Book Fairs | May 22, 2015

Hold History in Your Hands at the 58th London International Antiquarian Book Fair

From May 28th to 30th the halls of Olympia will once again present an unparalleled array of literary material at the London International Antiquarian Book Fair. Now in its 58th year, this major three-day event is one of the largest and most prestigious antiquarian book fairs in the world, showcasing rare, unique and unusual items from 180 leading UK and international dealers. 

From medieval manuscripts to modern signed first editions, visitors to the fair can hold history in their hands as they view and buy museum-quality books, maps, prints, photographs, manuscripts, letters, ephemera and original artwork.  And with prices ranging from a few pounds to many, many, thousands there’s something for everyone here.

Whilst the rock fan could buy a draft script for the 1975 British film of the Who’s Tommy, which belonged to Alan Smith, a road crew member for The Who in the 1970s. Based on the 1969 rock opera written by The Who, about a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who sure played a mean pinball, it was directed by Ken Russell and starred an array of famous names: from Elton John and Roger Daltrey to Jack Nicholson and Ann-Margret. 

The keen gardener could be tempted by a copy of Edward Aveno Brooke’s famous colour-plate book: The Gardens of England; an exquisite and important pictorial record of garden design in the mid-19th century. 

At the core of the book are the beautiful series of images taken from Brooke's original watercolours. The impending publication was announced by the publisher in February 1857, but according to the preface the work: "was the result of years of labour ...  Thus, Mr. Brooke has spent several summers in undivided attention to the views contained in this volume. Not satisfied with first or second studies, he has made repeated visits to each locality, and is enabled, therefore, to offer drawings which are correct and faithful in all their details." And very lovely they are too.

And finally the inveterate traveller might acquire a charming and rare original Terrestrial Betts Umbrella Globe, complete with its original wood case, though access to Google maps might be advisable; its cartographic elements are as intriguing as its unprecedented design: several now obsolete place names are used; colonial possessions are indicated; and the Antarctic regions remain virtually uncharted!

Meanwhile for those closer to home the LIVE! area at Olympia is devoted to book-related crafts and services including bookbinding, calligraphy and design.  Our chosen experts will be giving fascinating demonstrations and discussing their areas of expertise every day at LIVE!, the heart of the Fair.