Alembic Blog

October 29, 2018

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anatomy › medicine ›


A Rare Victorian Prosthetic Hand by J. Gillingham & Son

Our new email catalogue was released today, and one of the stand-out items is this rare and exquisitely articulated right hand and arm by J. Gillingham & Son, the UK’s most important prosthetics firm of the 19th and early 20th centuries and “the equivalent today of some of the most advanced companies working on prosthetics”.

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I Sold That! The Chicken in Trousers Manuscript

One of the delights of being a bookseller is that occasionally something you work on strikes a chord with the general public and goes a little viral. Recently I sold what may go down in history as the "Chicken in Trousers Manuscript"  a wonderful mathematical workbook by an 18th-century boy named Richard Beale, who seems to have spent as much time doodling as completing his homework. It was a real pleasure to link the manuscript with the rest of the family's papers at the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, which was then able to purchase it with the help of a generous donor.

I wasn't online much last week, and was pleasantly surprised when the Museum got in touch about all the press attention their tweets generated, including some love from JK Rowling! The day-to-day work that booksellers do in researching stock and placing it with the right clients is often hidden, so I was thrilled that the Museum kindly gave me permission to highlight my association with the notebook. Read on for my cataloguing and some of my favourite doodles.

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September 21, 2018

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Sex Education or Vice & Quackery? The Liverpool Museum of Anatomy

Before the internet, how did people learn about anatomy and physiology, especially the sexy bits? Books, including cheap, illustrated texts aimed at the working classes, had been available since the dawn of printing, but a more visceral experience could found in displays of hyper-realistic wax models. These originated as teaching tools in museums and medical schools during the early 18th century, and by the Victorian Era had made their way to the general public via private "museums" such as the Liverpool Museum of Anatomy, whose intriguing guidebook we recently acquired.

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September 18, 2018

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astronomy › science ›


Astronomical Fashion: A Georgian Garnet Halley's Comet Brooch

Autumn is here, and it's time to update your wardrobe with fall colours. What could be more suitable than the rich reds of Georgian foil-backed almandine garnets? Even better, what if those garnets were in the shape of Halley's Comet?

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An Introduction to the Arts & Sciences Owned by Three 18th & 19th Century Women

This illustration of the solar system is from the second edition of Richard Turner's An Easy Introduction to the Arts and Sciences, published in 1787. Our copy is particularly special, as it contains the ownership signatures of three different women —"Margarate [sic] Haymes", "Mary Ann White", and "Mary Hantt" — making it an excellent example of changes in middle and upper class British women's education during the Georgian Era.

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Chic Parisian Infographics of the 19th Century

"Gas fittings" is not a term that screams elegance. Then again, the French have a way of making anything chic, as attested to by this remarkable statistical manuscript. 

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Victorian Advertising Paradise - A Chromolithographic Pharmacy Catalogue

Imagine walking into a drug store and seeing these exuberant, enticing labels all around you. They're part of what's probably the most colourful item in our stock at the moment: a chromolithographic pharmacy catalogue dating from the 1890s.

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Join Us at the ABA Rare Book Fair London

ABA Rare Book Fair London Ticket

This month we're proud to be exhibiting at the ABA Rare Book Fair London, previously the Olympia Book Fair. 

Now celebrating its 61st year, and being held for the first time in central London's beautiful Battersea Park, this major three-day event is one of the largest and most prestigious antiquarian book fairs in the world, showcasing rare, unique and unusual items from more than 170 leading UK and international dealers. This year the fair will be specially opened by beloved broadcaster and bibliophile Sir David Attenborough at a public ceremony on Thursday at noon. And there will be a number of other special events, including demonstrations and workshops on hand-press printing and bookbinding, and guided tours and talks introducing various aspects of rare books and book collecting.

The graphic above is a ticket that admits two, and can be shown on your phone or printed out. We look forward to seeing you there!

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October 20, 2017

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Upcoming Fairs - Autumn 2017

 

We're delighted to announce that Alembic Rare Books will be exhibiting at two major book fairs in the coming weeks. This is a great opportunity to see our stock in person, so let us know if there's something specific you'd like us to bring. Continue below for details and free tickets.

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A Rare Biographical Sketch of Rosalind Franklin by Her Mother

Dying at age 38 is a tragedy for anyone, but it is a double tragedy when that person is potentially a Nobel Prize winner with many more years of productive science ahead of them. When biochemist Rosalind Franklin died of ovarian cancer in 1958, only a few years after her work contributed to the discovery of the structure of DNA, her mother was distraught not only for the loss of a child but for the international recognition that her daughter had not achieved in life. The result of her grief was this touching autobiographical sketch, Rosalind, published privately a few years later, ostensibly for the much-loved nieces and nephews who would grow up with only dim memories of their aunt.

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