Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2002 Issue

Showtime In Boston: Booksellers Look At The State Of Their Trade And Offer Advice To Collectors.

Collectors look over the many interesting volumes available at the Boston 2002 ABAA Book Fair.


By Mike Stillman

On a rainy afternoon in Boston, booksellers and collectors from around the world gathered for day two of the 26th annual Boston version of the “Antiquarian Book Fair,” as put on ably by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA). This year’s show ran from October 25-27, 2002. The ABAA puts on three such fairs annually, the others being in New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco. This has been a tough year across America, both psychologically and financially, and few expected record breaking crowds. Clearly, there weren’t, and yet few exhibiting booksellers were disappointed either. Traffic was decent, and while the market for the latest high tech gadgets may have seen the bottom fall out, the market for that aged technology, books, seemingly remains brisk and healthy.

As one approaches the doors to the show floor in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center, there’s a press table, and as members of the electronic press, this representative of the Americana Exchange posed the key question – “If there’s one item you must see at this show, what is it?” The response was quick. It was not a document signed by Lincoln, a Shakespeare folio, or some early material from the founding fathers. It wasn’t even the first edition first issue of Harry Potter, which at $39,000 just shows that books don’t have to be ancient to be valuable. Fortunately, it was a piece of quintessential Americana – a photograph of the 1936 New York Yankees, complete with twenty-five signatures, including a rookie named DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig in his prime.

This photo is held by the Heritage Book Shop of Los Angeles, and Chad Reingold wasn’t sure whether it would be sold at the show, but if not, you can pick it up for $12,500. It’s a good thing this reporter wasn’t carrying $12,500 around with me at the time, or I might be a lot poorer today. For the more traditional collector, when asked what areas are likely to continue to be popular choices in the years ahead, Mr. Reingold recommended Civil and Revolutionary War material as always being desirable, and added that anything in Printing and the Mind of Man is worth owning. For the California collector, he recommends titles from the Zamarano Eighty.

While some booksellers had crossed the country to exhibit at the Fair, others crossed the ocean. England, not surprisingly, was the most heavily represented, but other dealers came from the continent. Rodolphe Chamonal had traveled from Paris, and was satisfied with the show. As he explained, it’s hard for him to tell whether sales are good at a show as there is no “normal” volume of sales for him. He had seen enough people to be pleased with the show, and expected to do some further traveling around New England before returning home. Mr. Chamonal visits the states three or four times a year, and among his specialties are voyages and explorations, mainstays of European Americana.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: U.S. / European Shipping Archive 1800-1814. The Widow Bermingham & Sons Collection. €7,000 to €10,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Bunreacht na hÉireann. Constitution of Ireland. An important copy of the First Printing of De Valera’s new Constitution, approved in 1938. Signed by the Constitution Cabinet. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: A Rare Complete Run of the Cuala Press Broadsides. €7,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Grose (Francis). The Antiquities of Ireland, 2vols. folio London (for S. Hooper) 1791. Magnificent Hand-Coloured Copy - Only 25 Copies. €3,000 to €5,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Cantillon (Richard). Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en General, Traduit de l'Anglois, Sm. 8vo London (Fletcher Gyles) 1756. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Gregory, (Lady Augusta). Spreading the News: The Rising of the Moon: The Poorhouse (with Douglas Hyde). Being Vol. IX of the Abbey Theatre Series. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Lavery (Lady Hazel). A moving series of three A.L.S. and a Telegram to Gen. Eoin O'Duffy, July-August 1927, expressing her grief at the death of Kevin O'Higgins. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Dampier (Wm.) Nouveau Voyage Autour du Monde, ou l'on descrit en particulier l'Isthme de l'Amerique…, 2 vols. in one, Amsterdam, 1698. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Howell (James). Instructions for Forreine Travel Shewing by what Cours, and in what Compasse of Time…, London, 1642. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s
    Summer Rare Book
    & Collectors’ Sale
    July 30-31, 2024
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, 8vo, L. (Bloomsbury) 1999, First Edn., First Printing of Deluxe Collectors Edn. Signed. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: James (Wm.) A Full and Correct Account of the Military Occurrences of The Late War Between Great Britain and The United States of America. 2 vols. Lond. 1818. €650 to €900.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, July 30-31: The Laws of the United States, Published by Authority, 3 vols. Philadelphia (Richard Folwell) 1796. €600 to €800.
  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900

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