Welcome to Ian Brabner, Rare Americana

Collect American history! Ian Brabner, Rare Americana offers rare books, autograph manuscripts, images and ephemera from 18th century and 19th century American history—all of American origin or context.

We purchase, research, catalog, and offer important or unusual items. A wide compass of American history passes through our hands. Can we help build your collections?

Browse our online inventory. Read our Short Lists. Request a print catalog. Stop by and visit with us in our booth at an antiquarian book fair. You might find a rare New England imprint, an early American colonial manuscript sermon, an American Revolution broadside, or a War of 1812 handwritten diary of an American soldier in Canada.

Established in 1995, we keep an eclectic inventory for collectors of American history at all stages and levels of collecting. All items are carefully described and researched; guaranteed original and authentic. Call us anytime 302-998-2886.

american history scrapbooks

American scrapbooks became plentiful in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century. The 1880s–1910s might be considered a golden age where almost anything might have been preserved inside an old scrapbook. In this example, a piece of handwritten hardtack (yes, handwritten!) from the Spanish-American War made it’s way there and back again.

american history - ephemera

Does it concern American history, culture and society? If it does, and meets our criteria for condition, content, or rarity, it catches our eye. We are especially interested in American ephemera from the 18th century and 19th century. That stated, the 20th century is hard to resist!

american history in images

Vernacular photography, a folk art cloth banner by an unknown woman painter, a whimsical ink and wash drawing from 1849 depicting of a trip to the gold mines of California—we term these all “visual Americana.”

Black American History - rare books

Millie-Christine were African-American conjoined twins. Exhibited across 19th century America they were a medical spectacle and singing entertainment. This image detail is taken from a pamphlet issued when the twins toured American cities. Not only rare, this 19th century American pamphlet presents typical themes in our inventory: Black American history, the history of women in America, popular amusements, and 19th century American society.



Collecting American History

Collecting American History is our blog for sharing stories on collecting rare Americana and American history. Recent stories? A broadside meant to go up in flames. A closer look at 19th century and 20th century American scrapbooks. An American Civil War Copperhead seeking relief. Brief ruminations on Chester, Pennsylvania in 1956.


Through autograph manuscripts, historical documents, rare books, ephemera or graphic Americana, the material we catalog and offer should be either: foundational, significant; documentary; or provide visual evidence—proof positive—of those subjects in American history our customers collect, preserve, study or enjoy.

Through rare books, scarce pamphlets and printed material, or through handwritten diaries and journals we try to identify meaningful 18th century and 19th century American lives. We try to not just present the famous and recognizable but all participants in the American Experience.

We’re interested in the other Americans of U.S. history—of all genders, ethnicities and ages—the marginalized, farmers, quacks and doctors, housekeepers and the affluent, criminals and learned lawyers, the winners and losers, scientists and inventors and crackpots, merchants, ship captains, children, mayors and presidents, self-liberated slaves and the enslavers.

Teachers, clerics, social reformers and never-to-be-reformed, factory owners and factory workers, prisoners, immigrant laborers, Christians and Jews and atheists, artisans, soldiers and sailor. All are of interest.

We research and catalog items that we believe are worth being collected, studied or enjoyed.

These artifacts could be a memento of a school for wayward children printed on silk, an archive of letters from a missionary in Indian Territory, a Civil War broadside, a hand-drawn map of a Colorado mining camp, an autographed letter signed written back home from the Texas frontier, or a chromolithographic advertising poster for an important Boston printer and publisher.

Alternative views on American history might be seen within a women’s rights pamphlet annotated by an opponent, an unusual pamphlet on slavery or black history, a photograph of Native Americans visiting Washington, D. C., a flyer advertising the death of Ulysses S. Grant, or a trade catalog for a new railroad car technology that reduces the need for paid labor. We are always interested in the untold history of the United States.

Through this printed and manuscript and visual material, this “rare Americana,” our understanding of 18th century and 19th century American history writ large, is enriched, modified, clarified.

O.K. Let’s put the soapbox away and get back to work!

Thanks for reading and please contact me with your comments, suggestions, or questions.



We keep a small inventory of imprints, manuscripts, photographs and ephemera that highlights the history of the American West, primary in the 19th century. We focus upon territorial imprints, overland narratives, mining history, histories of Native Americans and the overall political, cultural, economical history of the American West.