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The Invention of Rare Books
Private Interest and Public Memory, 1600–1840


  • Date Published: July 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108428323

£ 45.00

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About the Authors
  • When does a book that is merely old become a rarity and an object of desire? David McKitterick examines, for the first time, the development of the idea of rare books, and why they matter. Studying examples from across Europe, he explores how this idea took shape in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and how collectors, the book trade and libraries gradually came together to identify canons that often remain the same today. In a world that many people found to be over-supplied with books, the invention of rare books was a process of selection. As books are one of the principal means of memory, this process also created particular kinds of remembering. Taking a European perspective, McKitterick looks at these interests as they developed from being matters of largely private concern and curiosity, to the larger public and national responsibilities of the first half of the nineteenth century.

    • The first study of the development of the idea of rare books from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries
    • Explores how rare books evolved over time from being objects of largely private interest to become public and even national concerns (in the first half of the nineteenth century)
    • An important new work by one of the world's leading scholars of books and their history
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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108428323
    • length: 460 pages
    • dimensions: 253 x 182 x 26 mm
    • weight: 1.07kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Inventio
    2. Books as objects
    3. Survival and selection
    4. Choosing books in Baroque Europe
    5. External appearances (1)
    6. External appearances (2)
    7. Printers and readers
    8. A seventeenth-century revolution
    9. Concepts of rarity
    10. Developing measures of rarity
    11. Judging appearances by modern standards
    12. The Harleian sales
    13. Authority and rarity
    14. Rarity established
    15. The French bibliographical revolution
    16. Books in turmoil
    17. Bibliophile traditions
    18. Fresh foundations
    19. Public faces, public responsibilities
    20. Conclusion.

  • Author

    David McKitterick, University of Cambridge
    David McKitterick, FBA, was for many years Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Honorary Professor of Historical Bibliography at Cambridge. His previous publications include the three volume A History of Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 1992–2004), Cambridge University Library: A History, Volume 2: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Cambridge, 1986), Print, Manuscript and the Search for Order, 1450–1830 (Cambridge, 2003), and most recently Old books, New Technologies (Cambridge, 2013). Professor McKitterick is one of the general editors of the Cambridge History of the Book in Britain.

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