Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Flamingo Eventz
NEW YORK CITY – Two shows, one day, same building – that is what a collector likes to hear. Such is the allure that Tina and John Bruno have stoked in their eighth edition of the Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair and Fine Press Book Fair that took place on Saturday, February 11, during Rare Book Week in Manhattan. The satellite show featured 87 dealers exhibiting everything from traditional antique books, ephemera, autographs and photography to ultra-low-edition fine press books of prose and poetry from contemporary makers and writers.
For John Bruno, the joy in managing this show is in the connections that are made between dealers and collectors. “Because it’s in the city,” said Bruno, “You have the best people-watching on the planet. You have seriously dedicated people who are anxious on both sides of the fence, both selling and buying. It’s a very educated audience, people who know what’s good from what’s junk and to see them all smiling and having fun doing what they know best is exciting. It’s rewarding that we brought the best customers and the best sellers together. You go to sleep at night feeling good about it.”
“We had a lot of new faces this year,” said Bruno. The show continues to build traction with a 20 percent attendance increase from last year and many of the dealers reporting solid sales and new clients. Located at the Church of St Vincent Ferrer on East 65th Street, the show has terrific proximity to the ABAA show, conducted a short two blocks at the Park Avenue Armory.
The Brunos run a traditional dual-pronged show with compounding overlap. Both fairs draw in their respected clientele, but many of the buyers are interested in everything the medium has to offer, whether it is an old document or a newly crafted piece of prose. “We had over 200 people standing on line waiting to come in. We do it old school; I refuse to sell early tickets or have early buying. Everyone has an equal chance to get in and buy.”
Jerry N. Showalter, Bookseller, Ivy, Va., reported solid sales and a constant stream of interest throughout the day. The dealer brought along Nineteenth and Twentieth Century English and American literature, some good travel accounts, a set of Cook’s travels, a set of Humboldt’s explorations, as well as a first edition copy of Emma by Jane Austen. “All of those sold successfully,” said Showalter.
While the public shows a keen interest in this event, the trade loves to come in and buy.
“Many of the ABAA dealers know to check out my booth. When the show opened, it was really quite a feeding frenzy,” said Showalter. “I think other dealers were looking on in horror because they all stopped at me first, I was right inside the door.”
Karen and Albert Williams from Way Beyond Vintage, Hempstead, N.Y., found success in their first time selling at the show. The dealers brought along art, art books and other titles that seemed to find interest among dealers and collectors alike.
“A lot of the folks that came through were from across the water,” said Karen Williams. “We sold a lot to people who do this solely for their living, they knew exactly what they were coming for.”
The dealers found buyers for regional works, old maps and tour books, as well as political volumes. Williams said, “We had a title called When Presidents Lie, which flew off the shelf immediately.”
From Williams’ perspective, the breadth of offerings is one of the main attractions of the show. “I love the variety of books, dealers and merchandise. The dealers take care to assemble and curate their booths. It was quite impressive.”
The fine press side of the show puts forth works from contemporary makers who showcase a wide variety of printing techniques, including wood engraving and cutting, letter press printing and illustration.
“It’s exciting for people to meet the person who has actually made the object, made the book,” said Mark McMurray of Caliban Press, Canton, N.Y. “It’s really a direct connection, you can talk to the person who made the art. It gives people an eye into the design, the printing process and the creation of the work.”
McMurray brought advanced proofs of his forthcoming work, a re-edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
“I’m emphasizing the text of it – we all know the plot and the characters. There’s some really fascinating writing in there. It’s sort of a dark book in many ways; my Christmas Carol will be more like Tim Burton’s.
The show plans to be back again next year in the same location during Rare Book Week. For more information, 603-509-2639 or www.flamingoeventz.com.