The 2013 New York Antiquarian Book Fair was a great success: 200 ABAA and ILAB exhibitors brought the best material they had to offer, attendance was bustling, and everyone enjoyed the post-fair hours with colleagues and friends.
Festivities kicked off Wednesday night at the grand opening of B & B Rare Books, Ltd.'s new gallery. The space, located in a historic building on East 20th Street, was lovely and filled to the brim with excited booksellers, which made for a delightful party. I even managed to take a few moments to look at the books and was especially impressed with the inscribed copies B & B had to offer.
Attendees queued up early for the Thursday night preview and with good reason.
There was quite a buzz about the quality of material exhibitors had on display and there were some truly remarkable items, like the life size papier-mâché ape. Not to mention that there were four Kelmscott Chaucers on the floor (!). A rainy and cold day made the Park Avenue Armory the perfect place to be on Friday. Magician and author Ricky Jay visited and examined a deck of cards from the 1700s in Donald Heald's booth. I got the chance to take a break from the ABAA booth and walk the floor on Friday, and was seriously impressed by what I saw. I am always a sucker for prints and hand-colored books and illustrations, and there was no shortage of them at this fair. I was especially taken with a number of watercolors of 1920s fashion designs and boldly colored French cover art. After dinner and drinks, a good number of booksellers headed downtown to the East Village to hear Dear Althea, a band headed by Between the Covers employee Ashley Wildes. Suffice to say that much fun was had by all.
On Saturday the ABAA held its Annual Meeting in the Tiffany Room of the Armory. Shortly after the fair opened, Brad and Jen Johnson of The Book Shop, LLC held a Book Collecting 101 seminar for any interested attendees. Participants in the seminar had the advantage of then heading out to the show floor to put their new knowledge to use. On the last day of every ABAA fair we hold a Discovery Day, where several exhibitors volunteer their time to give free oral appraisals on books attendees bring to the fair (due to the popularity of this event, there is a limit of 3-5 books per 'customer'). I wasn't able to attend the appraisals myself, but word was that there was some interesting and attractive material. Lucy Lui attended on Sunday afternoon, which added a little distraction from the sad realization that the fair was coming to a close. And now the countdown to next year's NYABF has begun…already less than a year away!
The next ABAA Antiquarian Book Fair will take place in Boston from November 15-17, 2013.