What is an Antiquarian?

The term “antiquarian” suggests an obsession with the past, but this notion has many connotations. Some antiquarians value material remains and their age and decay, while others seek out historical artifacts for their symbolic meanings. Regardless of the motivations behind the antiquarian’s passion, he or she must have a love for history.¬†Visit Store¬†for a few examples of notable antiquarians.


The goal of writing history is to provide a framework for action for the present. The goal of the antiquarian is to recover empirical detail about the past in the context of its present. Such historians have a strong interest in the details that made the past real, even though these are often lost in contemporary writing. They also strive to be objective and rely on archival research and historical scholarship to provide a foundation for their work.

The empiricism of Baconian philosophy led antiquarians to rely less on eyewitness accounts and more on direct observation. In a time when the Bible and Classical ethnographies were the bedrock of antiquarian studies, Baconian empiricism emphasized the power of the senses over the authority of ancient authors. This new methodology allowed the antiquarians to use the methods of observation to counteract mythological histories and assess the reliability of historical sources.

The value of an antiquarian book often comes from its rarity. It may be the first edition of a book or its binding quality. The book’s provenance may also be important, as its provenance can help determine its value. The content itself can be less valuable since a reprint of Gone With the Wind may cost less than $1. The book’s original text is the same. In other words, it can’t be called an antiquarian book if it’s a hardcover edition of the book.

The traditional definition of an antiquarian book is an older book, at least 100 years old. Antiquarian books include the incunabula, which is the plural form of the Latin word incunabulum, which originally meant cradle. It also refers to the beginning of a printed word. During this time, the vast majority of works were religious in nature. The definition of an antiquarian book is a broad one.

Early antiquarian society was called an “antiquity rediviva”. This society recorded medieval tombs, stained glass, manuscripts, armory, and more. The books of monuments were one of the fruits of their forward. Several centuries later, the antiquarian society’s name changed to the Antiquarian Society. Despite the names, this society is not the only antiquarian organization.

In the early 19th century, the antiquarian profession began to divide into specialized academic fields. In addition to art history and numismatics, antiquarianism also included the studies of sigillography, literary history, and diplomatics. Although antiquarianism had been the subject of ridicule, it has now become an accepted and respected title. Established antiquarian societies have taken on a new role as facilitators of collaboration between specialist fields.

Antiquarians have become experts in antiquities and antique objects. Although the word rarely carries the antique object sense in the English language, antiquarians are typically students of ancient books, manuscripts, and archives. Anyone with interest in history can apply to be a member of the Society of Antiquaries. It has hosted many famous people throughout history. While there are many differences between antiquarianism and art history, the common thread is that both are academically valid and have their own unique uses.

A book may be antiquarian if it has several characteristics that distinguish it from an ordinary book. For instance, books with a dust jacket are more valuable than books without one. They are also more desirable if the book has a signed inscription from the author or owner. Ultimately, an antiquarian can help you decide which type of book to purchase. So, keep in mind your own tastes, and find the best antiquarian bookseller you can afford.