Stephen Fry to open 62nd ‘Firsts – London’s Rare Book Fair’ on 7 June 2019!

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association’s (ABA) annual flagship event Firsts – London’s Rare Book Fair returns for its 62nd year this summer and will be opened on Friday 7th June 2019 by actor, writer and rare book collector, Stephen Fry.

The Fair is being held from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th June in Battersea Park and the event is one of the world’s largest independent marketplaces for rare and out-of-print books.

More than 150 exhibitors, from 15 countries around the world, will offer rare, unique and unusual works including signed first editions, maps, manuscripts, art and ephemera.


Photo by Iona Wolff


This year international online rare bookseller Biblio will serve as the Official Fair Partner and Shakespeare’s Globe will serve as the Charity Partner.

John Wolfson, the Globe’s Honorary Curator of Rare Books, will curate an exhibition of 16 extremely rare editions from his own collection, together with other items from the Globe which are not usually on show to the public.

The works to be exhibited at the fair include:

•  A first edition of Rima et prosa by Luigi da Porto (1539) containing La Giulietta which is the source for Romeo and Juliet.

•  A first edition of La prima[-quartaparte de Le novella by Matteo Bandello (1554-73) from which four stories were adapted by Shakespeare.

•  A first edition of The Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher (1634). This play was not included in the First Folio (1623) or any of the subsequent Shakespeare folios.


Photo by Iona Wolff


NEW for 2019:

•  For the first time at the Fair an exhibitor will use Virtual Reality.  With the aid of Oculus Go, Daniel Crouch Rare Books will give visitors a chance to fly over Turgot’s monumental 18th century ‘Plan de Paris’, which depicts the French capital during the reign of Louis XV.

•  The International Society of Bible Collectors is mounting a special Bible Exhibition at the Fair which will highlight the literary and cultural significance of the Bible. It will include a fragment of the Gutenberg Bible, the world’s first printed book, the Lunar Bible, the first printed book to make landfall on the moon, a 17th Century Bible with the bookplate of Charles Dickens, and a rare copy of the ‘Wicked’ Bible (1631), containing the infamous misprint “thou shalt commit adultery”.

•  Discovery Day – on Sunday 9th June from 13pm members of the public can bring up to 5 items to be appraised by experts.


Photo by Iona Wolff


Talks, Tours and Live Demonstrations at the Fair

•  Tours include an introduction to rare books, a modern first editions highlights tour, a history of the printed nature book tour, a LGBTQ+ tour, and female writers tours, plus Fair Sponsor Biblio will be organising a brief walking tour.

•  Talks include “Unreal City: Journey to the dark side of London” by photographer Adriaan van Heerden which will cover how TS Eliot’s poem The Waste Land was translated into 85 photographs of London, Simon Beattie will discuss his translation of Friedo Lampe’s novel At the Edge of the Night, which was banned by the Nazis, and Cynthia Johnson, from the Institute of English Studies, will discuss ‘Collecting the Medieval Book in the Industrial North West’.

•  Live demonstrations include calligraphy by renowned artist Andy Moore and traditional book binding by the Royal Bindery Apprentices.


For more information, and to register tickets, please Click Here.

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