Pasadena: The California Antiquarian Book Fair Returns

- by Bruce E. McKinney

The California International Antiquarian Book Fair returns to Pasadena February 10-12 and many are grateful that the collectible paper field is returning to form.  Collectors and institutions and, not to mention dealers themselves, have been getting by joining electronic bookfairs, but were always wistful for their great experiences in person and now everyone is elated.  Close to 200 dealers will be exhibiting fresh material.


Beyond Covid, structural changes have been making the field challenging for many years and the ABAA’s decision to prioritize health and safety over business has been the past three years particularly difficult.  But, when it has all been said and done, they saved lives and the field, and by all reports, have seen their sales restored to their previous robust levels by relying on online sales.


While the numbers are adding up, because nothing stays the same, ephemera and images have seen their profiles rising.  Twenty years ago the field was called rare books for a reason.  Today collectible paper is almost a new game and this fair will show this transition.


For those who are committed to the field, how else better can acquirers take the pulse of the field than by slowly, methodically, stopping by each booth to hear about what dealers value.  During those discussions, you’ll better understand the underlying logic of the field and they’ll better understand your collecting ambitions.  These dealers are the mavens and stand ready to assist.


To prepare, click on the show’s website.  Then look for the list of exhibitors and spend some time to plan your visit.  You may have thought an hour or two will be enough but think about it this way.  Yes there are some California dealers but the majority hail from other states and countries.  By coming together here you can find them.


If you are going to do the soup to nuts approach, expect to spend a full day.  Dealers are going to want to know you.  Collections are endlessly complex and when they understand what logically fits into your ambitions they can immeasurably enhance your efficiency and satisfaction.


Net-net, your show experience will be a success even if you don’t complete an immediate transaction BUT don’t be surprised if you bring home some gems.  When you acquire something that matters to it’s very satisfying.


Links to the show


Link to list of exhibitors


Show Details:

FEBRUARY 10 - 12, 2023

at the Pasadena Convention Center


Friday, February 10, 2023 • 3 pm to 8 pm / VIP Ticket $25
Saturday, February 11, 2023 • 11 am to 7 pm / $15
Sunday, February 12, 2023 • 11 am to 4 pm / $10