Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2010 Issue

The Gold Rush Book Fair, 2010

Gold rush entrance

Folks line up to enter the Gold Rush Book Fair.


By Karen Wright

A couple of years ago, at the pinnacle of the financial downslide, we had a booth at the Gold Rush Book Fair in Grass Valley, California. It is a beautiful area east of Sacramento, back up in the pines. It was a very hot, hot weekend and we were glad for the air conditioned building. We didn't do too well financially, but we sure enjoyed the fair. Besides the fact that it is in close proximity to our store near Reno, it attracts quite a few west coast dealers. Many of us know each other from other book fairs, so the camaraderie is fun, though sometimes the financial rewards could be better. However, this year, it was quite good. The weather was gorgeous, not too hot, not too cold; just right! Financially it was pretty good, at least for me, and most of the dealers I talked to said it was anywhere from "okay" to "pretty good."

John Hardy from Hardy Books was the "fairmaster" for a number of years, but he has passed the scepter to Tom Burnham and the Nevada County Friends of the Library. They did a great job and it was well organized. I believe the turnout of dealers was not quite as prolific as other years, but it seemed to me that we had more attendees than the last year.

They do some really nice, unique things at this fair. Nevada City and Grass Valley have a wealth of wonderful bookstores - you could almost call them a collective "booktown." One of my favorite events is the night before the fair after everyone has set up their booths, they have a sort of wine and beer "social" at the library or at a local bookstore and then they have a dealers' dinner afterwards. The Friends had an open store for the dealers for a couple of hours. It is the only West Coast fair that I know about (and we've been to a bunch of them) that does these things. Most everyone attends, often with a partner or friend, and there is a really tasty spaghetti feed with nice, abundant Nevada City area wine. And, it's on them!

This year Pacific Book Auction (PBA) from San Francisco sent Greg Jung and Bruce MacMakin up to do appraisals for people for the huge sum of $1 each. These guys are great. I had a couple of really old books that I had priced but was not sure I was in the right neighborhood, but Greg looked them over and said they were okay. He was quite excited when an attendee brought in a first edition of the Book of Mormon, but not as excited as were the people that brought it in - shades of Antiques Roadshow!

The other thing they do at the Gold Rush Fair is to honor one bookseller each year who is outstanding in his or her field (though I'm not sure any women have had that honor, yet). That bookseller gets Big Booth #1, located just as the patrons come through the door, a nice little plaque, and he or she can stand up at the dinner and wax poetic about his or her history and experiences as a bookseller for as long as the audience can stay awake.

This year, William Maxwell of Maxwell's Bookmark in Stockton, California, was the honored guest. Like so many of us, his love of books and reading started as a child, encouraged by parents who were also readers. Where are those people these days? Playing video games and text messaging, I guess.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions