April 2015 | Rebecca Rego Barry

New York: A Post-Fairs Book Report

Over the past weekend, New York City hosted three antiquarian book fairs. I set out to cover as much ground as possible -- perusing booths, meeting booksellers and collectors, and, inevitably, keeping an eye out for books to add to my collection(s).

Cassidy.JPGFirst stop: The ABAA's 55th annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair on Thursday evening and Friday. As glamorous as ever, this fair never disappoints. The art headlining Brian Cassidy's booth (above), executed by an anonymous graffiti artist who promotes literacy, would make a fine advertisement for the fair overall -- boundlessly appealing books, artwork, and ephemera that you simply can't find anywhere else. Take for example, what was noticed under the glass at F.A. Bernett Books of Boston, Massachusetts: a collection of vintage lady's hair fashion ephemera. A retro curling iron accompanied by an accordion-style booklet "12 Minutes with the Marcelwaver -- Makes a Perfect Wave" and several action shots of a young woman curling her hair with the Branford Scrapbook.jpg"amazing new French invention." Or this (left) scrapbook of newspaper clippings of murders, murder trials, and executions in 1892 and 1893, offered by Michigan's Garrett Scott. The crime clippings were compiled by William Branford, who then presented it to the Chicago Police in 1903. Ralph Sipper of Santa Barbara, California, showed me two lovely first editions and one offprint of the work of New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell; it was the association copy of Old Mr. Flood (1948) bearing Mitchell's inscription to longtime New Yorker editor William Shawn that really wowed me. New Jersey's Between the Covers garnered some attention on Twitter for its Kathy Acker archive. Props to California's Ben Kinmont Bookseller, purveyor of antiquarian books on gastronomy, who printed an eye-catching limited edition broadside of his fair offerings on pale pink paper.

Seen below is George Koppelman of New York's Cultured Oyster Books showing me a diminutive Charles Bukowski book, purchased in the 1960s for $1, which has proven to be an excellent investment. He shared a booth with Dan Wechsler of Sanctuary Books, also based in Manhattan. The two made headlines a year ago when they announced their discovery of Shakespeare's own dictionary. Indeed CBS was filming at the booth just before I got there (an update on the Shakespeare, Wechsler said, is soon forthcoming).

Koppelman.jpgSecond stop: The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair, run by Flamingo Eventz. In terms of traffic, one could not ask for a better location than this one on 66th and Lexington, virtually one block from the ABAA fair. And Saturday morning was busy! At Eastside Books & Paper of New York, NY, I paged through a very cool pen-and-ink sketchbook of "Ugly Faces" by artist William Cruickshank, circa 1880s. I was glad to make the acquaintance of John Kuenzig of Kuenzig Books of Topsfield, Massachusetts, who specializes in books and artifacts in science and technology. He was offering a first edition of Alan Turing's paper, The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis (1954), a prelude of sorts to the Turing manuscript at auction this afternoon. The Fine Press Book Fair within the larger fair was buzzing, and I bumped into our book art columnist Richard Minsky, who praised the work of New York City's Intima Press.

Bell.jpgThird stop: The New York City Book & Ephemera Fair, run by Marvin Getman of Impact Events, Inc. The venue, St. Ignatius Loyola Church at 980 Park Avenue, was roomy and bright. Wilfrid M. de Freitas of Quebec showed, as always, a variety of great antiquarian books. Brooklyn's Honey & Wax had the prettiest velvet and silk-embroidered binding (on a 1902 illustrated dictionary). Different Drummer Books of Niantic, Connecticut, offered a first edition of Thoreau's Cape Cod (1865) that my husband could not pass up. Me, I was tempted to pick up a first edition of J.B. Mattison's The Treatment of Opium Addiction (1885) from Brooklyn Books, but found instead a better fit (above) for my collection of illustrated surgical books in the booth of Cooperstown, New York, dealer Willis Monie: The Principles of Surgery, abridged by J. Augustine Smith, written by John Bell (New York, 1810).

In between the fairs, I took a 90-minute spin around the Grolier Club's exhibit on Italian Renaissance printer Aldus Manutius, which was fabulous. If you haven't seen it, get there before it closes on April 25.

So ends another successful Rare Book Week

Photo credits: Rebecca Rego Barry, except Koppelman photo, credit: Brett Barry.