Researching your rare books


Unfortunately, the Archives and Special Collections of Franklin and Marshall College cannot research your rare book for you, and will not appraise the value of your rare books. The best place for information on your rare book is your own local library, a reputable rare book dealer, or a library holding a large rare book collection such as the Newberry Library in Chicago, or the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

Resources to look for at your local library or online may include:

General information:

Print Resources -

Bernard, Philippa. Antiquarian Books: a companion for booksellers, librarians, and collectors. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.

Carter, John. ABC for Book Collectors, 7th ed. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1995.

Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1974.

Glaister, Geoffrey. Encyclopedia of the Book. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1996.

Greenfield, Jane. ABC of Bookbinding. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 1998.

Web Resources -

A number of very good websites give information about rare books, and rare book collecting. Please explore the following:

Your Old Books - Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries A wonderful list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about rare books.

What's this Book Worth? - by Vic Zoschak Online newsletter article by rare book dealer Vic Zoschak summarizing the four basic factors affecting the commercial value of any book.

Collectors Corner - Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America Please select "Collectors Corner" for an introduction to book collecting and a useful glossary of rare book terms.

Rare Book Basics - Powells.com Discover illustrated rare book terms and condition standards.


Professional Organizations:

The following professional organizations can provide a wealth of knowledge about your rare books.

Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America

International League of Anitquarian Booksellers


For determining value:

Print Resources -

American Book Prices Current. New York: Bancroft-Parkman, published annually.

Web Resources -

Addall Books - Used Addall Used searches used and out of print books from over 20,000 dealers. Great tool for current pricing.

Bookfinder.com Bookfinder is a great resource for current pricing and availability.

ZVAB - Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bucher ZVAB is the professional European catalogue of antiquarian books on the Internet. You will find more than 10 million antiquarian books on offer from over 1600 antiquarian book dealers.


Although these sources may be helpful, one must remember that various factors such as condition, subject, scarcity, demand, etc., all play a part in determining value.


How to care for your rare book

The Northeast Document Conservation Center and The Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts have helpful online advice for caring for rare books.

For the services of a professional conservator, please link to the online directory of the American Institute for Conservation of Art and Historic Works.


This page is not intended as a definitive guide or endorsement of any particular publication, source, or internet site. It is intended solely as a aide to research that will provide ideas where to start looking for information about your rare book.


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1/8/07 - cmr