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The Antiquarian Book Fair NYC

I sincerely meant to write this up sooner, but TSA at LaGuardia “lost” my laptop (long story), so I have been sans laptop for a few days, broke down and bought a new one from which I am now addressing you, my dear readers.

So, I went to NYC for The Antiquarian Book Fair 2023 and there are some interesting trends to report. Of course, there were the expected, very antique manuscripts, books, atlases, Audubon folios etc that were 5-6 figures, many of them very beautiful, but there was a surpassing proliferation of 20th century “mass market” material!

20th Century Literature

Traditionally, mass market means those cheap paperbacks that one might find in a drug store, but lots of books were “mass market” because they were big sellers and expected to be big sellers, so even in the hard back first edition, there was a very large print run. In the past, these very popular works of the 20th century, even the first editions unless they were perfect, signed, maybe had been owned by someone of note, were not worth much because lots of them are floating around. That seems to have changed. A nice first edition of a prominent 20th century book, unsigned, is now 3 figures, and signed ones are 4-6 figures depending on the book, author and condition.

Adult Reading

But even more surprising were the cheap, mid 20th century, little drug store “yellow” novels. By yellow, I mean smutty as well as the color of the cheap paper and yellow dyed page edges. You know the books I am talking about. They are in the back, by the adult magazines. These little erotic thrillers in decent shape (because none of them seem to be mint due to the cheap paper and glue used), especially if the theme is homo-erotic, are $100-$300.

20th Century Graphic Design

Another category that was trading well is 20th century graphic arts, especially Art Deco to Mid Century Modern. While the market for 19th century posters is soft, 20th century posters are smoking hot: subway maps, concert posters, propaganda, advertisements with good bold graphics and clean modern design.

A great example is this wonderful insect folio by Eugene Alain Seguy from Antiquariaat Schierenberg in Amsterdam.


Lastly, there were lots of younger people! And they were buying! The fair was packed and it cost $35 to enter, so one did not casually just wander in, and a good percentage of the attendees were under 40 as well as some of the dealers. I am sure this younger generation is influencing the skew towards 20th century books and graphic arts, and that’s great!

About Miss Sophia….

Since 2015, Sophia’s Estate Sales has provided premier estate sale and appraisal services to families throughout the Chicago area. Need an estate sale or an appraisal? Call Sophia at 773-729-0638 for a consultation.

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