One of my favorite events in Paris is the annual "Salon International du Livre Ancien et de l'Estampe", a joint exhibition of rare books and prints held under the glass covered nave of the glorious Grand Palais. Not only is the setting amazing, the variety and sheer volume offered by 172 book and print dealers is mind boggling.
This year the doors opened to an invited public at 5 o'clock on June 18th. Quite a crowd had assembled in anticipation of the treasures that awaited discovery and visitors made a beeline to their favorite dealers to see what was for sale. It was truly a paradise of books, maps, autographs and prints from every age, subject and origin with booths extending for acres in every direction. The Salon du Livre (books) comprised by far the major part of the joint show with exhibitors from all over Europe, United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina, and a special stand honoring the Bibliotheque & Archives nationales du Québec. The Salon International de l'Estampe (prints) section was quite a bit smaller but still offered a good cross section of prints from Old Master to Contemporary and some very fine dealers participated.
The joy of this fair is that there is something for everyone and all in a very friendly atmosphere. Having been in the rare book and print field for nearly 20 years now, I know a lot of people in the business and enjoy seeing old friends and acquaintances. But even for the amateur, the pleasure of meandering through the aisles and coming across new and wonderful works on paper at every booth is addictive!
Illuminated manuscripts, fine bindings, scientific tomes, illustrated books, children's books, botanical books with gorgeous color plates, hand written letters by famous people, historical maps, first editions - the range was fabulous. On the print side one could find works by artists from Rembrandt to Warhol and even some pieces that were literally "hot off the press".
On opening night the champagne was flowing until the doors closed at 10. But it was so much fun and there was so much still to see that I went back the next day for some more! Dealers generally seemed to be very happy with sales and I was certainly happy to be there among the bibliophiles and print collectors on a sunny day in Paris in June.