Services We Provide
We buy, sell, and appraise a variety of materials, including early books, illuminated manuscripts and single illuminated manuscript leaves, fine and historic bindings from all periods, important illustrated books (especially from before 1800, including early science, medicine, and travel), British and American literature (particularly the high spots or special copies in terms of inscriptions, association, or condition), the best of the private presses, and things that are otherwise unusual or uncommonly interesting.
To Buy from us:
- Click on Browse or Search to view our complete inventory.
- You may purchase online by adding an item to your cart, or you may call us at 800-962-6666 in the US or 503-472-0476 outside the US, if you prefer to talk with someone before placing an order.
- You may view recent catalogues online, or you may request a catalogue here or by calling us at 800-962-6666 in the US or 503-472-0476 outside the US.
- We try to build trust by offering fine quality items and by striving for precision of description because we want you to feel that you can buy from us with confidence. As part of this effort, we want you to understand that your satisfaction is unconditionally guaranteed. If you buy an item from us and are not satisfied with it, you may return it within 30 days of receipt for a refund, so long as the item has not been damaged.
To Sell to us:
- If you have materials to sell that fall under one of the categories listed above or on our Browse page, please send us an email describing the item(s). You may also call us with that information.
- In addition to purchasing outright, we do take material on consignment if it and the owner's goals are compatible with what we generally offer and how we do business.
Other services we provide:
- Appraisals: Phil Pirages has more than 40 years of experience appraising rare books and manuscripts. To request an appraisal, please call or email us. For email, please put the words "Appraisal Request" in the Subject line.
- Auctions: Since we attend (or have colleagues attend for us) most of the important sales around the world, we represent (a small number of) clients at auction. Please call or email us (using the Subject line "Auction Assistance") to inquire about this service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I find out how much my books are worth?
A: Assuming you don’t need a formal appraisal for tax, insurance, or estate purposes (see below), we’d recommend doing a bit of research on your own. The Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association has put together a great primer on “Your Old Books,” including how to ascertain value and rarity, tips for storing or selling, and some suggested resources.
Biblio also has a helpful guide to determining value, with some important tips about what you need to consider when comparing your book to other copies listed online.
Q: I’d like to get my books formally appraised. Is that something you can help me with?
A: Yes. We primarily sell books, but we can take on formal appraisals for tax, estate, or insurance purposes as our schedule allows and if we feel that we have the right expertise to help you. We meet the IRS’s definition of a qualified appraiser, and we conform to USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) guidelines. Our fees are $200/hour with a minimum of two hours of billed time. The total number of hours will depend on the number of books involved and complexity of the appraisal.
Please note: Formal appraisals are expensive and often unnecessary, so we would encourage you to do a bit of research and find out if you actually need one before getting in touch with us. Biblio’s brief intro to appraisals provides a useful overview, though we recommend talking to your attorney and/or tax professional if you are still unsure about what you need.
Q: I have a book I’d like to sell. Are you interested?
A: We are always happy to consider acquiring rare books and manuscripts that are in excellent condition in the following categories: incunabula and other early books, illuminated manuscript material, fine and historic bindings from all periods, important illustrated books (especially from before 1800, including early science, medicine, and travel), first (or otherwise important) editions of British and American literature, the best of the private presses, and things that are otherwise unusual or uncommonly interesting. Condition is of the utmost importance to us, but we will occasionally overlook certain faults if a book or manuscript is especially desirable.
If you have something that you think would be a good fit for our stock, please email us with the author, title, publication information, and briefly describe the binding (cloth, leather, gold tooling, etc.) and overall condition of the volume; some photos that include the binding, title page, and any condition issues that you think we should know about would be very helpful. We are also happy to talk to you about acquiring everything from single items to larger collections.
Q: Do you offer Certificates of Authenticity?
A: Despite their name, so-called “Certificates of Authenticity” (COAs) offer no guarantees or protection. Anyone can print one out, which effectively makes them worthless.
Q: So how do I know if what I’m getting is genuine?
A: The only real guarantee of authenticity is to buy from a reputable seller with a vested interest in developing long-term relationships with clients. We have been in business for over 40 years, and as members of the ABAA and ILAB (Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) we abide by a strict Code of Ethics guaranteeing that every item we sell is genuine and will be exactly as described, or money will be refunded.
Q: How do you determine the provenance of your Medieval manuscript leaves?
A: With individual leaves, provenance is notoriously difficult to ascertain because they are separated from the parent volume (which itself can often present questions of origin). In cases where we do have relevant information, we will say so in our descriptions. We acquire our single leaves individually or as part of a fragment of a book only; in other words, WE DO NOT TAKE APART COMPLETE BOOKS IN ORDER TO SELL INDIVIDUAL LEAVES.
To date and localize a leaf, we pay close attention to the style of its script as well as any decoration and/or miniatures that might be present; and of course, we also rely on our many years of experience handling a range of manuscript material to arrive at an informed opinion. For particularly tricky items, we consult with experts with specialized knowledge.
Q: I’m going to be in the area and would love to visit your shop. Do you accept visitors?
A: We take visitors by appointment. Please reach out via email or phone to arrange a time so that we can be sure to have someone here to meet you. Before you make the trek, please do take a look at our website offerings to make sure we have the kinds of items you are looking for.