Book Fairs | April 12, 2012

A Different Literary Adventure at the Boston Book, Paper & Photo Expo

It’s a literary adventure like none other!  The upcoming Boston Book, Paper & Photo Expo, returning May 5th to the Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, Massachusetts is a one-day feast for those who are rediscovering the delights of book and paper collecting.  Sponsored by the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Antiquarian Booksellers and produced by Marvin Getman, founder of  New England Antique Shows, the Boston Book, Paper & Photo Expo & Sale takes us deep into the world  of old prints, photographs, historical documents, autographs, maps and postcards, providing hours of enjoyment for years to come.

Eighty top sellers present show goers with an opportunity to leaf through old pages, savor original illustrations and purchase works of art and bestsellers. (These are original so will never become electronic memories.)  Plus unusual discoveries and surprising finds are just waiting to be uncovered.

Remember the pin-up poster?  No longer just the stuff of GI dreams, those voluptuous ‘babes’ in skimpy bathing suits are making news all over again. A recent discovery of over 200 images from the personal collection of Bunny Yaeger, a former pin-up model who built a racy career snapping photographs of shapely young women, is coming into this season’s show.

Adam Forgash, a photographer and aficionado of American midcentury pinups, made the discovery and will be bringing a selection of Yeager images that includes photographs, posters, and contact prints with the photographer’s scribbles in the margins.  Ms. Yaeger’s 50-s and 60s  pin-up and boudoir shots, especially those of Bettie Page, known as the pin-up Queen, are influencing fashion to this day.

Here is an opportunity to purchase some of the shots that are sought out by collectors worldwide - out-takes from Ms. Yaeger’s first photo session with Bettie, the famous Jungle series with Bettie turned out in cat-spotted swimsuits, as well as those of Ms. Yeager herself stripped down to her lacies.  Prices range from several hundreds of dollars for smaller prints, to as much as $3000 for large-format, hand-tinted images

It is hard to imagine, in a world of instant images shared with billions on Facebook and Twitter, that there was once a time when the only photograph a poor family might have of  their loved one was after their death.  So expensive was photography in the first half of the 19th century, only the wealthy could afford to indulge repeatedly in such a luxury. Today, these beloved family keepsakes have found a new audience of collectors who prize them for their glimpse into a way of life and its rituals, long past.  

At the upcoming Boston Book, Paper and Photo Expo, the world of memorial photography will be seen through the eyes of a collector who has now amassed one of the most comprehensive collections of post mortem photography in the world.  Dr. Stanley Burns bought his first memorial photographs in 1976, adding to his already extensive collection, some 700,000 strong, of historical images that include medical photography.  

Today, interest in the genre is such that he has curated several exhibits, most notably at the New York Metropolitan Art Museum and published three books on the subject - the Sleeping Beauty series.  His latest in the series will be available at the show.

At the upcoming event, Dr. Burns will speak on the practice of post-mortem photography and share examples from his extensive collection.  “Infant mortality was very high at the end of the 19th century and many children were lost before a photograph could be made,” notes Dr. Burns.  “Childbirth took many young women and epidemics could decimate entire families.  It wasn’t unusual for the photographer to make a house call when a family member was near death. The memorial photograph was an important part of the mourning process.”

Want to know how much your favorite old book or paper item is worth?  Ken Gloss of the Brattle Book Shop and other experts will be on hand to offer an estimate of value.  Show hours are Saturday May 5th 10am-4pm.  Admission is $7 for adults, (under 18 and college  Shriner's Auditorium is located at 399 Fordham Rd, Wilmington, MA at exit 39 off I-93. For more information call 781-862-4039 or go to the website at