For bibliophiles who prefer the worn pages of a historical tome to football, the 55th California International Antiquarian Book Fair is the perfect place to be this Super Bowl weekend. The event will host over 120 booksellers and exhibitors hailing from four continents: North and South America, Europe and Asia.
Los Angeles’ first major book fair of 2023, organized by The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (AABA), will take place at the Pasadena Convention Center from Friday, Feb. 10, to Sunday, Feb. 12. On Saturday, Feb. 11, there will be a panel discussion about collecting led by journalist and author Pat Morrison. The AABA hosts three annual book fairs in three different states: Massachusetts, New York, and California.
Seasoned collectors and novice hobbyists alike can browse through manuscripts, first editions, ephemera, maps, children’s books, autographs and antiquarian books in a vast array of fields from travel and exploration, literature classics, modern first editions, early science and medicine, photography and more; prices range from a few dollars to six figures.
In addition to the rare books and collectibles sold, this year’s fair includes a diverse mix of special collection exhibitions, including: “Helen Brown: Bibliophile and Champion of West Coast Cuisine,” “The Game’s Afoot: Collecting Sherlock Holmes,” “What the Hell is Ukulele Literature?” and “Pushing the Envelope: Southern California Women Bookmakers.” Materials for the exhibits are curated by collectors featuring personal collections.
Various clubs and organizations dedicated to the art of bookbinding and collecting will also be in attendance, like the Society for Calligraphy, The International Printing Museum, The Miniature Book Society, Archetype Press and The Book Club of California.
Greg Krisilas, California International Antiquarian Book Fair chair, will also have a booth selling signed presidential books, ephemera related to presidential funerals, and fine press works with woodblock prints and graphic art.
“Books are tangible,” Krisilas reflected on what drew him to the field. “You can touch them. You can smell them. … Old books have their old musty smell, and the manufacturing of a book is very artistic … like the whole process. … It’s a three-dimensional artwork for me.”
This year’s California Young Book Collector Prize, which awards creative collections assembled by young collectors, will be awarded to Whitney Milam for her collection, “Dueling Public Narratives of Byron and Shelley.” Krisilas likened an excellent collection to a painting.
“Just like a painting has a frame around it, a collection needs a frame around it too,” he said.
Although the fair will feature centuries-old books, Americana, Mark Twain and Shakespeare related printings, art books, lithography, sketches and manuscripts, there will also be modern memorabilia.
This will include modern-first (the 1920s onward) collectibles. Featured will be a James Bond memorabilia collection consisting of 119 items, including screenplays, costume designs, and storyboards, which will be on sale for $450,000.
New hobbyists are always welcome, especially from younger generations, who might be more interested in zines, collectibles from 20th-century social movements like women’s suffrage and the Black Power movement, and LGBTQ and Latino material.
Although there is an entrance fee, students and children 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. Librarians, curators and nonprofit cultural institution workers who register in advance with a valid organizational email will also receive free admission. Revenue from opening night ticket sales will go toward The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens and can be shown for $10 off admission to The Huntington during February.
55th California International Antiquarian Book Fair
WHEN: 3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12
WHERE: Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena
COST: $10 to $25