That’s the question that most people want to know when building a Antiquarian library. The answer depends on a number of variables. The variables you need to start with are…..
Decide whether your library will consist of a few shelves, a bookcase full of books, a small or large wall of books, several walls or an entire room of wall to wall investment quality books which just surround you and you feel like you have stepped back a few hundred years every time you enter it.
Once you decide what size of a library you want you will need to decide what you want in it. If you decided that your library is just going to be a few shelves of books or a bookcase, you may decide to be very specific on what you want in it. For example you may want to hone in on books on the American Civil War, by authors who were actually there or maybe your interest would be with the great female authors of the 18th and 19th century. On the other hand, if you want four walls of books you will probably want to be much more diverse and would probably want books that covered all sorts of histories, literature, the arts, poetry, religion, children’s books and so on. There is a huge listing of authors and titles of 16th thru 19th century books that you may want to consider having in your library which we would be happy to provide you upon request.
If you want it now, meaning an instant library it will cost more as there would not be time for us to put feelers out to our considerable resources worldwide for them to be on the prowl for what it is you are looking for. If you want to build it over time we would wait for our contacts to come through for you. But if instant is what you want we have the connections to make that happen as well and would be happy to give you our ideas and how you should proceed and what it would probably cost.
Whether you use us or someone else it is imperative that you remember a few things….
1/ Whatever you decide to purchase, remember that it must be complete. If you want a set of Kipling and it was originally printed in 30 volumes and you have 29 of them you do not have anything that will ever appreciate. Do not purchase it.
2/ How do they look? They must be in great shape! If someone tries to sell you a book or set of books with loose pages, ripped pages, detached covers, leather that is dry or falling apart or missing pieces, or damp stained or cocked or heavily foxed, run the other way. It will destroy their investment value.
3/ They generally would want to be something that the majority of people would have an interest in reading….Law books, medical books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, little known authors or subjects, like Stoddard’s lectures etc. etc. would not be wise to purchase and generally are not worth having but Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, Kipling, Dickens, Poe, Longfellow, Dumas, Hugo, Homer, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Napoleon, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Alexander the Great, and hundreds of other great authors and titles…… ETC. ETC. ETC. are worth having and should be great investment purchases.
4/ Try to stick with things that are written in English unless they are 16th or 15th century. If you need to sell your collection some day you don’t want to limit who maybe interested in it. Most people may actually want to read them or they at least want to know that what they have is readable for them.
5/ Books should be pre 1925 in most instances. Do not collect leather books that are reproductions like Franklin and others as they do not appreciate. Do not purchase inexpensive foreign books to fill up your shelves.
6/ Although the insides need to be a good content the binding should be handmade, most books from this time period were made of cloth or buckram….that’s not what we are looking for….we are looking for those books that were made from different types of leathers, like morocco, calf, Niger and so on, some books also had wood covers, silver covers, bronze, brass. velvet, ivory, tortoise shell, gutta percha, paper mache, silk, snakeskin, ell and so on. These are the books that you want in your library. These are the books that this site is all about and what we specialize in! Once they are put together in your library you can feel their grandeur. You can visualize this feeling by checking out different images on this site of leather libraries.
We would highly recommend you emailing us to purchase a copy of our published book on Leather bound books and other handmade bindings or you can get it on Amazon. It is called “Leather Books” by Arthur Boutiette.
So as you can see estimating what a library would cost depends on a lot of variables but generally you can figure for investment quality books, on average, from $85 a volume to $275 a volume which depends on scarcity of the titles you want or what the bindings are made from, like leather, silk, tortoise shell, silver, wood etc, the vast majority will be made from different kinds of leather and the more exotic bindings sprinkled in or the amount of gilt on the book. You would then need to figure how many linear feet you need and you would come pretty close to estimating what it would cost you. So let’s say you need 500 volumes to fill up the space you have and let’s say you buy some nice books with great bindings for $85 and others at $275 or more……you will probably average out at say $150 per volume so your cost might be around $75,000
We would be able to help you with all that and our consulting is at no cost to you. So if you want to build a nice antiquarian library it would well be worth your time to email us. We would be happy to help you and provide you with many references. Our reputation is impeccable. When all is said and done your name is the only think that ultimately matters.
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