by Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books
“A mere antiquarian is a rugged being” opined Dr Johnson, succinctly and meaningfully, to Boswell in 1778. What’s in a name? – and what of the decidedly un-mere antiquarian bookseller? A work in progress this – something which began in various desultory and ongoing e-mail conversations with Nicolas Barker and James Fergusson of The Book Collector, Simon Beattie and others.
It would appear that the earliest citation the Oxford English Dictionary has for the phrase “antiquarian bookseller” is as recent as 1952, and for “antiquarian book(s)” a little later still. This can’t possibly be right – the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association was founded in December 1906 – and that was precisely the name proposed at the time by Thomas Chatto and James Tregaskis. Their proposal was defeated on that occasion and it was as the Second-Hand Booksellers’ Association that the ABA came into being – but not without those present…
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