If you are interested, consumed, or obsessed with rare books and have a yen to visit London you are in luck because Rare Book Week which features book fairs, lectures and discussions, tours, and auctions will turn, for a few days, the City of London into a living, pulsing hot bed of history, original material and artifacts that can be learned about and in many cases, purchased. As you read this article the first related Book Week events are already under way – from May 28th.
Book Week is a relatively new idea but England’s romance with literature has long been known. Now let’s set the stage with a few lines from William Blake’s Songs of Experience :
I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.
Okay, okay. It’s not like that anymore but it is a place that has long drawn poets, playwrights and authors and they have almost always come back, when they can, for more because London is, in the minds of many, the epicenter of western civilization. The English language developed here and its printed works have long charted human progress.
The annual event that triggers the mind to shift focus from today to by-gone days is the London International Antiquarian Book Fair. And it’s a reminder both that the present has been uncertain many times before and that great minds have lived through the uncertainty to write about it.
It is an exciting moment for bibliophiles. The principal difference between bibliophiles and the rest of the world is that they see the present moment in the context of larger trends and find both confirmation or rebuttal in juxtaposing the present with the past.
This year’s book week offers many opportunities to learn. Among them:
What is my book worth?
How can I see it?
Why should I collect?
What should I collect?
What is the mood in the market? What is the current and longer term impact of Brexit?
Given that Steven Hawking has said the world will end in one hundred years, how will that affect collectability as our great grandchildren are packing for relocation to Mars for guys and Venus for girls. Perhaps we should be collecting space memorabilia?
Here is a release provided by the book fair’s organizing committee. The fair is well worth visiting.
London International Antiquarian Book Fair
Now celebrating its 60th year, this major three-day event is one of the largest and most prestigious antiquarian book fairs in the world, showcasing rare, unique and unusual items from 180 leading UK and international dealers. The Fair is the jewel in the crown of Rare Books London, a new week-long festival celebrating old and rare books, with special events and behind-the-scenes activities for bibliophiles. To celebrate our anniversary and the launch of Rare Books London, the Fair will be running a new “Affordable Collectables” initiative, with books under certain price points highlighted and a special guided tour to introduce them to visitors.
From medieval manuscripts to modern signed first editions, visitors to the fair can literally hold history in their hands as they view and buy museum-quality books, maps, prints, photographs, manuscripts, ephemera and original artwork. Our exhibitors also welcome you to browse their highlights displayed on this website, and to get in touch prior to the Fair. They will be happy to bring specific items for your inspection, and this is an excellent opportunity to make new contacts in your area of interest.
In addition to the regular exhibitors, LIVE! at Olympia is a carefully selected series of exhibitions and live events run by leading professionals. Specialist organizations and craftspeople offer demonstrations of their products and services, and fascinating hands-on workshops (including family-friendly activities) give patrons a chance to dive straight into the world of fine printing, bookbinding, and calligraphy. Both newcomers and seasoned fair-goers will also enjoy guided tours of the show’s treasures led by our expert exhibitors.
The Fair is presented and managed by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA), in collaboration with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). These internationally recognized badges of excellence guarantee the accuracy of description and authenticity of all items for sale, as well as the professionalism and knowledge of the exhibitors.
The Olympia Book Fair is a highlight of the year for bibliophiles around the world. To join us, order your free tickets today.
Sign up for your complimentary ticket to the Antiquarian Book Fair.
The 180 participating dealers will welcome you.
National Hall, Olympia London
Hammersmith Rd., London W14 8UX
Thu: 1pm to 8pm
Fri: 11am to 7:00om
Sat: 11:00am to 4:00pm