One of the original models for the BAFTA Award, designed by Mitzi Cunliffe, 1955, in bronze 6½ x 5½in (17 x 14cm), a prototype for the BAFTA ‘theatrical mask’ trophy. It is offered at New York International Antiquarian Book Fair by Voewood Rare Books with a plaster version for a price in the region of £175,000.

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Although the trophies being taken to the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair (NYIABF) might seem quintessentially British, they do have a link back to the Big Apple.

Andrew Miller-Jones of the Guild of Television Producers commissioned the award design from Mitzi Cunliffe (1918-2020), a New York-born sculptor living in Manchester, in 1955 for a ceremony held by the Guild of Television Producers.

In 1958, the group merged with the British Film Academy, which had been holding its own ceremony with a trophy designed by Henry Moore since 1949. Although first awarded just for television, in 1976, the mask trophy started to be presented for all categories (that year, the first one was given to Charlie Chaplin when he was made a fellow of the academy).

The two maquettes offered by Voewood are in plaster and bronze, both with the symbol for an atom with four electrons around one eye and a rectangle symbolising a television over the other.

Cunliffe’s other commissions included major works for the Festival of Britain, Leeds University and Liverpool University. Her ‘Jason Mask’ draws both on the tradition of the Greek theatre mask as well as British Modernism.

Larger prototypes were created, but these seem to be preliminary casts made when the design was still a work in progress. They were created at the Art Bronze Foundry in Chelsea and are now offered together for a price in the region of £175,000.

Strong contingent


Hand-coloured mezzotint of the famed Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de St Georges (1745-99), violinist, conductor and soldier, engraved by William Ward after Mather Brown, offered at New York International Antiquarian Book Fair by Maggs Bros for £6000.

There are 34 UK attendees among the 200 exhibitors at the 64th edition of the NYIABF, which runs from April 4-7 at the Park Avenue Armory.

British dealers are the strongest contingent at the event after US dealers (112) and include Simon Beattie, Roland Belgrave Vintage Photography, Jonkers Rare Books, Maggs Bros and Lucius Books.

Operated by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), the fair is produced and managed by Sanford L Smith + Associates and is regarded as one of the highlights on the rare books fairs calendar.


A plate depicting Martin Luther from the mid-17th-century first ‘Visscher edition’ of the Dutch Luther Bible with hand-coloured and gold-highlighted illustrations. It is available at New York International Antiquarian Book Fair from the stand of Asher Rare Books and Antiquariaat Forum for €42,500.

A total of 15 different countries are represented, and there are also 16 newcomers including Alastor Rare Books, Patrick Olson Rare Books, Photo Discovery and Wiggins Fine Books.

Another link back to the UK this year is the fair’s institutional partner, the British Library, which is the focus of ABAA Connect.

The programme allows the library to request items from exhibitors at the NYIABF which can be purchased as tax-advantaged contributions by donors to the American Trust for the British Library. These can be purchased for the library either through a full donation or by contributing with a partial gift.


Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is offered at New York International Antiquarian Book Fair by Madoc Books for £31,500. The first edition of the book published in 1563 comprises five books which include the early Christian martyrs, a brief history of the Medieval church and the Lollard movement, the reign of Henry VIII and the break with Rome, and the reign of Queen Mary and the Marian Persecutions.

April 7 – the fair’s Sunday – is the traditional Discovery Day where ticketed visitors can bring up to five items to be explained and appraised by experts.

Huge transformations


New ABAA president Alexander Akin.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), which will be marked at the New York fair. Here, Alexander Akin, the incoming president of the ABAA (who takes office on March 29) describes the organisation’s relationship with the fair.

“There have been some significant changes since the ABAA hosted its first book fair in New York in 1960 with a mere 20 booths.

“In addition to the leatherbound classics that might be the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the phrase ‘antiquarian books’, one can also see maps, prints, posters, relatively recent fine press items and first editions; even artists’ books with glowing lights or whirring motors encased within their design.

“Mirroring this diversity of material is a diversity of audience, with people from all walks of life in the aisles. I’m proud to say that the ABAA has always been inclusive of women – our first Board of Governors, elected in 1949, was 25% women – but I think that a time traveller whisked into the present from those days would still be struck by the changes on this front as well.

“The infrastructure of fairs has evolved, with the relatively simple tables and shelves of earlier days now supplemented with lit glass cases and other advances in display.

“Another huge transformation has come with the internet; a bookseller asking about a customer’s interests can now whip out a mobile device and offer items that may be physically located thousands of miles away.

“And, speaking of thousands of miles away, another dramatic change is how the evolution of transportation has allowed our premier fairs to become international, bringing not only dealers from other continents, but customers as well.

“Much has changed in the last three quarters of a century but it is clear that book fairs offer something that remains irreplaceable even in the age of internet shopping – and an ABAA book fair brings together the best of the trade in a single location.”