A visit to Paradise: The Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair

There is no friend as loyal as a book.
— Ernest Hemingway

Let’s define “a good weekend.” It includes a Saturday during which you get to freely roam through fully stocked rare book dealer booths from rare book dealers from across the nation and some of Europe.

Why is that so awesome? Because you get carte blanche to hold, smell and admire more rare books than you’d get to anywhere else.

And I got to this past weekend at the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair.

It was my first time at one of these book fairs. A fact clearly communicated to all and sundry by my wearing my Mickey Mouse jacket and everyone else wearing black leather or tweed jackets. And the fact that I hopped up and down in excitement and whispered “oooOOOOooo” when I first entered the doors.

Given my love for books, my fantasies of what it would be like were the bibliophile’s equivalent of a 14 year-old girl’s daydreams of Care Bears riding unicorns through fields of cotton candy.

Reality was better. I got to wander up and down a sea of aisles full of some of the most incredible books I may never see again. Even better, I got to touch them. And smell them — yet another indicator that this was awesome and new and that there was solid chance someone would have to drag me kicking and screaming to get me leave. Ever.

But I digress.

I’m talking rare books that range from $300 to $126,000.

German Bible

Silver-bound German Bible worth $24,000. I did not make this purchase. But it’s so pretty.

Parchments leafs from the 11th century.

Signed first editions.

Childhood favorites.

Keeko

My mom used to read me this when I was little.

And some books that are so rare and expensive that even the most novice of novices know they’re in the “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it and don’t deserve it” category.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner

“Don’t bother asking how much I am. To you, I am priceless.”

I walked out with two books: a 1907 edition of Black Beauty ($45) by Anna Sewell and an 1897 edition of Somebody’s Luggage (also $45) by Charles Dickens.

On a side note, I also met the retired detective turned rare book dealer, Ken Sanders, who played a prominent role in the Allison Hoover Bartlett true crime novel, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. Mr. Sanders, a pleasant gentleman who kinda looks like a cross between Santa and a member of ZZ Top, spent three years tracking down one of the most hard-to-catch book thieves of our day, John Gilkey. (It’s a good read; very intriguing.)

And I got Mr. Sanders’ autograph.

Being the amazing fiancé that he is, Sweetie even came with me and kept track of which booths I’d seen and which I hadn’t because it’s easier to get lost than you might think. He also helped find books by some of my favorite authors. It was a day full of “this man really knows and loves me” moments. For which I bought him lunch.

By the time we left, my feet were sore and he’d earned enough “Good Sweetie” points to last him the rest of the year. Seriously, he doesn’t need to fold a towel until January 1, 2014.

9 thoughts on “A visit to Paradise: The Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair

    • Had to Google that one; looks very interesting. I’m going to have to check that out.

      My “Dream Book” would be a signed first edition of “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.

  1. Erica, thanks for sharing this so we could experience this vicariously. My wife and I both like Charles Dickens as well. The problem with us going would be that we both love books and there wouldn’t be anyone to drag us away. I love your “14-year old” analogy above. It proves eloquently that you don’t really need my latest post titled, Creatively Kicking Cliche’s to the Curb, but I bet you would enjoy it.

    • Actually I just read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll respond as soon as I get a chance to pound out some anti-cliches. (And I loved your “step in the poodle” joke.) 🙂

  2. Aw, that was super super sweet of him. I highly doubt hubby would go to a book fair with me haha. There are certain things he’s just like, “Um, no.” Glad you had a good time. 🙂

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