Monday, February 28, 2011

30 years of Book Fairs: Like a family reunion

The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair celebrates its 30th anniversary in March. Vivian Moore was one of a small cadre of booksellers who put together the first book fair at the University of Tampa. She shared some of her recollections.

By Vivian Moore

The first show was somewhat stressful and tiring. And yet, it was very exciting and lots of fun! We did not have a show manager for the first span of years as we were trying to minimize our expenses so that the show would be economically viable.

Vivian Moore operated Hyde Park Book Shop
Therefore, Mike Slicker (owner of Lighthouse Books, ABAA), who I believe was the creator of the FABA and the book fair, took the bull by the horns and became our show manager, a position he held for many years.

The responsibility of putting together the show in those days fell on just a few dealers: Mike, myself and my ex, Jim Shelton. That first year we did everything ourselves including the rental and assembling of the tables, chairs, tablecloths and the laying out of the booths.

I can remember we ordered and picked up 20 to 30 unassembled bookcases (2 feet by 6 feet) as one was included in the price of each booth.  We started to put them together early in the morning at one of the ballrooms at the University of Tampa, where the show was held those early years. It was going smoothly until we started finding that some of the bookcases had flaws. They would not fit together properly. Oh no, small panic. So, we now had to employ a saw and other tools to make these adjustments to get the bookcases to fit together.

During this time, our small group of “managers” acted as porters, assisting the dealers in moving their inventory into their booths. We also passed out materials such as bags & tag sealers for them, etc. Helping the dealers haul their books to their booths, I was always impressed with how many boxes dealers could pack in a vehicle. If any of the dealers needed anything extra for their booth or had any problems, we would assist them as well. Now, remember, our core group members were also exhibitors at the fair, which meant that we were also trying to get our own booths setup before the show began.

 Of course, everything always takes you longer than you planned.  Opening time was quickly approaching and there were still things to do. We barely got the last bookcase built for the exhibitors before the doors opened.  As the show commenced, our booth still wasn't totally unpacked or arranged. And, we had not yet changed out of our work clothes. I'm sure there were a few small things that were overlooked by the dealers but they really liked the show and our hospitality, and it was a success!

I think we had about 24 to 30 dealers with most of them from Florida and a few from out of state. After the show, we had to lug those built bookcases to our shop for either storage, use, and/or sell. I believe we used those type of bookcases for a few years, then we went into the fold-up kind that were smaller and lighter in weight with no assembly. Later on, we discontinued those and now offer rental display showcases direct through a company. 

After about 15-plus years without a show manager, it’s nice to have one now, and I’m sure Mike will agree, though I know he’s always worked closely with the manager especially more so early on. And, of course, now all we have to do is set up our booth, which is great since each year we are getting older.

The book fair has grown over the years from the original 25 to 30 to around 115-plus dealers from all over the country. We have always had a long list of dealers waiting to get a booth for the show as our exhibitors are a hardcore group as many return year after year.

I believe that what draws the dealers to the show is the Florida sunshine, the old Coliseum in St. Petersburg, which makes a perfect setting and our warm southern hospitality. The shows are like a family reunion of dealers and customers who have become old and lifelong friends.

I’m glad to have taken part in all 30 years of this show. It has been a worthwhile part of my life and I have many memories of great times. I hope it will continue into the future as far as we can see.

The 30th Annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair runs from Friday, March 11 through Sunday, March 13.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Unusual antique maps at the Book Fair

Traditionally the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair offers more than just books, though, to be sure, it is a book fair and books predominate, the older the better.

But fans of the cartographic arts will find some rare treasures as well. Case in point: the collection of Gary Hudson, proprietor of Antique Atlas. Here is a small sampling of the kinds of unusual examples Hudson will have at the Book Fair.

In 1544, a Franciscan monk named Sebastian Munster published Cosmographia, one of the most successful descriptions of the world ever, and certainly for the 16th century. You can see a map from that book in the slide show above.

This is a rare second edition of the book in its original pig skin binding. It was published in 1545.

Sebastian Munster (1489 - 1552) joined the Franciscan order in 1505 and sent to the monastery in Rufach where he studied Hebrew, Greek, mathematics, cosmography and astronomy. In 1540, he published an edition of Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia. In 1544, he published his major work, the Cosmographia.

The Cosmographia continued to be published long after Munster's death of the plague in 1552 and altogether 46 editions were produced, including issues in German, Latin, Italian and French.

The second picture in the slide show is one sheet of Italian cartographer Antonio Zatta's 12-sheet map of North America.

Zatta produced atlases containing very attractive maps. This set was published in Venice, in 1778. It is titled Le Colonie Unite dell' America Settentrle. Di Nouva Projezione aSS.EE. li Signori Riformatori dello Studio di Padova Venezia 1778 ..."

The 12-sheet unjoined, hand-colored map is based on the landmark map by early Virginia settler John Mitchell (1711-1768), who produced the most comprehensive map of eastern North America made during the colonial era. Each sheet of the Zatta map measures about 12.5 inches x 16.5 inches.

The next two prints in the slide show are by Theodore De Bry, the famous Belgian engraver, who never saw the New World, but produced remarkably detailed illustrations from the first-hand accounts of explorers. These illustrations, produced about 1595, show Florida Indians and the French landing at their first (and failed) attempt at settlement, building Fort Caroline, on the banks of the St. Johns River near present-day Jacksonville.

The last picture above is of the Americas volume from Philippe Vandermaelen, a famous Flemish cartographer.  It was published in Brussels in 1837 as Atlas Universel ..., Vol. IV, Amerique Septentrionale.

It is a complete and overall fine example of Vandermaelen's North American volume [Volume 4 of 6] of his monumental Atlas Universel de Geographie Physique ... " It contains 79 double-page maps. The first map [shown], Carte D'Assemblage de L'Americque Septentle, is the index map showing the layout of all of the uniform scale maps.  Next is the stunning Tableau Provinsiore d'Assemblage ... The next 77 maps are the indexed individual maps and contains many highly desirable hand-colored maps of the continent.

Vandermaelen was the son of a wealthy industrialist who abandoned his father's business to pursue cartography. His goal was to generate the first atlas with every map on the same projection and the same scale, mapping the known world. This is one of the volumes he produced.

If all maps from the six volumes were joined they would form a globe more than 25 feet in diameter. This also is the first lithographic atlas ever produced. Only 810 copies are reported to have been printed, few of which remain intact.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

See bookbinder David Barry at the Book Fair

Bookbinder David Barry, who owns Griffin Bookbinding in St. Petersburg, will be at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair in March. This entry by freelance copywriter Billie Noakes originally appeared on her blog.

By Billie Noakes

The last time I visited my sister, we went through a box that had been stashed in her storage shed for years.

Talk about a time capsule! For a couple of hours, we felt like we were on an archaeological dig, delighting in the discovery of cards, photos, and keepsakes that had belonged to our maternal grandparents.

Lutheran Church Book, 1901. It certainly looked rough.
It was good to see so much family history, sad to see the shape it was in after 45 years of being shuffled from Illinois, to Florida, to Kentucky, and back to Florida. Forty-five years of being top, then bottom, of the heap. Forty-five years of dust and bugs and mice and poorly weatherproofed attics and sheds.

So when we got to one of the last items, we weren’t surprised to see the shape this one old book was in, pages darkened with mildew, leather cover in tatters, disconnected from the pages it was designed to protect.

Here's the same book after David Barry made it beautiful.
Lutheran Church Book. 1901. Grandpa’s name all but buried under 109 years of dirt and grime and neglect. Grandpa would have been 13 years old in 1901, so we’re guessing it was given to him for his confirmation in the Lutheran Church.

Gads, but it looked rough.

Tracie let me bring this relic home, and I called Mike Slicker’s Lighthouse Books. Mike is my go-to resource for all things old-bookish. Mike’s daughter referred me to Griffin Bookbinding, and David Barry.

I was much encouraged by the way David examined it but I expected the man to tell me the book was too badly damaged for any meaningful restoration.

Not so! He said he’d have it back to me in four weeks, at a price that didn’t make me want to die.

He called me two weeks later and said it was ready. Ready? It was beautiful:

I hadn’t realized the pages were gilt-edged. David restitched the pages to the cover, restored the leather, revealed some beautiful tooled engraving, and lo! Grandpa’s name had been printed in gold leaf, not simply pressed into the leather. David even made pages whole that had been eaten away by time and the occasional hungry vermin.

I’m going to debut the book this Sunday, at the Lutheran Church in Starke, when I go back to show my sister David’s wonderful handiwork.

What a treasure!
Hugs and laughter,

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Plan your visit to Florida Antiquarian Book Fair

Have you been to the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair? What advice would you give newcomers? Leave your comments below on the blog or give us your thoughts on Facebook.

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At the Book Fair: 1740 Stonehenge first edition

Yeoman's in the Fork is a rare book and document gallery located in historic Leiper's Fork, Tennessee. "The small town bookshop with uptown books" will be exhibiting at the 30th Annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

One of the more unusual item in the Yoeman's collection is a 1740 first edition of Stonehenge by William Stukeley, M.D. It was published by W. Innys and R. Manby in 1740.

Stukeley is remembered as one of the most important figures in early archaeology.  This is a monumental work about Stonehenge by the man who first pioneered its archaeological investigation.

 The volume has a contemporary calf leather spine with later leather spine exhibiting raised bands and gilt ornamentation and red leather spine label.  It is illustrated with 35 engraved plates, and all of its fold-outs are present.

The volume is in good condition overall, with light foxing inside and some rubbing & scuffing to the boards.

Yeoman’s has a wide variety of rare books, documents, maps, and ephemera. Yeoman’s shares the collector’s passion, along with helping educate those new to collecting rare books and documents.