By: Sheila Gibson Stoodley
One of the joys of attending a fair is encountering treasures you’ve never seen before, or items that reach the market only once in a lifetime. The 49th annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair, which takes place April 2–5 at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan and features 205 exhibitors, should deliver several such thrills. Ursus Books in Manhattan is excited about bringing Katsushika Hokusai’s One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, a classic set of monochrome ukiyo-e woodblock prints. William Wyer, a partner in the 36-year-old firm, says he has “never had it before, and I’ve wanted it for my whole career.” Its three volumes were published in 1834, 1835 and 1847, and though there were several subsequent printings, Wyer says, “none of them have what the first edition woodblocks have, which is unbelievable gradations of gray that leave you speechless.” Ursus has priced it at $58,500.
Biblioctopus, a Beverly Hills, Calif., bookseller, intends to bring a Shakespeare Fourth Folio (1685), but it’s not just any Fourth Folio. “Over the years, most copies have been damaged and repaired,” says proprietor Mark Hime. “This one has none of that. Every letter, every line is genuine. That’s what’s so unusual about this book.” Moreover, it was previously owned by Gene Tunney, the 1920s heavyweight boxing champion who beat Jack Dempsey twice. “He was very into Shakespeare,” says Hime of Tunney, who gave a lecture on the Bard at Yale in the 1950s. “I don’t know where he got it or who got it for him, but it was an extraordinary copy, even in his day.” Hime also plans to display a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s 1925 book of short stories In Our Time, which contains handwritten line edits from its author as well as two moderately rude poems on the endpapers. Hime has priced the book, which Hemingway inscribed to a close friend in February 1926, at $125,000.
Rodger Friedman, a dealer based in Tuxedo, N.Y., anticipates bringing Ragionamenti, a volume by Giorgio Vasari that was published posthumously in 1588. It discourses on, and decodes, the imagery in the frescoes that Vasari painted in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. “It is posed as a dialogue between the artist and one of the junior Medici strolling through the Palazzo,” says Friedman of the book, priced at $6,000, “with Vasari explaining the complex symbolic representations in the pictures and the historical and mythological references.”
Newer works will be available at the fair, as well. Priscilla Juvelis of Kennebunkport, Maine, will bring a copy of The Near Woods, an essay by Oregon-based nature writer Barry Lopez, which has a unique artistic binding by Donald Glaister, a Washington state bookbinder. Juvelis suggested to Glaister that he might find the essay, about spaces that are neither fully wild nor fully tamed, to his liking. He did, and transformed one of the 26 limited-edition copies published in 2006 by Pacific Editions into a $5,000 masterpiece.