Saturday, March 12, 2011

Old books in an old building

It's the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair!

Florida Antiquarian Book Fair Coupon

It was held in an old dance hall, which explains the lights and the disco ball.

The Florida Antiquarian Book Fair

At a book fair, everyone is judging the books by their covers, and everyone wants a book with pretty pictures inside. There's a mercenary feeling in the air. The items being sold are commodities, some behind glass and valued at thousands of dollars. And even if they weren't so valuable, many are so old you hesitate to pick them up. People ask the owners if it's okay. (It always is.)

Some people ask the proprietors obscure questions, to show how smart they are. Other people haggle. Everyone seems to be searching for something. Some people want certain types of books, other people have lists of specific books they are looking for. Most people are just browsing. But the serious people compare prices on their laptops and mobile phones.

Oddly, it's hard to find anything you'd want to read at an antiquarian book fair. Perhaps the best books were read so much they fell apart. Perhaps the best books aren't sold. What I did see was a lot of history, a lot of religion, and a lot of poetry (with a healthy dose of children's and cook books). The two easiest books to find were The Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant and Pilgrim's Progress.

Books and prints, plus a few other things

Here's what I bought:

What I bought

It has an inscription which reads:

To Nellie,

A wedding gift from Lewis Campbell

January 1894

A wedding gift!


chickelit said...


The German Swiss have a saying for dinner time equivalent to bon appetit --en guete. I used to deliberately say "en Goethe".

Nobody ever laughed.

Mary said...

Curious -- what were you willing to pay for something that age and classic?

Mary said...

(Curious, because I have books like that myself, and was wondering what they ask for them there... )

Jason (the commenter) said...


I'd follow similar books on ebay and see what they sell for there. The man I bought my book from was offering them for between 30 and 120 dollars each. He had a huge inventory, and hadn't sold them all at that price.

Mary said...