ANTIQUE ASTRONOMY BOOKS --------------------- John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc firstname.lastname@example.org www.nyskies.org 1987 August 1
You may have wished to have for yourself those older astronomy books you hear or read about, but never actually see, You can refer to them in large libraries, but it's not the same as owning them yourself, You can acquire that Sacrobosco, Newton, or Messler right here in good old New York! Without travelling to Katmandu or Elephantine. Go to the antique bookfalrs. These fairs are like meteor showers, each with its own peak and radiant, date and place. Enough fairs work the City and its surrounds that one surely comes up in the next month or two. Just in Manhattan there are four or five bookfairs in a year's time. Announcements are placed in the local community and literary journals. You can pick up a flyer or card from your local book dealer. If you are a steady client, you'll get ads in the mail. Bookfalrs are typically held in a school or church with the procedes often supporting some social or medical cause. Lest the notion of "antique" conjure foppy people in lace and tails, the admission is really quite modest. For one day it's about $4 and about $10 gets you a weekend ticket. The latter invariably includes a Friday evening reception with light refreshments. You can show up directly from work. Just be neat and clean and keep pleasant deportment. If you want to dress up, a collegiate cut is entirely proper. Please, leave the cutoffs and halters home. Deposit your coats and bags; pick up a floorplan at the entrance. Hold on to the ticket stub for if you step out, you'll need it to reenter. And you will want to step out for air, lunch break, or to deposit stuff you bought so far. Booths are deployed thruout the exhibit floor and my own scheme is to poll each for "astronomy". Do pronounce "astronomy" distinctly. Against the background din you may be shown material on cooking (gastronomy), fortune-telling (astrology) or farming (agronomy). Try saying "stars, planets, Moon, &c" if confusion sets in. After about twelve years of book collecting I have my special contacts, but merely circularizing thru all the exhibits will turn up some gems. Also, while you're at it, ask for books on your other interests. I picked up many, many old maps and prints at these fairs of New York's subways and eIs! To prepare for your visit, compile a wishlist based on your astronomy knowledge and specialty. You won't want to miss out on an important work shown to you due to oversight or ignorance, would you? The attendant will offer specimens from the display for you to examine. Handle the books gently -- they ARE ol and fragile! Is the work suitable for your collection? Consider the bibliophilic and astronomy values, the book's influence on later astronomy, the importance of the author, rarity, illustrations, binding, collation, and language. By the way, much of the early material was written in Latin. Believe me, holding Tycho's "De Stella Martis" is one hell of an inducement to brush up on your Latin! Luckily I still retain much of it from City College. Now, what good is a Renaissance treatise on the planets in the face of today's space explorations?? You'll be astounded at how very much of early astronomy is still quite applicable to modern amateur astronomy. Books on constellations, navigation, telescopy, planet-finding depict -- as modern books rarely do -- the heavens as viewed thru our small telescopes. When you gaze at an engraving of Jupiter, so tender and mild, by Cassini in the 1600s, you know what your own telescope will reveal. Today's books are schmaltzed with NASA photos and jazzy renditions. You'll get tired, maybe hungry. Every fair has a snack & rest area. 8it down, refresh yourself, relax, savor your finds. For fear of spills, please do not eat or drink among the exhibits. Exhibitors with no astronomy books on display will note that they have some in their depots. Leave your card for a catalog or referral. The dealers at these fairs are thoroly honest and erudite. Doing business with them after the fair Is essentially riskfree. However, just before sending in your order, do call and verify the availability and price of your selections. The price? You are acquiring a piece of heritage In the noblest of sciences and hobbies. Hence, If you are new to falrgrazlng, you may plotz at the quotations. Definitely bring your checkbook and cardfold. After upteen years of riding this cockeyed world, don't you deserve a treat for yourself? But not to excess. Buy with your head, not over it. Allot a block of change and aim to stay within Its bounds. I myself allocate $500 per fair. No!, I don't gun to spend it all! It's just that I aw then assured of tomorrow's coffee break. Just stay within your own proper means. The attendant will wrap your purchase and give you a receipt. For security, the gateguard may match the receipts against your books as you leave the fair. Bring strong shopping bags with you. No one at the bookfairs seems to have any. At day's end you're on the train going home. Instead of reading the carcards, you are immersed in Lowell's "Evolution of Worlds". You may well miss your stop!