intriguing, and often beautiful, items from our Collections.  Durham Cathedral has custody of a breathtaking array of artefacts, spanning hundreds of years of history; to learn more, you might like to visit  http://www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/heritage/collections.

Our first post in this Treasures Unveiled series is a 15th century Missal from the parish Church of St. Nicholas in Durham.

Here is shown a full-page illustration of the Crucifixion, found in its traditional place in this Missal – before the Canon of the Mass, the core of the service. Here is a full-page illustration of the Crucifixion, found in its traditional place in this Missal – before the Canon of the Mass, the core of the service (© Durham Cathedral Library)

A Missal was a book which contained all the necessary material for a priest to conduct services in Latin; their survival today is rare, as all Missals and Latin service books were removed from churches in 1549, with the introduction of the first Book of Common Prayer (which set…

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Originally posted on Shelf Fulfillment:

London dealer Sam Fogg tells Beatie Wolfe the secrets of his success

Sam Fogg is probably the most glamorous and successful of the new generation of British dealers, dominating the market for manuscripts. He is renowned for his ‘eye’ and has brought to his field a fine appreciation of the arts of illumination and calligraphy, both Western and Asian. He has enlarged the traditional repertoire by dealing in various art objects and antiquities, from mediaeval reliquaries to beautiful Islamic bowls decorated with Kufic script – not to mention the occasional Old Master painting. His gallery on the corner of Cork and Clifford Street in London is a treasure trove, where you will often find dazzling, scholarly, museum-quality exhibitions.


I didn’t decide to become a bookseller; I fell into it by accident. In my early 20s I was determined to be an artist and that’s what I was…

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Punk Archaeology and the Mainstream

Originally posted on Archaeology and Material Culture:

The 2014 Punk Archaeology collection (image from MediterraneanWorld blog). The 2014 Punk Archaeology collection (image from Mediterranean World blog).

Perhaps all scholarship inevitably hazards descending into stale convention or becoming an insular academic pursuit.  One of the most novel recent movements to unsettle archaeological conventions is “punk archaeology,” which is perhaps most clearly illustrated in William Caraher, Kostis Kourelis, and Andrew Reinhard’s edited 2014 collection Punk Archaeology.  A fascinating Society for Historical Archaeology session last week examined punk archaeology, especially the public dimensions that Lorna Richardson has most closely examined.  Punk archaeologists are leery of being narrowly defined, but a punk research perspective typically takes aim on “mainstream” archaeology: that is, in archaeology and many other disciplines the notion of punk seeks to transform scholarship that is normative, predictable, easily ignored, apolitical, emotionless, overly academic, or simply dull.  Punk archaeology embraces a critical and compelling assault on unquestioned scholarly traditions and the academy, and it drew a…

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Fear is the Mind Killer.

So, my loves and morsels, my dearest hearts and favourite foes, here is all the news that’s fit to print:

On the 24th of December, Year of Our Lord 2014, two days after my 44th birthday, and just about 13 years after I first walked across the threshold, the doors of Adrian Harrington Rare Books at 64a Kensington Church Street will close for ever.

I interrupt your lamentations at this point, and urge you to cease tearing your raiment and scattering ash everywhere, because Adrian Harrington Rare Books will of course reopen almost immediately in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. All the necessary details can be found here: https://hallsbookshop.wordpress.com/

Hall's Bookshop, new home of Adrian Harrington Rare Books.

Hall’s Bookshop, new home of Adrian Harrington Rare Books.

In fact the downstairs of Hall’s Bookshop is now entirely open to the public, go there now for your book purchasing needs, and say hi to Lucas, he’s tremendous.

It will be an exciting combination of book-selling disciplines and will be one of the few places in the country where you can buy something from the 10p box outside and minutes later be looking at rare first editions by Dickens and Darwin inside. It will have everything.

Well, except for me.

After nearly a decade an a half of stumbling through the fur coats in search of Turkish Delight and a lamp-post, I appear to have hit the back of the wardrobe. I shall not be taking the pilgrimage to Tunbridge Wells. You may now lament, a bit, those of you who are so inclined.

This blog will cease to be the blog of AHRB and will instead become the blog of Jonathan Kearns Rare Books & Curiosities.

“What do you know about running a book business?” I hear you scoff.

“Hopefully, just enough.” I respond, and adjust my flying goggles to a more rakish angle.


Bookselling you say? Hmm, don't mind if I do!

Bookselling you say? Hmm, don’t mind if I do!

It is however a good question.

In a couple of weeks I’ll have a website, and I have a few shelves of books. I’ll be an Associate Member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, and hopefully the PBFA if they’ll have me, and alongside Anthony Smithson, I’m a Director of The York Antiquarian Book Seminar. People have set out on risky voyages with less. Plus, I have this map I bought off a very friendly chap with a wooden leg, last Chelsea Book Fair, he said there’s barely any danger to speak of!

So, part of my plan is to document this exploit, week by week between January and June 2015, rather in the manner of one of those people who records their exposure to a pandemic in a horror movie.

“Day three, the scaly, gooey stuff has progressed up my arm towards the shoulder, my thoughts increasingly turn to raw meat. The others have left, apparently there’s a group of survivors at Mercy Hospital, best I don’t follow. Anyone who finds this I, agh, oh it hurts! oh no! -grrrrghrglrawr! Brains!”

Like that, only with book-selling and lovely books.

Please feel free to join me. It’ll be interesting. Anyone wishing to sign up for my newsletter, put their name down for catalogues, sell me books or hand me elaborately constructed wants lists that will enable me to travel the earth in search of treasure…please drop me an email.


Fairy Tales for Christmas!

Originally posted on John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog:

This volume by Arthur Rackham was recently retrieved for an archaeology seminar, but the images were just too seasonal to by-pass for the blog. Rackham has illustrated scenes from the fairy tale world. They convey a sense of joy and wonder, but not in a sanitized twee sense, many of these images are laced with the macabre and sinister. They consist of goblins, giants, elves, fairies and other grotesque and fantastic creatures, many of these stories are now familiar to us as Christmas Pantos.

Jack Jack and The Bean Stalk.

Arthur Rackham’s Book of Pictures (R141905) is held in the Alison Uttley Collection and is the 331st copy from a run of 1030. Rackham is widely regarded as one of the leading illustrations from the Golden Age of British book illustration, which encompassed 1900 until the start of the First World War.  Ian Rogerson discusses Rackham’s fairy tale illustrations in the newly published Riches of the…

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Honey & Wax


Heather O’Donnell…who is everything Mr. Worms says and more!

Originally posted on The Bookhunter on Safari:

Honey and Wax Catalogue Honey and Wax Catalogue

It may strike you as curious, as it certainly strikes me, that in over three years of blogging about visits to other booksellers, I have never yet had occasion to describe this operation in reverse – a fellow bookseller coming to visit me.

This is because, by and large, they simply don’t – at least not on business. There are booksellers who occasionally come socially for parties, supper, or a Sunday lunch.  There have been very occasional (fingers-of-one-hand) and notable exceptions, but there is only one bookseller – a man in a quiet and private way of business – who regularly calls.  He routinely comes to see me once or twice a year and just as routinely happily departs with a bagful of books.  But this blessed example is not one that anyone else follows – at least until last Saturday.

Yes – a visit from…

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