May 2011 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Catalogue Review: Oak Knoll Books

Catalogue Review: Oak Knoll Books: 296, Books about Books, Bibliography, and Non Books about Books

img70_5.jpgIf you know only one name in the books-about-books world, it's Oak Knoll. The first bookseller catalogues I ever requested and received were Oak Knoll catalogues, a dozen or so years ago. I was just then becoming interested in publishing history, buying a few publishers' histories here and there, when I found out about Oak Knoll. They stock books on printing, binding, illustration, papermaking, bookplates, type specimens, bookselling, etc. Then and now, it is the bookseller for the book collector's reference shelf.

The newest catalogue pointed out to me what is missing from my own shelves. Let's start with Dibdin's The Bibliomania; or Book-Madness; a Bibliographical Romance ($350). A later edition of the classic, but so says the catalogue, "The best edition to buy for those who want to read the full text of this book." Yes, please.

Book Collecting, A Modern Guide from 1977 ($100) looks interesting. It contains twelve essays by well-known book people. This one was owned by contributor Susan Otis Thompson, and many of the chapters have been signed or inscribed by the other essayists.

How I would have loved to get my hands on this four-volume set of Tebbel's History of Book Publishing in the United States ($550) when I was in grad school. Still would, in fact. It could use some updating as a reference, but there is lots of history here.

The type specimen books also caught my eye, particularly the Specimen Book of Nineteenth-Century Printing Types, Borders, Ornaments & Cuts In The Collection of Bowne & Co., Stationers ($125). Bowne & Co. is a gem of a letterpress printer in downtown Manhattan. This book, published in 1985, is limited to 300 copies.  

Any collector or bibliophile would do well to have the History of the Book in America series published by Cambridge University Press (and later by UNC Press) between 2000-2010. Oak Knoll has volume one: The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World ($100). Luckily I already have that one.

Oak Knoll also has generous handfuls of private press books, by Bird & Bull, Limited Editions Club, Derrydale Press, and others.

So if these appeal to your collecting interests, take a look at Oak Knoll's catalogues (antiquarian or publishing) online or visit their shop in New Castle, Delaware.