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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Meet the Rare Book Cafe team: The Book Scholar

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“My family has been in the printing business since 1860,” Rare Book Cafe co-host Thorne Donnelley says, “and I have loved and collected books all my life.  However, I have only considered myself a professional since I attended the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminars in 2012 and the opening of my retail store the same year.

“Since then I have attended seven courses at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School and I have tried to acquire knowledge about the trade from any available source. My preference is for hand press books from before 1860, but since my primary source of books is through the purchase of estates: I find myself with a little knowledge about many things.”

A 2012 Palm Beach publication reported,

Several months ago, longtime Palm Beacher Thorne Donnelley Jr.’s interest in collectible books was an avocation. By offering a small corner nook of books for sale at one of his Liberty Tax Service offices, his professional office was able to secure a heavily-trafficked retail spot on West Palm Beach’s commercial Clematis Street. And surprisingly, in what may be judged heretical in the virtual Age of Kindle, the Liberty Book Store has now taken over the entire space. What was a short stack is now a prime showcase for first editions, rare books, as well as an eclectic range of collectible used books, primarily focused on art, yachts, architecture, cars, what Donnelley calls “Boys Toys.”

“These are the books I like,” said Donnelley who will spend part of the summer in Colorado and Virginia obtaining his certification in rare book grading. “I’m also including a section devoted to local authors and Floridiana.”

Donnelley’s great-grandfather Richard Robert Donnelley founded RR Donnelley, widely-known as the world's largest commercial printer of encyclopedias, mass market magazines, mail-order catalogs, and best-selling books. When the elder Donnelley died in 1899, his son Thomas E. Donnelley became president; another son, Thorne’s grandfather, Reuben H. Donnelley was a company vice-president and headed up the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation, an independent subsidiary that became the nation’s largest publisher of telephone directories. In 1961, Dun & Bradstreet acquired the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation.

Donnelley serves on the board of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association; his memberships include the Antiquarian Booksellers of America, the Independent Online Booksellers Association, and The Grolier Club. The newest member of his team is a shelter rescue, Katie.

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