Fine art refers to objects created for aesthetic or intellectual appeal. Fine art includes a spacious array of human creativity, including painting, photography, and sculpture. Art books, therefore, can be luxurious coffee table volumes of reproduced ancient masters, vivid photographs of landscapes, and even depictions of creative dance. Not surprisingly, the art world is constantly evolving as it is shaped by modernization. From Banksy to Van Gogh, Warhol to Picasso, fine art lovers can find something to suit any taste.
Original fine art collections can be based on themes, artists, or even time periods. Many pieces can be found in galleries or through dealers. However, the internet has transformed how we shop fine art: online dealers and galleries are easy to locate or collectors can go directly to the artists' sites. Vintage fine art collections may require more exploration, but offer significant enjoyment to the collector.
Whether seeking contemporary or vintage pieces, art lovers can tap helpful guides to garner insights into potential buys. Alan Bamberger's The Art of Buying Art highlights key aspects of the art hunt, including how to identify originals from reproductions, define the borders of your collecting personality, and how to buy fine art. The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich is a compelling and time-tested journey into the world of art that has endeared itself to fans for over 40 years. Those seeking fine artworks that defy collection, such as tattoos, should check out Carol Clerk's Vintage Tattoos: The Book of Old School Skin Art. Clerk examines the evolution in our approach to tattoos while covering an array of popular decorative designs.
The world of fine arts is no longer limited to a wealthy few. Enthusiasts can build collections that highlight a niche area of life or surprise with their insights into every soul. Whenever a collector tracks down an elusive but perfect piece for a collection, they create a new world of wonder.
While many look to the early adventures of Superman, Batman, and the like to be the first comic books, the art form actually dates back to the mid-1800s, when the first comics were published in America and abroad. In the 1920s, the first collection of comic strips published, The Funnies, began appearing as a newspaper supplement; it featured many different characters, including some that are still in print today, like Popeye, Tintin, and Buck Rogers. These collectible comic books are wonderful pieces for fans of these iconic characters.
The Golden Age of comics started in the 1930s, with the introduction of characters like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America. As the world became immersed in World War II in the 1940s, these heroes stood as role models and champions of American ideals. The strips of the 1920s also continued, and were published as actual individual books, rather than just as supplements to the newspapers. Fans of these vintage comic books will find a nice selection from our sellers, featuring original comic strips as well as early issues from their favorite superheroes.
As comics moved from the Silver Age in the 1960s to the Bronze Age in the 1970s, Marvel introduced heroes like Spider-Man and the Hulk, as well as The X-Men and the popular anti-hero Wolverine. The Iron Age of comics in the 1980s saw comics reach new levels of creativity and popularity, as more people began to buy comic books. Modern comics have an ever-increasing variety of stories and new publishers, such as Image Comics, home to blockbuster, The Walking Dead.
Comic books are now a major part of popular culture, sought after by fans and collectors who want to purchase these books to follow the ongoing stories and to collect favorite and rare issues.
A work written in graphic form and published as a complete book is considered a graphic novel, as is a collection of comic books or serialized cartoons republished as a single trade volume that generally covers a complete story arc within the larger comic series. Either way, these stories contain artwork that tells a story in an unconventional way, bringing the words to life on the page with vibrant colors and illustrations in a way that traditional books cannot.
While some people consider graphic novels and comic books to be nothing but superheroes and super villains, they, in fact, cover a range of stories, from historical and political topics to fantasy and science fiction to non-fiction and literature. Authors of traditional books often turn to graphic novels to put a new spin on an existing work or to explore a new medium.
Whether you're looking for original graphic novels like Will Eisner's acclaimed A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories or a series of comic issues collected into a book like Alan Moore's apocalyptic Watchmen or Art Spiegelman's hugely popular Maus, our sellers have collectible graphic novels that prove that comics aren't just for kids. Now recognized as a legitimate form of literature, graphic novels have stepped from the back shelves of comic book stores to mainstream bookstores and online retailers, where you can shop graphic novels dating back to the golden age of comics.
On AbeBooks, you can search our seller listings and buy graphic novels from well-known artists and authors, ranging from foreign works like Japanese manga books to collections of stories from the early days of superheroes, such as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, to contemporary works like Robert Kirkman's blockbuster The Walking Dead. Look for special signed copies, rare first printings, and out of print treasures from the past 100 years.
Books collectors are hunters of rare prey, and original signed limited edition books are always in their sights. Signed limited editions are printed in restricted quantities by the publisher, and then passed through the author's hands for a personal touch with the addition of a signature or inscription. Obviously, since only a specific number of books are printed, signed limited editions can be quite valuable - if you can find them.
There are some good reasons for printing limited editions of books. The most obvious is that it creates scarcity. Since only a certain number of copies are released to the public, the book itself becomes instantly more attractive than another text printed without amount limits. Restricting the number of books also protects the publisher from financial loss if the book fails to sell well. This is especially true in the modern publishing environment, where a growing number of authors are competing for a shrinking number of readers.
Original limited editions can be difficult to come by. Antique or vintage texts were often handwritten or had a very limited print run. For example, the Codex Leicester, handwritten by Leonardo da Vinci and purchased by the Earl of Leicester in the early 1700s, is the only one of its kind (Bill Gates bought it for more than $30 million in 1994). Da Vinci aside, there are certainly a good number of signed limited editions available to the average collector. For example, a first New American Library edition of sci-fi king, Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey is a popular collectible item, or for those who prefer a softer touch, signed copies from modern romance storyteller, Nora Roberts, abound. Edward Arlington Robinson's first edition of Tristram had an early run of only 350 copies; this signed limited edition was actually numbered. Buy signed limited editions for a unique way of building a personalized collection of entrancing stories with exciting provenance.
Vintage sheet music hearkens back to a bygone era, with some of the oldest sheets dating back to the early 1800s. The earliest sheets were used when entertaining soldiers during the Civil War, while popular stage production music sheets became big sellers after the 1890s. Vintage sheet music books feature beautiful covers, stylish fonts, and depictions of the musical artists who performed the original versions of the songs. Vintage sheet music art is often used by interior decorators as wallpaper or standalone framed pieces to give rooms the ambiance of long-gone days. Many collectors consider the art and music important pieces of history that tell the story of a time before recorded music.
In its time, vintage sheet music was extremely popular, particularly with songs that were all the rage. In the 1910s, songs such as Let Me Call You Sweetheart and Down By the Old Mill Stream sold between five and six million copies each. Professional musicians collected vintage sheet music books in the same way enthusiasts of different eras treasure records or CDs. Their rooms were filled with stacks of papers, and amateur musicians made extra money selling their sheets to local merchants. Though the paper may be fragile, vintage sheet music books were sold in such high volumes that buyers can still find the most popular songs today.
Although avid collectors tend to focus on sheet music produced before record players became mainstream, there are many other genres that hold collectible merit. Books of vibrant music came out in the 1940s, featuring stars like Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. Sheet music from the biggest pop stars like The Beatles and Michael Jackson are still significant in the eyes of collectors. Vintage sheet music art is collected by those interested in military memorabilia, Broadway shows, and even sports, with baseball heroes depicted on song sheets sold at the ballpark. Buy vintage sheet music to play or display, whether they are classic songs of the roaring 20s or holiday music to sing along with your family.