Book Fairs | May 29, 2012

55th London Antiquarian Fair Hailed A Huge Success

In its 55th year, the London International Antiquarian Book Fair achieved excellent sales figures - up by 22% to £3.85 million, which given the current economic climate, has surpassed expectations. For the first time, the Fair took place in the National Exhibition Hall of Olympia, West London, from Thursday, May 24 and ran until Saturday, May 26, 2012. Just under 500 visitors - many who had queued to come in - came through the doors in the first 40 minutes of the Fair which comprised of 185 exhibitors* from 17 countries.

One of the first things to sell was a set of 13 screenprints by Damien Hirst, the prints dating from 1999 were being offered for sale by Bernard Quaritch of London and sold for a five-figure sum, proving that the Antiquarian Book Fair is offering a much wider spectrum than in the past.

Chairman of the Fair, Brian Lake of Jarndyce, based by the British Museum in London reported “that the overall reaction to the ABA Book Fair has been positive from both the booksellers and visitors. The new location has attracted many favourable comments and many visitors told me that it is the best fair they have been to. It looked fantastic and extremely professional. We had the cream of the world's books and booksellers - a top notch, world class event. And despite the current economic climate and the amazing summer weather, sales were 22% up on 2011 - which I feel is a real achievement by the organising committee and the fair manager, Marianne Harwood.”

Among those exhibiting for the first time was Antikvariat Mats Rehnström from Stockholm. Mats Rehnström commented: “this is the first time we have done the Fair and it is well organised and the security is very good. We have met a wide range of people from all over the world including old acquaintances and even clients from Sweden!”

The team at Bernard Quaritch Ltd, London, who exhibit at all of the International Book Fairs were very enthusiastic and said “we have had a really good fair, it is a really nice location - rare to have natural daylight - it’s definitely the nicest fair I have been to for a long time.”

Past Fair Chairman, Adrian Harrington of Adrian Harrington Rare Books, Kensington Church Street, London - who was instrumental in the International Book Fair coming to Olympia 15 years ago, said: “We really like the new location and it has been great to see old friends and make new ones. Among the interesting items that we have sold was a ‘Gringott’s cheque’ film prop from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was sold to a dealer from the USA.” Specialists in Bond-related material, they also welcomed Ian Fleming's nephew Fergus Fleming on their stand to soft launch the Ian Fleming bibliography by their colleague Jon Gilbert and immediately had pre-orders.

Julien Comellas of Libreria Antiquària Comellas, Barcelona was also doing the Fair for the first time. He thought it was a good location and very well organized. He had sold items to the trade but also to a few private customers - several who he had lost contact with in the past, so was pleased to be re-acquainted with. A regular on the international fair circuit, he said he would definitely do the London International Antiquarian Book Fair again.

Janette Ray of Janette Ray Rare and Out of Print Books, based in York, commented how professional the fair looked. “it is nice to be in such wonderful surroundings. I have met several new private customers and new, younger faces who seem to be interested in my items.”