Rare Book Road Show Comes to Naples

Do you have a book that has been in your family for generations? Perhaps it belonged to a relative and was passed down as a gift. Ever wonder about its value? Four experts in rare and old books will appraise your treasures at International College’s Rare Book Road Show on July 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Rare Book Road Show will be held at the College’s North Naples campus, 2655 Northbrooke Drive, at the intersection of Immokalee Road and Interstate 75.

"More people know the values of coins, stamps and objects of art that they do not own than those who know the values of books that they do own," said Steven Eisenstein, owner of Miami Beach’s A-Book-A-Brac Shop who will appraise books at the Road Show.

"Books do not have to be old to be valuable," said Eisenstein, who hosts a "Trash and Treasures" segment on Miami’s WSVN-Channel 7 newscasts. "Many books published during the last 75 years can be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars while books published hundreds of years ago have only minor financial value. If you are a book lover, reader, garage sailor, antique dealer or just want to learn something new and interesting you should join us for this informative day of seminars and lectures. There are no classes that you can enroll that teach this subject anywhere in the country. This is a unique opportunity to learn secrets of the trade."

Three other experts will appraise books during the day. They are: Tom Hamm, C. Dickens Fine, Rare & Collectible Books, Atlanta; Bill Wickham, Wickham Books, Naples; and John Ravenhill, Davall and Chown Rare Book Binders, Fort Myers.

The event will also include presentations by experts in special book collections and a keynote presentation by Naples resident Pat Pistner. Pistner is a member of the Miniature Book Society and a collector of miniature books. Her miniature books are on display at the Naples Museum of Art as part of The Pistner House, a nine-room, historically correct 1750s French dollhouse that brings together the craftsmanship of more than 60 miniatures artisans. The miniature townhouse, which is decorated with Louis XV and Louis XVI rooms and furnishings, took 10 years to complete.

Her collection includes more than 1,400 volumes with some manuscripts dating back to the 1200 and 1300s. The miniature books are readable and many were used by travelers who grew weary of carrying standard size books on their journeys.

The title of Pistner’s presentation is "The Joys of Being a Collector of Miniature Books." Others scheduled to speak include: Sam Boldrick, Special Collections Librarian, Miami Dade Public Library; Arthur Dunkelman, Curator, Jay I. Kislak Foundation, Inc., an organization engaged in the collection and conservation of art, rare books, manuscripts and maps of the New World; and John Ingram, Director of Special Collections, University of Florida. Eisenstein and Hamm will also make presentations.

The Rare Book Road Show is being hosted by International College to tie-in with the Peter and Stella Thomas Special Collections Rooms housed at the College’s Information Resource Center. The Thomas Room, named by Thomases in 2000, contains about 2,000 old and rare books, some dating back to the 1770s. The books were donated to the College by Fort Myers resident Elizabeth Mysiewicz and many are about the Far East, religion, folklore and art. Peter and Stella Thomas are long-time Naples residents and Mr. Thomas is narrator for PBS’s "Nova" science documentaries. The collection is currently being catalogued and preserved through a grant from the state’s Division of Library and Information Services. Researchers will be able to get on-line information about the collection and titles. Some book sections will be digitally reproduced. "This event will be a wonderful, unique opportunity for residents to learn about buying valuable books at auction, how to evaluate the family bible and the methods for caring of old and rare books," said Melody Hainsworth, Ph.D., Vice President of Information Resources and Services at International College and director of the College’s Information Resource Center.

"Preservation of knowledge in the printed form is a noble pursuit for the collector," she said. "Private book collecting is rarely done collaboratively so this a great opportunity to meet others who share the passion and expertise."
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