After several days of putting the ugly task off, I started preparing for next weekend’s Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair.
Monday was a symphony of groans, accompanied by gnashing of teeth. “I’ve already sold all the good stuff,” I whined to myself (the only sympathetic audience around), “There’s nothing but chowder left.”
Still, I had to do something. I began poking around and turned up a few nice items that had just come back from the binder.
Then I came across a couple of charts that I’d meant to put in the last catalog, but had forgotten – vintage bluebacks of the Azores and Cape Verde Isles, sure to be of interest to whaling historians as well as a sizable percentage of the population of Gloucester and New Bedford (few of whom, alas, could afford either chart).
Then a fascinating manuscript item I hadn’t seen in a while about a legal squabble among a Mining Company of 49ers from New England.
Some albertypes of Nantucket,
one of my all time favorites – a map of the novel Moby Dick...
And once again I was shopping in my own shelves. Hey! this stuff isn’t bad at all! By Tuesday I had a pile of potential show items, and spent the day sorting through it in an attempt to find and reject items for which I might be the only customer. (Okay – that’s 90% of my stock. But some things, if presented in the proper manner, might have a chance of being interesting to others.) Wednesday I started thinking about my display space, and how all this material might fit. That was when I realized I could use my central aisle location to put out a WHOLE BOOKCASE
full of books for the ever-popular Discovery feature of the fair, in which participants offer cheaper books for beginning collectors.
Then, in my imagination, I arranged things in the trophy case,
then the counter case.
Thursday I wrote the description cards and did research on uncatalogued items,
and Friday, it being a fine day, I took a long walk.
Hazy sun, a sweet breeze. The air smelled of dried leaves. As I walked I realized I’d moved through the past few days in a manner that resembled the five stages of grieving as described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
I realized, too, that I’d probably be repeating those stages, though not necessarily in the order given by Kubler Ross, throughout my next weekend at the Hynes. Lots of bargaining; denial of stupid offers, depression brought about by the vast numbers of people who have no interest in the material I find so fascinating; liberal splashes of anger at them throughout the long weekend, and at crooked politicians, and people who don’t use their turn signals, and shoppers who don’t have their money ready at the checkout line. So little time!
And then acceptance.
Yes, this is a difficult business, and we must undertake it with courage, alertness, and a sense of humor. Kubler Ross morphs quickly into the Twelve Steps prayer, as we ask for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change… such as the quality and quantity of the material I’ll bringing to the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair.
Stop by booth 214 for a visit. If we have a moment I’ll buy you a drink.