What to Collect?

Whatever your interests – literary classics, landmarks in the history of ideas, monumental accounts of travel and exploration, revolutionary scientific and medical works, exquisite decorative bindings and sets, beloved children’s books, inscribed or association copies – Bauman Rare Books has much to offer.
Our extensive and constantly changing inventory includes everything from the most elusive and desirable rarities (such as an 1814 first edition of the account of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the 1640 first collected edition of Shakespeare’s Poems or a first edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations) to very affordable first editions, signed copies and lovely bindings that make perfect gifts. We’ve helped form every type of collection imaginable, from works banned and censored through the centuries to books that inspired classic films.
Many collectors, however, don’t necessarily collect around a specific focus. Some search for the books they’ve loved throughout their lives, those that taught, inspired or moved them. Of all types of collecting, this is perhaps the most personal: what other groups of objects can better reflect one’s passions?
Americana – From the earliest voyages of discovery to the founding of a new nation, from the exploration of the West to the turmoil of the Civil War, Americana is among the most compelling areas of collecting.

Art, Architecture and Design – Artists’ books – also known as livres d’artiste – provide the collector with an excellent opportunity to own original works produced specifically for that book and signed by an important artist. In the early eighteenth century Giacomo Leoni’s translation into English of Andrea Palladio’s I Quattro libri dell-architettura (first published in 1570) solidified the late Renaissance architect’s reputation and led to the revival of his classical architectural theories, sparking the movement that became known as Palladianism.

Children’s Books – Once upon a time, children’s books weren’t necessarily – or even usually – fun. It sounds strange today, when toddlers Pat the Bunny, beginning readers sound out a menu of Green Eggs and Ham and throngs attend midnight bookstore parties for the release of Harry Potter’s latest adventure. But education, not entertainment, drove the earliest literature for young readers.

History, Government and Thought – Whether your interest leads along academic or highly personal routes, whether you are in search of first-hand accounts or histories narrated by later voices, a collection built around classic histories can be fascinating. Great ideas in philosophy may represent the spirit of their age, or dissect it, but their influence is seldom limited to one field or discipline. For who could persuasively argue that the works of Plato or Aristotle are not profoundly resonant in medicine, architecture, literature and music?

Literature – Author and critic Italo Calvino wrote, “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” As overwhelmed as we might be considering the range and sheer number of important works of literature produced through the centuries, one of the fascinations of collecting is that by seeking out the books we think are most important, we bring a certain order to the great expanse and preserve in our collections those books that had a significance for us – as individuals and as a society.
Music – Collectors of landmark musical scores enter the worlds of Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Puccini, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Gershwin and other brilliant composers whose works continue to thrill us. Music collecting is not confined to musicologists or academics; it is neither difficult nor arcane, but an arena with enormous intrinsic appeal.

Photography – Whether in snapshot, portrait, calotype, positive or negative, panorama, daguerreotype or print, the all-powerful eye of the camera has launched one of the fastest growing fields for the rare book collector to explore. With both art and technology in its genes, photography bridges centuries, tracing its origins back to our earliest speculations about vision, sunlight’s transformative mysteries, and the delights of the camera obscura. Part magic, part memory, with painting as a forefather and cinema a second cousin, this is a fascinating area.
Religion – One cannot ignore the Bible’s tremendous influence on world thought and literature. The Bible, of course, was the first book ever printed, and while a Gutenberg Bible of 1455 is no longer a realistic goal for private collectors, many magnificent editions printed in later centuries are.
Science, Medicine and Natural History – William Hazlitt defined science as “the desire to know causes,” and the collector of rare scientific and natural history books share that passion. The great works of mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, botany and astronomy represent not only the investigation of the hidden causes that move the visible world, but also the celebration of human curiosity, research and insight that made such investigation possible, and those revolutionary shifts in human thought that made the mysterious understandable.
Sport and Leisure – Chief Justice Earl Warren remarked, “I always turn to the sports page first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but a man’s failures.” Collectors of the literature of sport find inspiration in pages that record historic physical and athletic triumphs.
Travel and Exploration – In 1772 Captain James Cook, determined to either find or disprove the existence of Terra Australis, set sail on the HMS Resolution. Many collectors focus on the history of a single figure, like Cook, Richard Burton or David Roberts, while others turn to events like the race to the North and South Poles chronicled through The South Pole, The Voyage of Discovery and The Heart of the Antarctic.