Spell bound: preview New York’s Antiquarian Book Fair

Who said print is dead? The 60th anniversary of the world’s finest antiquarian book fair proves otherwise

Immaculate 1925 Hungarian folio-on interior design
Immaculate 1925 Hungarian folio-on interior design, by Jozsef and Lajos Kovacs. Sold at Charlotte du Rietz Rare Books
(Image credit: press)

The New York International Antiquarian Book Fair celebrates its 60th year this weekend – continuing to happily disprove the rhetoric that print has had its day. Held at the Park Avenue Armory, (not to be confused with The Armory Art Show, which takes place across town at the midtown Piers during the same dates), bibliophiles, collectors, scholars and amateur enthusiasts descend from all corners of the globe to glove up and leaf pages. Over 200 sellers will be showcasing rare books, illuminated manuscripts, brilliant bindings, and antique printed ephemera.

Here's our pick of the best examples of rare, out of print and artfully-designed books that will be on show, and available to purchase.

Charlotte Du Rietz Rare Books, Stockholm

Kovaks illustration antiquarian book fair new york

Illustrations from the 1925 folio issued by Jozsef and Lajos Kovacs (also pictured top)

(Image credit: press)

Journeying from Stockholm to the Armory, the Du Rietz family has been selling antique books since the 1950s, in particular books on great voyages and intrepid travel, Asia and Africa, and rare illustrated fashion and textiles books.

This immaculate 1925 Hungarian folio comprises 20 vibrantly illustrated designs in remarkably vivid original colour. Taking inspiration from the country’s traditional folk art, its Art Deco-style patterned front cover has its original cloth ties. This book was issued by Jozsef and Lajos Kovacs who founded the first Hungarian painting template factory. Other books on Du Rietz’s stand include original illustrated Biba tomes from Barbara Hulanicki’s London fashion emporium, a well-preserved edition of Art Deco wallpaper designs by the French manufacturer Paul Gruin and a wonderful selection on Japanese Kabuki make-up and dress.

Fluemann’s, Zurich

Joris Karl Husmans novel

(Image credit: press)

Michel Houellebecq’s 2015 publication

Top, Joris Karl Husmans novel, A Rebours, 1903. Bottom, Michel Houellebecq’s 2015 publication, Soumission

(Image credit: press)

Specialising in first editions, Zurich-based Fluemann’s has some extraordinary marvels. This magnificent first edition of Joris Karl Husmans novel, A Rebours, dates back to 1903. The striking cover is the handiwork of binding extraordinaire, Pierre Legrain. To create this cover, Legrain inlaid precision-cut dyed leather with precious mother of pearl. Inside, 220 woodcuts by Auguste Lepere are printed in rich colour, and typography nuts will love the text, which is in the eponymously named typeface, Auriol, by French polymath Georges Auroil – all of which arguably justify the five-figure price tag.

Also worth a look is the staggering craftsmanship of Brother Edward Claes, a Dutch monk renowned for his exacting and innovative binding skills. He developed this cover, alongside a painted box, to house contemporary French author Michel Houellebecq’s 2015 publication, Soumission (or Submission).

Librarie Camille Sourget, Paris

contemporary leather and gold binding featured book

Buffon, 1942

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Camille Sourget opened her bookshop in Paris in 2008, although her family’s expertise in antiquarian books stretches back to her grandparents rare bookshop where Sourget caught the bug. Now she arrives in New York to showcase, among other treasures, this 1942 book of original Pablo Picasso 63 etchings. Simply titled Buffon (after Comte de Buffon’s 18th century illustrated survey of natural history), the etchings depict animals on Japanese paper with gilt edges. Its contemporary leather and gold binding features a butterfly motif and naturalistic curlicue patterns is by Madeleine Gras.


The New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, Park Avenue Armory, 5 March – 8 March. 


Tilly is a British writer, editor and digital consultant based in New York, covering luxury fashion, jewellery, design, culture, art, travel, wellness and more. An alumna of Central Saint Martins, she is Contributing Editor for Wallpaper* and has interviewed a cross section of design legends including Sir David Adjaye, Samuel Ross, Pamela Shamshiri and Piet Oudolf for the magazine.