New York City was a happening place for book collectors and book sellers this past weekend. We made the trip to the Big Apple to combine a visit with our son and to take in the 53rd Annual New York ABAA Book Fair and the Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair (AKA “The Shadow Show”).
The ABAA Antiquarian Book Fair was held again at the beautiful Park Avenue Armory at 643 Park Avenue. Although you enter the fair through an atmosphere of dark wood paneling, chandeliers and stained glass…
it’s all bright lights and glass cases in the exhibition area…
This is one of the few places you will see booksellers dressed to the nines (we are generally a casual lot – sometimes downright scruffy, even). Security is tight. Your coat and any bags must be checked at the door. Much of the best that is available and collectible in the whole wide world of books is on display here, everything from signed modern first editions to ancient maps and manuscripts. Prices ranged from around $50.00 to rarities running into five and six figures.
We attended on Friday at noon, the first general opening of the show (there is a preview night on Thursday evening, with a $50.00 entry fee for the privilege). There is a vibe of tension and excitement in the air – booksellers pay a premium to exhibit here — they are all hoping to “crack the nut,” and there are collectors roaming the aisles who are willing to drop serious cash. The attendance seemed high — the crowds grew as the afternoon progressed.
It is always worthwhile to attend this fair, to see what is being offered, some of which you may never see again anyplace else. It should be considered a learning experience as well an opportunity to buy.
We were happy to see Earl and Michael Manz, father and son team of Yesterday’s Gallery and Babylon Revisited Rare Books at their booth, where I purchased a lovely first edition of Twenty-Four Hours for my Louis Bromfield collection. (Thanks for bringing it to the Fair, Michael!)
They specialize in books from the jazz age and depression era in beautiful old dustjackets. We share their area of interest, and it is always a joy to roam their booth or website.
Nearby we found another favorite bookseller, Robert Dagg, of Robert Dagg Rare Books, San Francisco, California, whose specialty areas are Modern First Editions and Mystery and Detective Fiction.
The Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Show, or “Shadow Show” is held in a lovely building at 135 West 18th Street, and is a much more relaxed atmosphere. This show ran Friday, April 12 from 5-9 p.m. through Saturday, April 13 from 8am – 4pm. We were waiting at the door on Saturday at 8am.
The quality is very good, and prices are within the reach of more book lovers and collectors. This fair opened on Friday April 12 from 5-9pm and ran through Saturday April 13 (4am-4pm).
We purchased a lovely decorated American trade binding here from Ben Koenig of The Country Bookshop (Plainfield, Vermont).
Two great book fairs, and a great selection of fine books in the City that Never Sleeps.
I’ll be back soon with the rest of the story…