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Melbourne - Hong Kong - Stuttgart - Ludwigsburg - San Francisco - Hobart - Six Rare Book Fairs All Around the World

In April 2011 the first issue of BookFare has been released. ANZAAB's new electronic newsletter, edited by Jörn Harbeck, informs about everything you need to know about the antiquarian book trade in Australia with articles on new books about books such as Stuart Kells' fascinating biography of Muriel and Kay Craddock Rare: A Life Among Antiquarian Books, catalogue announcements, a book fair and auction calendar as well as a very special review of the book fair season 2010/2011 written by ANZAAB members who have been busy participating in and visiting many book fairs in Australia and overseas.

Published on 21 Feb. 2018

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A Review by Paul Feain, Jörn Harbeck, Douglas Stewart and Barbara Hince


In April 2011 the first issue of BookFare has been released. ANZAAB’s new electronic newsletter, edited by Jörn Harbeck, informs about everything you need to know about the antiquarian book trade in Australia with articles on new books about books such as Stuart Kells’ fascinating biography of Muriel and Kay Craddock Rare: A Life Among Antiquarian Books, catalogue announcements, a book fair and auction calendar as well as a very special review of the book fair season 2010/2011 written by ANZAAB members who have been busy participating in and visiting many book fairs in Australia and overseas.

If you want to subscribe to BookFare just send an email to the editor.

Melbourne 2010


By Paul Feain


The Australian Antiquarian Book Fair 2010 was held in Melbourne’s Malvern Town Hall from 23 – 25 November. Despite being a mid-week the attendance at the fair was very good. ANZAAB donated $1 from the sale every ticket to the Royal Melbourne Children’s Hospital Foundation to fund the development of the Neonatal Unit. The opening night reception was attended by 120 invited guests.

There were 37 participating dealers, including one prospective member from New Zealand. Most dealers reported very good sales and enjoyed meeting old and new customers.

This is what our lucky door prize winner had to say about the Melbourne fair:

“I still can't get over the fact that out of such a large attendance at the Fair, that I was the lucky person to win the prize of $500. It came in very handy as I bought a number of books over the two days. I put the door prize towards a number of purchases from Douglas Stewart Fine Books. Doug and his lovely "volunteers" were also the organisers of this fair, and I would very much like to thank them for a job well done. It was my first visit to a book fair, and it won't be the last. Well done all round.”

Hong Kong 2010


By Paul Feain


The fourth International Antiquarian Bookfair in Hong Kong was held from 3 - 5 December 2010 at Number 1 Pacific Place and it was very successful. There were 41 exhibitors from France, United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Italy, Spain, Sweden and of course Hong Kong. It was a truly international gathering.

Over 1,000 people attended the fair over the three days. And these visitors showed their appreciation of the material on offer by opening their wallets and making purchases. Many rare and beautiful historical books, documents, maps and posters were displayed for sale. There was a great variety of subjects covering all geographic areas of the world, with a particular emphasis on Asia and more especially Hong Kong and China. The material was mostly from the West and in Western languages with the majority being in English but French and German language material was also available, as were a smaller number of Chinese items.

Total sales at the fair exceeded $8,000,000. The most expensive item sold was a hand written letter from Chairman Mao. Decorative items such as posters and maps were popular as well as ancient books with colour plates, especially those with a Chinese theme.

The customers at the fair came from mainland China, from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia as well as Australia and Europe. There was an equal mixture of both local and expatriate customers.

The fair was considered by most exhibitors to be very successful and many have already signed up to attend the event which will be held on the first weekend of December 2011.

Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg 2011


By Jörn Harbeck


How does a rare book fair held within the grounds of a Royal Palace sound to you? To experience such a fair, you will have to travel to Stuttgart in Germany where the German Association of Antiquarian Booksellers has been holding its annual fair for 50 years. This is just what I did on a cold and snowy winter’s day earlier this year. The Stuttgart fair is always on during the last weekend of January and is held at the Art Society headquarters next to the old Royal Palace. This year there were 78 participating dealers, 56 from Germany and 22 from other European countries and the USA.

Stuttgart is Germany’s premier antiquarian fair and dealers bring the very best rare books, maps, prints and manuscripts. The opening night was very busy with some items attracting a lot of interest. For example, an original manuscript by the composer Hector Berlioz that had been advertised in the fair catalogue was coveted by several potential buyers. The German fairs are unusual in that items from the catalogue can not be snapped up immediately after the opening of the fair. In fact they can not be sold within the first hour. If more than one person expresses an interest in an item from the fair catalogue in that first hour, then tickets are drawn to determine who will be the lucky buyer!

The Ludwigsburg Antiquarian Book Fair has been running concurrently with Stuttgart for 25 years now. Ludwigsburg is only 15 kilometres from Stuttgart and can be easily reached by train. The Ludwigsburg fair is held at the local Music Hall and opens a day before the Stuttgart fair. The organisers of the two fairs have been cooperating for a number of years now. There were 56 participating dealers in Ludwigsburg, offering a wide range of very good material.

I was particularly keen on one item in the Ludwigsburg fair catalogue. Imagine how nervous I was when I heard that someone else had also registered their interest in it. When the moment arrived to draw our tickets I drew the number 117 from the box. I quickly looked over to my rival. As he unrolled his piece of paper I read the number 87 on it, and sighed a sigh of relief.

San Francisco 2011


By Douglas Stewart


Five members of ANZAAB exhibited at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair this February: Antipodean Books, Maps & Prints (Garrison, U.S.A.); Asia Bookroom (Canberra); Cornstalk Bookshop (Sydney); Douglas Stewart Fine Books (Melbourne) and Hordern House (Sydney). This was one of the strongest Australian delegations to California in recent years, to the largest rare bookfair in the world, where over 220 booksellers were exhibiting. All the Australian exhibitors produced lists or catalogues for the fair, showcasing a wide variety of previously unseen treasures within their specialisations.

The size of the California fair means that a wide range of antiquarian material is traded, in pretty much every collecting area, from ephemera to illuminated manuscripts. Prices range from $5 to $5 million, but of course most material is priced within the reach of the more modest collector (and dealer!). Some impressive offerings sighted for sale include a copy of the Columbus Letter of the First Voyage from 1493; Marc Chagall’s illustrated edition of La Fontaine of 1952 with 100 hand coloured etchings; and a very rare coloured copy of d’Entrecasteaux’ atlas of 1808 which belonged to Admiral Decres, French Naval Minister under Napoleon. All commanded serious price tags, from serious international dealers. However several dozen booths of local California dealers were able to stock books, broadsides, catalogues, prints and ephemera priced $25 - $250 which allowed many happy customers to take home a new prize.

Much like how the annual ANZAAB fair is shared between Melbourne and Sydney, California alternates between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with the 2012 fair being held in Pasadena from 10 – 12 February. Quite a few Australian book collectors were seen in attendance in San Francisco and the dedicated stalwarts should note the dates for next year. Flights to Los Angeles from the east coast start from $1100 and if the Australian dollar remains strong we may see more Australians cross the Pacific in search of rare books.

Hobart 2011


By Barbara Hince


The Long Gallery at Salamanca Arts Centre, a beautiful converted colonial warehouse and jam factory, was the venue for February’s Hobart Book Fair, the first in the city. Organised by Barbara Hince and Michael Sprod, the fair was held on Saturday and Sunday 12th and 13th February. The biennial Wooden Boat Festival and the annual Hobart Regatta on the same (long) weekend attracted thousands of visitors and created a festival atmosphere around the Hobart waterfront. Hobart’s sometimes fickle weather behaved itself and the city was bathed in the warm and sunny conditions typical of the late Tasmanian summer.

The twenty-one booksellers at the fair included eight from Tasmania itself, with the balance coming from Sydney, Melbourne, country Victoria, and Perth.

On Friday night Tony Marshall, Ian Morrison and Marian Jameson, of the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office (part of the State Library of Tasmania), hosted a reception at the Allport Museum of Fine Arts. The booksellers enjoyed hearing about notable association copies and treasures from the collections, and were let loose on the Allport bookcases.

A wide range of secondhand and vintage books, prints and ephemera was exhibited at the book fair. There was a strong display of Tasmanian material, naturally, as well as maritime, military, art, Australiana, bindings, children’s books, classical Egypt, literature and first editions. Some of the highlights were a Bible presented to an early VDL family by the colonial chaplain Rev. Robert Knopwood at Hobart Town in 1809, first editions of the 19th century works on the Tasmanian Aborigines by Ling Roth, Calder and Bonwick, Burford’s 1831 panorama of Hobart Town, 1880s Hobart Regatta programs printed on silk, and a large Errol Flynn film poster.

The fair was very well attended, and most of the booksellers were happy with their sales. Most expressed an interest in returning for the next fair, which is planned for the same weekend in 2013.

The article was published in BookFare April 2011/1 and is presented here by permission of the authors and editor.

>>> BookFare April 2011/1

>>> Subscribe and receive BookFare!

>>> Muriel and Kay Craddock Rare: A Life Among Antiquarian Books

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