The Top Items at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair

From an Alexandar Hamilton collection to a book by Copernicus, the fair's executive director picks the best.

March 10, 2018 5:00 am

This weekend in New York City, the 58th edition of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair will be open for business at Park Avenue Armory.

Running through Sunday, the fair will host more than 200 American and international dealers exhibiting a selection of books, maps, manuscripts, illuminated manuscripts and, in one case, a lock of hair.

All of the pieces at the fair have been “carefully examined for completeness and bibliographic accuracy” so consumers can be confident anything they purchase at the fair will be legit.

Not being experts, we asked executive director Sanford Smith to detail some of the fair’s top pieces so we could get a better sense of the rare treasures that will be available this year.

Most expensive collection: The Hamilton Collection ($3.8 million)

Lock of Hamilton’s hair, and his signature, with a seal and note penned by a descendant in 1868.

Over 1,000 items by Alexander Hamilton and other founding fathers. Included: A very rare July 8, 1776 Declaration of Independence imprint – the first book printing – bound with the best early edition of Common Sense and several other significant pamphlets of the American Revolution and a lock of Hamilton’s hair, preserved in his family for generations. 

Most expensive single item: De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium IV ($2.8 million)

First edition, and a very fine and crisp copy; the most important scientific text of the 16th century.

By Nicolaus Copernicus, this tome is considered the defining epiphany that began the Scientific Revolution.

Rarest book: Ain kunstreich un[d] bewert Kochbuch

The Only Known Copy MAYR, Georg. Ain kunstreich un[d] bewert Kochbuch.Dating to 1577, this work by Goerge Mayer is the only known copy of one of the rarest/oldest cookbooks in the world

Rarest item: First printing of the Petit Prince

Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince].Valued at $95,000 the sale of this painting includes a very rare drawing autographed by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Oldest item: Peter Poitiers Scroll

The Peter Poitiers Scroll was originally intended to teach Europeans in the thirteenth century how biblical history was anchored in the Middle East.

This is an astonishing and beautiful illustrated early Gothic English chronicle scroll, originally intended to teach Europeans in the thirteenth century how biblical history was anchored in the Middle East.

Other notable item: Jackie Kennedy’s letters

A letter Jackie Kennedy wrote to Roswell Gilpatric.

Lion Heart Autographs is bringing three of the famous “purloined letters” Jackie Kennedy wrote to Roswell Gilpatric: confidante, possible lover, and President Kennedy’s Deputy Secretary of Defense, which caused an international sensation.

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