Podcast

Rebecca Romney, Rare book dealer

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Cool Tools Show 092: Rebecca Romney

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Our guest this week is Rebecca Romney. Rebecca is a rare book dealer at Honey & Wax Booksellers in Brooklyn. She got her start with Bauman Rare Books, managing their Las Vegas gallery. She is known for her appearances on the HISTORY Channel’s show Pawn Stars, where she evaluates books as the show’s only female expert. She recently published a book on books called Printer’s Error: Irreverent Stories from Book History with HarperCollins.

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Show notes:

mylar
Mylar Film Rolls
“This is an archival uncoated polyester film used by antiquarian book dealers, librarians, and archivists to add a layer of protection to an object for storage or handling. It’s added to dust jackets, cut into sleeves to tuck in individual sheets of paper, etc. “Archival” is a key word here — you have to watch where you’re storing items long term, as high acid content will deteriorate the item over time. This is why taping your books with standard Scotch tape or whatever is so bad — the acid content will eat away at the paper!”

cliplight
Cliplight (both LED and UV)
“In order to see clearly the watermarks and chain lines of a book printed on handmade paper (generally before 1800CE), you need to backlight the paper. Watermarks and chain lines are important evidence of how to identify a book — its format, any repairs, when it was printed, whether it has been messed with by an unscrupulous seller, etc. I use the UV light for things like offsetting of ink that’s normally invisible to our eyes.”

magnifier
Magnifiers
“A good old jeweler’s loupe is great, and I will occasionally use a microscope. But I also use a tool called the Optic given to me by a friend whose business solely relates to autograph authentication. According to him (frankly, I have no idea if this is true), it was developed by the military and used in tanks in Desert Storm, meant to enhance their infrared. What’s cool about the Optic is that it brightens the picture, which offers added clarity.”

White Gloves — The “Anti” Cool Tool
“I would love to take a moment to debunk the myth that I should be wearing white gloves when I handle printed books. From the British Library to the Houghton, none of the major conservators and rare book curators recommend these. And for good reason: with gloves, you lose your tactile sensitivity and are much more likely to damage the book while handling it. Just wash your hands first and you’re fine.”

10/6/17