A Visit to Colmar book fair

Pausing only to put our snowshoes and extra warm jumpers away, Marcia and I went to the airport to go to the the SELAC fair (Salon européen du livre ancien et de la gravure de Colmar).

Colmar is a very nice little town in Alsace, just inside France. The border is so close that in the airport you choose whether to walk through customs into France, Germany or Switzerland.

Once there, we had a lovely time, with 40 dealers from France and Germany. Having met up with Kurt from Catawiki, we set off around the fair.  Two things particularly stood out for me here. One was the sheer number of excellent limited, illustrated editions by French authors (often in very limited numbers indeed), and the number of exhibitors who displayed beautiful visual pieces. Indeed, for me, this was almost a varied and fascinating art exhibition.

One of the first stands to catch my eye, was Antiquariat Barbian, from Saarbrucken with some marvellous Chagall colour lithographs printed by Mourlot of Paris, such as this editions of Le Monstres de Notre Dame 


Another stand with striking images was a local exhibitor, librairie le Cadratin of Colmar. They had some wonderful images of the Alps, including this dramatic ascent of Chamonix by Adolphe Braun.braun

My final image, was from a series of Caricatures. Pierre Chatillon was a Swiss national, who had been imprisoned during the first world war for a less than flattering image of Kaiser Willhelm. Whilst incarcerated, he produced a fabulous series of original works, all caricatures of his gaolers and other German officers. This delightful image was my favourite (See header image).These were offered, along with some original Gustave Dore illustrations by librairie Pierre Calvet


Naturally I couldn’t let the opportunity pass, and brought far too many books. In fact so many, that we had book extra baggage on the plane home, and drag Kurt along on a trip to Strasbourg in order to purchase a suitcase. Marcia was most displeased!  My favourite purchase kept up with the theme of artistic items – I picked up a lovely photograph album showing the carnival floats at Nice in 1897


Money and energy depleted, we set of home once again, to briefly rest before packing up our stock, and preparing for the Maastricht MAPF and TEFAF next weekend.

The Marvellous Mr Marr

Last Sunday I spent a pleasant day in Topsham at the Exeter Book Fair – excellently managed by the ever capable Paul Davis, Kingsbridge  Books. As always, the fair was a genteel, enjoyable affair, where I sold some books, brought some books (and a manuscript poem!) and met some lovely people, some of whom were even new to the fair and PBFA. Today was going to be an interview with Paul – but he got gazumped!

Sunday was Ian Marr’s birthday (although he refused to tell me how old he was). In celebration of this, and once he had imbibed a little lunchtime lubrication (he refused to go near the video before), I have made this interview with him.

Ian has had one of those rambling careers that seem to be a regular part of the bookseller’s life. Having begun his book career in Bonhams, and run away to Bavaria (perhaps it was the alliteration that sent him there), he settled down with Marlborough Rare Books in Bond Street until 2005, when he struck out on his own, blazing a trail into the Wild West of Cornwall.

Since then, Ian has been a regular figure at many of the PBFA Premier fairs, and at the ABA fairs. As Ian says “I do like a book, even a relatively ordinary one, that has some quality to it that lifts it into the category of historical artefact.”  But enough of my commentary – take a look at his video interview below.

As well as being a marvellous chap, Ian has the distinction of being the only book dealer to have thrown a punch at me (so far – and although many have been tempted).  He promises that this was merely a demonstration of technique – but you have to wonder!

Ian claims on his website that “Cornwall is really not as far as you think” – He may share Einstein’s views on distance, but promises he is only 20 minutes west of Plymouth. If you venture to the South West, be sure to pay him and Anne a visit.