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What to expect at the first Boston Virtual Book Fair

Unlike a conventional book fair, which closes each night and reopens in the mornings, the Boston Virtual Book Fair will remain open from 11am EST on November 12 to close at 7pm EST on Saturday, November 14. However, there's more to the fair than just browsing online listings of rare books and related ephemera -- a number of special events will take place during the fair.

Online programming on Friday and Saturday, November 13 and 14, will feature curator Marylène Altieri exploring the culinary collection at Harvard’s Schlesinger Library, including the papers of famed chef Julia Child; Nicole Aljoe, director of the Africana Studies Program at Northeastern University, sharing her latest research around a recently discovered mysterious 19th century text by Chloe Russell, “A Woman of Color of the state of Massachusetts, also commonly termed the Old Witch, or Black Interpreter” at the Boston Athenaeum; Boston-based scholars/curators Allison Lange and Theo Tyson discussing the Women’s Suffrage Movement from the perspective of its visual representation; and The Ticknor Society’s popular Collectors’ Roundtable. 




11AM-7PM EST  Patron Preview

Patron Preview tickets are available here... (A portion of proceeds supports the ABAA Benevolent Fund.)


Be the first to browse and shop 150+ dealers at the Boston Virtual Book Fair. An alluring treasure trove awaits seasoned collectors as well as new visitors. The event will showcase the finest in rare and valuable books, illuminated manuscripts, autographs, ephemera, political and historic documents, maps, atlases, photographs, fine and decorative prints, and much more.



1PM EST    Julia Child and Company: Culinary Delights at the Schlesinger Library


Marylène Altieri

Curator of Published and Printed Materials Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Julia Child’s voluminous and fascinating papers are just one of several collections of prominent women in the world of food at the Schlesinger Library. Their papers are nestled in comprehensive collections of cookbooks, culinary periodicals, product pamphlets, and menus that give depth and context to the record of their achievements. Schlesinger’s broader mission to document the lives of women in America further enhances their meaning and provides researchers with unparalleled resources. Marylène Altieri will discuss the range of these materials, with perhaps some timely recipes thrown in!

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3PM EST    The Curious Case of Chloe Russell’s “The Complete Fortune Teller and Dream Book”


Nicole N. Aljoe, PhD

Director of Africana Studies Program, Department of Cultures, Societies, & Global Studies, Associate Professor of English & Africana Studies, Northeastern University


This talk will explore an intriguing text held in the Boston Athenaeum. Titled The Complete Fortune Teller and Dream Book, it purports to be written by Chloe Russell, “A Woman of Color of the state of Massachusetts, also commonly termed the Old Witch, or Black Interpreter.” Dated around the turn of the 19th century, the text is a puzzle for scholars. Russell is documented as owning a home in Boston’s West End and was alternatively listed as a washerwoman and cook; she is not now known to have written anything else. The text itself, an interesting compilation of astrology and superstitions around choosing a mate, might have been reprinted from elsewhere. The talk will share some of the unique aspects of this surprising text that facilitate speculation about its possible occasion for publication.

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5PM EST   Reading the Drink/Drinking the Read


Jim Meehan

Bartender, journalist, and author of The PDT Cocktail Book and Meehan’s Bartender Manual. Jim has worked in nearly every capacity of the hospitality business for the latter half of his 40 years on the planet.


Don Lindgren

An antiquarian bookseller and independent food historian, Don has presented at the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery. He likes to work at the intersection of a book’s text with its physical form, teasing narratives from what he sees, and forgetting he’s supposed to sell the books.


Amy Stewart

A New York Times best-selling author of the Kopp Sisters series, which is based on the true story of one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her two rambunctious sisters. Her popular nonfiction titles include The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, and Flower Confidential. While they have not been adapted for television, there are a few bars around the world named after The Drunken Botanist, which is even better.


Lance Winters

Master Distiller for California-based St. George Spirits. His contributions to the world of spirits have been recognized with nominations five years running (2016 – 2020) from the James Beard Foundation in the category of Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Producer.

Join our experts in fine spirits, mixology and drink history as they stir up a cocktail and chat about favorite cocktail and spirits books .

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11:30AM EST    Boston Virtual Book Fair Tour: The Art of the Book


John Buchtel, Curator of Rare Books and Head of Special Collections at the Boston Athenæum

John Buchtel previously served as director of the Booth Family Center for Special Collections at Georgetown University and as curator of rare books in the Sheridan Libraries at The Johns Hopkins University. He earned his Ph.D. in English, with a focus on early modern British literature, at the University of Virginia, while also acting as curator of the teaching collections at Rare Book School. He teaches, lectures, and publishes on the history of books and printing, the history of libraries, book collecting, and literary patronage.


Sarah Hulsey, Book artist

Sarah Hulsey is an artist whose work draws on her background in linguistics to explore the structure of language in a visual domain. She has had solo exhibitions in Cambridge, Boston, and Philadelphia and numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. She received a BA in linguistics from Harvard, a PhD in linguistics from MIT, and an MFA in book arts/printmaking from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.

She was awarded a 2020 Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council in Drawing and Printmaking and the 2016 Walter Feldman Fellowship for Emerging Artists in New England. Her work is held in the collections of the Library of Congress, Yale University Haas Arts Library, Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of California Berkeley Bancroft Library, among others.


Phil Salmon, Manager Bromer Booksellers

Celebrating his twentieth year at the helm of Bromer Booksellers – Boston’s destination for beautifully printed books – Phil Salmon began his bookselling career in 1994, the consequence of a collecting interest in the poet Robert Frost. He spent many years working as a freelance cataloger, book scout, and operated his own internet bookselling firm before moving to Portugal in 1998. Phil became an associate member of the ABAA in 2004, and considers it "an honor and a privilege" to do what he loves for a living.


Join John Buchtel, Sarah Hulsey, and Phil Salmon for a unique exploration and discussion about some of the most compelling artist books and fine press printed materials at the ABAA’s Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair.

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1PM EST    Historical Artifacts and the Myths of the Women’s Voting Rights Movement


Dr. Allison Lange

Associate Professor of History, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, Curator of the suffrage exhibitions at Massachusetts Historical Society and Schlesinger Library


Theo Tyson 

Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art and Culture at the Boston Athenaeum, Curator of the (Anti)Suffrage exhibition


Dr. Lange and Theo Tyson will discuss the Women’s Suffrage Movement from the perspective of its visual representation, from books and prints to books, posters and photographs. The discussion explores the ways that historical artifacts established many of the popular myths of the women’s suffrage movement, many created by the activists themselves.  

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3PM EST    The Ticknor Society Collectors’ Roundtable

The Ticknor Society sponsors an annual roundtable of collectors at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, and this year’s participants include Heather O’Donnell (founder of Honey & Wax Booksellers of Brooklyn), Erika Hapke (Bernett Penka Rare Books of Boston), and Peter X. Accardo (Programs and Public Service Librarian, Houghton Library).

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A virtual scavenger hunt will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 13 and 14, through our Facebook page! Details to come, but follow the ABAA on Facebook to get ready!




The 2020 Boston Virtual Book Fair kicks off with an all-day Patron Preview on Thursday, November 12, 11AM-7PM, and requires purchase of a ticket. It will be an exclusive opportunity to get a first look at items for sale. The Fair opens, free to the public, at 11AM EST on November 13 and will run continuously online at until November 14 at 7PM EST.

For more information about the Boston Virtual Book Fair visit

For tickets to the Patron Preview click here...

To register for all other events at the Boston Virtual Book Fair, click here... 

Collectors can virtually peruse the booths of every exhibitor in the Fair or quickly visit their favorite dealers, hosted in an easy-to-navigate online version of the traditional book fair booth. A search feature allows visitors to quickly browse by category, dealer, or keyword—with each item featuring a brief description, condition, and price—and they can contact dealers directly to learn more about the items for sale. Each exhibitor will showcase up to 50 of their most interesting and significant pieces, creating a remarkable and diverse selection of items from around the world. Fresh items will be available throughout the weekend as dealers continually restock their virtual booths.

Whether just browsing or buying, the Fair offers something for every taste and budget—books on art, politics, travel, gastronomy, and science to sport, natural history, literature, fashion, music, and children’s books—all appealing to a range of bibliophiles and browsers. From the historic and academic, to the religious and spiritual, from the exotic to everyday—the Fair has offerings in every conceivable genre and subject. 


Boston Book Fair 2020


With the Fair hosted completely online, this year everyone around the globe can attend the Boston Virtual Book Fair, one of the oldest and most respected antiquarian book shows in the U.S.!


For more information, visit