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article imageCalifornia Antiquarian Book Fair is among the largest of its kind Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Jan 28, 2015 in Entertainment
Oakland - For rare book collectors, print is not dead. In fact, it is growing as this year's California International Antiquarian Book Fair will be held at Oakland Marriott City Center from February 6 to 8. Coordinators like Michael Hackenberg are thrilled.
He explained that this year will be the first time the fair will be in Oakland instead of San Francisco. Sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), this new venue will allow the book fair even more room and accessibility. The Marriott Center is right at the 12th Street BART station.
Book dealers from over a dozen countries will attending the 48th California International Antiquaria...
Book dealers from over a dozen countries will attending the 48th California International Antiquarian Book Fair this February 6 to 8 at the Marriott City Center at 12 Street in Oakland.
Courtesy of CA Antiquarian Book Fair
When the San Francisco Concourse on 8th Street closed in 2013, book fair organizers realized it was time to find a new venue. "Some people were not sure if Oakland would be a good place. But the venue we have found at City Center is ideal." The convenience of the BART system, the nearness to Jack London Square and historic downtown Oakland all help bring more people to the three-day event. Hackenberg mentioned that 185 book dealers from all over the United States, and over a dozen countries will be at the event. Some are coming to the event from as far away as Australia, Russia, and Hungary. This year marks the 48th California International Antiquarian Book Fair, which annually alternates between Northern and Southern California.
"It's three days, an entire weekend of all sorts of books, rare books mostly," he said. The fair will even include such early printed books as "incunabula." "So, that would be around 1450, the time when the Gutenberg press was invented, until 1501," said Hackenberg.
Each year the fair offers many rare books or unusual items, like a 19th century illustrated guide to flower arranging. Or, as for this year, a church hymnal from Hawaii published in 1843. "It is extremely rare, noted Hackenberg because it was actually made in Hawaii at the time. And, that was extremely difficult given the fact that at that time Hawaii was very isolated and did not have much access to paper, printing presses, book binding, etc."
Book items featured and up for sale can be anything in subject from the very mundane to the exotic. "Ephemera is also included," he said. This reporter just had to ask, "ephemera?" "Those are items, printed items that are fragile, like posters, flyers, playbills and alike. Visitors can spend hours just going through all of that stuff. It really is like a 'kitchen sink' approach to collecting," he said.
Naturgemählde: A 3-D German’s Children’s Book from 1827  Leopold Chimani  Booth 302  $12 000
Naturgemählde: A 3-D German’s Children’s Book from 1827, Leopold Chimani, Booth 302, $12,000
Courtesy of Simon Beattie, Ltd.,
Yet, he pointed out that while other "memorabilia" type items are included, such as (for this year) a lock of composer Franz Liszt's hair from 1884, most ephemera involve small manuscript or printed materials on paper.
Thanks to a devoted student and fan  a Lock of Franz Liszt’s Hair from 1884 is among the finds at ...
Thanks to a devoted student and fan, a Lock of Franz Liszt’s Hair from 1884 is among the finds at the book fair. Courtesy Schubertiade Music & Arts, Booth 106, $12,000
Courtesy of Schubertiade Music & Arts,
"They are usually anything printed in minor format."
Handwritten letters are included, usually as in the case of that lock of hair, from Carl Lachmund, a student of Liszt. He snipped a bit of hair from the legendary composer as a keepsake. Diaries, logs can also be a collectable, especially if from notable celebrities or historical figures.
And speaking of historical figures, Hackenberg mentioned a special lecture during the fair on Jack London as photographer, given by Sara S. "Sue" Hodson of the Huntington Library in southern California. This will be an illustrated discussion of the lesser-known photographic works of this Bay Area and most American of adventure writers and social critics. Hodson will also be signing copies of her recent book on London's photography. There will also be additional lectures and seminars on rare book topics and book collecting by other librarians and ABAA booksellers throughout the three-day event.
One of the fine examples of books as art is The Heritage Edition of the St. John’s Bible  Booth 80...
One of the fine examples of books as art is The Heritage Edition of the St. John’s Bible, Booth 800, ($165,000)
Courtesy of The Heritage Book Shop
"At each book fair we like to highlight the special collections of a Bay Area research library", said Hackenberg. This year's exhibit of rare books and manuscripts will come from the F. W. Olin Library at Mills College in Oakland, which will display rare items from its dance and music collections, fine press books and artistic bindings, early books printed by women, and important material out of the Albert M. Bender Papers documenting the lively art and literary scene of the Bay Area during the 1920s and 1930s. "It is quite extraordinary and we are quite pleased that this year's book fair will be in Oakland," said Janice Braun, Associate Library Director and Special Collections Curator at Mills.
And, as Hackenberg pointed out (with no disrespect to San Francisco), "Oakland has a lot of history and is as much a landmark and a destination as San Francisco."
In addition to the Mills College exhibit, and other items mentioned, there will be so much to see, it is not easy to tally.
Overdue Bar Tab Invoice for Jimi Hendrix  1969
Courtesy Schubertiade Music & Arts LLC  Booth 106   $...
Overdue Bar Tab Invoice for Jimi Hendrix, 1969 Courtesy Schubertiade Music & Arts LLC, Booth 106, $1,200
Courtesy of Schubertiade Music & Arts
"At these events, said Hackenberg it is really hard to say what will turn up." Rare books of course. But exactly as to what type and how many and in what condition they will be in? It is anyone's guess. "There really are no set collectors items as to 'what's hot' and most popular. It all varies," said Hackenberg. But one thing is certain, deals and rare finds abound as well as astound.
When asked if the digital revolution has impacted rare books, Hackenberg said, "no! Not like it has with contemporary books and publishing. Much of what is at the book fair is like art. It is something rare, one-of-a-kind and hard to find."
"Anyone can spend all three days here and still not have seen everything." Hackenberg emphasized, "this is not an auction or a garage sale. What is presented are priced items by the book dealers themselves." "This event is something not to be missed, especially by those people who love books."
For more information about the 48th California International Antiquarian Book Fair visit the web site.
More about Antiquarian Book Fair, Oakland, Collectables, California
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