Something about Antiquarian Books, that transcends their status as one of the world’s most beloved collectibles. Books document the evolution of our need to make sense of the world around us. The Chinese inventor Bi Sheng made movable type of earthenware in about 1045, but there are no known surviving examples of his printing. Around 1450,in Europe, in what is commonly regarded as an independent invention, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in Europe, along with innovations in casting the type based on a matrix and hand mould. This invention gradually made books less expensive to produce, and more widely available.
Early printed books, single sheets and images which were created before 1501 in Europe are known as Incunabula. "A man born in 1453, the year of the fall of Constantinople, could look back from his fiftieth year on a lifetime in which about eight million books had been printed, more perhaps than all the scribes of Europe had produced since Constantine founded his city in A.D. 330." Paper-making has traditionally been traced to China about AD 105, when Cai Lun, an official attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD), created a sheet of paper using Mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hempwaste.
While paper used for wrapping and padding was used in China since the 2nd century BC,paper used as a writing medium only became widespread by the 3rd century. By the 6th century in China, sheets of paper were beginning to be used for toilet paper as well. During the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve the flavor of tea. The Song Dynasty (960–1279) that followed was the first government to issue Paper Currency.
An important development was the mechanization of paper manufacture by Medievel papermakers. The introduction of water-powered paper mills, the first certain evidence of which dates to 1282, allowed for a massive expansion of production and replaced the laborious handcraft characteristic of both Chinese and Muslim Paper making. Paper making centers began to multiply in the late 13th century in Italy, reducing the price of paper to one sixth of Parchment and then falling further.The importance of Printing can be seen in the first Gutenberg bible of 1455; the ‘First Folio’ of plays by William Shakespeare, published in 1623; John James Audubon’s monumental “Birds of America,” which was printed between 1827 and 1838;
Whatever the genre—be it Latin Bible or English Bibles ;- or classic works of Poetry—and regardless of the title, most collectors focus on 1st. Editions. First editions are coveted because their print runs tend to be small. They're also considered to be the closest a reader can get to the author’s original intent for his or her work. Thus, first editions are particularly desirable if a book has been changed for the second printing. Especially collectible are first editions of books that went on to win literary awards. The landmark children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” earned author and illustrator Maurice Sendak a Caldecott Medal in 1964, so its first-edition cover from 1963 does not feature the famous Caldecott seal.Some people collect books for their aesthetic value. For these collectors, antiquarian and vintage Books and sets are particular favorites. Some are covered in calf skin, which book binders found easy to dye. Others were made of Levant leather, which is goat skin and sometimes called Moroccan leather.In all cases, a book that has been signed by its author is more sought-after than one that has not, although books with inscriptions (eg: ‘To my dear friend, so-and-so’) are usually not as collectible as ones with just a signature. Biographies and memoirs are a favorite of former politicians and retired generals, who have been known to use the bully pulpit of a book to tell their version of history. Such books can often be found with the author’s signature on the title page.