Show ’n Tell time again
The rustle of newsprint, the pop, pop, popping of bubble wrap, the shuffling sound of boxes being opened and the unmistakable screech of packing tape being drawn from the roll. Are these the sounds of that happy, festive time called Christmas? Heck no, It’s SHOWTIME!
Each year, along with hundreds of other vendors, we prepare for the book show and antique show season that runs from April until November. This is not for the feint of heart or limb.
The process for shows is basically broken into three components; pre- show, show and post-show. Let me explain.
Pre-show consists of Planning, Packing & Loading.
• Planning – this is the process of determining what items to take to the show and this is predicated on the target market for that particular show which is determined by the geographical location of the show and the potential draw. This is followed by the choosing of the items to take and then setting up a mock display on the dining room table. Yep, bookcases, books, ephemera, maps, whatever strewn from one end of the house to the other. Needless to say, we do not entertain family and friends during this period. Bechamel on the Proceedings of a Gen.[eral] Court Martial held Fort George 1810 signed by Isaac Brock is frowned upon and would greatly reduce the value on that puppy really quick. During this period I consume wine in the safety and privacy of the bathroom to avoid any potential spills or spews.
• Packing – If you think for one minute wrapping Christmas presents is an arduous task then you would collapse under the strain of packing for a book show. Every item is individually wrapped in bubble wrap and or newsprint. Do NOT place the book on it’s end as that is stressful to the spine – the book’s, not mine , that comes later when we load. Make sure the entire book is covered as we don’t want any scuffing or marking of the cover and for goodness sake do not bleed on the manuscript. Take that papercut and get a bandage on it now!
• Loading – Boxes usually 6 – 8 , portfolios one massive, two mediums and occasionally a small one or two but they can be placed in one of the two large Rubbermaid containers, the easel for the maps, the 2 – 4 bookcases, the trolley, a smaller Rubbermaid container for book ends, display holders and miscellaneous pens, markers, tape, scissors, x-acto knife (keep this well out of my reach at this point) table clothes and stuff. Oh yeah and some clothes, computers, personal effects including a large bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol. All this and the two of us in a Saturn Vue. Can you say ‘shoehorn?’
By this point, the two dogs have been delivered to ‘camp’ and arrangements made for the care and feeding of the three cats. I only mention this to reinforce that it truly does “take a small village” to get the show on the road.
Showtime consists of Arrival, Set-up & Showtime.
• Arrival – the venues for these shows can be arenas, conference facilities, town halls, banquet halls or even historically significant facilities like the St Lawrence Market or the Wychwood Barns in Toronto (my personal favourite). Invariably these places come with charm, challenges and very cold drafts. In order to facilitate efficient and safe unloading each vendor (note we are no longer people but vendors) are given an allotted time in which they are to arrive at the venue in order to unload. I take a vicarious thrill in trying to be late to see what the ramifications of such careless and frivolous behavior might be but Duncan is almost as anal about being on time as he is about the whole packing thing so unfortunately I have never realized this little dream.
• Set Up – this is where it usually gets ugly. Duncan unwraps each and every item with the care and affection one would attribute to the handling of a million dollar Faberge Egg. Each item is placed on its previously assigned shelf or safely ensconced in its appropriate easel. All this transpires while I am climbing onto chairs and tables precariously hanging fine art pieces from display framework praying a) it holds and b) it is straight c) I don’t fall though into the glass display in the adjacent booth . More than once, I have heard snotty giggles from vendors upon hearing the delightful repartee that passes between Duncan and myself during set up. Fortunatly this is short lived as the banter is followed by a stoney silence. If all this is not already challenging enough, add to the equation other vendors that cannot wait for us to complete set up but must pry into boxes or flip through portfolios and gawp at maps because the world of collecting and dealing will come to a crashing end if they don’t get a jump on the other guys. Bane of my existence!
• Showtime – We have been very fortunate over the years to have met some really nice people from participating in these shows. Leather elbow patches, moth eaten cardigans, plaid shirts and really bad hair aside, we have had some good laughs with fellow vendors comparing war stories. We have also come to know and have affection our faithful followers and regular patrons. There are always the ignorant (in the true sense of the word) comments like “I can get that cheaper on line”, or “what is your best price” or my personal favourite “how much will you give me for this?” however, these are far outweighed buy the knowledgeable, interested and genuine folks that attend the shows.
Post Show consists of winding things down.
Sunday 5:00 p.m. at a Book or Antique show can only be compared to the last day of school before summer vacation for grade 12 students.
You cannot imagine how quickly a display can be torn down, boxes packed and car loaded, good byes and promises to stay in touch exchanged.
Upon arrival back home, everything is unloaded, unpacking can wait until the next day It doesn’t take long for me to hop into comfy pants and fuzzy slippers, pour a glass of fine vintage and curl up in front of the TV.
And we do it all over again.
Nothing like the show experience.
For collectors, there is really nothing like the show experience. It is at a show that you have the opportunity to speak with many dealers and to browse amongst a vast amount of materials. This is where you may find that special treasure that complete your collection or maybe even start you on a new and exciting collection.
We shall be planning, setting up and knocking it down at the following shows. Please come by, say hi, browse, do the touchy feely thing (with the books of course). To those we know, it will be great to see you again and to those whom we have not yet met. We look forward to doing so.
Take a moment to browse our on-line shop. If there is something here that touches your fancy then please do contact us as we would be delighted to bring this item to the show for your perusal and purchase. Don’t be shy. Nothing was ever gained by saying… maybe tomorrow.
The shows Lord Durham Rare Books will be exhibiting at in 2015
• The Old Book & Paper Show Spring 2015
• Elora Spring Antique 24th Annual Show Spring 2015
• Ottawa Book Fair
• The Old Book & Paper Show Fall 2015
Article written by Julia McLaren, The Lord Durham Report editor
© text and images Lord Durham Rare Books, all rights reserved.