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The 36th California International Antiquarian Book Fair

World's Largest Rare Book Fair Comes to SF

From rare law books to early-American literature to modern first editions to scarce incunabula (a.k.a. books printed before 1501), the bounty featured at San Francisco's upcoming rare book fair will whet the appetite of collectors and book lovers of all kinds.

More than 250 of the world's most prominent rare and antiquarian booksellers will feature their finest at the 36th California International Book Fair, which will be held in San Francisco at the Concourse Exhibition Center from February 7 - 9, 2003.

Since 1958, when the world's first officially sanctioned antiquarian book fair took place in London, rare book fairs have grown in popularity and are now held almost every weekend in different cities across the United States. With shows like the ever-popular Antiques Roadshow and the quick and easy access to collectibles offered by eBay and other auction sites, interest in the world of collecting and appraising continues to grow.

While a show like this will rarely turn up a completely undiscovered treasure (if it's at the show, it's been discovered!), for less than the cost of a movie the show offers people the opportunity to see and possibly touch pieces of history, including some of the most beautiful vintage children's books, famous autographs, hyper-modern first editions, fine bindings and more that are still in existence today.

The book fair also offers a book collector's education of sorts: John Dunning, author of the award-winning best-sellers Booked To Die and Bookman's Wake and owner of the Old Algonquin Bookstore will be giving a presentation on Saturday about book hunting, as will Nicholas Basbanes, author of numerous books about books, including A Gentle Madness and the recently released Among the Gently Mad: Perspectives and Strategies for the Book-Hunter of the 21st Century.

Other events include "Discovery Day," when you can play out your own Roadshow fantasy and bring up to three books for an "unofficial" appraisal by participating dealers, a presentation by KQED's Michael Krasny, and a special exhibit of items that have landed in the collections at the University of California, Berkeley's many libraries over the last 13 decades.

Included will be a 19th-century globe measuring 30 inches in diameter, as well as demonstrations of book and paper conservation treatments and highlights from the East Asian Library's Asami Collection.

Whether you are on a quest to add to your collection of pop-up books, Beat Literature or AA guides -- or you just have a thing for cute European book dealers! -- be sure to save a place in your weekend for SF's rarest and finest.

For more information, visit

The 36th California International Antiquarian Book Fair
Concourse Exhibition Center
635 8th St. (@ Brannan), SF, 415.490.5800
Friday, February 7 @ 3 pm - 9 pm
Saturday, February 8 @ 11 am - 7 pm
Sunday, February 9 @ 11 am - 5 pm
On opening day tickets at the door can be purchased for $10 for three-day admittance; on Saturday and Sunday tickets are $5 per person and include return entry throughout the remainder of the fair.