The Los Angeles Antiquarian Book Fair (1 Viewer)


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Stopped by the Los Angeles Antiquarian Book Fair at the Century Plaza hotel today. Well, "stopped by" isn't exactly accurate, as you can't just "stop by" either the hotel or the book fair, since both are kind of a pain in the ass to visit, but you get the point.

My girlfriend Carol's artist's book was there, being shown by two booksellers (a book that is in the permanent collection at UCLA, and was just purchased this week by the friggin' Getty Museum, I might add!). One of them was displaying it in a case with a giant Marc Chagall book containing original paintings...but I digress.

An antiquarian book fair, by definition should be rooms full of really old books. And there were lots of really old books available for perusal and purchase (if your pockets are deep enough), but I was checking into the more contemporary booths where one might turn up some, oh, I don't know -- Bukowski or something.

So imagine the most rare and elusive Bukowski item you can think of -- there were probably at least two copies of it there. I can say that with some confidence, and I only saw half of the booths. So yeah, it was big. Booksellers from all over the world.

Just off the top of my head, I saw:

- Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail

- Three mint condition (okay, just assume from now on that everything I mention is in mint condition - these are book freaks we're talking about here) It Catches My Heart In Its Hands - one with the original mailing envelope (featuring the skeleton art from the cover of the book)

- Three copies of At Terror Street and Agony Way, two of them hardcover with paintings

- Two hardcover copies of Post Office with paintings

- Two hardcover copies of Sanford Dorbin's A bibliography of Charles Bukowski with paintings (!)

- Three copies of Scarlet with paintings ("Scarlet"/"Cupcakes" emailed me this week by the way, more on that later)

- At least a dozen other Black Sparrow first editions with paintings

- Cold Dogs in the Courtyard

- All The Assholes In The World and Mine

- Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts

- EPOS poems and drawings

- a copy of Erections, Ejaculations and General Tales of Ordinary Madness that appears to have been kept in a climate controlled vault since the day it came off the press 33 years ago

- the fourth ever Black Sparrow publication, the broadside The Girls/For the Mercy-Mongers (the first three Black Sparrow publications were also Bukowski broadsides - released one a month for four consecutive months in 1966, press run of only 30 copies each*)

- 2 poems

What else? Too much to mention. Seriously. It was sensory overload this place, and really fucking warm down there in the lower floors of the hotel, unfortunately.

The book fair runs all weekend if you're in the area. It's $15 to get in, $20 for parking, and a sandwich and a couple of drinks in the hotel lobby bar will set you back $40, but it's a swanky day out if you're in the mood to look at books. Lots and lots of books.

Here's a useless tidbit for you: those first four Black Sparrow broadsides sold for $10 each in 1966*. That's equivalent to $58.59 in 2005 dollars. No wonder Martin could pay Bukowski $25 a page, or whatever it was...

*Info from Seamus Cooney's The Black Sparrow Press, A Checklist, published in 1971, which lists the first 100 Black Sparrow publications.
Oh yeah, by the way, I didn't buy anything. Just the drinks in the hotel lobby bar...

Much of the high end Bukowski stuff was in the four to five thousand dollar range. Carol pointed out that his books were commanding higher prices than any of the more famous "Beat" writers at the fair.
Bukowski beating the shit out the Beats??? It's really no wonder.

as to the BSP broadsides, you were right.

this is from our dear Aaron book:
18 TRUE STORY 1966


[Within single red rule frame, in black:] True Story | [ornamental rule 1 in. (2.6 cm.) long in the shape of three books and leaves] | [text] [author's name at bottom right of text] [Black Sparrow Press, Los Angeles]

1 sheet. 14 1/2 x 10 in. (36.8 x 25.4 cm.) $10. Stiff cream wove paper watermarked "Hamilton Carousel," printed in red and black, bottom edge deckled.

30 signed copies were published April 1966: 27 copies numbered 1-27 plus 3 copies lettered A-C. Designed and printed by Philip Klein.

Colophon: [at tail, beneath red rule frame, in black:] Printed April, 1966 in Los Angeles by Philip Klein for The Black Sparrow Press. This edition is | limited to thirty copies; three lettered copies, which are not for sale, and twenty seven numbered | copies for sale all signed by the poet. This is copy No. [lettered or numbered in red ink]
are ya trying to make me cry? is that your goal with this thread? well, way to go, well done, you made a grown man cry. I hope you're proud of yourself...
hoochmonkey9 said:
are ya trying to make me cry? is that your goal with this thread?
Well, it's true that it's cool to see some of the things that you might not otherwise ever lay your eyes on, but walking away empty handed because of the prices is what really makes you want to cry.
Some of the sellers we spoke to mentioned the fair in San Francisco this weekend. But I was told it was kind of a secondary thing. That the big one (that was just in Los Angeles) switches between LA and SF every year...
Sorry, this is a bit off topic, but do any of you guys know anything about rare books?

I'm currently taking a class on screenwriting, and I have a character who is into antique books.

If you could get one, really hard to find book, what would it be? What is probably Buk's rarest book? And for that matter, do you know the rarest book of any other authors?
Yes, the California book fairs switch between SF and LA every other year. The fair in SF will be secondary to the huge LA fair -- more local and domestic dealers...

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