56th California International Antiquarian Book Fair
San Francisco, Calif. (Jan. 9, 2024) — The 56th CA International Antiquarian Book Fair is making its in- person return to San Francisco next month. The fair, sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers’
Association of America (ABAA), takes place February 9-11, 2024, at Pier 27 (cruise ship terminal). Widely recognized as one of the world's largest exhibitions of antiquarian books for sale, more than 100 exhibitors from around the world will present rare books, maps, illustrations, historical documents, and ephemera on a vast array of subjects and genres.
The fair boasts offerings in every conceivable genre including the first-ever catalog on the history of artificial intelligence (AI) from Novato book dealer and ABAA member Jeremy Norman. Part of this timely collection is an extremely rare, first edition pamphlet published in 1832 by Russian statistician and inventor Semyon Korsakov on what is believed to be one of the first machine-learning devices. Korsakov was a pioneer in the concept of “mechanized thought,” or artificial intelligence. The nearly 200-year-old AI print ephemera will be on exhibit and offered at the purchase price of $35,000.
The fair’s specialties encompass art, science, medicine, literature, history, gastronomy, fashion, first editions, Americana, philosophy, children’s books and much more. As highlighted in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, rare books and other objects have increasingly captured the attention of young collectors seeking one-of-a-kind offerings at more accessible price points. Book fair prices range from $100 to millions.
This year, the fair welcomes international exhibitors from 9 different countries including the UK, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and The Netherlands.
An impressive number of US exhibitors also highlight the wealth of material available stateside. Exhibitors will present a vast treasure trove of items: rare books, maps, manuscripts, fine bindings, illustrations, historical documents, prints and print ephemera. One of the rare maps up for purchase is Augustus Chevalier's stunning large-scale 1911 map of San Francisco, the premier map of the city following the San Francisco Earthquake and one of the most impressive and beautiful urban plans in the history of American mapmaking. The purchase price is $45,000 from S.F. Bay Area-based ABAA dealer, Neatline Antique Maps.
Another extraordinary find is a piece of LGBTQ+ science fiction history discovered at an estate sale in Oakland– the original cover art for Ursula K. Le Guin’s groundbreaking “The Left Hand of Darkness.” The novel was one of the first examinations of androgyny in science fiction and explored the effect of sex and gender on society. Mark Funke, Novato book dealer and ABAA member, will exhibit the illustration art at the San Francisco fair. The purchase price is $20,000.
“This is one of the most important events in the country for rare book enthusiasts, and we are thrilled to return to San Francisco after enjoying nearly a decade of success in Oakland,” says Julie Roper, Director of the 56th California International Antiquarian Book Fair. “Post-pandemic, we are seeing resurgent demand for in-person fairs, where a global community of the top dealers offers the most sought-after collections of books, maps, illustrations, and ephemera. The experience of attending in person is like no other – it’s a real-life treasure hunt.”