In what I hope is not a trend going forward from the canceled Philadelphia Book Show, exhibitors received word last week through the grapevine that the summer Papermania show in Hartford CT had been called off.
In a phone conversation with Gary Gipstein, son of the show's originator Paul Gipstein, Gary said that the managers of the XL Center
(the new name for the venue in which the show is traditionally held) were, per their management agreement, making improvements to the building. Gipstein had been notified that this work was coming, and had been assured that it would not conflict with the August Papermania show.
Indeed, in his walkthrough weeks prior to the opening date, everything seemed to be in order.
Then Gary and co-promoter Arlene Shea got a call from the management company. The air conditioning system was not yet functional. The vast dungeon where the show was held - known as the Exhibition Hall - would be uninhabitable. The promoters scrambled to find a new venue, to no avail.
Gary and Arlene worked the phones (they are not the most technologically advanced operation, and do not seem to have bulk email capability to exhibitors) and the afformentioned “grapevine” - I first heard of the cancellation in an email from SNEAB (Southern New England Antiquarian Booksellers) president Peter Masi. Word was also spread on social media and through print and digital journals such as Antiques & the Arts Weekly. So it's likely that all of the 140 exhibitors at this mammoth event have gotten the word.
I asked Gipstein if he'd simply credit my booth fee toward the winter Papermania show and he replied, "Since we've put you exhibitors to so much trouble, we thought it would be better to give you a prompt cash refund." A classy move, in my opinion.
My concern is more with the hundreds of attendees. Americanist Michael Vinson, for example, and his non-refundable airplane tickets from New Mexico. Guess he'll be doing a New England tour next weekend! And what about all those little folks, private collectors, who swarm in from all over the northeast and happily spend the weekend poking through bins of paper. Have they all gotten the word? Do Gipstein and Shea keep an up to date contact list of attendees? Stay tuned.
Just a note of history here. Gary told me that this was the first cancellation in Papermania's 40 year run. That would put its opening in 1974, the year the XL Center – then called the Hartford Civic Center – opened. The roof collapsed in the winter of 1978, but the show dodged that bullet. The summer event started sometime in the 1990s and, though it was always the weaker of the two paper shows (Hartford in August makes Hartford in January look good) it managed to attract a healthy group of exhibitors, and remained an event where great finds might be made. Ah, well.
Here's an item that would've knocked 'em dead at next week's show. Now it's bound for the Brooklyn Book Fair in September - unless you buy it first.
Manuscript. SHIP BUILDER’S REFERENCE BOOK. CA 1840 - 1860. Folio, unpaginated. About 100 pages. This remarkable document is a reference book compiled by English shipbuilder George Munro in the mid-1800s. It contains accounts for various jobs, ephemera and sketches documenting those jobs, lists of materials, rules and formulae for ropemakers, riggers, and sailmakers, lists and tables of various sorts of timber such as English Oak and American Elm, rules for drafting, laws for admeasurement and essays on stability and speed in design of ships. These are supplemented by detailed drawings of blacksmith work, coppering, and construction details of merchant vessels. Finally there are pencil drawings and colored drawings of vessels such as the “Barque Lousia Munro going into Shields.” This was clearly compiled by Munro over a period of years, as a reference work to assist him in his shipbuilding business. As such, it highlights matters of concern to a shipbuilder of that era, and shows practices that were actually used in the shipyards. It is a remarkable collection. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Old boards detached, text and illustrations are clean. $7500