May 2, 2024 - Things to Do

A rare book fair with cool treasures is coming to D.C.

A room with chandeliers filled with people browsing rare books

Browse rare books. Photo: courtesy Fine Books Fair

A rare book fair is coming to D.C. this weekend with coveted titles like a first-edition Jane Austen, presidential memorabilia, and British royal experts.

Why it matters: Rare books are niche, but organizers say the Capital Rare Book Fair will appeal to serious collectors, history nerds, and curious Joes alike.

The intrigue: Founders Eve and Edward Lemon are a 30-something-year-old D.C. couple — so not the stereotypical demographic for rare books, though they're both avid collectors.

  • Their first book fair two years ago had more of a soirée vibe with drinks and music to attract a younger clientele.
  • "In the digital age, there's increasingly more interest from younger people in the physical items," Edward Lemon tells Axios.

Zoom in: This year's fair features 35 dealers and local shops like Capitol Hill Books, offering everything from early editions to modern sci-fi. A sampling of cool collector's items:

  • First edition 1814 "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen ($40,000)
  • First 1908 printing of "Anne of Green Gables" ($40,000)
  • First 1861 edition of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" ($25,000)
  • A prized letter from George Washington ($550,000)

Still, "don't be intimidated," says Lemon. "There's stuff at our fair that costs as much as a D.C. coffee these days."

If you go: The Capital Rare Book Fair kicks off with a party ($50) on Friday and runs through Sunday with speakers and events. Admission is $15, free under 16.

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