Boston Antiquarian Book Fair Celebrates 40 Years
The books are back.
The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair celebrates its 40th anniversary this weekend. This year, free admission is available for Saturday and Sunday, a first time occurrence for the fair. Visitors can see rarities like first editions of works by James Baldwin, Jonathan Swift, Stephen King, Toni Morrison, Lewis Carroll, and Sylvia Plath.
More than 120 dealers will exhibit and sell works in more than eight languages all weekend. Some must-see items include a scorecard for the 1915 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, Hyakumanto Dharani, a wooden pagoda shaped container with a printed Dharani Buddhist charm inside from East Asian high culture that dates back 1250 years, and a 1976 illustrated Japanese version of Don Quixote signed by artists Keisuke Serizawa and Shinpan Ehon Don Kihoute.
But if you’re not quite an expert at antiquarian book collecting, the festival has something for you, too. There will be a discovery session Saturday at 1:00 p.m., with experts sharing advice on the best way to start a collection. Booths will also have discovery items, under $100, to help begin collecting.
“We really like to get younger people in because that’s who’s going to be collecting in 20-30 years,” Ken Gloss, owner of the Brattle Book Shop and organizer of the fair, said.
Gloss said if you’re new to the fair to not be afraid to ask questions, look at what catches your eye, and beware of your budget.
“If someone is absolutely new to the show, I would advise they walk into the show and walk up and down the aisles, maybe grab a notebook and pen,” Gloss said. “Take the whole thing in and spend extra time on the things that catch your eye.”
If some of these collectibles are outside of your budget, make sure to take home a poem by the Typewriter Rodeo. Think of a subject, and this Texas-based group of writers and performers will whip out a custom poem, for free.
“A lot of our poems are immediate connections with the person that is in front of us right then,” Sean Petrie, a Typewriter Rodeo poet, said. “The best way to describe it is this really strong connection you have with a total stranger for five minutes and then it’s gone. You create this physical thing and give it to the person.”
Since its founding in 2013, Typewriter Rodeo has written at hundreds of events including weddings, parties, and festivals. Last month, the crew visited Boston and wrote a poem for Mayor Marty Walsh. His poem topic: Boston, of course. City Councilor Michelle Wu also snagged herself a poem entitled “Battle of the Bed.”
“We get so many different topics, from Minecraft to heartbreak to really heavy things,” Petrie said. “All of us have different life experiences that help us with this.”
Petrie has even written numerous poems about relationships. “I’ve had two separate times that I’ve had people write a breakup poem that they can give to their partner,” Petrie said.
The Typewriter Rodeo will be available for custom poems Saturday from 2-5 p.m.
But poetry isn’t the only way lyrics will be featured at the fair. In honor of the anniversary, the fair will present a special exhibition, “Collecting the Boston Music Scene: 1976-2016.” David Bieber, formerly of WBCN and the Phoenix Media Group, has captured Boston’s spirited music scene through posters, albums, and one of a kind pieces.
“With this show I want to pay tribute to Boston music and acknowledge the many performers who have made the city a significant contributor to music history,” Bieber said in a press release. “Coinciding with the 40th Anniversary of the Book Fair, this exhibition will uniquely place these selections from my collection within a broader historical context.”
The items featured at the fair are only a small selection of Bieber’s collection. Additional rock-’n-roll memorabilia from his archives is displayed in the lobby of the Verb Hotel.
Don’t forget to bring in pieces from your own collection for free appraisals offered at the fair. Experts will be available Sunday from 1-3 p.m. to determine the value of your items. Gloss said there will be between three and five exhibitors available to appraise items.
You can preview the fair Friday evening for $20. Tickets are available for purchase online or at the show’s box office during Friday evening show hours. A portion of ticket sales will benefit the Boston Public Library and the American Antiquarian Society.
$20 Friday, free Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 28-30, 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday, noon-7 p.m. Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston, bostonbookfair.com.