Published: March 27, 2018
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy of Show Dealers
NEW YORK CITY – It is known among the trade as the “Shadow Show.” Tina and John Bruno of Flamingo Eventz stage a well-stocked and -attended event in the lower level of the Church of St Vincent Ferrer on Lexington Avenue, just across from the Park Avenue Armory on the Saturday during the run of the International Antiquarian Book Fair.
It is a savvy move as bibliophiles, dealers, collectors, scholars, students and decorators stream into Manhattan during what is unofficially known as “Book Week,” on the prowl for rare books, maps, illuminated manuscripts, historical documents and more. “A few years ago we moved the show uptown, directly across the street from the Park Avenue Armory to the Church of St Vincent Ferrer, and everyone agreed this was the smart move. We were pleased to be returning to St Vincent’s again this year with another exciting field of exceptional exhibitors,” Tina Bruno said.
This show’s shadow has grown steadily since its inception in 2009, and it presents some of the finest vintage and antiquarian book and ephemera dealers in America, Canada and Europe – many of whom are members of professional antiquarian books and ephemera groups – all gathered together in one venue. In 2014 the Brunos added fine press book dealers for another collecting dimension.
Designed to complement the armory fair, Flamingo’s Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair attracts professional vintage book and ephemera dealers from throughout the United States, Canada and Europe who present the best in not only rare and unusual books but also a wide range of poetry, prose, political and social commentary, historical manuscripts, children’s books, maps, autographs, prints, posters and more. “We encourage them to bring their most esoteric material,” said Tina Bruno of the approximately 70 dealers set up in booth spaces, some of which wrap around the church’s massive pillars. On the right, visitors find approximately 40 fine press dealers and in the big room are 30 or so antiquarian dealers.
On March 10, these included Ric Zank and Daniel Meunier, booksellers whose business, Blue Mountain Books & Manuscripts, is based in Cadyville, N.Y. One of the items they brought was an imperial cabinet photograph of Puccini, inscribed, signed and dated by the great Italian opera composer, in Torre Del Lago, March 6, 1899. An original screenplay for Just to Be Together by Michelangelo Antonioni and Rudy Wurlitzer comprised ten original drafts that offered insight into the development of their screenplay. Also, a rare Newbury, Vt., imprint, A Token for Mourners, Or, The Advice of Christ to a Distressed Mother, bewailing the death of her dear and only Son… by John Flavel, 1796, was on offer by the dealers.
“The show was quite lively and our sales exceeded expectations,” said Zank. “Two of the more interesting items that we sold related to Indochina, including Vietnam. We sold a collection of White House photos from the 1972 visit of Spiro Agnew to Japan and war-torn Vietnam. One of our better sales was a 1682 book by a missionary to Tonkin [Northern Vietnam] describing the laws, customs and religion of the population.”
“Small show with powerful buyers!” enthused John Spencer of Riverow Bookshop, Owego, N.Y., “All you need is exciting, fairly priced material!” Among the treasures he brought to the show was an original oil painting on board of a pair of ring-necked pheasants signed by Edgar Burke, 1929. It measured 9 by 14 inches.
Kevin Kinley is the owner of First Place Books,Walkersville, Md., specializing in American, British and Irish first editions. His bookshop deals primarily in the genres of literature, mystery and nautical/adventure fiction, although his interest broadens to antiquarian books, children’s books and fine bindings. Choice titles he was showing here included Zora Neale Hursten’s Mules And Men. London: Kegan Paul, 1936, a first UK edition with original deep red cloth binding and gilt lettering on the spine. “It’s a complete and lovely example of the dust jacket with art by Miguel Covarubbias,” said Kinley. Hurston made two trips to the South focused on gathering African American stories and folklore before they disappeared, and this book is a deeply personal collection.
Another gem shown by Kinley was P.G. Wodehouse’s Carry On, Jeeves! New York: George H. Doran Company, 1927, first American edition, consisting of ten related stories featuring the incomparable Jeeves.
“My experience at the fair was very positive,” said Kinley following the event. “The crowds were excellent throughout. My sales were evenly split between dealers from the Park Avenue ABAA fair and regular returning customers. I sold more books than normal but most at lower prices.”
From the fine press book portion of the show, Russel Maret, a type designer and private press printer working in New York City, showcased his own “Tobacco Shop,” a photo-etching from the forthcoming book, Character Traits; Gaylord Schanilec’s “Sacred,” printed from sacred sweet grass, cedar, sage and tobacco plant and from the forthcoming book, My Mighty Journey; Alice Austin’s “Whelk Egg Case,” a linoleum cut from the book To the Ocean; and David Esslemont’s “Amish Paste Heirloom Tomatoes,” a linoleum cut from the book Pizza from Scratch.
The gate, said Bruno, was a steady, consistent flow after the initial bedlam of the 8 am opening and it continued until about a half an hour before the show closed. “John and I are very pleased to report that our dealers are extremely happy with their sales, the close proximity to the main ABAA fair, and the ease of setting up at our ‘Shadow Show,'” said Bruno. “This show is a special event in the book world and we are proud to be a part of it by presenting exceptional dealers from the vintage, antiquarian and fine press worlds.”
She and John were already planning the spring edition of their Paper Town vintage paper, book and advertising collectibles show in Boxborough, Mass., on March 31. For additional information, www.flamingoeventz.com or 603-509-2639.
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