San Francisco Book Fair

It’s time again for the largest antiquarian book fair in the world.  It takes place every February in California, alternating between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  This year the 46th International Antiquarian Book Fair will take place Feb. 15-17 at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco.  It is sponsored by the Antiquarian Bookseller’s Association of America (ABAA), the oldest trade association of booksellers in this country in which members answer to a higher code of ethics and business practices.  Only ABAA members and those who belong to its European equivalent, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB), can exhibit.  More than 220 dealers from the United States and all over the world will participate, offering rare books, manuscripts, maps, incunabula, fine bindings, and ephemera, covering collecting interests such as illustrated books, children’s books, law, architecture, cookery, history, literature, Western Americana, and more.

Fair attendees will be able to see such diverse items for sale as John Lennon’s Erotic Sketches, a first edition of The Federalist Papers, a miniature Koran the size of a nickel, and Smith family copies of the Nauvoo Mormon newspaper, among literally thousands and thousands of items being offered for sale.

This year the fair will also offer both seminars and an exhibition of Asian materials created just for the fair.  This Asian exhibit features a sampling of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean imprints, manuscripts, graphics, and objects dating from the Eighth to the 20th Centuries from the rare book room of the C. V. Starr East Asian Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

Opening night of the fair is Friday, Feb. 15 from 3 to 8 p.m.

Saturday’s hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  In addition to the many dealers offering rarities for sale, there will also be other special features.  Nick Wilding will speak Saturday at 1 p.m.  He is a Galileo expert, talking about his research into recent Galileo forgeries.  He will discuss the role technology played in both producing and detecting these forgeries.

Yuming He, author of Home and the World, a book on the printed works of the Ming Dynasty, will speak Saturday at 3 p.m.

The fair concludes Sunday, running from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  ABAA member Vic Zoschak will present his Book Collecting 101 at noon, discussing what to collect, collecting strategies, how to determine a first edition, how to judge a book’s condition.  He will also discuss book terms and jargon.  At 12:45 Zoschak will also talk on “What’s This Book Worth?”  As a follow up, the fair features what it calls Discover Day from 1:30 to 3 p.m. wherein interested parties can receive up to three book appraisals  —  for free.

Three-day admission tickets are available at or at the door Friday for $25.  Tickets are otherwise $15 and allow for free return.

James M. Dourgarian, Bookman will exhibit his books for sale in booth 411.  For a peek at some of the John Steinbeck material to be offered for sale, go to to see more Steinbeck and Steinbeckiana on-line than anywhere else on the planet.  Selected Steinbeck items to be offered at booth 411 include Steinbeck’s first book, Cup of Gold, in its rare original pirate dust jacket garishly illustrated by Mahlon Blaine, inscribed by Steinbeck to his sister.  It is one of the few close family items available for sale that have not yet been acquired by institutions.  Also to be offered at booth 411 is a review copy with review slip of Steinbeck’s masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath.  There are no other review copies of this book for sale anywhere.  Other Steinbeck items include an immaculate copy of the signed/limited edition of East of Eden which is usually found in less than pristine condition.  Booth 411 will also offer books by other authors of the West such as Wallace Stegner, including an inscribed copy of his very scarce Fire and Ice in dust jacket, Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, and Robinson Jeffers.  Other featured books include a Tarzan book inscribed by Edgar Rice Burroughs and a signed/limited edition of a book by Barry Goldwater published long before he became a U. S. senator and ran for president.  The book is the journal of a rafting expedition down the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1940.  This copy was an expedition member’s copy, complete with several b&w photos of the trip, including one of a very skinny (and bearded!) Barry Goldwater.  There will also be a number of books also not now listed on-line such as seven signed books authored by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez who might well be considered today’s greatest living writer.



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