Book Fairs

The 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair

The world’s largest antiquarian book fair returns to the Oakland Marriott City Center in downtown Oakland, February 10-12, 2017. The three-day event, sponsored by Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, features Thousands of Rare Books and Manuscripts; Special Seminars and Events; Hundreds of Booksellers From Around the World. Including a Special Exhibit from The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley highlighting California authors’ notable contributions in genre fiction. For more information, visit Tickets are available online for a pre-event discount or at the door: $25 for a three-day ticket, including Opening Day. $15 for Saturday or Sunday (ticket allows re-entry all weekend).

Credit: Joseph Driste.

Codex VI Book Fair and Symposium

Codex VI Book Fair and Symposium will take place February 5-8 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. The fair draws nearly 200 international exhibitors devoted to preserving and promoting the handmade book as a work of art in the broadest possible context. This year’s symposium spans two days, Feb. 6-7, and the keynote speakers are Xu Bing and Lu Jingren, speaking to this year’s focus on book arts in China; eleven artists from China will also be exhibiting. Tickets for the symposium are $300. Location: The Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbor Way South, Richmond. Fair Admission: $30 for a multi-day ticket; $10 for a single day; $5 for a student.

Courtesy of Codex.


PBA Galleries, San Francisco

In addition to its usual Thursday auction schedule, PBA will host a rare books & manuscripts benefit auction at the California ABAA book fair. The sale will be held on Sunday, February 12, beginning at 8 a.m. at the Oakland Marriott. Part of the sale will benefit the Elisabeth Woodburn Fund, which provides financial support for scholarly research and education relevant to the antiquarian book trade. Seen here is one sale highlight: The manuscript personal accounting ledger of William Alexander Leidesdorff, merchant captain and West Coast pioneer, 1843-44. The estimate is $30,000-50,000.

Courtesy of PBA Galleries.

Exhibits & Events

American Bookbinders Museum

A growing collection of machines, books, and periodicals for bookbinders spurred Tim Janes on a heroic quest to offer an authentic nineteenth-century bookbindery experience to visitors. The museum holds an extensive collection of bookbinding literature and equipment. Located at 355 Clementina St., the ABM is only accessible via docent-led tour, Tuesdays – Saturdays from 10-4. General admission is $10.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the Arno River flood, the American Bookbinders Museum is pleased to host Books and Mud: the drowned libraries of Florence, an exhibition examining and commemorating the "Mud Angels" and the tools and techniques that were created to reclaim and restore hundred of thousands of books and documents devastated by the flood. Books and Mud is open to the public Tuesday – Saturday from 10-4; admission is free.

Courtesy of the ABM.

Atelier Contakos & Gerald W. Cloud Rare Books

Atelier Contakos and Gerald W. Cloud Rare Books present Didier Mutel: ΛCID = LIFE: Mapping Engraving in the ​V​SΛ​, ​an exhibition of works on paper and artist books, during Rare Book Week West. Mutel is a French artist, engraver, printer, and one of his generation’s foremost book artists. His workshop, Atelier Didier Mutel, is the oldest etching studio in France, founded in 1793. An opening reception with the artist is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, from 3-9 p.m., and another reception will be held on Thursday, February ​9, from 5-8 p.m. The gallery is located in San Francisco at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 101. If you cannot attend a reception, arrange a ​visit via

Courtesy of Atelier Contakos.

Bancroft Library, University of California

On view through February 17 is The Gift to Sing: Highlights of the Leon F. Litwack & Bancroft Library African American Collections. For decades professor emeritus of history Leon F. Litwack has been accumulating what is arguably the world’s finest private collection of books on African American history and culture. His collection is particularly noteworthy for its Harlem Renaissance first editions in strikingly illustrated dust jackets but also includes books with distinguished provenance such as a copy of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass with an inscription by the famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Complementing the Litwack books on exhibit are treasures from Bancroft’s significant African American holdings.

Courtesy of the Bancroft Library.

Bookish Browsing

Arion Press

Demonstrations of the historic printing and bookmaking facilities of Arion Press and the historic typefoundry of M & H Type are held Thursday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. and last approximately an hour and a half. Price: $10. The gallery, featuring a rotating exhibition of Arion’s latest projects, is open free to the public Monday through Friday, from 10-5, or by special appointment.

Credit: / Marcin Wichary

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

San Francisco’s City Lights, a literary landmark located at 261 Columbus Avenue, was founded in 1953 by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin. Find a book, browse their own line of new titles—including a new collection of poems by Julio Cortázar—or try to catch a peek at Ferlinghetti himself.

Credit: / Salim Virji

Letterform Archive

Letterform Archive is a San Francisco-based nonprofit library and museum dedicated to inspiring and educating all who love letters. The Archive offers visitors hands-on access to its curated collection of 35,000 books, posters, journals/magazines, and ephemera related to lettering, typography, calligraphy, and graphic design. During Rare Book Week West, the Archive is offering special guided tours of its collection on Monday, February 6, and Tuesday, February 7. Space is limited; please click the relevant date to reserve your spot.

Courtesy of Letterform Archive