Second Annual Rare Book Road Show Returns to International College July 20

Dust off those reading treasures in your bookcases and attics!

The Second Annual Rare Book Road Show II returns to Naples July 20 at International College’s North Naples Campus, 2655 Northbrooke Drive.

Five nationally known experts will appraise antique, rare and fine books during International College’s Rare Book Road Show on July 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The College is located at the intersection of Immokalee Road and Interstate 75.

The appraisers, who are looking forward to the event, offer the public some advice on what types of books to bring on event day.

“In real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. In books, it’s about condition, condition, condition. The better the condition, the better the value,” said John Berryman, an appraiser and owner of Sandra and John Berryman Fine Books in Ormond Beach. “I love these events just to see what people bring in. I’d say one in five people will have a real rare treasure.”

Other appraisers note that just because a book is old, doesn’t mean it’s rare or valuable. At best, it may have a good resale value.

Four other experts will appraise books throughout the day. They are: Steven Eisenstein, A Book-A-Brac-Shop, Miami Beach; Bill Wickham, Wickham Books, Naples; Lee Biondi, Ferrini & Biondi, Los Angeles; and William Chrisant, Midwest Auction Galleries and Cleveland Antiquarian Books.

The event also will feature presentations by experts in special book collections and a keynote presentation by Los Angeles Rare Books and Manuscripts Dealer Lee Biondi. Biondi’s discussion is entitled, “Writing and the mind of Man: Collecting Manuscripts and Printed Books in the Electronic Age.”

Biondi, who recently sold a rare Flemish Book, Book of Hours, for $275,000, doesn’t believe the advent of the electronic age will eradicate rare book and manuscript collecting. Technology, he explains, is just another process in the evolution of the written word. From generation to generation, thoughts, stories, histories and other facts have been captured on clay, papyrus, velum, paper and now, electronically.

“People will continue to collect rare books and manuscripts. Books will remain in circulation. The sky isn’t falling,” Biondi said. But there is a caveat, he adds.

“This is an art in transition. What will be redefined is the significant collaborative works in the scientific community of which there may not be any paper archives. For example, very little of the Genome Project will exist as a collectible archive because it’s all done electronically. Also being phased out are authorial manuscripts that are printed on paper with corrections, additions and deletions, because nowadays work is done in a word processing program and saved on a computer,” Biondi said. “They don’t have the same visual appeal and there’s less of an intimacy with the paper.”

Biondi entered the antiquarian book trade in 1990 with an expertise in Charles Dickens and the Victorian Novel. He has since developed an expertise and inventory in the history of writing, from ancient pictographs and cuneiform, through papyrus to the Illuminated Manuscript tradition of the Renaissance. His inventory includes extremely rare and high-end material of about 1,000 books and manuscripts dating as far back as 3200 B.C. and worth over $10 million.

Berryman also will touch upon the issues of collecting in an electronic era in his discussion, “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: What People Should Collect.” Berryman’s focus will be on what has been collected in the past, what is currently being collected and what will be a collectible in the future.

“I don’t think there will be problems collecting books in the electronic era. I have no confidence in E-books. They are not warm and fuzzy. You can’t curl up with them in bed, and they don’t give you the same reading satisfaction,” Berryman said.

The Rare Book Road Show II will offer other informative seminars and lectures topics including book care, resale, preservation, acquisition and value.

The Show also will feature a display of rare miniature books of the 14th Century and later. The collection is that of 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. Pistner’s collection includes more than 1,400 volumes with some manuscripts dating back to the 1200 and 1300s.

Also on display will be classic and antique cars courtesy of John “Dr. Johnny” Nocera, owner of Dr. Johnny’s Supreme Auto, which has offered total car care services to Naples residents for a little over 30 years.

Nocera has an inventory of 30 cars, including a 1959 Cadillac convertible, a 1960 Mercedes Benz, and a 1941 Packard convertible, all of which he plans to display at the Show.

The Rare Book Road Show is being hosted by International College to tie in with the Peter and Stella Thomas Special Collections Room, housed at the College’s Information Resource Center. The Thomas Room, named by the 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 are mainly about Far Eastern religion, folklore and art. Peter and Stella Thomas are longtime Naples residents and Mr. Thomas is narrator for PBS’s “Nova” science documentaries. The collection is catalogued and preserved through a grant from the state’s Division of Library and Information Services. Researchers are able to get on-line information about the collection and titles. Some book sections will be digitally reproduced.

“Preservation of knowledge in the printed form is a noble pursuit for the collector,” said Melody Hainsworth, Ph.D., Vice President of Information Resources and Services at International College and Director of the College’s Information Resource Center. “Private book collecting is rarely done collaboratively so this is a great opportunity to meet others who share the passion and expertise.
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