700-Year-Old Book Highlight of Rare Book Collection

Antiquarian books for the rare collector

Rosedale Rare Books in Dallas preserves the history of the written word.

The 5-year-old shop is a 12-foot by 12-foot room that is a part of the Jackson Armory and houses antique literature spanning seven centuries.

“Our specialty is history, military history and classics of literature. My specialty is books published before 1830,” said Forrest Jackson who co-owns the store with his business partner.

Jackson’s whole life has been about the written word.

“You start off as a reader as a teenager then a collector, you find out about first editions and it’s kind of intriguing and at some point, at least for myself, I became a book scout knowing which kind of book dealers wanted what kind of books that I would find at estate sales, etcetera, and then eventually worked your way up the ladder to where you want to open your own shop,” said Jackson.

Now he helps run the last antiquarian bookstore in Dallas with books more than 700 years old

“We also cater to crowds of people who like to read books about hunting, classics of literature and truly antiquarian books. We go as far back as 1440 A.D,” said Jackson.

That book was written years before Guttenburg would revolutionize publishing.

“This is a medieval prayer book from about 1440 and it’s all handwritten on parchment or vellum and it’s held up pretty well over the years as you can see. The printing press was invented about 15 years after this,” said Jackson.

Before the convenience of a printing press, bookmakers relied on resourcefulness.

“I know that know that purples come from crushed up snails, blue, I don’t remember exactly the sources of them, but they are all natural materials that would have been available to scribes at the time. Keep in mind this is not handwritten by monks in a monastery, this was a big business in Paris in the 15th century. This kind of book would have been owned by a well-to-do young lady. You can see here where she read her prayers daily the soil from her thumbs got on the pages and she didn’t read this part as much,” said Jackson.

There’s very fine detail. A scribe would write the words while another expert would hand draw or stamp a fancy 24-carat gold letter at the beginning of sentences or paragraphs.

 “They would leave spaces open for the letters for the illuminations and that would go to a different part of the workshop,” said Jackson.

The shop mainly deals in out-of-print, rare and first editions having to do with history and military, but you can also find one or two books that would appeal to a broader audience.

“We wouldn’t often have a children’s book, but here we have Dr. Seuss’s sleep book with his autograph here ‘Very best wishes, Dr. Seuss’,” said Jackson.

Just one of the fun finds you’ll discover among the stacks filled with history spanning centuries.

Rosedale Rare Books
Jackson Armory
3416 Rosedale Avenue
Dallas, TX
(214) 682-0889

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