April 23, 2006

New York Antiquarian Book Fair

The event that book lovers have been waiting for is here! Once again, the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue at 67th Street is host to the New York Antiquarian Book Fair.

This year's fair, the 46th hosted by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), is bigger and better than ever. 195 Dealers from around the world are exhibiting and there is truly something for every taste and every budget. From illuminated manuscripts to modern first editions, children's books, autographs, fine bindings, maps, natural history books and livres d'artiste, one can easily spend hours looking at the vast selection of printed material.

Having been in the rare book business full time for eight years, and still maintaining an interest in the field and my own personal collection of pochoir colored books and albums, the New York Antiquarian Book Fair is always something of a homecoming for me. It is great fun to see old friends and the exquisite material they save to take to this prestigeous event.

My favorite booths? I would have to say that Ursus Rare Books has a superb presentation of books from various periods and all of very fine quality. They had already been written up in the New York Times for a unique collection of original costume watercolors by George Barbier. The "King" of the field of Modern Illustrated books, Irving Zucker, showcased a complete set of Iliazd books, very rare and very beautiful and priced accordingly. Donald Heald did not disappoint with his gorgeous albums of birds, flowers and animals. New to me was the Swedish gallery of Börje Bengtsson with a fresh and fascinating collection of Pop Art ephemera. I also thought Marilyn Braiterman's selection of Art Nouveau and Art Deco books and albums was outstanding.

Just for fun, I found a group of 5 hand-decorated playing cards by Sonia Delaunay at Thomas A. Goldwasser Rare Books, a First Edition "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone", in paperback with a dedication by J.K. Rowlings for $10,600 at Peter Harrington, and finally a pair of homemade fortune teller wheels for Victorian parlour games and courtship for $1,750 at James Cummins Bookseller.

Opening night of the book fair was a benefit for the New York Public Library. The fair runs through Sunday, April 23rd, but if you miss it, don't despair! Mark your calendars for September 15-17, 2006 when the ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers) hosts a new bookfair at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. It should be fabulous!

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