The "Trade Fair" area of the New Horizons conference, sponsored by Designer Bookbinders, included seventeen different suppliers who displayed their wares in three inter-connecting rooms. Morning coffees, afternoon teas, and an evening cocktail hour were served in the display areas, creating a guaranteed capacity crowd at various times.
The variety of materials on display ranged from the smallest (a " bone clasp) to enormous (a cast iron board cutting unit) and nearly everything imaginable in between. As expected, similar but equally interesting products were often available in several booths.
A wonderful assortment of leathers, vellums and parchments were displayed in at least four booths representing the tanneries of William Cowley, Harmatan Leather, J. Hewit & Sons, and Russell's Fine Leathers.
This could well have been considered the Year of the Decorated Paper, with an incredible choice of decorative papers being shown by their creators: Ann Muir Marbling, Eva van Breugel (Holland), Payhembury Marbled Papers, and Victoria Marbling (shown in an annex area); and while not actually marblers themselves, Falkiner's Fine Papers also had examples in their stand from a host of sources, and some American paste papers were displayed by Bookbinder's Warehouse.
Had they given an award for "Best Looking Stand," I would have had to call a first place tie between Ann Muir Marbling whose paper and gift items were beautifully displayed, and Bookbinding Equipment by Sally Martin, whose incredibly beautifully hand-crafted wooden presses, frames, ploughs, etc., emitted a wonderful woodsy glow from her booth. This petite young lady makes the most wonderful hand-crafted equipment, some of which undoubtably weigh more than she does!
Publications, books and catalogs were available from several stands. Collectors of the annual New Bookbinder had a chance to stop by the Designer Bookbinders Publications Ltd. stand and get missing back copies at a fraction of their usual cost. Volumes #1 to #4 are now out of print, but they had all other issues available to complete your collection, along with some lovely DB exhibition catalogs, postcards, and more. A variety of other publications, books, and catalogs were available from The Institute of Paper Conservation, Bookbinder's Warehouse, and Falkiner's Fine Papers.
Of the seventeen exhibitors, fifteen were from either Scotland or England; only two came from other countries: Eva van Breugel drove her modern and classic hand marbles papers in from Holland, and the Bookbinder's Warehouse, from the U.S., was showing American books and exhibition catalogs (the many GBW publications were of great interest!) and some French supplies.
Papers were, naturally, of great interest as well. The Griffen Mill was offering, amongst other things, a popular "assortment pack" of their lovely handmade, archival quality papers for binding and restoration. And G.F. Smith & Son had an attractive display of machinemade papers, some with interesting dots, squares and lines.
Bookcloth was dominated by Bookcraft Supplies, Ltd., who showed a substantial range of buckrams and bookcloths plus various sundry items, and Shepherds Bookbinders has interesting patterned cloths and a linen buckram.
Besides those stands operated by the actual producers of the materials, several "distributors" showed a range of items accumulated from many sources: included in this category were Shepherds Bookbinders, Ltd., Falkiner's Fine Papers, The Bookbinder's Warehouse, Bookcraft Suppliers Ltd., and both Hewit and Russell's, leather tanners who also stock and distribute a variety of sundry items.
My winner for the "Single Largest Displayed Item Award" was W.L. Harrild & Partners, Ltd., who managed (with great difficulty for certain) to bring in a cast-iron board cutter with work table for box-making work, and several nipping presses. This was a substantial piece of equipment, quite important for institutions and private binders who do a lot of box work. This is the first conference of this sort that I have seen where a manufacturer was willing and able to bring in such large equipment, giving most of us our one and only opportunity to ever see this type of equipment live and in person.
As always, the Trade Fair area was very popular with the attendees. And as with most meetings of similar format, nearly all the bookbinders complained about the limited time they had to "shop", mostly during breaks and lunch periods between presentations. But each of them managed to stop at nearly every stand, collecting catalogs, price lists, sample books, etc. And shop the did, judging from the number of bulging shopping bags, supplied by the organizers, leaving the building at the end of each day. What a wonderful opportunity for bookbinders to be able to talk face-to-face with their suppliers!