Queen Elizabeth I's most famous 'conjurer'

John Dee

Major exhibition at Royal College of Physicians reveals the fascinating life, times and lost library of Queen Elizabeth I's most famous 'conjurer'.

John Dee (1527–1609) is an intriguing character from 16th century England. A member of the Elizabethan court, he is infamous for his attempts to make contact with other-worldly spirits and his study and practice of alchemy. He was also a mathematician and scholar of navigation, a founding fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, a university lecturer on rhetoric, and an astrologer.

Dee’s library was one of the most famous collections of books and manuscripts of its time, as renowned for its contents as for the fact it was pillaged and dispersed while Dee was travelling in Europe during the 1580s.

Olympia Book Fair 2015

aba olympia 2015 short logo

Applications for stands at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair, Olympia 2015 are now being accepted from ILAB Members worldwide.  If you areinterested in exhibiting, please contact the ABA Office for the application form.  The closing date for applications - to secure your first choice of stand type - is 31st January 2015, after which bookings will be placed where space allows. 

We are also recruiting new exhibitors into LIVE!, an area of the fair where the world of book comes intriguingly to life.  Applications are being accepted from organisations, businesses and professional craftspeople that are linked in some way to the book.  Many of the exhibitors will give demonstrations and run workshops in subjects such as bookbinding, calligraphy, printing and wood engraving etc.  Please contact the ABA Office if you are interested in exhibiting, or know someone who might be.


New Associate Member - Clare Trimming (Beaux Books)

Clare TrimmingLast year marked the twentieth anniversary of my first foray into the antiquarian book trade. In 1994 I spent two weeks covered in book-dust helping out amongst the stacks at Bloomsbury Book Auctions.  It wasn’t the most glamorous of beginnings but something about the buzz of the auction, the chance discovery and the friendliness of the Bloomsbury crowd got to me and I was hooked.

I returned to Bloomsbury occasionally whilst at university. A fortuitous meeting there with John Sims led to a permanent job at Sims Reed and I moved from auctions into dealing. 

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"But Do You Actually Read Them?" - Forty Years of Collecting Fine Bindings - Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis 2The February 2015 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 Anthony Davis. Anthony sponsors the Colin Franklin Prize for student book-collectors at Oxford University, and the similar Anthony Davis Prize at the University of London.  He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a member of the Grolier Club of New York.

As a book-collector, he has been buying fine bindings ("mostly British, mostly before 1820") since he was a schoolboy and has assembled a rather idiosyncratic collection of books he hardly, if ever, reads.  In this seminar he will reflect on why anyone would want to do this, some of the characters encountered on the way, the fun to be had and the future for him and all those connected with rare books.

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ABA New Member - Julian Roberts

Julian RobertsI have always had an interest in books and libraries; well, for as long as I remember anyway. Not the sort of highly visible, glamorous Country House library but more the private library – the “guilty pleasure” – put together by one and to be shared by one and one only; these small libraries are often strictly devoted to a single subject and are collected with furious and determined ambition. I am in tune with this type of collecting and indeed it was this sort of driving passion that led to me dealing full time in books nearly twenty years ago ...

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Message from the new ABA Secretary - Camilla Szymanowska

Camilla SzymanowskaI am delighted to take up office at the ABA, and look forward to working with members in the coming months.  After nearly a decade on the shop floor [at Sokol Books and Bernard Quaritch], I am much enjoying the chance to see the bigger picture that life in the office affords.

Several members have come to me with initiatives, some of which are already being worked upon and will be implemented with all due haste.  Should you have any ideas of your own, I am very willing to hear them, and can be contacted at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Camilla Szymanowska

New Associate Member - Pinda Bryars (Bryars & Bryars)

Pinda BryarsThe official story of my becoming a bookseller – the one I have told to customers and to my concerned parents – recounts a natural and sensible progression from reader to collector to dealer.  While this isn’t entirely untrue, it makes things rather neater than they really were.  I liked bookish types, I even married one of them – but I wasn’t like them.  I read a lot, but I didn’t consider myself a collector and I had no idea by what arcane rites people became antiquarian booksellers. 

Things changed in the summer of 2012 ...

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Masters Courses in the History of the Book

BookmanThe MA/MRes Masters Courses in the History of the Book are organised by the Institute of English Studies (School of Advanced Study) at London University. They provide an unrivalled base for the study of a subject that has been the focus of increasing scholarly attention over the past thirty years. Originally considering mainly physical aspects of the book and the details of its manufacture and trade, scholars have come to see the study of the book as an aid to understanding literary texts and as a focus for insight into social, cultural and intellectual processes in history ...

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€500 Million Ponzi Scheme


The cosily niche books and manuscripts market may be about to be hit by one its biggest scandals in recent years. And Paris's Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits, as well as itssister organization the Institut des Lettres et Manuscrits, is in the eye of the storm.

Le Point reported that on November 18, France's anti-fraud brigade raided the museum and the various branches of Aristophil, a company owned by the museum's founder, Gérard Lhéritier. The company is suspected by the tax authorities and Tracfin—a public body fighting money laundering and terrorism financing—of “deceptive marketing practices," and “gang fraud." At time of writing, the Aristophil website as well as the websites for the museum and the institute appear to have been taken offline.

The implications of the case are far-reaching, and could have significant impact on the rare manuscripts world as a whole. According to Le Parisien, Lhéritier owns five percent of the global books, letters, and manuscripts market, worth an estimated €3 billion a year.

Read the full article by Coline Milliard (on Art Net News) here

London Rare Books School

bookmanA series of five-day, intensive courses on a variety of book-related subjects. The courses are taught in small groups by internationally renowned scholars using the unrivalled library and museum resources of London, including the British Museum, the British Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and Senate House Library. Each course consists of thirteen seminars amounting in all to twenty hours of teaching time spread between Monday lunchtime and Friday afternoon. All courses stress the materiality of the book so you can expect to have close encounters with remarkable books and other artefacts from some of the world's greatest collections.

Organised by the Institute of English Studies in the University of London at Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. 

Website: London Rare Books School 

Shakespeare First Folio found in French library

The book – one of only 230 believed to still exist - had lain undisturbed in library at Saint-Omer for 200 yearsfirst folio

A rare and valuable William Shakespeare First Folio has been discovered in a provincial town in France. The book – one of only 230 believed to still exist - had lain undisturbed in the library at Saint-Omer in the north of France for 200 years. Medieval literature expert Rémy Cordonnier was searching for books to use in a planned exhibition of “Anglo-Saxon” authors when he stumbled across the 1623 tome in September.

by Kim Willsher, The Guardian

York Antiquarian Book Seminar

YABS logoLearn about the antiquarian book trade from the best booksellers in the country.

About Y.A.B.S.

The York Antiquarian Book Seminar provides an opportunity for leading specialists to share their expertise and experience with booksellers, librarians and collectors 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.

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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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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


Edinburgh Book Fair - 6th & 7th March 2015

The 2015 Edinburgh PBFA & ABA joint Book Fair is looming and marked in every bibliophile’s calendar we are sure. The Edinburgh Book Fair represents an important union between the two pre-eminent national bookseller associations and this two-day event provides an excellent opportunity to see and buy a wide selection of rare, antiquarian and secondhand books, manuscripts, ephemera and artwork from some of the country's leading bookdealers.

Venue: Radisson Blu Hotel, 80 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 1TH

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Fairs and Events

The importance of a scientific work can be measured by the number of previous publications it makes it superfluous to read.

David Hilbert, attributed, quoted in Lewis Wolpert The Unnatural Nature of Science (1993)