Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2015 Issue

This Year's ABAA West Coast Show in Oakland, a qualified success

Bookseller’s are by their nature, argumentative.  They split hairs; see black and white where the rest of the world sees shades of grey.  They are a talmudic breed, tending to dispute rather than agree.  Why is your copy better? It’s a question whose answer can bend light beams to both shine on a competitor’s defects and this seller’s virtues.  After all these dealers are selling so much more than printed materials.  Inclusion in their world, introductions to the best collector organizations, and first opportunities to buy the rare and special are as much the currency of the trade [at the highest levels anyway] as the material they sell.  Cachet is difficult to quantify but easy to grasp.

 

This past year the ABAA’s northern California chapter was tasked with finding a replacement site for the west coast fair that has been held at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco.  That old building is succumbing to the building disease that is both raising real estate to unparalleled valuations and making previously inhospitable locations appealing, in other words just like the long-out-of-favor books that, after years in the desert, emerge to be rediscovered and acclaimed with much higher prices.

 

Over a recent weekend in February, the 6th to the 8th the fair convened in its new location, a 7 scant miles distant and also light years away.  The site was just over the Oakland Bay Bridge, for San Franciscans a few miles away but a world apart for the water separating San Francisco and Oakland to some, and mostly locals, is a safety barrier separating order from chaos.  But this difference, strongly felt in the city, is mostly in the minds of San Franciscans who see their city continually cast as the city on the hill and protected from Sodom and Gomorrah just across the South Bay channel.  We have murders in the city but Oakland, with a smaller population, has more and sometimes many more.  We are in short prejudiced; having seen the Fruitvale Station movie several times where Oscar Grant was murdered by police and have since concluded the movie is for us a metaphor.

 

We who live here are also the subject of prejudice for out-of-towners sometimes expect to see a transvestite on every corner, gay bars in every area, gay pride parades and naked marathoners prancing across the open spaces everyday. I’ve seen only one transvestite in eighteen years and she was gorgeous.  The naked marathoners are an item in the newspapers and on TV, but about as visible from where I live as a volcano in Hawaii.  If you don’t go looking you won’t find it.

 

So change was forced on the organizing committee and the Northern California chapter made the controversial decision to have the fair much closer to where some of them live.

 

The venue, the Oakland Marriott City Center, was the perfect venue with plenty of parking under roof.  The roof mattered because on Friday it rained.  Unfortunately I don’t think that people driving over knew about the parking convenience.  They will when the fair returns in two years.

 

The show itself was different.  The audience seemed more interested in less expensive material and those dealers who brought it seemed to do well.  More expensive and more complicated material did not.  The distance may only have been seven miles but Oakland is not the yuppie kingdom San Francisco is.

 

For myself, making the trip by car, I chose to use our Prius rather than the car I usually drive, a new Corvette.  That was a clear case of prejudice.

 

As to how others were getting there the show organizers seemed to pander to the uncertainty, boldly pointing out how easy it was to get there by mass transit and implying their awareness of visitor concerns.  More than one person said to me “its not a problem so long as you don’t make a wrong turn.”  Well, thank you for that.

 

The next show will have better attendance, particularly among the high rollers.  The mix of material will be distinctly different.  No one is going to forget the lines to get into the ephemera booths where the collectible material started off at about $50.00 nor will they forget the thinness of the market at the top.  As well the promotion will have to adjust.  We are living in a different world and recognition of it will turn this year’s double into 2017's home run.       


Posted On: 2015-03-01 18:17
User Name: DorothySloan

Dear Bruce:

Re your comment: "Booksellers are by their nature, argumentative. They split hairs; see black and white where the rest of the world sees shades of grey. They are a talmudic breed, tending to dispute rather than agree."

The rare book was not always like that, and I miss the days of congeniality, sharing, and looking out for one another. I suppose arriving at Warren Howell's in San Francisco in 1969 might have been another time, another place.

Love and Peace to All,
Dorothy Sloan


Rare Book Monthly

  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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