by Stephen J. Gertz
200 members of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) from around the globe will exhibit their wares at the largest rare and antiquarian book fair in the world this coming weekend, February 10-12, at the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, held in the new Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, California.
The fair provides book lovers and collectors with the opportunity to see, learn about and purchase the finest in rare and valuable books, manuscripts, autographs, graphics, prints, maps, photographs and more. There are books to satisfy almost every conceivable interest and within every budget.
It's Destination: Pasadena to enjoy the Book Fair and the city's many cultural attractions and great restaurants. And to discover books, prints and ephemera you weren't aware of, from all over the world, all under one roof. That's still the primary purpose of Book Fairs, which began in Franfkort, Germany in the sixteenth century. They continue to be critical to book lovers and collectors in the 21st century. The Internet is great if you know what you're looking for but does not provide the opportunity for book-hunting adventure, serendipitous encounters, and social interaction with booksellers and fellow collectors from around the globe. The California International Antiquarian Book Fair is action-central.
For those whose budget has vast breathing room, a copy of Lucas Brandis' Rudimentum Novitiorum (Handbook for Beginners), the first chronicle of the world, based upon medieval theology and the first work to contain printed maps, is being offered by Daniel Crouch Rare Books of London. Published in Lubeck in 1475 and now a great rarity in the marketplace, the asking price is $1,150,000. Want a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible? $85,000.
On the lower end of the scale, Vagabond Books is offering a post-production script for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, signed by Kubrick, Stephen King, Jack Nicholson, and Shelley Duvall for $750. And there are many other desirable items for less.
“It’s impossible to walk through the aisles of the Book Fair without being wowed by the visual beauty and cultural significance of the volumes on display,” said Michael R. Thompson, Book Fair Chair of the Southern California Chapter of the ABAA, which organizes the event. “First time visitors are amazed that they can browse, touch and even go home with items that they imagine could only be found in a museum or special collections library.”
The Fair's theme is A Love Affair With Books: Personal Stories of Noted Collectors, featuring a colorful, wide-ranging exhibit that examines the avid pursuits of rare book collectors past and present -- from legendary library builders such as Henry Huntington and William Andrews Clark to contemporary Southern California book lovers like actress Sarah Michelle Gellar and Academy Award-winning producer Tony Bill.
On Saturday, February 11 from 3PM - 4PM, a panel discussion will be held, A Love Affair with Books, featuring L.A. Times film critic Kenneth Turan, Tony Bill, respected gemologist Mary Murphy, and moderated by Los Angeles Times Columnist, author and TV/radio personality Patt Morrison.
Just prior to that, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM, the Bibliographical Society of America sponsors Thomas Jefferson's Legacy: Building the Rare Book Collections at the Library of Congress a talk by Library of Congress Chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division Mark Dimunation.
On Sunday, February 12, Book Collecting 101, a panel with leading booksellers Katy Carter, Brad Johnson and Carol Sandberg, explores the basics of starting, building and protecting your collection. Held from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM, Q&A follows.
Always a favorite, Discovery Day, on Sunday 1:30- 3:00 PM, warmly invites Book Fair attendees to present up to three items to experts for free examination and appraisal.
Also on Sunday, February 12, from 12:15 - 1:15 p.m. Do You Need An Appraisal?, a panel with experts Samuel Hessel and Sheryl Jaeger, will discuss whether or not your collection should be appraised for sale, estate, or tax purposes.
The California International Antiquarian Book Fair is one of the world's great book events. If you love books be good to yourself and attend.
See you there.
WHEN: Friday, February 10 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, February 11 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, February 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
WHERE: Pasadena Convention Center, 300 East Green Street, Pasadena, CA.
ADMISSION: Friday tickets are $25 and provide three-day admission; proceeds benefit the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Tickets Saturday or Sunday tickets are $15 and include return entry throughout the remainder of the Book Fair. All tickets also include admission to the Huntington.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: visit labookfair.com or call 800-454-6401. Connect with the Book Fair through its pages on Twitter and Facebook.
Full disclosure: I am the current Chairman of the Southern California Chapter of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, the Book Fair's host.