Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2014 Issue

The Annual Antiquarian Book Fair Returns to New York

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In a few days the gates will swing open and advocates and adherents of the rare book trade will hurry up the steps of the Park Avenue Armory at 67th and Park in New York.  Their pace will quicken as they enter, those with coats and briefcases turning to the right to swap their possessions for a claim check.  Those prepared to enter the great hall will sweep to the left to join the queue of mostly men, well dressed, most on their phones, a few exchanging notes, the majority hoping to buy, a few hoping to sell.  The fair will open shortly.

 

Inside the hall more than 200 book dealers are pregnant with excitement.  Their passages to this hall have been paid by years of work.  Those who have come from overseas have often attended serious colleges, apprenticed for years with top flight dealers, gone off to start their own businesses and in time earned the admiration and respect of members of their national book seller’s association sufficient to earn them an invitation to join.  Once a member they went on to join ILAB and it is that membership that has made them eligible to participate in this New York fair.

 

On the American side the national association for the trade is the Antiquarian Book Seller’s Association.  Here too the path to membership is long and membership in the ABAA never certain until it achieved.  The association is the corral that pretends to control its cats and on most days does this surprisingly well.  These American booksellers are individuals and never entirely move beyond their impulse for food fights.

 

In the year leading to this fair material has been identified, researched, photographed and catalogued.  A typical dealer may bring three hundred items.  Most will be meticulously understood but have gone through a final vetting the day before the doors officially open when other dealers may acquire at the standard trade discount anything their instincts tell them is undervalued and presumably for which they have a client.  Dealers who misprice will see their stock flee to other booths even before the opening bell rings.  Of course if they price high they’ll have all their stock on hand when the show opens and possibly, if they have seriously misjudged the market, still have it at the end.

 

And for most that’s a serious problem.  Go back 30 years ago and most dealers had shops.  Today perhaps 15% do.  Many issued catalogues and few do today.  Most had committed clients they could rely on.  Over the past 20 years, as shops closed, listing sites emerged for the general book trade as their most consistent way to sell – up to a point.   That point is price.  When the material is expensive discussion and negotiation are often essential ingredients in the final agreement and this fair and others are increasingly the place where such discussions begin.  This has made the great trade fairs even more important than they traditionally were because it is here that buyers with five, six and even seven figure budgets identify material, and then sit to discuss the fine points and the price.

 

The shows are that important.

 

As the clock is winding toward 3:00 pm there is restlessness in the crowd.  If past years are any guide a hundred or more are here and ready to stream in, some to browse randomly, others to walk directly to a dealer marked on the show map.

 

Behind the closed doors Donald Heald, who has presided over the New York Show Committee for many years and has his booth near to the entrance, has been walking about confirming that all appears in good order.  With a few minutes to go handshakes are exchanged and best wishes extended.  On the one side more than 10,000 years of dealer experience is waiting.  On the other the first wave of what will be more than a billion dollars of buying power begins to move.  The clock has struck 3:00.  Ticket takers and credential checkers are on the ready.  Then from just beyond the curtain a clear voice can be heard, “the show is open.”

 

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 bmckinney@americanaexchange.com.  I have some passes I can share.

 

Links to the ABAA Fair


Posted On: 2014-04-27 20:26
User Name: MiRIAMGREEN

very well done and appreciated, will look forward to your rear view overview
in subtle expression you spoke volumes about the dealers at the shows, their long accomplishments and dedicated work, we all know who they are
but remember there are those of us who are the remaining 15% with an open shop that chooses not to go internet, wherein whose membership in the signature book club is prevented more by expense of dues, not by excellence or inventory
just saying...
Susan Alon MiriamGreen.com Antiquarian Bookshop and Gallery, Clinton, CT 06413

Hi to all!


Rare Book Monthly

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    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
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    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
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    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
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    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €

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