As you read this story many have already boarded planes or are driving to New York City. 48.8 million visitors will do so this year, some number measured in thousands will be heading for the American Vatican of rare books, the Armory on Park at No. 643 for the annual four-day affair New York Antiquarian Book Fair, jointly sponsored by the Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers. The majority of participating dealers will be from the United States but many European countries, Canada, South America and countries across the Pacific will also send emissaries. As disparate as are their home locations they are united by their trade: sellers of rare materials most of which are printed.
The show is on the Upper East Side on Park Avenue at 643, mid-block between 66th and 67th. There are many hotels nearby and restaurants all over the city. This is not news to any of the fair regulars, be they dealers, institutions or collectors. Most have been coming every year for a decade or more. The issue has never been old-timers; it’s been the new blood. The various fair committees and the highly experienced show organizer, Sanford L. Smith, have been trying for years to build attendance – often finding success.
This year the fair will be busy for several reasons, the economy worldwide is recovering, the local economy robust, and fairs generally benefiting from the decline of local rare bookshops. More and more this show and others are becoming the field’s adhoc main streets - as itinerant booksellers increasingly travel the globe in pursuit of audiences that once a year come out to meet them in Melbourne, Toronto, Paris, London, New York, San Francisco and Pasadena. Among all these events the New York Book Fair is the most important.
This fair is also a catalyst. On the same weekend there’s another New York book fair, the Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera and Fine Press Book Fair in the Altman Building, 135 W. 18th, a two day Saturday-Sunday affair. This event, unofficially called the “shadow fair,” lives off the always-interested audience that comes together for the ABAA fair.
And there is more. There are auctions. They too, like birds on a telephone wire are lined up for consideration, 89 worldwide in April, 23 of them in New York, 18 of them April 1st to the 10th.
Auctions in New York in April 1st to the 10th:
Tuesday April 1st
Christies: Rare Maps from Kenneth Nebenzahl, Inc.
Sothebys: Gordon Waldorf Collection
Sothebys: The John James Audubon Collection from the Indiana Historical Society
Sothebys: The Inventive Eye: Photographs from a Private Collection
Wednesday April 2nd
Heritage Auctions: Rare Books
Thursday April 3rd
Christies: The Range of Light: Photographs by Ansel Adams
Swann Galleries: Astronomy & Science Books from The Library of Martin C. Gutzwiller
Heritage Auctions: Historical Manuscripts
Heritage Auctions: Rare Books online segment
Friday April 4th
Saturday April 5th
Heritage Auctions: Photographs
Monday April 7th
Heritage Auctions: Rare Books
Bonhams: Treasures from the Caren Archive
Tuesday April 8th
Swann Galleries: Printed & Manuscript Americana
Bonhams: Space History
Wednesday April 9th
Doyle New York: Rare Books, Autographs and Maps
Doyle New York: Photographs
New York Auctions April 11th to 30th
Thursday April 17th
Swann Galleries: The Vernacular Eye: Photographic Albums, Snapshots & Objects
Wednesday April 23rd
Christies: Prints and Multiples
Thursday April 24th
Swann Galleries: Modernist Posters
Tuesday April 29th
Doyle New York: Old Master, Modern and Contemporary Prints
Swann Galleries: Old Master Through Modern Prints
The extraordinary catalyst for the month is the New York Book Fair and every other event will owe some of their success to its reputation and power. All events should do well; by rights the Antiquarian Book Fair should be your first stop and do best.
April is an extraordinary opportunity. If you can be, be there. If you can’t, follow the events online.
The New York Antiquarian Book Fair
Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera and Fine Press Book Fair
The AE Global Auction Search with links to all houses and those sales posted
Friends and members of AE can reach me in New York if you would like to talk or to meet. My number is 415.823.6678, my email address firstname.lastname@example.org. I have some passes I can share.