California International Antiquarian Book Fair: Helen Brown, Sherlock Holmes, and Women Bookmakers
The first major book fair of 2023 takes place February 10 –12 as more than 120 exhibitors unite at the Pasadena Convention Center for the 55th California International Antiquarian Book Fair. Widely recognized as one of the world's largest and most pre-eminent exhibitions of antiquarian books for sale, the Book Fair features fine and rare materials from around the globe, including manuscripts, first editions, children’s books, ephemera, maps, autographs and more. Tickets are available now.
In addition to the items for sale, this year’s fair includes a diverse mix of special collection exhibitions including:
- Helen Brown: Bibliophile and Champion of West Coast Cuisine – This exhibition pays homage to Helen Brown, the inventor of “California Cuisine” and writer of the first-ever magazine column solely dedicated to the ingredients, techniques, and philosophy that have come to be known as California Cuisine. An avid food book collector together with her husband, their collection grew to 15,000 volumes over 27 years. Highlights of the exhibition include Brown’s inscribed materials and correspondence with fellow iconic food writer, M.F.K. Fisher; copies of The Californian Magazine featuring Brown’s column; and books given to Helen Brown inscribed by James Beard, Elizabeth David, Alice B. Toklas and other food luminaries.
- The Game's Afoot: Collecting Sherlock Holmes – The Ned Guymon Collection of Mystery and Detective Fiction at Occidental College is one of the world’s largest in the genre; the exhibition will focus on the collection's Sherlock Holmes holdings, with first edition books, magazines, and rare, fascinating ephemera.
- What the Hell is Ukulele Literature? – This exhibit will attempt to answer this question by featuring 170 years of books and ephemera dealing with the diminutive instrument from its little-known Madeiran roots to its current status as an international phenomenon. The ukulele has a long history of not being taken seriously: small, toy-like, and high-pitched, it has always been rife with comic possibilities. As the Cleveland Plain Dealer once observed: “The ukulele’s unhipness seems to be one of the pillars on which our modern civilization is built.” Yet it has drawn the attention of a surprising number of well-known authors including Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and Thomas Pynchon, among others.
- Pushing the Envelope: Southern California Women Bookmakers – Posing the question “What is bookness?”, this exhibit, curated by renowned bookmaking and artist book expert Kitty Maryatt, features books made by Southern California women
- letterpress printers, calligraphers, and binders.
- California Young Book Collector Prize – Details of the competition winners and their collections will be announced soon.
“Whether you’re a music aficionado, food connoisseur, or mystery lover – or an experienced or novice collector – our fair is guaranteed to have something for everyone,” said Carol Sandberg, book fair vice-chair. “We’re excited to bring enthusiasts together once again to not only view items one might see in a museum or special collections library but also have a chance to
browse, touch, and maybe even go home with rare collectibles.”
Featuring booksellers from around the world including the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) and International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), the Book Fair presents volumes from six centuries of printing, as well as original manuscripts that predate Gutenberg. Books, maps, ephemera, and historical documents cover every imaginable area – from the history of travel and exploration to early science and medicine to classic literature, first editions, autographs, and children's and illustrated books. Prices range from just a few dollars to six figures.
The Book Fair takes place at the Pasadena Convention Center at 300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA. Ticket prices are as follows:
- Friday, February 10, 2023 (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.) - VIP tickets $25
- Saturday, February 11, 2023 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) - $15
- Sunday, February 12, 2023 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) - $10
VIP tickets provide readmission throughout the Fair. Saturday tickets provide readmission on Sunday. Free admission is available to students with a current valid student ID and children 12 and under. Additionally, free admission is available to librarians, curators, and related non-profit cultural institution employees who register in advance (here) with a valid organizational email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
For more information, visit abaa.org/cabookfair.