BTHC Brochure and Booking Form 2014

bthcBookshops have been at the centre of the trade’s activity from the beginning. This year’s conference will explore some aspects of the arrangement of bookshops and the way in which they framed social and commercial interaction of many kinds. Leading scholars in the field will present original papers, drawing evidence from different countries and different historical periods.

The Book Trade History Conference will take place on Sunday 16th & Monday 17th of November 2014 at Stationers' Hall.

Download the BTHC Brochure and booking form here

ABA New Member - Mark Crocker (Somer Books)

Mark CrockerI was thirteen and the cashier at our local cinema had decided the youth with the suspiciously deep voice and wearing an obvious school blazer with the badge removed was under age.  Unmoved by my carefully rehearsed date of birth she refused to sell me a ticket for “War Of The Worlds” (the Gene Barry version).  In a fit of pique I went into W. H. Smith and bought a paperback copy and spent the rest of the weekend reading it. 

That first experience of enjoying a book I’d chosen for myself was my introduction to “grown up” reading and the gradual discovery of a wide range of authors and subjects.  Most of my books were kept, so over time a sizeable collection built up which by my early-fifties had to be thinned out. 

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Whither Bookshops? - Stephen Foster

Stephen FosterThe November 2014 seminar in the book-collecting series organised jointly by the Institute of English Studies (London University) and the ABA Educational Trust will be given by Stephen Foster of both Foster's Bookshop in Chiswick and 95 Bell Street in Marylebone. 

Stephen says, "The traditional secondhand bookshop is in decline.  As someone who has run secondhand bookshops in West London for over thirty years, I’ll take a look at some of the changes that I have seen, as well as the state of things today, and how I see the future of the secondhand and rare book trade". 

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Chelsea Book FairEVER FANCIED OWNING a First Edition of Diamonds Are Forever or The Hobbit?

Are you curious to know what your aunt’s dusty old leather-bound copy of Bleak House might be worth?

If you are, then the Chelsea Antiquarian Book Fair in November should be right up your street. Held at the stunning Chelsea Old Town Hall on the King’s Road, this event has become a magnet for collectors and dealers alike who travel from far and wide for two days of book dabbling and dealing.  For nearly a quarter of a century the Chelsea fair has been a fixture in the November calendar for those who love to buy and sell old books, maps, manuscripts, prints and related ephemera.

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Portrait of a lady?

portrait miss-benedetta-ramus

I have collected many “things” over the years, often unconsciously. An assemblage of mezzotint portraits of ladies of repute from the second half of the eighteenth century had a certain purpose, and even a policy. 

The ladies kept coming, so long as they were attractive, good impressions and preferably priced at less than one would have paid 100 years ago. Miss Benedetta Ramus, by Dickinson after Romney, sold for £672 in 1910, while a First Folio of Shakespeare was knocked down to Quaritch at Sotheby in the same year for £400. Nowadays an unmade bed excites the wealthy more than a carefully coiffured beauty resting her chin on volume 4 of Johnson’s Shakespeare. Perhaps there was a chivalric, or Gladstonian, motive in my retrieval of these fallen ladies. Combined with a degree of curiosity – who were Miss Young and Catherine Trapaud?

Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections


ABA Support for the Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections in the UK and Republic of Ireland

Like all academic books, the new edition of the Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections began with a proposal for the publisher detailing aim, scope, market and so forth. Support from the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA) was evident early on, as an encouraging comment offered to publicise the published Directory, the ABA has stated: “It’s obviously a book every serious bookseller should have. (May every acquisitions librarian feel the same way about libraries!) Beyond that, the ABA is helping to ensure that the Directory will be as good as it can be, in two key ways.

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ABA New Member - Tom Lintern-Mole (Antiquates Ltd.)

Tom Lintern-MoleI started in the book trade at thirteen, after being offered a job in a local Dorset bookshop. It was, admittedly, the third consecutive Saturday I'd spent browsing, so the owner's noncommittal offer was not wholly surprising:  

"You may as well come and work here next week; you spend more time than I do looking at these shelves".

This was 2000, just before the paradigm shift for book selling: when local shops could still support themselves by selling a combination of last-year's bestsellers to holidaymakers, local topography and military history to carefree retirees with big houses and the spare time to spend reading. The best stock was often kept back and put into the 'London boxes'; for taking monthly to the Royal National. 

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Save the Warburg Institute!

WarburgThe University of London has taken legal action to challenge its own deed of trust concerning the care and integrity of the Warburg Institute. Possible results of this action include the dispersal of the library, or its relocation abroad.

This is not the first time the Institute has been threatened: it was relocated from Hamburg to London in 1933, endangered by Hitler's rise to power, and although the University of London accepted the collections in 1944 (the agreement currently under review), similar action was considered in 2010.

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The ABA is increasing its membership

ABA/ILAB BadgeThe ABA is increasing its membership - have you thought about joining the best booksellers in Britain? 

A message to all ambitious sellers of rare and antiquarian books from Brian Lake, President ABA and Steve Liddle, Membership Secretary, ABA.

Why join the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association?

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Collecting Dickens


Charles Dickens collectors see prices rise as signed book fetches £275k - the Financial Mail on Sunday talks to Brian Lake about collecting Dickens 

Brian Lake, president of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, says the key appeal of Dickens is that there is a wide range of books and ephemera to suit all pockets.

"Dickens prided himself on being a man of the people and insisted his publishers offered his books cheaply so they could be widely read. His popularity meant print runs tended to be high and this means there are now large numbers of collectable editions available. No matter what your budget, there is something you can afford."

Read Toby Walne's full article here

De Caro Thefts - List of confiscated / withdrawn books


De Caro and the Girolamini thefts - Notice from ILAB president Norbert Donhofer, concerning the list of books confiscated or withdrawn from auction No 59 at Zisska & Schauer (Munich), May 2012.

Books Thefts: Pontremoli


Hundreds of books – incunables and early printings – and historical sketches have been announced missing from the Biblioteca del Seminario vescovile di Pontremoli and the Archivio storico della cattedrale di Massa. The attached list contains pictures of the library stamps and ex-libris as well as book descriptions.

If you come across of one or more of the items listed in the pdf file below, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (President of ALAI) or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Download the Pontremoli List of stolen books here

De Caro and the Girolamini Thefts - ILAB Protest Note

Official Note of Protest of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellersilablogo14

Since spring of 2012 the issue of the massive thefts in the Girolamini Library and other Italian libraries had kept busy both the Italian Justice as well as the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). ILAB understands fully that this is a complicated issue as the main suspected person, Marino Massimo de Caro, has carefully – and partly successfully - tried to cover up the traces of plundering he had left in the National Heritages. ILAB has, however, offered from April in 2012 onwards its help and cooperation to clear up this mess in many ways, an offer, which unfortunately had never been accepted and had not even been answered by Italian authorities. 

The latest developments in this case – the arrest of the Danish dealer Christian Westergaard and the confiscation of eleven books out of his stock – gives ILAB no other choice as to announce an official note of protest against the department of investigation. This note of protest will be sent to officials in both the Ministry of Culture of Italy and the Ministry of Justice of Italy, and it will be spread out to librarians, journalists, and the public worldwide.


Featured books


The Kelmscott Chaucer

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. The Kelmscott Press, 1896. One of only 48 copies bound in pigskin by the Doves Bindery

See all our Featured Books

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Next Fair

Chelsea FairThe 24th Chelsea Book Fair will be held at the Old Town Hall, King’s Road, London on 7-8 November 2014.

The Chelsea fair has become a strong fixture in the November calendar for book collectors and dealers. Warmer than Boston, more intimate than York, less formal than Paris – Chelsea has it all.

For more information visit: www.chelseabookfair.com

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Fairs and Events

Books think for me.

Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia (1833) ‘Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading’