This past weekend I finally attended a book fair which has been held every year for twenty nine years running here in Denver. I have wanted to attend this two-day expo for many years, based on recommendations, but for some reason something else always came up. For 2013, I decided that nothing would stop me from going. There is a huge venue just outside the city off a main highway called the Denver Merchandise Mart (now just referred to as the Mart) where the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair has been held (most likely since they started) and it's a great place for just such an event of this size. During the two day event one has the opportunity to talk to experts in their fields of specialty. This year they had four confirmed speakers who were conservators themselves. I had a chance to talk to Karen Jones, a local book restorer, after her two hour workshop on book preservation. I needed some advice on the extremely rare book I purchased about the best way to restore it- being as how it is a 180 year old book whose pages still turn and is entirely legible with the images clearly visible and unmarred ! Other speakers gave lectures on conservations of textiles, paintings, decorative and historic objects along with the subjects of books and paper items. One, Christopher Lane, presented a short hour-long talk on how and why to build collections with emphasis on antique prints and maps.
I knew pretty much what I could expect to see when I got there because I've heard about the fair from other attenders- whether they were regulars or not. If I nailed this one down to basics I'd say that this is the type of fair for people who really enjoy the arts, sciences and literature. An antiquarian's dream, basically. For me, every booth was intensely interesting with the exception of western and southwestern Americana which is more of a background interest since I am somewhat overexposed to those genres being a native Coloradoan. It seemed to me every medium and subject was touched on whether it is maps and cartography, rare, collectible or specialty books or post-cards- the latter of which has been a passionate collecting hobby of mine from an extremely young age. My collection is probably small by comparison to other life-long collectors but I have a very well rounded and international set, most hand picked by me from the areas in question. A small amount were gifts from other travelers who were thoughtful friends. A good portion of my collection are antiques bought from antique stores- even some historic view post cards which appear to be double images but must be viewed through a special lens viewer to make the subject appear three dimensional. They had several vendor booths there who had brought vast collections with them. I found out about a special post card collectors club there from one of the vendors and I think I'll go to their next event and check them out !
Other items you will see at such a fair are print artwork- both collectible and rare plus exotic and ethnic posters, framed art, ephemera and travel memorabilia alongside old travel brochures and ads. There were eighty-one exhibitors in all this year but I was only able to really get into half of those and went home reeling from the overwhelming amounts of materials I had looked at and perused. Having to walk away from so many things I would have loved to buy and take home was equally overwhelming. The one irresistible item, the aforementioned book, which will become essential very soon was wrought with beautifully lithographed photos of Ireland including many castles caught. It is in excellent shape and had been published in 1833. Later I found an interesting flaw in two pages of text that will make this a very rare book and worth quite a bit more money, eventually, after I restore it.
Treasuring each and every bit,
The Castle Lady