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This Year’s Antiquarian Book Fair Is a Little More Rock ‘N’ Roll Than Usual

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The Beatles with a copy of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’ circa 1967. (Universal Archive/ Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

It’s already a favorite annual event of Bay Area bibliophiles, but this year’s Antiquarian Book Fair promises to be a little more rock ‘n’ roll than usual. Among this year’s collection of rare books, maps and historical documents is a wealth of music memorabilia, including two major pieces by the Beatles.

The first: original Beatles lyrics that were handwritten by Paul McCartney. The framed scrap of paper can be purchased from Biblioctopus for a whopping $650,000. Not a bad little price tag considering the song in question isn’t even for a big hit. Rather, it’s for “Lovely Rita,” a jaunty ode to a “lovely meter maid” that appeared on 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

A frame containing a Beatles album cover and a piece of paper with handwriting on it.
Handwritten lyrics by Paul McCartney for 1967 Beatles track, ‘Lovely Rita.’ The memorabilia will be available to buy at this year’s California International Antiquarian Book Fair. (Courtesy of Biblioctopus/ The California International Antiquarian Book Fair)

Another rare book dealer hailing all the way from Austria has a copy of the Fab Four’s debut album, Please Please Me on offer, signed by the whole band. The Vienna-based dealer, Antiquariat Inlibris, also has signed Polaroids of David Bowie, Freddy Mercury and Mick Jagger on offer as well as a copy of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand (by Dick Clark and Fred Bronson) that’s signed by over 100 musicians. Artists including Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Diana Ross, Billy Joel, Cher, Donna Summer, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper, Sting and Jerry Lee Lewis all had their mitts on this book at some point, making it a truly rare treasure.

Elsewhere, New York’s Appledore Books has a wealth of vintage Fillmore posters and a collection of 1968 issues of Rolling Stone. Janette Ray Rare and Out of Print Books has Stanley Mouse artwork and some UK books about ’70s subcultures. Capitol Hill Books has singer-songwriter Tom Verlaine‘s music book collection on display — including a personally inscribed copy of Patti Smith’s Woolgathering. And Jeff Hirsch Books has signed copies of Bob Dylan’s Lyrics 1962-1985 and Organic Trains by Jim Carroll.

Autograph lovers might also wish to seek out Germany’s Kotte Autographs amongst the fair’s 120 sellers, as well as Berkeley’s own J.B. Muns Fine Arts Books & Musical Autographs — both of whom will have much more music memorabilia on hand. J.B. Muns, though primarily focused on classical music swag, has promised to bring an album of pop, country and jazz autographs. Ken Sanders Rare Books also has a giant collection of signed photographs by British Invasion bands that were lovingly gathered by a teen fan in the 1960s.


Exhibitors are flocking to the Bay for the prestigious event from countries as far flung as Australia, Argentina and Denmark. Over 5,000 people are expected to attend — if you look at that in musical terms, that’s more than two sold-out Warfields.

What a way to celebrate the fair’s 75th anniversary.

The 56th California International Antiquarian Book Fair takes place at Pier 27 (the Embarcadero) in San Francisco, Feb. 9-11. Details here.

A note to our readers: KQED is a sponsor of the Antiquarian Book Fair. Newsroom staff decide editorial coverage independently of sponsorships.

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