After earning a doctoral degree in comparative literature, Rodger Friedman worked as the rare book librarian of the Century Club in New York, and later as the Italianist and manuscript specialist in the Shelley and His Circle Collection at the New York Public Library. Meanwhile, he moonlighted as a research assistant for a prominent rare book dealer specializing in early printed books. Under that dealer’s mentorship and with his encouragement, Rodger’s Rare Book Studio issued its first catalogue in 1993.
While early printed books in the Humanist tradition remain the center of gravity in Rodger’s ever-changing inventory, no aspect of human inquiry is excluded. In fact, oddities are prized here. Eccentrics and outsiders can share a table here with the canonized authors of our intellectual tradition. The shelves show the writings of polar explorers next to the ravings of visionary mystics. George Washington rests next to his contemporary, Restif de la Bretonne, one a stern soldier and statesman, the other a libertine social critic. Dante stands next to Newton; Erasmus next to some folk poetry; Spinoza abuts an essay on the cunning thieves of Naples; bird art alongside a book on antique pottery. This is how we like it. Quality and interest are the only criteria.