Some thoughts on starting your collecting
For the second time, the virtual doors of Firsts London Online are about to open, and so once again may I extend a warm welcome to you all, should you care to pop along for a leisurely browse. The online fair will remain open for visitors and buyers from today until midnight on Monday September 14th, with new items being added daily. Together with 115 international dealers from 16 countries, I have uploaded a number of recent acquisitions which can be viewed on the site. Exhibitor highlights may be changed during the event, and so please do keep revisiting the site.
As the book collecting community comes together once again, albeit virtually for the time being, I am therefore pleased to present my latest catalogue on the theme of collectors and collecting – ‘Wonders Bound’ – A Selection of Curiosities. Predominantly from a private collection, the 40 item list includes Wunderkammers, associated instructional works on how best to transport, preserve, and display the natural and artificial wonders, as well as works on zoological gardens (Moscow, Paris and Berlin), auction catalogues, guide-books, and other curiosities. After a relatively quiet summer, it has been an enjoyable, and often thought-provoking, catalogue to work on, and I hope that it may be of interest.
We may not all be able to meet in person this year, but the fair must go on as they say, and I am delighted to be amongst 120 exhibitors partaking in Firsts Online – a digital version of our Firsts London.
The fair will launch to the public at 2pm GMT on Friday 5th June 2020. Over 120 Exhibitors from 15 countries will gather to offer rare and beautiful works including books, maps, manuscripts and ephemera covering a vast array of subjects.
Each exhibitor has been invited to showcase up to 12 highlights from what would have been their exhibited stock at the annual fair in London. In addition I will be uploading a catalogue shortly after the fair opens – so please do watch this space! I also plan to be ‘manning’ my virtual booth, so please do drop me a line if you have any questions.
The virtual fair will run for a week, and dealers will be updating their stock throughout the week.
In an attempt to keep up some semblance of normality, and having enjoyed our first joint venture ‘A School Day in Books’, Susanne Schulz-Falster, Amanda Hall, and myself, inspired by the strangeness of the times across the globe, decided to collaborate once again on a catalogue that might reflect the very different lives that we all rather abruptly find ourselves living.
Discombobulation, or Musings on Life in Lockdown tries to capture some of the principal preoccupations facing us all at the moment. In these confusing and unsettling times as we are slowly getting used to social distancing, and new routines, the various social media memes, gifs, and videos circulating globally are inevitably focusing upon certain themes. First and foremost the great skill, fortitude, and selflessness of those in public health treating and caring for the sick and vulnerable; secondly how we are all taking time for reflection & self improvement (i.e. finally taking up that hobby we have long talked about, or reaching for a favourite book); home entertainment (be it gardening, playing games, or just letting it all hang loose); well-being & fitness (i.e. trying not to over-indulge); and finally the big question of the day – quite what does the future hold?
Firstly – a big thank you for checking in to my website in these extraordinary and momentous times. I trust everyone is well and safe. Self isolation is something that as a sole-trading bookseller I am quite used to, but it is going to be emotionally, mentally, and physically challenging for all of us, and so I sincerely hope that you are holding up as well as can be expected, and finding succour and comfort where you can. BBC6 Music is certainly helping me through the day.
In the face of such uncertainty, all I can do is to continue doing what I know how to do best – in fact it is the only thing I know how to do – i.e. to catalogue books and offer them out. I plan to send out a couple of short lists, though am conscious of adding unduly to the tsunami of emails which are flooding out across the world. They will be limited I promise – but I will try to keep updating my website.
I have just uploaded a number of stock items for your perusal. All items at this time will be sent post free and normal trade and institutional courtesies are extended. I will post things if I can, and usually use courier services, but the lockdown may perhaps reduce the services they provide. All orders will be held until the situation changes.
I am fully aware that for institutional customers, that most are currently unable to receive or pay for purchases in the near-to-intermediate term. I am happy to hold items for as long as necessary. We are all in this together.
I wish I could offer you a selection of gentle and soothing novels to pass the time. Sadly that is not my forte. It is so sad to see the impact that the current circumstances have had on book fairs and even on the health of some of my colleagues. How lucky that we live in this interconnected age, thanks to the internet, so that the book trade does not have to grind to an utter and complete halt. Many of my colleagues do offer a more extensive, and let’s be honest, a less gruesome and more ‘reading for pleasure’ stock, however, and so I encourage you all to seek out local independent bookstores, fellow ABA, ILAB and PBFA members, so many of whom are magnificently rising to the challenge of life in the time of Covid-19.
Hang in there – Stay Home – We are all in this together!
I am delighted to once again be exhibiting at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair – in this, its 60th Anniversary year. The books are now on their way, and I will be joining them next week. Please do come and say hello if you are in town. I will be exhibiting at Booth C29. If you would like a ticket please let me know. For further details about the fair please go to their website:
Hot on the heels of YABS and am delighted that I will once again be exhibiting at the York National Book Fair. Featuring over 220 leading booksellers, it is the largest rare & antiquarian book fair in Europe.
The York Antiquarian Book Seminar provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience in a comprehensive survey of the out-of-print, antiquarian, rare and used book markets. Basic procedures and problems are discussed both formally and informally through a series of lectures, discussions, demonstrations and practical hands-on workshops with emphasis on cataloguing, pricing and bookselling in the electronic age.The seminar is designed for people of all levels of expertise, from beginners to those with years of experience who want to hone their skills in this rapidly changing field.
Only a few days to go until the opening of Firsts – London’s Rare Book Fair. With more than 150 international exhibitors offering an array of rare books, maps, manuscripts, art and ephemera, there really should be something for everyone! I will be exhibiting at Stand D08 and very much look forward to welcoming you to the stand – please do come and say hello. I will have a varied selection of material – including a number of items relating to Women in Science and Medicine.
This year the fair will be opened by actor and book collector Stephen Fry, and visitors will have the chance to view a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio along with other historic books and items from the Globe Theatre.
Firsts – London’s Rare Book Fair at Battersea Evolution is open:
Friday 7 June: noon – 8pm (£20 admission)
Saturday 8 June: 11am – 7pm (free admission)
Sunday 9 June: 11am – 5pm (free admission)
To register for complimentary tickets on all days visit: www.firstslondon.com
Battersea Evolution, Chelsea Bridge Gate, Battersea Park, London SW8 4NW
FREE shuttle bus operates between Sloane Square and the Fair
As one of a series of informal talks organised at the Battersea Book Fair in May, I was asked to talk about the growing number of Women in the Book Trade. Over the last few years, the Antiquarian book trade has benefitted significantly from the recruitment of a number of highly intelligent, articulate, and passionate young women, who have either joined some of our larger established firms, or else have set up under their own steam. The drive of this younger generation of trailblazers, who are more attuned to calling out inequality and imbalance, is certainly helping us to find our ‘collective voice’ and women in the trade are certainly being listened to more, though the trade has not been without many influential book women over the years, and in my talk I attempted to highlight some of the leading lights of our profession – both past and present. What struck me, as I put the talk together, was just how many women dealers are operating at the very top of their fields, and who are respected for their expertise, wealth of experience and knowledge, honesty and integrity. Apologies to all of those who I may not have mentioned.