November 2018 Archives

Another tale from the underbelly of the book world sees the light of day. On Monday, November 19, at 4pm, French auction house Artcurial will be hosting a sale of science material being dispersed from Aristophil, a fund ostensibly founded in 1990 by French insurance salesman-turned-manuscript dealer Gérard Lhéritier to invest in rare books and manuscripts. Aristophil closed shop in 2014 after authorities discovered evidence that Lhéritier was running a Ponzi scheme that fleeced 18,000 investors of roughly one billion dollars. (Esquire ran this fascinating in-depth piece on the man, his career, and how the plan unraveled.) Lhéritier was indicted for fraud and money laundering, among other charges, and awaits a court date. Now the treasures of Aristophil are being auctioned off. 

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Next week’s sale is the thirteenth of the Aristophil archives (apparantly, worries that these items are co-owned by investors in a hedge fund are no longer so burdensome), and the first to tackle the fund’s scientific materials. Items on the block are nothing short of breathtaking: a 1610 copy of Galileo’s Sidereus nuncius (est. $18,000 to $30,000), a first edition of Darwin’s Origin of the Species (est. $15,000 to $28,000), and even mathematician Charles de Bovelles’ 1510 Géométrie en francoys, of which only three other copies of this edition are known to exist, with pre-sale estimates ranging upwards of $55,000.


Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Emilie du Châtelet, René Descartes, the A-listers of the scientific community are all well represented here and will no doubt make for an interesting auction. 


See the whole science catalogue here.

  

Image: Sidereus nuncius, by Galileo Galelei, 1610. Reproduced with permission of Artcurial. 

For the first time, one of England’s most famous libraries offers a peek into its restricted “Phi” collection, i.e. books once labeled “obscene” or “improper” and kept from public view. The Story of Phi: Restricted Books, which opened today at the Bodleian’s Weston Library, “explores changing ideas about sexuality and censorship,” according to a press release issued by the library.

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Among the 3,000+ volumes in the “Phi” collection are a signed first edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a first edition of The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Pop-Up Kama Sutra, Madonna’s book, Sex, and The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking by Alex Comfort, with illustrations by Chris Foss. They were, until recently, shackled by their shelfmark Φ (the Greek letter Phi), a designation launched in 1882 by Victorian librarians to safeguard material deemed immoral for students to peruse (at least without a professor’s letter of support).  

Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, commented,”This display puts the spotlight on the fascinating but little-known Phi collection. It shows the varied and sometimes surprising functions that libraries perform in order to preserve culturally important works for the nation and reveals how librarians have navigated the tension between making materials available for scholarly research while also protecting readers and books.”

The exhibition was curated by Jennifer Ingleheart, professor of Latin at the University of Durham. It runs through January 13.

  

Image: The frontispiece of The Love Books of Ovid (London, The Bodley Head, 1925), translated from Latin to English by James Lewis May and illustrated by Jean de Bosschère. This illustrated volume of Ovid’s erotic poems was assigned to the Phi collection due to its illustrations while unillustrated versions of the same book were freely available on the Bodleian’s open shelves. Credit: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford/ Reproduced with the kind permission of Alain Bilot.

Our Bright Young Booksellers series continues today with Annie Rowlenson, a bookseller with Simon Beattie (himself a former entry in the series) in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, England. Annie and Simon will have a booth at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair this weekend.


AnnieR.jpgHow did you get started in rare books?

 

I’m a product of the ‘get them while they’re young’ approach.  As an undergrad at the University of Virginia I took a first-year seminar taught by the director of the Rare Book School on the history of books.  A couple years later RBS kindly took me on as an office assistant and summer staff member.  From there, I developed an interest in the book as an object and ended up getting an MA with a concentration in bibliography and textual studies, followed by an MLIS at the Palmer School.

 

What is your role at Simon Beattie?

 

My official title is bookseller, but I suppose ‘apprentice’ would be just as apt; we’re participating in the ABA Educational Trust’s apprenticeship scheme, which has proven to be a fantastic support as I enter the trade.

 

What do you love about the book trade?

 

The book community--it really is a 21st-century Republic of Letters.  I like how places like book fairs, the York Antiquarian Book Seminar, and RBS create spaces where dealers, librarians, collectors, and others can come together on the same footing to exchange interests and support each other’s endeavours.  

 

I also love seeing new things entering the market that might have been overlooked in decades past.  We’re slowly but surely moving towards a place of equal representation.

 

Describe a typical day for you:

 

I’m not sure there is a typical day for a bookseller.  Collating and cataloguing new acquisitions always take up a bit of my time, as do book fairs and visiting customers.  I’m slowly becoming more Photoshop-literate and really enjoy helping Simon put together catalogues.  The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I’ve helped match the right book to the right customer or collection.

 

Favorite rare book (or ephemera) that you’ve handled?

 

I’ll always have a soft spot for anything in the Sadleir-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction at the University of Virginia.

 

What do you personally collect?

 

I’ve collected editions of Wuthering Heights since doing my undergrad thesis.  It’s very much in the same vein as the Jane Eyre collection at the Rare Book School--i.e., it aims to show how materiality affects and effects the meaning of a text over time.  I buy everything from early editions and translations to more recent stage adaptations, pocket editions issued to soldiers in WWII, erotic spin-offs (‘Wuthering Nights’, anyone?), and everything in between.  I like the messiness of it; there’s something really satisfying about seeing a ratty Harlequin-esque paperback from the 80’s on the same shelf as one finely bound in morocco.  Each one has something different to say.

 

What do you like to do outside of work?

 

I’m in the middle of trying to coerce my husband into doing another road trip to Wales.  Last time we stumbled upon some castle ruins and I got to have an Ann Radcliffe moment.

 

Thoughts on the present state and/or future of the rare book trade?

 

So long as there are booksellers selling material that they are passionate and knowledgeable about, I don’t see it ever changing for the worse.  It’s definitely becoming more female and tattooed, which can only be a good thing.

 

Any upcoming fairs or catalogues?

 

Our next fair is the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, Nov. 16-18.  If you plan on attending, please stop by booth #226 and say hello!  We’d love to share our books with you.


[Image provided by Annie Rowlenson]



Many in the rare book world will recognize the name Bromer Booksellers. The Boston-based antiquarian book shop founded by Anne and David Bromer fifty years ago specializes in miniature books, fine bindings, book arts, and illustrated books. Earlier this month, the Bromers marked the shop’s anniversary with the launch of an artsy offshoot called the Bromer Gallery. Located at 607 Boylston Street, the gallery operates in conjunction with the book shop and will feature “original art, edition prints, and related material, executed by artists whose work is centered upon the idea of the book as art,” according to a press release. The inaugural show, on view through January 15, is Goldman and Lee: Shadow and Color, featuring the artwork of artists Jane Goldman and Jim Lee.

postcard_front copy.jpgGoldman, a watercolorist and printmaker, may be known to travelers to the area for the sea life mosaics she designed for Logan Airport. Currently on view at the Bromer Gallery is her Audubon Suite, a series of prints that incorporates plates from Audubon’s iconic Birds of America. The series contains fourteen prints: eight screen prints and six hand-painted pigment prints created by a process that mirrors the way Audubon himself made his prints. As a whole, the series documents a year’s worth of seasons, and each print features an Audubon bird with flora from that season. In a video interview prepared by Bromer Gallery, Goldman calls the work an homage to Audubon, her “favorite artist.”

The exhibit also showcases the work of Jim Lee, a woodcut artist and the proprietor of Blue Moon Press, whose work also focuses on nature, particularly the landscapes of Ireland, New England, and Maritime Canada. In another video interview, Lee discusses his artistic process and talks about how he tries to use “the intersection of type and image as a continuation of the act of drawing” in his bookwork.  

If you’re in Boston this week for Rare Book Week, be sure to check out the Bromers’ new art exhibition space.

Image courtesy of Bromer Gallery

Quite a lineup of auctions this week to keep an eye on.

  

On Monday, November 12, Leslie Hindman Auctioneers sells The Fine Cartographic and Printed Americana Collection of Evelyn and Eric Newman, in 120 lots. Thomas Jeffreys’ 1776 American Atlas rates the top estimate at $60,000-80,000. (More on this sale here in our fall Auction Guide.)

  

Also at Leslie Hindman, on Tuesday, November 13, Fine Books and Manuscripts, in 331 lots. An Abraham Lincoln letter of September 23, 1864, requesting the resignation of his Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair, could fetch $30,000-50,000. A presentation copy of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, inscribed by Wilde to his friend George Alexander, is estimated at $12,000-18,000. 

  

At Sotheby’s London on Tuesday, Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History, in 275 lots. Heading up this sale is an unpublished manuscript from 1512 containing accounts various of early European explorations of the Americas (£350,000-450,000). A colored Latin copy of the five-volume Braun & Hogenberg Civitates Orbis Terrarum is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

  

Doyle New York sells Rare Books, Autographs & Maps on Tuesday, in 462 lots. A fifteenth-century book of hours in Catalan is estimated at $40,000-60,000. Among the lots estimated at $20,000-30,000 are Charles Addams’ original drawing for the dust jacket of Dear Dead Days (1959), a graphite portrait of Almustafa, the prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, and a copy of the first octavo edition of Audubon’s Birds.

  

Rounding out the Tuesday sales is Swann Galleries’ auction of 19th & 20th Century Literature, in 291 lots. A first edition of Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems (1923), from the collection of Al Hirschfeld, is expected to lead the way at $18,000-25,000. A copy of the 1845 edition of Poe’s Tales could fetch $15,000-20,000.

  

On Thursday, November 15, the eleventh sale of material from the Aristophil collection happens at Ader in Paris, comprising nineteenth- and twentieth-century illustrated books, manuscripts, and autographs, in 225 lots. Heading up this sale is the manuscript of Flaubert’s Les Mémoires d’un Fou (1838), estimated at €300,000-350,000. André Gide’s manuscript of Les Caves du Vatican could sell for €100,000-150,000.

That same day, Kestenbaum & Co. will offer 130 books from the legendary Valmadonna Trust Library, plus Hebrew Printing in America: The Complete Collection formed by the late Yosef Goldman. 

 

Also on Thursday, PBA Galleries sells Fine & Rare Books, in 230 lots. Édouard Traviès’ Les Oiseaux les plus remarquables par leurs formes et leurs couleurs (1857) and an early octavo set of Audubon’s Birds are both estimated at $20,000-30,000.

On Friday, Cowan’s in Cincinnati hosts an American History sale with over 200 lots of early photographs, documents, manuscripts, broadsides, and more. A daguerreotype of Sam Houston, estimated at $10,000-20,000 is one of the highlights.

   

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Rounding out the very busy week is Skinner’s biannual Fine Books & Manuscripts sale during “Rare Book Week Boston” on Sunday, November 18. The 354 lots this year include a new-to-market first issue of Poe’s Tales in paper wrappers ($60,000-80,000, pictured above), a first edition Book of Mormon ($45,000-55,000), a number of Audubon plates, and some very interesting Arabic and Persian manuscripts.

 

Image credit: Skinner, Inc.

The antiquarian book world lost a giant in June when longtime bookseller Bill Reese passed away at the age of 62 after a battle with prostate cancer. His hope was to see the Reese Company continue to build on his forty years in the business, and now, the New Haven-based business is ready to do just that: last week the William Reese Company announced the imminent return of bookseller Nick Aretakis to run its Americana department. Aretakis spent fourteen years as a Reese associate before heading to his native California to set up his own shop. 

  

“I am eternally grateful that in the summer of 2000 Bill Reese offered me the opportunity to become an associate at the William Reese Company,” Aretakis said recently. “Over the next fourteen years, I learned from Bill every day. I am proud of the business I built over the past four and a half years [in California], and during that time I learned new skills as I developed a business on my own. I bring these skills, as well as all that I learned from Bill Reese, with me as I return to the Reese Company.”

  
Aretakis’s official start date was November 1, and he will be manning the Reese booth at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair November 16-18.

     
“I am excited to be part of the team that will guide the William Reese Company into the future,” Aretakis said, “and continuing on in Bill’s tradition and adapting to the ever-changing environment of antiquarian bookselling.”

  
Meanwhile, longtime Reese associates Teri Osborn (a FB&CBright Young Bookseller” in 2011) and James McBride (a 2017 BYB) recently launched McBride Rare Books, also in New Haven. 

  
“This certainly is an interesting and exciting time for us,” said McBride and Osborn. “Together, we have a combined experience of nearly two decades in rare books, including academia, librarianship, and the trade. With McBride Rare Books, we look forward to continuing our roles as trusted and valuable members of the antiquarian book trade, working closely with our clients and colleagues.” As they did at Reese, the pair plan to continue focusing on Americana and are making their inaugural appearance as freshly minted bookstore owners at the Boston Book, Print, and Ephemera show on November 17. “It’s a consistently great fair, and we’re very much looking forward to exhibiting.” And though McBride and Osborn have chosen to hang their shingle in New Haven for now, they plan to move to New York City in spring 2019. 

  
As for thoughts concerning Aretakis’s move to Reese: “Nick will be a much-needed steady hand at the tiller,” team McBride said, “and we have no doubt that he will carry the business forward in the finest traditions of the firm.”

     

Many heartfelt congratulations to all in what appears to be a bright new chapter in the field of antiquarian bookselling.

   

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 1.43.45 PM.pngThe highly collectible books of the beloved 20th-century British publisher Victor Gollancz are best and easily spotted by their distinctive bright yellow jackets and unusual use of fonts, which saved him the cost of commissioning cover art, but I learned recently at the ABA’s Chelsea Book Fair that for a short while before Gollancz introduced the yellow jackets, he commissioned 18 pictorial jackets from E. McKnight Kauffer in 1928, many of which were on sale at Chelsea from BAS Ltd, run by Ali & Giles Bird. 

  

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 1.43.58 PM.png The jackets are incredibly scarce, distinctive, and highly stylized and reminiscent of Russian contructivism. BAS Ltd. acquired the covers and have made good marriages, tracking down exceptional copies of the first edition books, including a Robert Frost association copy of John Cournos’ Babel

  

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Images credit: A. N. Devers

Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Michelle Porter, who recently won Honorable Mention in the 2018 Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize for women thirty and under. 


Porter_headshot.jpegWhere are you from / where do you live?


I was born overseas to an American military family, so whenever I want to impress people, I tell them I’m from Europe! I currently live in Rapid City, South Dakota, which has been home for most of my life.

 

What did you study at University? What do you do now for an occupation?


I have one degree in library science and am pursuing my second, with a minor in nonprofit management. I work in the library of private liberal arts institution, John Witherspoon College.

 

Please introduce us to your book collection.  What areas do you collect in?


My collection comprises first editions (with dust jackets) of Broadway musical libretti. If possible, they are also first printings. I focus on what is termed the Golden Age of Broadway, 1930 - 1970. Once upon a time, these volumes were printed in hardcover by publishers such as Random House. A lot of the items in my collection are book club editions from the now defunct Fireside Theatre Book Club. I also have several regular first editions which are much rarer. Over time, the collection has expanded to include autobiographies of the playwrights, lyricists, and composers behind the libretti.

 

The color and beauty of vintage dust jackets, the feel of brittle pages, the evocative stills from original productions, the scent of ink and paper that have pressed each other passionately for 75 years--all these incubated the collecting germ in me. I have not yet reached the status of a “professional” collector, but even entry-level collecting is important and honorable. I realize that I am investing, not spending. I am just the current caretaker, preserver, and archivist of these volumes.

 

The storylines in these musicals are charming. But they are deceptively so. When I took off my modern rectangle rims and looked through some mid-century tortoise-shell frames, I was absolutely stunned. Social commentary runs rampant behind the quaint plots. Broadway, at that time, could be more risqué than Hollywood because the entertainment was limited to a fixed geographic location rather than being simultaneously screened nationwide. Whether subversive scripts indirectly mocked the status quo or waged outright war, reading them today gives a true impression of the mores of those times better than any sociology intensive ever can.

 

DJBrigadoon.jpgHow many books are in your collection?


I have 45 hardcovers, eight biographies, three paperback acting editions, one theatrical company script, and one souvenir program from a pre-Broadway production. Of course, the number is still increasing. Lately, I’m feeling the pull to bring first editions of non-musical plays into the fold.

 

What was the first book you bought for your collection?


The first book was Six Plays by Rodgers and Hammerstein, number 200 in the Modern Library series. I thought I would be satisfied with that one volume. Had I known what was about to be unleashed... I would have bought it anyway!

 

How about the most recent book?


My latest purchase is a first edition of Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon. It is the first and only copy I discovered which has the impossible-to-find dust jacket extant.

 

And your favorite book in your collection?


Seriously? I can’t, I just can’t. Okay, maybe I can. The first British edition of My Fair Lady. It is illustrated with Cecil Beaton’s original costume sketches. My copy came from England and had the faint scent of roses. Could it get any more perfect?

 

Best bargain you’ve found?


A DBS (Drama Book Shop) first edition of Michael Stewart and Bob Merrill’s darkly beautiful Carnival! I snagged it for under $100, and have not seen another copy on the market since.

 

How about The One that Got Away?


Make that “the many.” There was an incredibly rare theatre company script of Lil’ Abner. The price was not exorbitant, but I decided to wait. Next, a copy of On Clear Day You Can See Forever that was reasonable in condition and price, but ditto. My biggest tragedies are theatre scripts of Gigi and Stop the World--I Want to Get Off. That’s when I learned about the dark side of eBay bidding wars. I’ll stop here because this is getting depressing.

 

What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?


Honestly, it would be a first edition of Bye Bye Birdie. There are a handful of copies on the market, but all are priced in the thousands.

What is your favorite bookstore?


One of the first shops I purchased from was ReadInk in Los Angeles. Although the transaction was completely online, it left me feeling like had gotten the most attentive, respectful face-to-face service. I return to ReadInk whenever they have a libretto or biography I’m looking for.

 

What would you collect if you didn’t collect books?


Probably books? All kidding aside, it would be something delicate and girly like vintage jewelry or music boxes.


[Photo credits: Michelle Porter]



Coming to auction next week is a first edition of Jack London’s The Sea-Wolf, published in 1904. What makes this copy so coveted--the estimate is $4,000-6,000--is its “extraordinarily rare dust jacket, previously known only by rumor if at all, with just one other copy thought to exist ... an astonishing survival,” according to the Swann Galleries cataloguer. Be it fragmentary, toned, and brittle, still the paper dust jacket remains, covering a handsome pictorial binding.

M37910-1_2a copy.jpgThe Sea-Wolf is an adventure novel very much in the vein of London’s previous hit, The Call of the Wild. The story’s antagonist is ship captain Wolf Larsen; it’s worth noting that London’s nickname was “Wolf,” and his mansion was called “Wolf House.”

M37910-1_1 copy.jpgImages courtesy of Swann Galleries

Dominic Winter Auctioneers will sell Printed Books, Maps & Documents on Wednesday, November 7, in 582 lots. A first edition of de Bergamo’s De claribus mulieribus (1497), described as “one of the finest and most beautiful early Italian illustrated books and the first to attempt life-like portraits,” is estimated at £7,000-10,000. A collection of more than 370 Chinese botanical watercolors from around 1700 (one pictured below) could sell for £5,000-8,000. A rare proof copy of Thomas Bradshaw’s Views in Mauritius, from the library of the first British governor of the island, is estimated at £3,000-5,000.

  

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Christie’s online sale On the Shoulders of Giants: Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Hawking, ends on Thursday, November 8. All 52 lots in this sale are quite extraordinary, from an inscribed photostatic copy of Stephen Hawking’s dissertation (£100,000-150,000) to a Newton manuscript of extracts from an alchemical work (£80,000-100,000). The top-estimated Darwin lot is an 1876 letter to Henry Nottidge Moseley in which Darwin defends the idea of evolution by natural selection.

  

Also on Thursday, Swann Galleries holds an Autographs sale, in 374 lots. An August 1861 Robert E. Lee letter to a field colonel in the Kanawha Valley (in what is now West Virginia) is estimated at $15,000-25,000. A letter written by Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State to the Governor of Maryland about the Genêt affair could sell for $10,000-20,000. A pencil sketch by JFK on Senate stationery showing his World War II boat PT-109 is estimated at $5,000-7,500.

  

A third sale on Thursday is the Food and Drink auction at PBA Galleries, in 373 lots. Rating the top estimate there at $8,000-12,000 is Abby Fisher’s What Mrs. Fisher Knows about Old Southern Cooking (1881), the second published cookbook written by an African-American woman. A copy of the first Creole cookbook, The Creole Cookery Book (1885), could fetch $5,000-8,000 (a second copy, rebound, rates the same estimate).

  

Finally, the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society holds another of its auctions of rare and used books on Friday, November 11. See the full PDF catalog.

  

Image credit: Dominic Winter Auctioneers

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Last week, the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts welcomed Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, a traveling exhibition organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) and the American Library Association’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table. The exhibition is the first to commemorate the Coretta Scott King Award (CSK) since its inception in 1974.

  

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Established to “affirm new talent and to offer visibility and excellent in writing and illustration,” the Coretta Scott King (CSK) Award has become one of the most prestigious annual recognitions bestowed by the ALA, on par with the ALA’s annual Caldecott award.

  

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Of the 108 books that have been graced by a CSK, one hundred of them are represented in Our Voice, including the work of artist George Ford, who received the first award for his acrylic illustrations in Ray Charles (1973) , written by Sharon Bell Mathis, who also took home that year’s inaugural author’s prize. “Although the award was a recognition of artistic excellence, I was most proud of the fact that it was a reward specifically intended as a source of inspiration and encouragement to African American children,” Ford said recently about the experience.

  

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Several artists have won the award multiple times: Jerry Pinkney, for example, is a ten-time CSK award recipient, while Ashley Bryan and Bryan Collier have each won nine CSKs for their work. Additional artists represented in the retrospective are a veritable who’s-who of children’s picture book illustration: Brian Pinkney, James E. Ransome, Leo and Diane Dillon, Javaka Steptoe, Kadir Nelson and many others.

  

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Recognizing the transformative power of pictures and text, the CSK award highlights how powerful imagery enriches a narrative while also serving to uplift and encourage young readers that all voices have a place at the table. The art that accompanies these stories is a beacon in what is often a dark and scary world. Sometimes the creators of these works are persecuted, but that doesn’t stop them; award recipient Peter Magubane’s book Black Child (1983) was banned in his home country of South Africa, for example. But, as he put it, “the only way to show the world was through pictures.”

   
Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards
is on view through January 27, 2019 at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

  

Images, from top:

George Ford, Illustration for Ray Charles by Sharon Bell Mathis (Lee & Low Books). Courtesy of NCCIL. © 1973 George Ford.

Nancy Devard, Illustration for The Secret Olivia Told Me by N. Joy (Just Us Books, Inc.). Courtesy of NCCIL. ©2007 Nancy Devard.

Kadir Nelson, Illustration for Neslon Mandela (HarperCollins). Courtesy of NCCIL. © 2013 Kadir Nelson.

Floyd Cooper, Illustration for The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas (HarperCollins). Courtesy of NCCIL. © 2008 Floyd Cooper.

After a busy fair in Amsterdam, there was just time to repack my stock and change my socks before heading off to Paris for the autumn edition of Bibliomania. This is a large event held in the Espace Champerret. Conveniently located just on the peripherique, we checked our bags into our apartment and went to set up.

BiblioP1.pngThis is a long fair. Starting on a Tuesday morning, and with traders coming into the fair to buy during set up, the fair continues until Sunday evening. Fortunately, we had decided to share a stand, so we could each take a little time off to enjoy Paris.

The fair is also large. Spread across two large halls, there are over 100 dealers, many with sizeable stands. The range of stock was particularly varied. Some tables were flowing with magazines and newspapers. Others had art prints, posters, and photobooks. Others again had traditional “book stands” with old, rare, and scarce texts. Almost everyone had a selection of erotica. I felt that we were missing out with our innocent Anglo-Saxon stock. What was almost universal, was the dominance of the French text. Not surprising, given that this is a French fair I guess.

Picture2.pngWhilst we were at the fair, we were approached by a team creating a video about the booksellers at the fair, and asked to appear. Naturally, we said oui and once ‘miked up’ we talked about English bookselling in Europe (well how we do it anyway). Of course, their main interest was Brexit, and they seemed quite disappointed that I didn’t know what is going to happen.

BiblioP3.pngOnce of the great things about a French fair is the laid-back approach to selling, and the importance of lunch! Each day, at around 1pm, several tables were pushed out of the way (along with any customers who happened to be standing there) and a spread was laid out by some of the exhibitors. This was proper “fine dining” with tablecloths and napkins, bread, cheese, grapes, dessert, a variety of wines, soup, casserole, etc. For the next hour or so, the booths looked after themselves, whilst the exhibitors relaxed in between the stands. The occasional customer continued to forage for books without interrupting the proceedings.

BiblioP4.pngIn the evenings, there were further drinks and entertainments. One of the parties I was involved in was at the Catawiki stand, which held a drinks reception for sellers. Catawiki also held a special auction of French items belonging to exhibitors, and held a raffle, where three lucky winners could obtain a Jules Verne Hetzel first edition. Very nice! This certainly generated a good crowd, and kept Kurt and Frederic busy for the evening.

BiblioP5.pngDrawing the raffle was the magnificent Erika, who is the ever-calm fair manager. She managed to keep control of over 100 exhibitors, deal with the cars in and out, and keep everyone happy for six days--no mean feat. On top of that, she kept her sense of humour through it all.

BiblioP6.pngAll in all, Bibliomania is definitely on the recommended list. Friendly, enjoyable, and very different from most of the other fairs we do. We made several new friends and customers, and look forward to coming back here again.

--Marc Harrison and his wife Marcia run Harrison-Hiett Rare Books in The Netherlands. Images courtesy of the author.

Auction Guide