Lorne Bair Rare Books specializes in the history, literature and art of American social movements, including radical politics, civil rights, proletarian literature, and sundry related fields (a lengthy list of subject areas we cover can be found on our Search page). We’ve been full-time booksellers since 1996, and are members of the A.B.A.A. (Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America) and I.L.A.B. (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers).
Our sales are primarily through printed catalogs (currently 4 to 6 per year), at book fairs, and via the web. We welcome visitors, but our Winchester showroom is open by appointment only when we aren’t traveling, which isn’t often—if you wish to schedule a visit, please contact us in advance and we’ll do our very best to accommodate you!
We purchase books, art, manuscripts and ephemera in our specialty areas, whether individual items or entire collections. We also perform appraisals for estate or insurance purposes. If you have a collection you wish to sell, value or insure, don’t hesitate to contact us for advice. If we can’t help, we can often direct you to another professional who can.
Why We Do What We Do
Our mission at Lorne Bair Rare Books is to collect, preserve, and transmit the printed record of Americans' long struggle to achieve the ideals epxressed in our founding documents: true democracy; practical (not notional) equality for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual or religious background; economic justice, and unfettered freedom of expression. To that end, we strive to embody those ideals in our own professional culture and in our approach to the material we handle. By engaging with a wide variety of documentary material, and by allowing the voices so assembled to speak side-by-side, in mutual context, we hope to emphasize commmonality rather than difference; cooperation rather than division; progress rather than reaction. The struggle belongs to all of us, and we all have a great deal to learn from one another.
The Radical/Rare Paradox
There's an undeniable tension between our stated mission and our chosen vehicle for expression. The sorts of rare materials in which we specialize are by definition commodities: to the extent that they are sought-after, they are generally hard-to-find (hence the term "rare") and, depending on their relative desirability, can be quite expensive. Given our specialty areas, it is not infrequently true that some of the materials we handle were originally produced with an expressly anti-commercial intent – a paradox that has been pointed out to us on many occasions. One may approach this paradox from a number of directions, of course; but we approach it from this one: we pay fairly for the material we handle, even on those rare occasions when the situation doesn't require us to; we seek enough profit to allow us to continue doing the work we do, which we believe to be valuable; and we make every reasonable attempt, within the scope of a sometimes struggling business, to contribute in tangible ways to the diverse communities from which our material has sprung. In the end, our work is to ensure the preservation of voices that some established guardians of history would have preferred to remain unheard. That work doesn't come cheaply, but it's work worth doing.