Shelf life

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - Casey Sanchez The New Mex­i­can

For­get the Kin­dle and its prom­ise of a brave, new book­less world. At the Santa Fe An­ti­quar­ian Book Show, which opens Fri­day, Oct. 1, at El Museo Cul­tural de Santa Fe, book lovers can snatch up tomes nearly as old as Jo­hannes Guten­berg’s in­ven­tion of mov­able type in the 15th cen­tury. Bound in leather with ar­ti­san-mar­bled end­pa­pers and spines gold-stamped by hand, many of these vol­umes come from a time when a book was a sa­cred ob­ject, the only way to trans­mit knowl­edge in an era with­out TV, the in­ter­net, or wide­spread ac­cess to news­pa­pers.

“Imag­ine a farm­ers mar­ket, but in­stead of booths with pro­duce, you have booth af­ter booth of rare books. Many of the deal­ers are com­ing from dif­fer­ent states,” said Shirley Ja­cob­son, one of the fes­ti­val’s four prin­ci­pal or­ga­niz­ers. “That’s the beauty. You will see things you will never see in a book­store.

At the fair, col­lec­tors will get to visit the booths of nearly 40 deal­ers, mostly from across the Moun­tain West, and in­dulge in the vice of judg­ing a book by its cover. In the days be­fore mass pa­per­backs and slick hard­cover jack­ets, book­bind­ing was an art that gave the world vol­umes of lit­er­a­ture and his­tory that could last cen­turies. Po­ems, travel books, and even Bi­bles came decked out with rich il­lus­tra­tions. In the late-19th cen­tury, Bri­tish pub­lish­ers sold lush, il­lus­trated edi­tions of au­thors such as Mil­ton, Cer­vantes, and Ra­belais with en­grav­ings by French artist Gus­tave Doré. The artist com­bined finely de­tailed line work with a sense of epic ad­ven­ture in il­lus­tra­tions that could be as mov­ing as the words them­selves.

These books re­main sought-af­ter items on the an­ti­quar­ian mar­ket. Henry Lewis, who op­er­ates Gun­stock Hill Books on North Guadalupe Street, said he will be sell­ing a Doré il­lus­trated copy of Sa­muel Co­leridge’s The Rime of the An­cient

Mariner. Book dealer Ni­cholas Pot­ter of Santa Fe showed off a copy of a Doré-il­lus­trated book of bib­li­cal sto­ries that will be at his booth.

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