William Blake Europe plate 1, sometimes titled "The Ancient of Days" or "God Creating the Universe" Courtesy John Windle
Death to Kindle! My friends are familiar with this rant because I couldn't imagine my home without my library of books- real books- the ones with paper in them. When I was 13, I imagined there were secrets in the books. I liked to believe the writers had stumbled upon a universal truth or meaning- sometimes I would ask a question, open to a random page, and read a random sentence to divine the answer from the universe! I imagined the hands passed through them, the emotions the reader felt on the pages and continue to spend long hours at flea markets to find such books. And of course, my Jane Austen obsession began as it usually does with book nerds and a romantic streak. With this melodramatic, book nerd spirit, I jumped at the chance to attend the The 56th Annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory.
Calandri Arithmetic, printed 1491 Courtesy Martayan Lan
The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers confirm that the the dealers are providing authentic materials. The dealers come from all over the world and the country and have a true love of what they do.
Anna Pavlova’s pointe ballet slipper, courtesy Schubertiade
I saw illuminated manuscripts, first editions of literary classics, obscure erotic manuals and antique cook books. And if the contents of the books were not enough, the bindings were spectacular- from leather to metal engravings to elaborate royal book covers! I saw a first edition Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, autographed books from gothic fiction queen Anne Rice, original Boccaccio's, children's books from the 1940s, and law books from The Lawbook Exchange. And of course the cooking manuals! The good news is while there are certainly collector prices, there are plenty of under $400 prints to even a few $50! So everyone can walk away with a new piece for their library.
Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Courtesy Michael Brass Rare Books
Here are some of my fun picks to give an idea of the diversity available in book collection:
1. White Fox Rare Books and Antiques, Vermont
Specializes in illustrated plate books, and foreign language literature as well zoological books
2. Camille Sourget Libraire, France
Specializes in travel books, first editions and fine illustrated books.
3. DeWolfe & Wood, Maine
Specializes in Shaker books, photographs and ephemera.
4. FA Bernett Books, Boston
Specializing in fine and decorative arts, architecture, design.
5. Lux Mentis, Maine
Specializes in first editions and some really cool esoteric materials.
6. Ben Kinmont, California
Specializes in history of science- so all you medical book lovers and those interested in Copernicus, Galileo and Darwin- this is the place to go.
7. Brian Cassidy Bookseller, Silver Springs
Cool pieces from Death of Punk to literary ephemera, poetry and folk, vernacular and outsider books.