Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2013 Issue

A Weekend in Boston

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The Shadow Fair, the shifting emphasis on ephemera

Over the weekend of November 15-17 I was in Boston for the 36th annual ABAA Book Fair and the Boston Book, Print and Ephemera Show.  The ABAA fair, held again over three days at the Hynes Auditorium, is the most important book fair in New England every year and a reflection of New England’s storied rare book history.  The Shadow Fair, at the nearby John Hancock Hall reflects a more blue collar rough and tumble rare and used book market where non-ABAA booksellers, with a check, can for a day rent a place to offer their material.  They represent two worlds, both reflective of the of the diverse rare book field in New England.      

 

These days the ABAA fair meets all the requirements for a highly serious fair except perhaps for scale.  Many, even most of the important ABAA and ILAB dealers participate but these days a declining percentage of the rank and file are and the beautiful exhibition area was a little empty reflecting what has been long said about the Boston fair, it often a little bit soft.  Dealers who thought so and stayed away were mistaken.  Whether it was the recovering economy, receding recession, or simply the magic of old paper to incite fresh interest both shows reported a very strong sales.

 

A few blocks away the Shadow Book fair, operating in a congested warren of rooms at the Back Bay Events Center [180 Berkeley St.] was bursting its buttons.  It was a one-day fair and also very busy.  The ABAA fair costs several thousand dollars for a generous 3 day space, the Shadow Fair $450 for a seat in the bleachers for one very busy day.  Both work.  They would both work better if they were in the same building, even the same room.  As it was, they were nearby, eight blocks apart by Google map and as it turned out – a nice walk.

 

The ABAA is very much serving the carriage trade, the wealthiest corner of the market but the future of the field, was in my view, more on display in the crammed rooms of the Shadow Fair where serious dealers, librarians, and collectors crouched and stooped into the corners and deep into boxes to see what they could discover at very reasonable prices.  Such investigations lie at the heart of the collecting experience.

 

The numbers at both fairs are reported to have been very good.  It’s not to say every participant did well.  The shows can bring the crowds but it is the dealers who bring the material and if what’s offered is over-priced, shop worn, common or unimportant the results often aren’t good.  Most, by all accounts, brought fresh material and did well.  It was a very encouraging sign.

 

The 69 exhibitors at the Shadow Fair and 115 at the ABAA together represented one of the largest fairs in North America.  If they were few blocks closer one can only wonder what the synergy would be.

 

As for myself, if one attends one looks.  The outcome was five purchases, a Copake Iron Mines pamphlet, Columbia County, 1864 from DeWolfe and Wood [ABAA fair], James Arsenault [a map of Columbia County New York] who exhibited at both fairs, and three Hiudson Valley ephemera from Peter Masi who exhibited at the Print and Ephemera Fair. 

 

So mark your calendars for next year.    

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Jean de Mandeville, <i>Reysen und Wanderschafften durch das Gelobte Land,</i> Strassburg, 1488. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> José González Cabrera Bueno, <i>Navegación Especulativa, y Práctica,</i> Manila, 1734. Sold for $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Francis W. Winton, manuscript on pow-wows with indigenous Canadians, 1881. Sold for $65,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Louise Bourgeois, <i>He Disappeared Into Complete Silence,</i> portfolio with complete text & 9 engravings, 1947. Sold for $413,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Erich Maria Remarque, <i>All Quiet on the Western Front,</i> first American edition, Boston, 1929. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sir William Russell Flint, gouache & watercolor illustration for Homer's <i>Odyssey,</i> 1924. Sold for $22,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Kurt Vonnegut, archive of 12 letters, signed to his family, 6 illustrated, 1930s-40s. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Oscar Wilde, <i>Lady Windermere's Fan,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, London, 1893. Sold for $27,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>St. Moritz,</i> 1918. Sold for $17,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> R.J. Waters, 3 panoramas of the San Francisco earthquake & fire, 1906. Sold for $21,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Album with 200 cartes-de-visite, including images by Felice Beato, John Thompson & F.W. Sutton, Japan & China, 1863-69. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Paine, <i>The American Crisis,</i> Fishkill, NY, December 1776. Sold for $40,000.
  • <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>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> KNIGHT, HILARY. The Original Portrait of Eloise that Hung at the Plaza Hotel. $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> WARHOL, ANDY. "Iced Lemon Delight," an Original Watercolor Presented to Hilary Knight's cat, Phoebe $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SENDAK, MAURICE. <i>Where the Wild Things Are.</i> PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED with drawing to Hilary Knight in the month following publication. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> NOLAND, KENNETH. Original circle painting, untitled, acrylic and ink on cloth, for cover of monograph $8,000 to 12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> TOULOUSE-LAUTREC. <i>Histoires Naturelles,</i> 1899. With 22 original lithographs. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>A Collection of Poems,</i> [1711]. The first authoritative and complete collected Sonnets.$15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> LONDON, JACK. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> 1903. First edition, first state jacket. $2,000 to 3,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> FROST, ROBERT. Autograph Manuscript of "Build Soil," 12 pp, 1932-1936. $15,000 to 20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> GOULD, GLENN. Glenn Gould's extensively annotated copy of Bach's Goldberg Variations $100,000 to 150,000
    <b>Bonhams New York: Fine Books and Manuscripts Including the World of Hilary Knight. December 5, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> PLATH, SYLVIA. EARLY Autograph Letter Signed, about her beginnings as a writer, Northampton, MA, 1951. $7,000 to 10,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> HOUDINI, HARRY. A collection of 11 cast iron shackle and lock items from Houdini's personal collection. $20,000 to 30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Dec 5:</b> M4 ENGIMA MACHINE, with very rare RARE HYDRA KEY ENVELOPE. $400,000 to 600,000

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