This weekend we went to the Antiquarian Book Fair in Buenos Aires at the Palais de Glace. Since I’m a librarian and Ceci’s a book designer, we were both fascinated by the works on display.

It supposedly is the only fair of its type in South America and most of the items were from Argentina. There were 18 book dealers represented. All of whom have stores in Buenos Aires.

Imago Mundi, which has a nice store at Arroyo 971, was the only one with significant items from old world Europe. They had a number of 15th century books.

A highlight of the fair for me was the 1942 handwritten draft of the short story El Milagro Secreto (The Secret Miracle) by Jorge Luis Borges. It was interesting to see the very small, precise handwriting of Borges, which probably was due to his poor eyesight. His blindness would become complete in the mid-1950s.

The Secret Miracle is a wonderful story in which time is suspended for a year while a Jewish writer has a chance to complete a story before being executed by the Nazis.

A lot of first editions by Argentine writers were on display, as well as the first Spanish languge editions of many works such as Lolita published by Editorial Sur.

Rare books are not always old. In many cases they have special features, such as particular bookmaking techniques. For example, there was a version of Oliverio Girondo’s Espantapájaros that had a specially designed binding. In other cases, the books are limited editions. Another work by Girondo was illustrated by the painter Spilimbergo.

When seeing one work, which I unfortunately can’t remember, Ceci exclaimed, “Look at the graphic spirit of this book”.

One book on art had a colored drawing by the Uruguayan artist Joaquin Torres-Garcia pasted inside.

Other vendors with Web sites included Alberto Casares, El Glyptodón, Los Siete Pilares, Librería Anticuaria L’Amateur. They all could use some serious help with their Web designs but it gives you an idea. The stores are much more interesting in person anyway.