News

California Young Book Collector's Prize

Thursday November 12, 2020

THE THIRD ANNUAL CALIFORNIA YOUNG BOOK COLLECTOR’S PRIZE

Sponsored by the Northern & Southern California Chapters of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America

 

Most great collectors started when they were young, and most great collections started with a passion for a particular object or subject.  When these objects are books and manuscripts, the collectors are called bibliophiles, or lovers of the book. 

...

Oscar Wilde

Tuesday July 21, 2020

Oscar Wilde...A Man Who Lived Life
on His Own Terms

How complicated we all are.  Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900) loved poetry and art, and lived his life to the fullest in pursuit of such.  While most of us remember Wilde today for his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (published...

Bibliophilic Humor

Thursday April 23, 2020

Bibliophilic Humor!

During these very strange and difficult times, it's more important than ever for the bibliophilic community to reach out and support each other; the above picture came to us through the hands of several friends, but I've been told the credit goes to "the clever librarians at UC...

The Prototype Press

Sunday August 18, 2019

Who Says Young People Don't Love Books?

by Liz McCall

Meet Mark Sarigianis, Oakland-based printer and publisher of fine press editions at The Prototype Press.  We first became aware of The Prototype Press through the acquisition of two lovely books, An Ocean Between Us and Me, Myself, and the Monkeyface...

Emily Hahn

Sunday June 23, 2019

What Do Seduction and a Children's Book on China Have in Common?

by Liz McCall

Answer:  they were both written by Emily Hahn (1905-1997), a woman of independent spirit who led an unconventional life full of extensive travels which inspired her life-long career as an author.  She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where...

Rare Book School

Sunday June 23, 2019

Rare Book School, One Woman’s Experience

By:  Laurelle Swan

“You really need to go”, he said over a glass of wine.  “You really NEED to take this course.  Now”.

It was February, and I was speaking with one of the staff of Rare Book School (Virginia) during a short break...

The Beat Poets

Monday April 29, 2019

And the Beat Goes On. . .

by Liz McCall

 This year marked the one hundredth birthday of Bay Area poet and proprietor of City Lights bookstore Lawrence Ferlinghetti; a prominent writer during the San Francisco Renaissance, Ferlinghetti also worked to publish and promote the work of the Beat poets...

The Studio of Nothing Else

Sunday March 3, 2019

Art Between the Covers

by Liz McCall

 The artist’s book has faced many evolving definitions over time, but at its core is the question What is a book?  Often sculptural, the artist’s book is a unique way of presenting information, and can take the form of a traditional case-bound (‘hardback’)...

Dmitry Sayenko

Sunday December 2, 2018

Meet Dmitry Sayenko

by Cassie Dowd

Our favourite contemporary Russian book artist!

 There are many Russian fairy tales that begin with three brothers set upon a task. Often the youngest brother, being the most naive and pure of heart, is the hero who rises from the challenges of the journey. In...

The Allen Press

Sunday March 11, 2018

The Allen Press

by Cassie Dowd

 Swan’s Fine Books has been fortunate to acquire recently a small collection of books published by the inimitable Allen Press. Herewith a few thoughts on the Press by our redoubtable cataloguer, Cassie Dowd.

 

A fine press book should be simple. Its overall composition building...

The Whittington Press

Tuesday January 23, 2018

Matrix & Double Dagger

by John Randle (Publisher, The Whittington Press)


Matrix is known throughout the Bibliophile world for its quality and presentation of printing and illustration arts.  John Randle, publisher and owner of the Whittington Press, shares some thoughts regarding how it got its start.

The seeds of Matrix were...

A Dark and Stormy Night

Sunday December 17, 2017

A Wink to All Those Nights...
The Dark and Stormy Kind, in Particular


In literature, the kiss of death for a piece of writing can be anything from poor grammar to overuse of cliches. Today, we would like to focus on one cliche that everyone here knows, that will make many...

Arthur Rimbaud

Sunday October 22, 2017

A Season in Hell

 

Arthur Rimbaud, a young French poet in the second half of the 19th century, is known as one of the "grandfathers" of Surrealism, and yet - we don't hear about him often enough. Today we would like to highlight this very singular literary mind and bring attention...

WWI Literature, continued

Sunday August 20, 2017

Literature of the First World War,
Part II

Last month, we began a journey into the much respected and revered literature of the First World War. Whether it was written during the war, directly after its ending, or twenty years later, literature of this time holds a universality that makes...

WWI Literature

Sunday July 9, 2017

Literature of the First World War,
Part I

In one year the world will mark its 100 year anniversary from the end of The Great War. The First World War captivated the attention of people all over the world for many reasons, as did the literature which sprang from the...

Eric Gill

Sunday May 14, 2017

Eric Gill's Unceasing Creativity

The name Eric Gill can be a controversial subject for bibliophiles and artists to speak on. Certainly Gill's life is something of the extraordinary - an intense study of multiple art forms, excelling at each, a full workload and recognized talent in his day, and even...

William Shakespeare - continued

Tuesday April 11, 2017

A Salute to the Master of Iambic Pentameter... William Shakespeare!
...Continued


Though Shakespeare's works are notoriously difficult to date, scholarly studies show that his works Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew and The Two Gentlemen of Verona were works of Shakespeare's earliest portfolio and possibly influenced by...

William Shakespeare

Sunday March 19, 2017

A Salute to the Master of Iambic Pentameter... William Shakespeare!

 

 Shakespeare is a household name in almost every country around the world. Why? His work is some of the best examples of Elizabethan writing that have been preserved through the years. However, his life has become something of a....

Book Fairs

Sunday January 29, 2017

To Book Fair, or Not to Book Fair...That's Not a Question!


The upcoming California book fairs are a great place to hunt for treasures, learn about the antiquarian book trade, and find like-minded folk who love what you love... books! However, going to the fairs can be a daunting endeavor...

Design Bindings

Monday October 10, 2016

Designer Bindings


As countless collectors know, there are many different kinds of bindings in the book world. At times, the sheer number of binding styles and types can be almost overwhelming… is it leather, or some other kind of animal skin? Was type of cloth is that? Being able to...

TE Lawrence

Sunday August 14, 2016

Lawrence of Arabia – the Legend of T.E. Lawrence


Many of us know so little about this very complicated man.  For most of us, all we know is what was presented to us in the four-hour cinematic epic that hit the big screen in 1962, starring Peter O’Toole.  The dashing...

Victorian Literature

Sunday June 12, 2016

Everything you thought you knew about Victorians...
Explained!


When you hear about "The Victorians" - what do you think of? Long white dresses, prim and proper etiquette... children held in esteem as angels? There was, of course, much emphasis on what was proper and improper, but there was also a....

Artist Books

Sunday February 21, 2016

To Artist Book, or Not to Artist Book...That is the Question!

The term Artist Book is indeed a controversial one when it comes to defining what exactly falls into this strange space between a book and a work of art. All over the internet you will different definitions. They all...

Fine Press Books

Monday January 25, 2016

Fine Press Books & the History of the Fine Press Movement

We recently were fortunate to acquire a large collection of fine press books, and in talking with some of our customers about them, I realized how few people are aware of these lovely books living in our midst. Therefore...

Alice in Wonderland

Thursday August 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, dear Alice

It has been 150 years since Alice in Wonderland was introduced to the world


An immediate success upon publication in November of 1865, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, remain enduring favourites today.

Why do the Alice stories continue to fascinate, generation after...

Carrie Carlton

Thursday January 1, 2015

Please meet Ms. Carrie Carlton, a/k/a “Topsy Turvy” 

Or, how I stumbled across an almost-forgotten author


Recently at an auction, we purchased a box of books – there were one or two titles that were familiar, so we took a chance and bid $50 for the box, desperately hoping we...

Open One Year!

Saturday October 18, 2014

And What a (First) Year It's Been!

My apologies to all for not having sent out a newsletter for – well, about a year now.  Yikes.  Keeping the shop open and looking great, evaluating and buying books, arranging and holding our evening discussion groups, beginning the Book Club (only classics...

John Donne

Thursday September 26, 2013

Across Time and Space...

“No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine:  if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy...

CABS

Sunday September 1, 2013

Antiquarian Book Seminar

Proprietor attends CABS - WOW!


Some of you who visited the shop during the first week of August may have noticed something missing - your proprietor, Laurelle Swan.  She was attending "CABS" - the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.

The Seminar was taught by a faculty consisting of...