Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2021 Issue

Old Books and Old Collectors shout Harrah!!

The desire to browse and buy is strong!

Book fairs have been the early and consistent victims of COVID and it’s time to say The Empire Strikes Back!  In-person buying and selling in the collectible paper field has long been a vital component and COVID particularly damaged shows.  It is a wonderful sign that normalcy is breaking out. 


The United Kingdom has been particularly diligent to call for its population to be vaccinated and this recently has permitted government to relax the prohibition of larger gatherings.   The immediate outcome was to stage Firsts in London.


This said we’ll simply let the show’s PR department jump on the main table and dance a jig intoning, free at last, free at last.   Congratulations!


 Record visitor numbers and strong exhibitor sales mark a successful Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair 2021 following move to Saatchi Gallery


Press Release: Exhibitors and fair organizers declared the 64th edition of Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair a resounding success, with visitor numbers up almost 30% on the 2019 edition and strong early sales setting the tone for what proved to be a productive four-day event for exhibitors. 


The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association’s premier event, which took place from October 21- 24 at Saatchi Gallery, welcomed 4,500 attendees this year – a record number of visitors – despite having to overcome travel restrictions and other pandemic-related challenges to event attendance. 


“I think it is safe to say our expectations have been exceeded. We were frankly delighted with the footfall at the fair this year, which was close to 30% up from the 2019 edition despite having far fewer exhibitors participate. It was particularly exciting to see the fair attract a much younger and more diverse audience, a testament to the new venue’s more central location and wider appeal,” said Pom Harrington, Chairman of Firsts. 


“The fair’s move to Saatchi Gallery has undoubtedly proven successful in attracting museum and institutional buyers, existing and new private collectors, as well as rare book enthusiasts from across the UK. The vast majority of participating exhibitors across all three floors of the new venue recorded stronger sales than in previous years,” said Pom. 


The total reported sales were greater this year with 83 exhibitors than with 2019’s 130 exhibitors, with average sales as well as median sales up. Exhibitor sales were recorded across the 4-day event – with early sales at the private opening reception setting a positive pace for the rest of the fair. 


Guided tours and talks also saw enthusiastic sign-ups from new visitors keen to learn more about the fair highlights.  


“I’m pleased to confirm that Firsts London will return to Saatchi Gallery next year and has been secured as a venue until 2024. This was the very first year the ABA received a unanimously affirmative response from every participating exhibitor that they would either return or consider returning next year – an unprecedented result given the many challenges we’ve had to overcome in the past 18 months in bringing back the physical book fair,” added Pom.  


Looking ahead to next year, Pom continued “We can confidently say that we anticipate 2022 to be very popular. We normally have 50 to 60 overseas exhibitors and this year we had 12 – unsurprising really, given how challenging things have been. I am very confident, however, that next year will be very different and we look forward to welcoming back a much larger international contingent of exhibitors for an even stronger fair.”  


The 65th edition of Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair is scheduled to take place 15-18 September 2022 at Saatchi Gallery, with Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association’s smaller Chelsea Rare Book Fair scheduled for 29-30 April 2022 at the Chelsea Old Town Hall.  Online editions of the rare book fairs will continue to take place quarterly, with the next ‘Firsts Online’ due to take place on 2-7 December 2021 at www.firsts-online.com.  


The Fair’s Chairman and Committee wish to extend their thanks to the fair partners and sponsors, Biblio.com, The London Library, Richard Thompson Insurance Brokers and The Antiques Trade Gazette for their continued support of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Associations fairs and events.  

Rare Book Monthly

  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Closing Time, Advance Readers Copy of Uncorrected Proof with a letter from Heller on his personal stationary
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Gates, Bill, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, N Y: Knopf, 2021; first edition, with a handwritten note from Bill Gates
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Catch-22, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961, first edition, first printing, first issue dust jacket, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Heller, Joseph, Something Happened, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, first edition, inscribed on the front end paper by Heller
    Bid on iGavelAuctions.com: Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, London: John Murray, 1818, in four volumes
  • Manuscript Masterpieces from the Schøyen Collection
    London auction, 11 June
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Holkham Hebrew Bible. In Hebrew, decorated manuscript on vellum [Toledo, 2nd quarter 13th century]. £1,500,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Crosby-Schøyen Codex. In Coptic, manuscript on papyrus [Upper Egypt, middle 3rd century / 4th century]. £2,000,000–3,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The Geraardsbergen Bible. In Latin, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Southern Netherlands, late 12th century]. £700,000–1,000,000
    Christie’s, Explore now : Jean de Courcy (fl. 1420). The Chronique de la Bouquechardiere. In French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1480]. £200,000–300,000
    Christie’s, Explore now: The ‘Catherine de Medici’ Hours. In Latin and French, illuminated manuscript on vellum [Paris, c.1485]. £120,000–180,000

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