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20% more visitors attend 61st ABA Rare Book Fair opened by Sir David Attenborough

Visitors to the 3 day Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA) Rare Book Fair, at its new home in Battersea Park, increased by 20% and 18 of the 180 exhibitors were new for this year. The Fair is the busiest and largest Rare Book Fair in the world and exhibitors came from 15 countries. As well as browsing the rare books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera visitors could listen to 11 talks, watch 8 demonstrations and enjoy 13 tours, including one for children.

As Tony Fothergill, the Chairman of the Fair says… “I’m delighted this year’s Fair in Battersea showed not only an increase in exhibitors, and in the total take, but also a significant rise in footfall, with new faces at the Fair, and a younger profile of visitor. We will be returning to Battersea next May for our 62nd Fair.”

The Fair was opened by world-famous naturalist, book collector and Honorary Member of the ABA Sir David Attenborough who shared with the crowd the joy of owning his first rare book at the age of 15. It was an unusual 13th edition of On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in which Darwin used the word ‘evolution’ for the first time and Sir David paid just one shilling for it.

Sales Highlights

There were items which appealed to everyone from serious collectors to those who are new to book collecting with prices ranging from under £50 to almost a million. Interesting sales made at the Fair included:

  • Margaret Thatcher – Notes for Speeches (1996) – Peter Harrington Rare Books. A fascinating series of notes made in a notebook given to Concorde passengers for speeches Margaret Thatcher made after she was the Prime Minister. (For sale for £25,000);
  •  Menu from Britain’s oldest Indian Restaurant (1786) – Jarndyce Antiquarian Books. This handwritten list included 25 dishes and was sold to an American institution. (For sale for £8,500);
  • The Queen’s (Elizabeth I) Three Processions – Roger Treglow. This included the rare third volume and was sold to US dealer Bauman Books;
  • Owen Jones –  View on the Nile (1843) – Shapero Books. A pictorial collection of ancient Egyptian Ruins. (Sold for £9,500);
  • Ruth Rendell –  From Doon with Death (1964) – James Pickard. A signed first edition of Ruth Rendell’s debut novel. (Sold to a UK collector for £5,000.)

Other quotes

“One of the largest and most prestigious bibliophilic happenings in the world” Bloomberg;

“I am smitten with Battersea Park” Clive Farahar, exhibitor;

“I had a wonderful visit, can’t stop thinking about it. Everything was perfect……thanks for the opportunity to see the marvellous books” visitor;

“…a great new venue and certainly a success for me re-establishing new contacts and an increase on sales” Lee Ashton Rare Books, exhibitor;

“….thanks for the warm welcome…..as newcomers we felt very well looked after. We will certainly be back next year” Andrew Pettegrew, USTC, new exhibitor.

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