The NY Book Fair 2019 Wrap-Up

Rockwell Kent was on my mind owing to our new spring issue’s feature story about the time when Rockwell Kent, Rex Stout, and Egmont Arens teamed up to publish Casanova’s memoir in the states, where it was still banned. So I was perhaps pre-disposed to notice Ken Lopez’s display of a Rockwell Kent archive, at the ABAA fair on Friday, that included Kent’s own copy of the unbound sheets of Candide, a project he undertook after Casanova. And then, at the NYC Book & Ephemera Fair (the “Satellite Fair”) on Saturday, I spied a manuscript about Casanova written by Arthur Symons, who wrote the introduction for the Kent-Stout-Arens edition of 1925. The Old New York Book Shop in Atlanta, Georgia, was offering it for $3,000. How’s that for bibliophilic serendipity?

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Back at the Armory, there was another reminder of our current issue: Verona’s Bibliopathos was showing the tattoo bookbindings of Aarom von Hemmersbach. Aarom’s bindings (which sold, I’m happy to report) are created using an innovative tattooing technique -- he’s a tattoo artist in Winnipeg, Canada, after all.

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Over at Whitmore Rare Books, I was drawn in by the pretty binding on Evenings with the Stars (1924). I learned that the author, Mary Proctor, a Columbia-educated scientist, brought astronomy to the masses with hundreds of articles and lectures on the night sky. It was priced at $2,750.

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Two things I noted at the ABAA fair this year: new stuff and (some) affordable prices. By “new stuff,” I mean I didn’t see twenty copies of the first edition of Malamud’s The Natural as I have in past years. In the inexpensive and cool, but not-in-my-collecting-scope category, was Vietnam Nurse, a pulp romance from 1966 written under a pseudonym by poet Fanny Howe, offered by Brian Cassidy, Bookseller for $125.

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While others eyed Gutenberg’s Mainz Catholicon (c.1469) at Liber Antiquus, my personal favorite of theirs was a first edition of Monstrorum historia (1642), “the first treatise on teratology, the study of deformities and monsters.” A large, illustrated folio, it was bewitching. Price: $25,000. 

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At $1.5 million, Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps had the showstopper, though: an archive of drawings and blueprints for the Statue of Liberty from Établissements Eiffel, 1880-1883.  

Two final favorites: At the ABAA fair, Battledore had Kate Greenaway’s lovely memorial ring, an 18-karat gold and hair-work piece, and, at the Satellite Show, Brenner’s Books had an advanced reader’s edition of the The Blackboard Jungle (1954) by Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain. That title is special to me because I worked with Hunter on a reprint edition of The Blackboard Jungle a few years before his death in 2005.

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We--the husband and I--also picked up two decorated publishers’ bindings at this fair, one from Mosher Books, another from Austin Abbey Rare Books (pictured above).

Still want to see more highlights from NY? Check out the round-ups published by the New York Times and Lit Hub.

Images: (Top, Casanova) Credit: Rebecca Rego Barry; (Middle, Evening) Courtesy of Whitmore Rare Books; (Middle, Vietnam) Courtesy of Brian Cassidy; (Middle, Monstrorum), Courtesy of Liber Antiquus; (Middle, Eiffel) Credit: Brett Barry; (Bottom, Thoreau) Credit: Brett Barry.

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