Bibliophiles are in danger of falling head over heels this weekend. Starting tonight with a preview benefiting the The New York Public Library and running through Sunday, the Antiquarian Book Fair takes over Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory with more than 200 domestic and international booksellers offering rare tomes of every description.
Among the items that have bookworms hot and bothered are a first edition of Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” which scandalized readers in 1934; a 1640 edition of William Shakespeare’s “Poems”; a first edition of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” and the only Hans Christian Andersen manuscript outside public collections, “The Philosopher’s Stone,” which he wrote in 1858 at the Basnaes manor in Denmark and is tagged at $800,000.
“This is just the crème de la crème,” says Susan Benne, executive co-director of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. “A lot of the sellers save items for this fair,” she says, which is managed by Sanford Smith & Sons.
Curators at the library also put together “wish lists” of books they would like to acquire to augment their collections, giving benefactors the opportunity to instantly donate works. So what is their hearts’ desires this year? Well, a first edition of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” selling for $1,200; a 1928 first edition of W.H. Auden’s “Poems,” priced at $90,000; Ayn Rand’s second book, “Hollywood: The American City of Movies,” for $3,500, or an extremely rare first edition of an 1895 German doll cookbook, for $1,200. Get the checkbooks ready.