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Photos: the Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair

The fourth annual Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Baillie Court last weekend. It was the fair’s first year at the new venue, having relocated from the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The event brought together collectors and booksellers specializing in old and rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other historic literary artifacts.

Lucius Books owner James Hallgate travelled from from York, U.K. to showcase and sell some of his collection, which includes a £12,750 first edition of a Machiavelli work printed in 1595. Stopping by the Toronto fair before another book show in Boston, he said that many collectors are drawn to rare copies of books they encountered earlier in life.

“A lot of it is nostalgia, and to own a first edition is as close to the way the author wanted it as possible,” he said. “And now, even more so because of electronic books, books are more objects than anything.”

Jennifer Grainger, cataloguer at Attic Books in London, Ontario, agreed that the appeal of older editions lies in their physicality.

“They’re beautiful objects, like works of art,” she said. “People like to have original copies of things, like a copy of Dickens that came out in his own lifetime; a first edition instead of just a cheap paperback copy from a modern bookstore.”

Another local vendor, Hugh Anson-Cartwright, who has been in the business for over 40 years, says, “I think there will always be people that love books. There’s a wide range of appeal: text, illustration, bindings, all sorts of things.” He later quoted author Barbara Tuchman, saying that books are “humanity in print.”

Click on the thumbnails below to see photos from the fair.