Tag Archives: antiquarian books

It’s Always Sunny in Sacramento

Our main lady, the lovely Kate Mitas, reports on the recent Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. That’s not all… perhaps I should call it (for Tavistock Books, at least) the most recent and successful Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair. Stay tuned!

IMG_2801 (1)

By Kate Mitas

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m willing to bet that by now, if you’ve been following Tavistock’s less than stellar performance at the past three book fairs, you probably don’t really give a damn about the progress of this latest fair. All you really want to know is if we finally, finally managed to have a decent book fair, or if we’ve had to slink away with our tail between our legs yet again.

Now, if this were any other book fair, knowing that wouldn’t actually stop me from forcing you to sit through this entire blog, anyway, while I regaled you with comic misadventures and newbie impressions until, at the very last minute, revealing whether or not we’d succeeded. But just this once, I’ll spare you the suspense. 

Because this isn’t just any old book fair: at long last, and for the first time ever in my short antiquarian bookselling career, Tavistock Books actually had a good book fair.

Yeah, you read that right: we had a good book fair! We sold books! And we even made some money! Hurrah!

Well, that is to say, we mostly had a good book fair. And then again, we almost didn’t. Because, in fact, we nearly gave up before we began, and the good ship Tavistock, languishing in the doldrums for so long, seriously considered dropping out of the fair circuit altogether. 

See? There’s always a story to tell. 

So, for any who are still curious, procrastinating, or otherwise willing to fritter away a few more minutes of your time: here is your tale of book fair woe and triumph, as soberly and matter-of-factly told as I can manage right now.

Once upon a time, in a land rather a lot like this one, but slightly more drought-stricken, a wee lass of a bookseller-in-training traipsed off to Sacramento to work her first-ever booth at an antiquarian book fair. Let’s say, for the sake of this story, that it was a bright September afternoon in 2015, and that, although the hills and fields were brown and had been for some time, the sky was blue and cloudless and full of promise. This young bookseller and her not-so-young boss barreled up Interstate 80 in the shop’s trusty van, which was filled with what seemed like good candidates for a regional book fair: loads of Californiana and Western Americana, interesting ephemera, and, of course, helpings from some of the loveliest books in the shop’s specialties. The iron mesh door behind the front seats rattled quietly as they drove, and the side panels of the folded wooden bookcases in back occasionally let slip a muted clack whenever the van hit a bump. These sounds were oddly soothing to the young bookseller’s jangling nerves.

Our heroine was but five weeks into the antiquarian book trade, then, and ignorant of the sometimes cruel vagaries of the book fair circuit. She had high hopes for the shop’s success at the fair, though she kept them to herself, not wanting to jinx it. And yet, as perhaps a few of you may recall, those hopes were thoroughly quashed by the nearly unrelenting cacophony of crickets in the Tavistock booth that weekend. 

Three mournful, but plucky, blogs, two increasingly painful unsuccessful book fairs, and one wrecked van later, and the mood in the shop during the days leading up to this past weekend’s biannual Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair was decidedly grim. A kind of preliminary dread set in. There was talk of abandoning the fair circuit. All of our books looked crummy. Never mind that a second look might at them might steal our hearts all over again — no customer would want them. It rained all week, adding to the gloomy atmosphere. In short, we had the pre-fair blues.

Nevertheless, despairing naps and weeping under one’s desk are generally frowned upon at work, so, naturally, we went through the motions of packing and preparing. And while we were doing so, it occurred to me that if we kept on this way, we were definitely going to have another bad book fair. And I wasn’t having any of it, not this time.

“Hey, Vic,” I announced, “you know this is going to be my first successful book fair, right?” (This is true — you can ask him.)

The lucky title that perhaps played a hand in Tavistock Books' successful Sacramento fair! See it here>

The lucky title that perhaps played a hand in Tavistock Books’ successful Sacramento fair! See it here>

He seemed doubtful. And who can blame him? But instead of packing “The Dying Californian,” the songster that had served as my first Sacto fair’s sorry mascot, I decided to bring along our copy of Fred Fearnot and the Errand Boy; or, Bound to Make Money. Sure, maybe it was silly, but maybe it’d bring us a bit of much-needed luck, too. Plus, if things worked out, it’d make for a good blog title. “Kate Fearnot” has a certain ring to it, after all . . . 

Okay, if I’m honest, I can’t really take credit for the success that followed. Clouds continued to loom as we left the city, but the sun broke through around Vacaville. Thanks to Jim Kay’s tireless efforts, booth setup went smoothly, for the most part, and any flagging spirits were topped-up by free pizza in the afternoon. The company of what has become the usual crowd on the book-fair circuit was splendid, as always, and even Ms. P. (aka Margueritte Peterson) made an appearance, and may yet have room in her busy schedule for new clients for her social media/ catalogue design business. The crowd trickled in early Saturday morning, then grew quickly and remained steady throughout the day, and although not all of the booksellers I spoke with were happy, few seemed to regret having made the trek. At the Tavistock booth, we sold a range of material to both customers and dealers, ranging from a $9 children’s book (haggled down from $10 out of what, I’m sure, was merely compulsive bargaining) to considerably more expensive items, and everyone seemed happy with their purchases. Even the buying was pretty good for us.

Kate hasn't seen Vic so excited a book since she’s been here! He says he’s never seen a dedicated lending library binding! More details coming soon...

Kate hasn’t seen Vic so excited a book since she’s been here! He says he’s never seen a dedicated lending library binding! More details coming soon…

I wish I could say that it was a huge success, of course, making up for the preceding lackluster showings and then some. Certainly not enough to merit a Kate Fearnot blog title. Are they worth it then, these fairs? All that effort and agony, all the expense and risk just to gather, however briefly, with colleagues and book lovers of all stripes? Are they bonanzas, migratory communities, or refuges of a book trade that keeps losing physical stores? And what would we do, how would we swap knowledge and ideas and, it goes without saying, books, if we didn’t do book fairs?

Frankly, I don’t know the answers to these questions. What I do know is that I have a catalogue to get ready for next week, and a stack of cool things to catalogue for it, and a pile of fair items to finish putting away, and a tally sheet on my desk pointing out our modest profit, in black ink, for the first time. It feels an awful lot like being a bookseller.


Come to Pasadena, for There You’ll See…

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.00.04 AM

We are exhibiting at the Pasadena ABAA Fair! If you have a chance to come check out Booth 418 while you’re there (February 12th-14th at the Pasadena Convention Center), here are some of the goodies you can hope to find. See anything else on our site you’d be interested in perusing? Shoot us an email! We’d be happy to bring it down just for you.

Check out this 1st edition, inscribed copy of Clara Barton’s “Story of My Childhood” – published in 1907. Now housed in a custom red quarter-leather slipcase with marbled paper boards… As Barton is perhaps the most well-known nurse in American nursing history (organizing the American Red Cross and all), this is a must-have for any nursing collection! See it here>



Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.00.15 AMAn attractive, Near Fine set of Forster’s “The Life of Charles Dickens” – all first editions! Published between 1872 and 1874 by Chapman & Hall, these volumes are beautifully set in early 20th century three-quarter green morocco bindings and green cloth boards. Love Dickens? Look no further than here>






Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.00.50 AMFor the celebrity groupie in the Southern California crowd… we have a scarce cookery book published in 1936. “Favorite Recipes of Famous People” contains favorite recipes of, according to its compiler Felix Mendelsohn, “famous chefs and maitres, by stage folk and screen stars, by newspaper men, columnists, opera stars, musicians and leading household economists, in fact by glamorous personalities in every walk of life.” This cookery book only shows 4 holdings on OCLC! Get it while it’s hot>




Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 6.46.50 PMA book fair wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of library history! Have you seen our Catalogue of the Milford Library yet? This is a rare 19th C. catalogue from this small-town free library, formed in 1868. OCLC records no holdings of this edition (can you say “Score”?), noting only a sole holding of the library’s 1870 catalogue. The 3 page introduction provides a succinct history of earlier attempts at establishing local lending-library societies, etc. Interested? It is available to see here>




Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.04.45 AMThis Hardy Boys title, “The Short-Wave Mystery”, number 24 in the series, is in, according to Carpentieri’s reference, it’s “most collectible” format. This 3rd printing of the title has a frontis by Russell H. Tandy and is bound in maroon cloth with black topstain and pictorial endpapers. Colorful pictorial Dust Jacket is included! Are you a collector of children’s series books? Contact us – we can bring many! See “The Short-Wave Mystery” here>




Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 6.39.30 PMWho doesn’t love a good restaurant menu? Especially one where a big-mouth bass tells you to eat him! Check out this menu from New York’s McGinnis of Sheepshead Bay – “The Roast Beef King” (but also “Famous for Sea Food”). In 1943, a Roast Beef, Spinach and Mashed Potato dinner cost $1.45. Oh, the good old days… Drool & giggle here>


Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.05.13 AMAnd last but not least – our Fine Printing item! This broadside is a 1934 printing from San Francisco’s Grabhorn Press – one of only 100 copies. “To Albert Bender – Saint Patrick’s Night 1934” was written by Ella Young to Albert Maurice Bender, and has a woodcut headpiece by Valenti Angelo at the top. See it here! 


Unique? A List for June


A compelling word, and one that certainly can, and should, stand on its own, though frequently we find unnecessary modifiers employed to make the unique even more so, if such is at all possible…  more unique, highly unique, uniquely unique….  you get the drift.

So with this in mind then, and without modifying hyperbole, we issue this list for June, wherein each of the 60 items displays an aspect of uniqueness… whether by definition, inscription or perhaps being the only copy on the market.  As is our practice, the list is eclectic in nature-  from air to water, original art to original mss, from Nevada to Massachusetts.  Temporally, the items reach back to the 1770s, and continue on until the mid-20th C.  Prices range from $75 to $7500.

Winning Independence: An Illustrated Address Describing the “Parlor Profession”

Bryant_Winning_ProfessionNiles Bryant, the President & Founder of the Niles Bryant School of Piano Tuning, and enjoys some recognition in the music world for his 1906 publication, Tuning, Care and Repair of Reed and Pipe Organs, which was reissued in 1968 by Vestal Press. “Through the profession of piano tuning, I offer you indestructible resources, good fortune and permanent independence.” So Bryant opens this publication, which is a promotional piece for the profession of piano tuning, and even more specifically, the advantages of attending his school to learn the profession, as well as to puff his invention, “The Tune-a-Phone”. This publication is tot located on OCLC, nor found in the NUC. Details>>

Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Yates, and the Garrick Club Affair

Yates_Thackeray_Garrick_Club_AffairThe notorious quarrel between two of England’s most popular authors began with Yates’ critical review, in Town Talk, of Thackeray’s English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century. Thackeray, as might be expected, was a bit affronted at what he viewed as a slanderous insult by this fellow member of the Garrick Club; believing much of Yates’ information came from club meetings, he took his grievance to the club committee. The committee sided with Thackeray and instructed Yates to apologize. Yates refused and was forcibly barred from club premises, subsequently bringing charges against the club Secretary.

Charles Dickens, absent from London as this brouhaha was brewing, returned to find all in full force. He offered to mediate, though primarily siding with Yates, which Thackeray viewed as treachery. The ill feelings between the two did not abate for years, until shortly before Thackeray’s death in 1863. (More about the Garrick Club Affair>>)

Herein Yates recounts the history and evidence of the disagreement, with, not unexpectedly, a bias to his own case. This copy was presented to Edward Bradley, presumed to be the Victorian novelist, who wrote under the pen name Cuthbert M. Bede. Known in Wise facsimiles (cf Todd 425c), the first edition, as here, has been just twice at auction in the last 30+ years, the last being 1977. It’s a rare piece of Dickensiana; this is the first time we’ve ever been able to offer the item. Details>>

Willow Park Water Cure, and Hygienic Institute

On March 1, 1853, John Henry Hero established the Willow Park Water Cure, with himself as proprietor and attending physician, for the treatment of chronic diseases through the “water cure.” Treatments of Swedish movements, light gymnastics, Turkish baths, and inhalations were also employed, to considerable success–though this success did not come without a personal price; as Hero writes in this circular “Friends, it is no small matter, to be thirteen years, day and night, surrounded by sick, nervous, irritable people, demanding our care and sympathies.” Hero seeks a change, and it is to this latter Hero addresses himself in this circular’s holograph letter: “I intend to convert / my Institution into a School / for young Ladies.” Later in the year, Dr. Hero did found the Willow Park Seminary for young women “where the Physical as well as the Intellectual facilities [were] faithfully and equally attended to.” OCLC does not record this particular broadside, though two others are found, each in one copy only. Details>>


BF Keith’s Grand Educational Demonstration

BF_Keith_Grand_Educational_DemonstrationClaude Grahame-White was the Glamour Boy of early aviation, somewhat of a playboy, with no engineering background whatsoever, Grahame-White became enamored of flying when, in 1908, he saw the Wright’s demonstrate their invention to the French crowds at Camp d’Auvours. Within a relatively short time, self-taught, Grahame-White soloed without a formal lesson. He quickly made a name for himself as a dashing aviator. In 1910, JV Martin of the Harvard Aeronautical Society, invited him to compete in the first Boston-Harvard Meet. With the promise of a $50,000 retainer & expenses, Grahame-White accepted. Grahame-White won that one, and others, as he thrilled spectators with his races & aerial exhibitions such as that announced in this “One-man Show” program.

This rare survivor lists the diverse aerial stunts to be performed by Grahame-White during the day… “With the Bleriot Monoplane” includes a dive from 4000 feet “with engine stopped.” “With the Farman Biplane,” the twelve planned events include “Aerial switchback flying”; “The corkscrew glide [spin?] from a high altitude”; and  “Knocking down ninepins placed on the ground, without alighting.” With this sort of exhibition, and his dashing and flamboyant personality, the handsome Grahame-White gave the new aviation field, previously dominated by engineers, something that had been lacking to date: a ‘sexy’ nature. Details>>

Salesman’s Album with Sixty Photographic Images of Indian Motorcycles

This a presumed company-issued production, no doubt targeted for those who already owned an Indian Motorcycle franchise, or generated for traveling company reps, allowing prospective buyers, such as police departments, to view the entire product line. We find no bibliographical record of another such album being offered, and believe the album to have been produced in limited numbers. 


 In 1940, Indian sold nearly as many motorcycles as its major rival, Harley-Davidson. At the time, Indian represented the only true American-made heavyweight cruiser alternative to Harley-Davidson. Indian’s most popular models were the Scout, made from 1920 to 1946, and the Chief, made from 1922 to 1953. Unfortunately, the company went bankrupt in 1953. Today, the vintage cycle enjoys much popularity amongst enthusiasts, with models from the era displayed herein being offered for five-figure sums. A fascinating and well-preserved original photograph album, which visually documents the late ’30s and early ’40s Indian Motorcycle company, and its impressive product line, as existed during the company’s heyday. Details>>

Correspondence, Including LaGuardia’s Wedding Invitation

Correspondence_Fiorello_LaGuardiaFiorello LaGuardia, or “Little Flower,” is widely regarded as one of the best mayors in New York City history, whose tenure redefined the office. He was the 99th mayor of the “Big Apple”, serving his populace from 1934 to 1945. For those twelve years, the 5’2″, sometimes belligerent, chief executive dominated life in New York City as if he was 7″2′. Unlike many politicians today, he fulfilled many of his pledges, especially the ferreting out of corruption in the city’s government. Such earned him a reputation for placing the city’s interests ahead of political considerations, and in the same vein, although technically a Republican, he worked closely with the New Deal administration of President Franklin Roosevelt to secure funding for large public works projects. These federal subsidies enabled New York City to create a transportation network the envy of the world, and to build parks, low-income housing, bridges, schools, & hospitals. Furthermore, he achieved the unification of the city’s rapid transit system, a goal that had long eluded his predecessors, and he reformed the structure of city government by pushing for a new City Charter. LaGuardia presided over construction of New York City’s first municipal airport on Flushing Bay, later to become his namesake. As a result of all his efforts, LaGuardia’s psychological effect on New York City was nothing short of profound, restoring faith in city government by demanding excellence from civil servants. Details>>

The Life of The Right Honourable Arimanes, Typhon, Thammuz, Beelzebub, Ashmodaus, Sammael, Daemon, Lucifer the Great, of the Dark Infernal Empire Count of Sheol and Gehenna, Baron of Hades &c., &c., &c

Life-Right_Honourable_Beezlebub_LuciferThis eighteenth-century codex is an entirely holograph history of Lucifer, wherein the anonymous author tells us in his Preface, “Lucifer … is a spiritual being. That is true; but far from being considered here in that light, he is represented plainly terrestrial. He is not the Lucifer as Vondel, Milton and Klopstock described him, but exactly as he is shown in magick lanthorns for the amusement of the spectators. … My Lucifer is of Ethereal breed and Ether is and remains material. …. mine is of a persian and chaldean race.”

Though the volume bears no date, it bears the Pro Patria “Maid of Dort” watermark, circa 1760’s. Affixed under the holograph title is an extracted woodcut image [ca 1550, cf. Sebastian MŸnster’s “Cosmographia” (1544)] of the ‘God Deumo (Demus or Deumus) of Calicut.’ The volume has a full vellum binding and yapp edges. Details>>


Thanks for reading! Love our blog? Subscribe via email (right sidebar) or sign up for our newsletter--you’ll never miss a post.


25 Books Celebrating 25 Years in Business


25 years ago this month, in May 1989, Tavistock Books came into being-  without capital, without business plan, without significant inventory.  A rather inauspicious debut… and to be honest, one I never really expected to survive 25 months, much less 25 years.  But here we are, in May of 2014, a surviving, if not actually thriving, antiquarian book shop, on Webster Street in Alameda, with a [sometimes] open door, and a decidely lazy shop dog one must step over to browse the shelves.

Also one year ago this month, the firm hired Margueritte Peterson, its first full-time employee, who, by accepting our modest job offer, fulfilled a personal desire to join our quaint trade, and so journeyed from Florida to California to take-on the not-inconsiderable tasks as my Aide-de-Camp.

With these thoughts in mind then, we issue our first full-color pdf catalogue, comprised of 25 items, selected from stock, which represent the firm’s subject specialities, as well as the overall eclectic & diverse nature of the Tavistock Books inventory.

Should you have queries regarding any of these 25, or other items you may find on our site, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We thank you for your attention, and we hope you enjoy browsing our catalogue, and/or the other listings found here on the website.


The Magic Ring: A Forgotten Inspiration for JRR Tolkien

When The Magic Ring was published in 1813, it met with instant success. Its author, Friedrich Heinrich Karl Freiherr de la Motte Fouqué, has largely faded from popular awareness, remembered occasionally for Undine (1811). But JRR Tolkien owes an extraordinary debt to Fouqué for his portrayal of the One Ring and his pioneering work in fantastic fiction.

A Soldier Author

friedrich_baron_de_la_motte_fouquetBorn on February 12, 1777, Fouqué was a descendent of French Huguenots. His grandfather was a general for Frederick the Great, and his father was a Prussian officer. Fouqué himself didn’t intend to have a military career. Instead, he went to Halles. But in 1794, he left school to join the army and participate in the Rhine campaign. Fouqué would again see battle in 1813, during the uprising against Napoleon. By this time, nationalism had taken deep root in Germany, and these sentiments came to influence Fouqué’s writing.

Following that first stint of military service, Fouqué decided to pursue his literary interests, which were split between medieval romance and northern mythology. In 1806 he versified a sixteenth-century medieval romance. Fouqué was also the first to dramatize the Nibelung legend, combining both Icelandic sources (such as the Volsunga Saga) with Middle High German legend. This play and its sequels were published as a single volume in 1811 and immediately brought Fouqué public attention.

The following year, Fouqué published Undine. The novel includes elements not only of fantasy, but also of religious allegory, Gothic horror, and historical romance, so it appealed to a wide audience. The book has also received praise from critics in all corners. In “The Fantastic Imagination,” George MacDonald says, “Were I asked, what is a fairytale? I should reply, Read Undine: that is a fairytale….of all the fairytales I know, I think Undine the most beautiful.” MacDonald’s love of Fouqué was clear in both his fiction and non-fiction, which would later inspire both CS Lewis and Tolkien.

From 1810 to 1815, Fouqué managed to churn out plays, novels, and epics at an incredible pace. But by 1820, his reputation had faltered; unable to adapt to changing times and tastes, Fouqué still clung to Romanticism. His rivals dubbed him the “Don Quixote of Romanticism.” Fortunately Frederick William IV of Prussia granted Fouqué a pension, so he passed his last years in relative comfort.

Fouqué’s Invisible Influence

Fouqué influenced multiple authors, from Robert Louis Stevenson and Louisa May Alcott, to Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft. But the most important of these were undoubtedly William Morris and JRR Tolkien. Morris, widely regarded as the father of modern fantasy, opened the door for Tolkien later on.

Motte_Fouque_Magic_RingTolkien scholar Amy H Sturgis notes that The Magic Ring (1813) is a sort of “missing link in the story of Tolkien’s One Ring.” The legend began several centuries ago with the Siegfried story of Norse legend. It also appears in the Nordic Sagas and Eddas, along with the Middle High German Nibelundenlied. Over time the legend evolved, but Fouqué’s adaptation proved incredibly influential. It was taken up by Richard Wagner in his Ring Cycle and by JRR Tolkien in the Lord of the Ring series.

So why has Fouqué fallen by the wayside? His work was tossed aside during his own lifetime as preferences changed. That alone is often enough to relegate an author to the sidelines of history. But as Tolkien has again gained more attention. readers and collectors are rediscovering figures like Fouqué. Which authors have you been most excited to (re)discover?


Thanks for reading! Love our blog? Subscribe via email (right sidebar) or sign up for our newsletter--you’ll never miss a post.


Are You Ready for the Pasadena Antiquarian Book Fair?

Pasadena-International-Book-Fair-Bustamante-ShowsPhoto: Bustamante Shows

On August 10 and 11, over 60 exhibitors will come together at the Pasadena Center for the 14th Annual Pasadena International Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo, and Paper Fair. Visitors will find a wide variety of antiquarian, rare and modern first edition books, prints, posters, vintage photographs, and a variety of unique ephemera. It’s an excellent opportunity to experience an incredible number of fine collections.

We’ll be among the exhibitors and would love to see you at Booth #208! The show, organized by Bustamante Shows, is always a terrific event. Sheila Bustamante, who oversees the Pasadena Fair, was kind enough to share her perspective on collecting and explain why this fair is exceptional.

TavBooks: How did you get involved in organizing these antiquarian book shows? Are you a collector yourself?
Bustamante: Throughout the years in producing the antique shows, we had a couple of participating book dealers. In their occasional conversations with Mr. Bustamante, they would always encourage him to produce a book fair, but the suggestion was never taken too seriously. Our schedule of shows was pretty full with over 39 shows per year in California, Nevada, and Arizona. It wasn’t until fifteen years ago that Walter Larsen approached Mr. Bustamante and urged him to produce a book fair in Pasadena. The time was right, and our schedule of annual shows had been reduced sufficiently to allow us to take on the endeavor.

And yes, I’m a collector of books, American brilliant cut glass, art, and many other antique items.

TavBooks:Many of the dealers who’ll attend the Pasadena fair are from California and neighboring states, but one dealer is coming all the way from New York. What’s unique about the rare book community in Pasadena? Why are dealers so interested in attending this fair?
Bustamante: Pasadena has a lot of wonderful history. It was a “sleepy” town for a long time. When we first started producing antique shows there, the town would close up at 9 o’clock at night. Our shows didn’t close until that time, and dealers would not have a place to grab a bite to eat or relax afterward, except back in their hotel rooms. The residents of Pasadena have always been serious about preserving their history. They have done a marvelous job of resurrecting their downtown, and making their city more inviting for the young as well as the older generation. Pasadena has become a marvelous place to visit, without the congestion.

TavBooks: Bustamante Shows has been organizing these book fairs for many years. How has the rare and antiquarian book industry changed since you got involved with the business?
Bustamante: Bustamante Enterprises, Inc has been organizing the book fairs for fourteen years. We’ve been producing antique shows since 1975. Since we have only been involved with the book fairs for a short period, we have nothing to compare with on the evolution of the trade. We do feel, however, that just like the regular antique business, it’s always important to generate new collectors and to get our young generation interested. These will be the future custodians of history. If we do not teach our younger allies how to appreciate and preserve, we will lose those objects that carry the very stories and souls of our ancestors.

TavBooks:What advice would you offer a novice collector who doesn’t have much experience navigating a book fair like this?
Bustamante: For any novice collector: ask questions, research, and purchase what tugs at your heart and desire.

TavBooks:Any exciting items that you know dealers are planning to bring?
Bustamante: We never get involved with our dealers’ inventory, unless they have placed on display something inappropriate for the show. After all, it is always the unknowing that brings those collectors to the doors early, that causes excitement when on the hunt for an item to add to a collection. So whether one is young or old, a novice or a seasoned collector, there is always something at our fairs for everyone.

Fair Details

The Pasadena International Antiquarian Book, Print, Photo, and Paper Fair is open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on Saturday, August 10 and 11:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday, August 11. General admission is $8, with discounts available for senior citizens (62+) and free admission for children under 12. Your ticket includes free return privileges. The Pasadena Center (300 East Green Street) has ample parking.

Have a question about the show? Call 626-793-2122 or reach the show promoter at 209-358-3134.


Courtship, Romance, and Love…Antiquarian Style

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, many of us are looking forward to spending time (and perhaps a romantic moment or two) with our significant others. But our decidedly tender views of courtship and marriage are a rather modern invention; for centuries, these institutions had little–if anything–to do with love. A look back at books on the subject offers an entertaining and educational perspective on relationships, religion, and even anatomy.

All for Love or, the World Well Lost (John Dryden, 1677)

Perhaps Dryden’s best known play, All for Love is a tragedy written in blank verse. Dryden sought to rekindle interest in serious dramas, and he acknowledged that Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra heavily influenced the work. Indeed, he reincarnates the Bard’s work with a few changes: Dryden sets the entire play in Alexandria and focuses more heavily on the end of Antony and Cleopatra’s life. Dryden’s work truly captures the complexity of the couple’s epic romance.


Love Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister (Aphra Behn, 1729)

Love Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister-Aphra BehnAphra Behn, generally accepted as the first woman to make a living as a writer, gained fame for her Spanish comedies. But Love Letters takes a darker turn: a woman is forced into an incestuous relationship with her own brother–then into a marriage to salvage her family name. The epistolary novel is supposedly based on the real relationship between Forde Grey (Lord Tankerville) and his sister-in-law, Lady Henrietta Berkley. Behn was among the first women to openly attack the practice of forced marriage, a commonplace practice at the time.


The Turtle Dove; Or Cupid’s Artillery Leveled Against Human Hearts, Being a New and Original Valentine Writer (Sarah Wilkinson, c 1811)

Turtle Dove-Valentines Reader-Sarah WilkinsonThough this chapbook is extremely rare, its theme certainly isn’t. Wilkinson wrote at least 50 chapbooks and bluebooks, and this one features two comical illustrations by Isaac Cruikshank. In the first, the groom gazes at his new bride with deep affection. Cupid’s arrow flies in his direction. The second illustration depicts Cupid–and the unhappy husband–fleeing the scene, leaving behind an angry wife encumbered with the usual accoutrements of broom and child.


Valentine Verses: or, Lines of Truth, Love, and Virtue (Rev Richard Cobbold, 1827)

Valentine Verses-Rev Richard CobboldFollowing the death of his beloved mother, Cobbold composed Valentine Verses. Proceeds from the book went to his mother’s favorite charities, but the poems weren’t received particularly well. The Reverend’s interpretation of love obviously errs on the side of religion, but this was not merely because of his occupation. The concept of love–even romantic love–almost always still carried undertones of piety and a rather religious devotion.


Physiological Mysteries and Revelations in Love, Courtship, and Marriage (Eugene Becklard, 1842)

Becklard's PhysiologyThe subtitle to this book gives the reader great expectations indeed: “An Infallible Guide-book for Married and Single Persons, in Matters of Utmost Importance to the Human Race.” Dr. Becklard, a French physiologist, fashioned his book as a sort of self-help guide for Victorians facing a wide range of sexual frustrations. He dispenses (exceedingly poor) advice on pregnancy, childbirth, and contraception, illustrating how little we really knew about the human body even during this relatively enlightened period. Dr. Becklard’s advice, though rather silly by today’s standards, certainly assuaged his contemporary readers’ anxieties.


The Battle of Life: A Love Story (Charles Dickens, 1846)

Battle of Life-Charles DickensThis novella, one of Dickens’ Christmas stories, recounts the story of sisters Grace and Marion Jeddler. The two live happily in the countryside with their father, who views life as a farce. Marion is betrothed to Alfred Heathfield, who leaves to finish his studies. After his departure, the Jeddlers’ servant spies the profligate Michael Warden with Marion and believes that the two are planning to elope. His suspicions seem to be confirmed when Marion disappears on the day of Albert’s return. Dickens, known for his progressive views, here explores the still relatively unconditional idea of marriage for love.


“Before and After Marriage: In Five Acts” (Cassius M Coolidge, 1882)


Perhaps best known for his poker playing dogs, famous caricaturist Coolidge turns his satirical eye to the institution of marriage. Comprised of six panels, “Before and After Marriage” shows the groom’s perspective shift over time from the satisfied love of a new groom to the apathy of a henpecked husband. This hilarious comic has proven an incredibly rare item.