Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2015 Issue

The Like-minded press the flesh and turn the pages

56467e47-5255-4653-a49f-18f54aaf24ff

In Boston recently dealers from throughout New England and across America along with a spattering from Europe came together for a yearly right of passage – the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair.  There were in fact two fairs and the feedback from buyers and sellers about both quite positive.

 

The Boston International Antiquarian Fair dates to the mid 1970’s, to the 200th anniversary of the American war of independence, to bell-bottoms, mood rings, pet rocks, Rubik’s Cubes and the release of Jaws.  In other words the fair has been around for a while, while still being essentially a modern affair.  Its companion event, the Boston Book, Print and Ephemera Show, also has a history.  It has lurked nearby, changing venues through the years, slowly gathering strength as the book selling community has grown.  These days it's bigger, a primary event in its own right.

 

But if the dealers are the foundation of such fairs it is the active collectors, newbies and all the folks in between for whom the fair is emotionally important that make it, and have now made it for 39 years, a financially viable event.  This is a trade fair with a strong personal component. 

 

While the fresh and vigorous slip in with great agility, perhaps to come once and not again, among them there are some few for whom the books, buzz and community resonate deeply and they will return every year for the rest of their lives.  They find companionship here; in others they see and sense the like-minded.  In time they will pass through all the stages; as innocents, then knowledgeable, in time seasoned and finally anxious - about book fairs in the afterlife.  The book business it turns out is a morality play and every person involved given a variety of roles that change through the years.

 

Toward the end of what for many becomes a life long long march there are fewer books to buy or sell.  For them the fair is about companionship, the “hey how are you?” and “wow, it has been a while,” a reminder they have been part of something measured in decades.  For Leigh Stein now in his mid 80s, who attended almost all of the 39 main fairs and exhibited at many of the shadow fairs, it was enough recently to spend a few hours on Sunday, exchanging hellos with many whose hair, like his, has thinned and whitened with time. 

 

You didn’t have to buy a book to feel you belong here.  Your presence and the presence of so many other kindred spirits simply resonate the animal spirits of collecting.  Some people like movies.  These folks like paper and for them it’s no passing fancy.  It is how they understand life.

 

Interest in old books on both sides of the counter has a deep history in the region and has long made the area fertile territory for those animated by print.  But it is also a field held hostage by the Internet and changing tastes and fear of the unknown is something the interested have had to get past.

 

This was once a gentleman’s game that has been replaced in part by those with keen intellects and a gift for arbitrage because much of what’s offered at shows today leaves no foot or fingerprints.  So a dealer can buy something they are sure they can sell without fear their purchases [and cost] will show up in public searches.  It’s perhaps then fair to say this show and most others were once more retail than they are today.  That was checkers.  Today for many the game is chess and the difference the Internet where access to databases instantly identifies rarity and value.

 

As Eric Caren of the Caren Archive, the exceptional collector recently said when asked about his Boston fair experiences, “I bought at both shows from 25 dealers, never sat down, never stopped.  Marvin Getman’s, the Book & Paper show was the warmer, more open, the ABAA fair the larger and more traditional.  I buy paper Americana, a category that has, in the past, been more in the shadows.  This year the ABAA was well represented, a welcome change in my view.

 

“Knowledge is now the essential factor.  Both sides expect the other to be prepared and interest then quickly converts into negotiated prices.  It’s a wonderful time to be a collector because the material is so appealing.  With clarity about value easily obtained it’s then just a matter of price.”

 

Nina Berger, who manages the ABAA show’s publicity, reminded me to not forget the young.  “We believe about 15% of those attending were under 35.  They sat in on our various public presentations and seemed particularly taken with Saturday’s Typewriter Rodeo where Texas poets created instant poetry based on terms and themes provided by those queuing for some personalized poetry.”

 

Will Monie, of ABAA exhibitor Will Monie Books, called the fair “a good outing and well worth the 4 hour drive to Boston.  I understand that most dealers did well.  We need fairs and apparently so do collectors.”  If Eric Caren and Will Monie are any gauge both sides did well.


Posted On: 2015-12-08 00:07
User Name: Fattrad1

Bruce,

As I explained to you in San Francisco, Abe and Ebay are the modern stock (book) price valuation systems. Your quote "This was once a gentleman’s game that has been replaced in part by those with keen intellects and a gift for arbitrage because much of what’s offered at shows today leaves no foot or fingerprints. So a dealer can buy something they are sure they can sell without fear their purchases [and cost] will show up in public searches. " seems to require an auction. Not all auction results are indicative of "fair" pricing.


Posted On: 2015-12-12 19:49
User Name: MiRIAMGREEN

Dear Bruce
as a troglodyte dealer who refuses to enter the 'real world' of smart phones, does not sell on the net, and remains a brick and mortar shop, your overview of Boston brought back many memories. Have not attended that venue since the early 1990s when the poster was designed by now deceased and much missed genius Edward Gorey, Your description had me once again walking the aisles and greeting old friends meeting new dealers and collectors who now are stars. Thank you for some very sharp and pleasant sounds, smells, and conversations remembered and treasured. Susan Alon Miriam Green Antiquarian


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Graphic Design<br>May 19, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, <i>Triplex,</i> pencil maquette, 1930. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Claude Fayette Brandon, <i>The Chap Book,</i> circa 1895. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Various Artists, a complete set of <i>Das Plakat,</i> set of 10 hardcover volumes, 1912-21. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Javier Gómez Acebo & Máximo Viejo Santamarta, <i>San Sebastian / XI Circuitto Automovilista,</i> 1935. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann May 19:</b> Ephraim Moses Lilien, <i>Berliner Tageblatt,</i> circa 1899. $12,000 to $18,000.
  • <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Birds.- Gould (John). <i>The Birds of Great Britain,</i> 5 vol., first edition, [1862-]1873. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Canadiana.- Cockburn (Maj. Gen. James Pattison, 1779-1847), After. [Six Landscape of Quebec City and Six Views of Niagara Falls], 2 suites in 1 vol., comprising 12 aquatints, 1833. £30,000 to £40,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> number 218 of 150 copies on verge d'arches, Paris, Shakespeare & Company, 1922. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> first paperback edition, signed by the author, 1997. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Du Maurier (Daphne). <i>Rebecca,</i> first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author to her governess, 1938. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Magna Carta.- An exact copy of King John's Great Charter of 1215, transcribed from the fire damaged but legible manuscript in the Cottonian Library, British Library, J. Pine, 1733. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Woolf (Virginia). <i>Mrs Dalloway,</i> first edition, Hogarth Press, 1925. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Tudor exiles opposed to the Marian regime.- Mary I (Queen of England) Letter signed "Marye the Quene" to Lord Paget, signed at head, titled at head "By the King and Quene", 1556. £8,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> America.- Newfoundland.- Whitbourne (Sir Richard). <i>A discourse and discouery of Nevv-found-land…,</i> second edition, By Felix Kingston, 1622. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper<br>26th May 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cervantès Saavedra (Miguel de). <i>El Ingenioso Hidalgo Do Quixote de la Mancha,</i> 4 vol., Madrid, Por Don Joaquin Ibarra, 1780. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Stubbs (George). <i>The Anatomy of the Horse,</i> first edition, first issue, Printed by J. Purser, for the Author, 1766. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, May 26:</b> Cardiology.- Lower (Richard). <i>Tractatus de Corde item De Motu & Colore Sanguinus et Chyli in cum Transitu,</i> first edition, 1669. £5,000 to £7,000.
  • <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>Initial A on vellum, Cologne around 1300. Est: €25,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Androuet du Cerceau, <i> Bastiments de France,</i> 1607. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Cerillo, <i>Dipinti murali di Pompei,</i> 1886. Est: €2,500
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>L. de Austria, <i>Compilatio de astrorum scientia,</i> 1489. Est: €9,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>B. Besler, <i>Hortus Eystettensis,</i> around 1750. Est: €50,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br><i>PAN,</i> 1895-1900. Est: €15,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Colonna, <i>Hypnerotomachia Poliphili,</i> 1545. Est: €40,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>F. Schiller, <i>Die Räuber,</i> 1781. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>J. Albers, <i>Formulation : Articulation,</i> 1972. Est: €18,000
    <center><b>Ketterer Rare Books<br>Auction on May 30</b>
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>G. B. Ramusio, <i>Delle navigationi e viaggi,</i> 1556-1613. Est: €14,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>M. Wied Neuwied, <i>Reise in das Innere Nord-America,</i> 1839-41. Est: €12,000
    <b>Ketterer Rare Books, May 30:</b><br>E. Paolozzi, <i>Bunk,</i> 1972. Est: €25,000
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br> The Library of Henry Rogers<br>Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven<br>Part I<br>18 May 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> John James Audubon and James Bachman. <i>The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.</i> New York: J.J. Audubon, 1845-1848. £150,000 to £250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Thomas and William Daniell. <i>Oriental Scenery,</i> London, 1795-1807 [but 1841], 6 parts in 3 volumes, folio. £150,000 to £200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Mark Catesby. <i>The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands...</i> London, 1731-1743, 2 volumes. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, May 18:</b> Gould and Lear. <i>A monograph of the Ramphastidae,</i> 1854; <i>Illustrations of the family of Psittacidae,</i> 1832. £60,000 to £90,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions