September 2016 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Postcard from the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair

As a location for an antiquarian book fair, nouveau Brooklyn seems pretty perfect. The local crowd is young, educated, and interested,* and the Brooklyn Expo Center is a bright and airy venue with a great vibe. Having completed its third successful event this past weekend, the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair is now a staple of the book fair calendar.

My browsing time was limited, so my highlights are regrettably brief.

IMG_2439.JPGWilliam Reese Co. put the borough in the spotlight with two early Brooklyn imprints: An Historical and Geographical Account of Algiers by James Wilson Stevens (1800) and The Book of Common Prayer (1801). Another interesting item on display was New York's first liquor license, a form printed c. 1702-1714 by William Bradford, the only working printer in NY at the time.

I perused Peter Masi's stand--a delight not only in content but in form, for he has all manner of fascinating ephemera neatly organized by subject. His printed catalogues are enjoyable for this reason as well.

Austin Abbey Rare Books created an outstanding visual display of decorated gilt bindings. I spied an especially beautiful copy of A Border Shepherdess by Amelia E. Barr and thought immediately about Richard Minsky and his Barr collection.   

IMG_2451.JPGIn addition to 100+ booksellers, the book fair hosted special events throughout the weekend. Whether or not things like the Haiku Lounge, panel discussions, or book signings (disclosure: I was graciously invited to sign copies of Rare Books Uncovered there on Saturday afternoon) draw more or different visitors than might otherwise attend an antiquarian book fair, it's difficult to know for certain, but it does make the book fair experience more fun and diverse.  

*And interesting. Lots of cool tattoos were on exhibit at the fair too; I noticed Poe on one arm and the words "Ex Libris" on another.


Images: Courtesy of Brett Barry.