The Annual Boston Antiquarian Book Fair (Now Virtual Fair) Will Be Held Nov. 12-14

- by Michael Stillman


The annual Boston Antiquarian Book Fair will be held on November 12-14 this year. While this is the 44th annual fair, it is also the first Boston Virtual Book Fair. Hopefully, if there is a second, it will be because people want a virtual fair, not because they have no choice. The fair is sponsored by the ABAA (Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America).


The fair begins on Thursday, November 12, and only during this preview session will a ticket be required. The fee is $50 and it gives attendees first crack at the material. The preview session will run from 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.


Beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, November 13, the virtual doors will be open to all and admittance is free. The fair will remain open continuously until 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 14.


Over 150 booksellers from around the world will be exhibiting. The format allows each dealer to display up to 50 books and restock their shelves as they are sold. Attendees will be able to visit their favorite dealers' booths. Alternatively, you can search the fair by category or keyword. Each item contains a brief description, condition, and price, with instructions on how to contact the dealer directly.


Despite the unusual format, the Boston Book Fair will still be hosting its seminars and presentations as usual, only online. At 1:00 p.m. on Friday, November 13, the topic will be Julia Child and Company: Culinary Delights at the Schlesinger Library. Julia Child was undoubtedly the most famous French chef in America, instructing viewers in the culinary art for many years on public television.


At 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the topic is The Curious Case of Chloe Russell’s “The Complete Fortune Teller and Dream Book.” This early 19th century puzzling book is held at the Boston Athenaeum. The supposed author was Chloe Russell, described herein as “A Woman of Color of the state of Massachusetts, also commonly termed the Old Witch, or Black Interpreter.” However, it appears very similar to books that may have been published earlier. Chloe Russell is documented as owning a home in Boston and variously described as a washerwoman and cook. No other books are attributed to her, making scholars wonder whether she really was the author. The book uses astrology and such to foretell the future and provide advice.


At 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 14, the seminar will be about Historical Artifacts and the Myths of the Women’s Voting Rights Movement. The discussion will look at how books and other documents shaped popular myths about the women's suffrage movement.


At 3:00 p.m. on Saturday there will be a session of The Ticknor Society Collectors’ Roundtable. This year's annual discussion by collectors will include booksellers Heather O'Donnell and Erika Hapke, and Peter X. Accardo of the Houghton Library.


You can find out more about the fair and purchase preview tickets at the following link: