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Trip to the 2015 New York Antiquarian Book Fair

April 21, 2015 by Erin Fletcher

On April 10th, I took the train down to New York City for the annual Antiquarian Book Fair and shadow show put on by the Fine Press Book Association. I spent the weekend ogling over a delightful selection of fine bindings, artist books and finely pressed editions amongst a sea of rare objects and books. I wanted to highlight a few of the gems that I saw, which there were many.

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My first stop was at the shadow show, where I am afraid I was less of spectator (I only captured two images from this event). My first stop was at the Two Ponds Press table where I had a wonderful conversation with co-found Liv Rockefeller and browsed through some Gehanna Press editions and Gray Parrot bindings.

Next, I stopped at the table of book artist Sue Higgins Leopard of Leopard Studio Editions, whose work is pictured above. We discussed the concepts behind a few of her pieces on display. After browsing through the selection of large-scale artist books on the Booklyn table, I made a point to chat with David Esslemont on his current projects. My next notable stops were with two highly accomplished and exquisite printers: Russell Maret and Gaylord Schanilec of Midnight Paper Sales. Gaylord was quite gracious with his time and walked me through this latest and most elaborate printed accomplishment, Lac Das Pleurs. It was such a pleasure to examine each print through his eyes as he pointed out subtle details, such as how each scale of one particular fish were drawn individually to capture the unique qualities of nature.

Before leaving, I stopped by Abby Schoolman’s booth and met bookbinder Christine Giard, whose work was on display. It was such a treat to speak with her not only about her binding training, but discuss the techniques employed in her work. My goal is to get her interviewed on the blog sometime this year (Christine gladly accepted!).

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From the Lux Mentis booth: left: Russell Maret’s Interstices & Intersections | right: a book from Nancy Loeber

I spent one and a half days exploring the Antiquarian Book Fair, which was held at the Park Avenue Armory. As a former storage space for weaponry and tanks, the room was massive and has been transformed for several types of events and art installations. My first stop was at the Lux Mentis booth run by Ian Kahn. He always has delightfully strange and unique items on display, such as the work of Diane Jacobs and some fellow colleagues of mine Colin Urbina and Gabby Cooksey.

As I wondered through the aisles, I stumbled upon one embroidered binding after another. If you are regular to the blog, you know my fascination with historical embroidered bindings and creating my own. So it was pure enjoyment to see such a pristine collection of historical embroidered bindings from England and France.

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The three embroidered bindings shown above range from 17th to 18th century and were found at the  Librairie Camille Sourget booth, a dealer from France. Click on the image to see the detail of the embroidery work.

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Over at the Musinsky Rare Books booth were three really beautiful examples of embroidered French pocket Almanacs. I choose to include my two favorites. The example on the left has a great example of couched ribbon creating a bold border. The example on the right is bound in a luscious pink silk with painted appliqué pieces that build up the central design and dots. These pieces were in such wonderful condition, I don’t think they were carried around too often.

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At the very end of the fair, my eye caught this shelf of embroidered bindings. Unfortunately, in my haste I neglected to note anything about the bindings or the dealer who was exhibiting them.

In addition to embroidered bindings, I like to search out design bindings and binders whose name or work I recognize. One binder that popped up again and again was Brother Edgard Claes. The two books in the image below seem like they were made on two different planets, yet the bindings are actually very similar. The book on the left was spotted at the Sophie Schneideman Rare Books booth and is an example of one of Claes’ Dorfner bindings. The covers are wood veneer with delicate marquetry and hand painted elements.

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The book on the right was found in the Bromer Booksellers booth. It was one of three bindings by Claes they had on display. This binding of erotica is an example of Claes’ polycarbonate bindings. The color palette is inspired by the original cover which has been included in the text block.

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One binder commonly found at Antiquarian Fairs is Pierre Legrain. The binding above was found at the booth of Dr. A. Flühmann of Switzerland. I took a photograph of this particular binding because it reads so differently from his other highly geometrical designs. The emphasis on typography really grabbed me.

I truly had a wonderful experience at the book fairs in New York City. I ran into familiar faces and met many wonderful artist, publishers and dealers. I’ll finish off this post with a charming engraved tunnel book discovered at one of the booths.

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1 Comment »

  1. What an amazing show! It sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for sharing your favorite pieces!

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    My name is Erin Fletcher, owner and bookbinder of Herringbone Bindery in Boston. Flash of the Hand is a space where I share my process and inspirations.
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