It’s my pleasure and joy to join Apron Thrift Girl from Fab Fort Lauderdale. Call me the East Coast girl, the Little Sage, or just Kara... I’ll be bringing you sassy finds, secret vintage treasure spots, commentary from the vibrant South Florida thrift, art, and culture scene, do it yourself living-with-art projects and a full mashup of voluntary simplicity and grass roots kitsch.
Today, a true story offered to you by this little muse - this time from Selena’s own backyard, the gorgeous Golden Gate city, San Francisco. There are many similarities between an Antiquarian Book Fair and a lovely Antique Fair or Flea, here I give an insiders peek... join me, won’t you?
San Francisco Love Story
I turned the key and felt her start up. Last of the boxes and bags tucked in, green light, action, we are doing this - yes, we are ready to roll. Miles of white highway lines to cover but they fly by and I pinch, pinch again that in a matter of hours the stage will be set and the audience set in motion. The first audience, to me at least, for my first show in bookworld.
I thought I knew what to expect from my ‘first’ fair. From a visitor’s perspective, I had a visual and sensory expectation set, which went something like: heavy lifting, eight-hours standing, casual browsers, heavy hitters, high rollers, soft selling, gentle banter, brain teasing questions, booth memory game, occasional water breaks, invoice writing, rinse, repeat.
All true. But I missed an important piece to the puzzle: it’s a love story.
Some time ago, some century or decade past, our story begins with a font’s impression, a pen’s flourish. The object of affection: bound, free or gathered, emerges and makes it’s way through the hands, of time and man, until we are here at this moment. Now the dispensary of art, beauty, word or intent awaits discovery and thus the courtship begins.
The keeper of these, bookseller and custodian now must take a trip through his vault of treasures and begin the process of choosing the books, broadsides and manuscripts to display like a peacocks tail. When you’re new and overthinking everything, it’s challenging. Free them, I tell myself, release the spines, boards and covers and find the magic .At the end of the day a portable, miniature vignette of wares must be decided on and boxed.
Time to decorate for company. There’s the space: blank and bare, save the gorgeous bones of wood, rafters and lights.Counting down to their arrival, books are gently upwrapped, paired with easels and shelves as they find their way into context and storyline. The lures: visual, sensory and tactile - the cadence and tone of the siren’s song.
The bacchanalian stage is readied, the curtains rise: seekers descend and set forth, clutching map and method, on a quest for their object of longing. Hopes high for literary intervention and sated appetites.
Some liltingly run their eyes across the general culture of the shop, moving quickly on. Some are captured by a shelf, a book teasingly propped open to an illustration that weakens. Some resist but some fall madly. I sent a personal friend (a first time fair visitor to wander about) and my counsel was this: Allow yourself to take in the macro, then slowly attune to the micro. A cacophony of spines and text slowly filters into meaning and recognition, look close and see.. a shelf, book, then really look. Start a conversation and listen - what is the book whispering to you? Asking of you? Stirring in you?
A young, dynamic, lovestruck couple strolled in on Sunday. At first their head was clear, they were making sober choices and then: the siren called. A lush, richly and naturally buffed leather Bible, in Gaelic, spoke to them, haunted them with font and form - love at first sight. Two huddles, discussions and a couple of gold coins later, and they rode off into the sunset together with their new tome.
One morning, a seasoned, perhaps jaded lover of the book strode in, and again, and again. He visited perhaps three times - caressing and courting one particular San Francisco journal that he coveted. He was a collector of loves, had 60 of the same title in different manifestations, but was missing this particular binding color. Butterflies will be caught and pinned - the suitor would have his way, and he did.
A green eyed, mature beauty who had suffered love and loss in the flesh spent time with us one day. She had become a lover of Fine Press titles, a new fascination and friend to her, something to adore and cherish, somewhere to pour the love that once poured out. She sought much from the book but as well in the company kept. Here, the custodians and fellow lovers are all in communion - she found solace in this love story.
Thus, with naive eyes I witnessed, in the course two rich, influential days, the stories not of the written page -but of those inked upon the human heart. As we roll up our tents and caravan, I sleep dreaming of the tales yet to be spoken and discovered. Such to be spun not by tradesmen, but by talismen, as we administer the rites for lovers and seekers.
Dreamers, hope! The muse awaits.