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Actualités Antiquarian Booksellers' Association

Firsts London at Saatchi: The once-a-year showcase

Firsts London 2024, the rare book fair at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, London, runs from the 16th to 19th May.
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Firsts London 2024, the rare book fair at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, London, runs from the 16th to 19th May; it is the annual flagship event of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, ABA.
This year, the theme for Firsts is 'The Art of the Book' and will bring together the best the market has to offer when it comes to beautiful books.
The Fair will gather over 100 international dealers in the appropriate setting of the Saatchi Gallery, promising to be an exceptional demonstration of the book as art and the art of the book.

The Art of the Book

From bejewelled bindings to pop-up books; from Japanese woodblock printing to illuminated Qur'ans; in books, the visual arts meet literature, and beauty may be admired in illustration and illumination; in calligraphy and cartography; in typography and photography; in printmaking and paper manufacture; and within the art of bookbinding itself. Book design represents shifting tastes and conventions through the centuries and across cultures, as well as revealing socioeconomic factors which influence their production.

Pom Harrington, Fair Chairman, says: "Firsts: London’s Rare Book Fair is the once-a-year showcase for the very finest stock from the British rare book trade, as well as some of the best offerings of the rare book world globally. Staging the fair within a strikingly modern setting at Saatchi Gallery has proved a resounding success in allowing rare books to take their rightful place alongside decorative arts and antiques. Now in its 67th edition, Firsts has cemented its position as an unmissable event on the international rare book fair calendar."

2024 Fair Partner

This year, Firsts London partners with the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, one of the world's most iconic university libraries. It has been a legal deposit library for 400 years and one of the bigger objects from the Libraries is a printing machine which will be on view and in action at the Fair.

Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, said: "We could not be more thrilled to partner with Firsts: London’s Rare Book Fair, for the first time. The Bodleian Libraries is home to more than 23 million items, including some of the world’s greatest treasures of rare books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, music and ephemera. Throughout the weekend attendees will have the chance to learn more about our work in acquiring, preserving, and gaining new understandings of old books with cutting-edge technology. We will also give a special opportunity to become a Friend of the Bodleian, receiving exclusive access to our events, exhibitions and to become a part of the Bodleian community."

Talks & Tours

Firsts London 2024 has an extensive talks and tours program this year which is aimed at new collectors and bibliophiles of all ages as well as events for new book dealers.

Dirk Van Hulle and Mark Nixon talk about their recently published book "Write Cut Rewrite: The Cutting Room Floor of Modern Literature";
David Pearson will explore themes from his 2022 book, "Speaking Volumes: Books with Histories";
Peter Dazeley, celebrated photographer and author of Monochrome, will be chatting with Antiques Roadshow's Matthew Haley about his platinum prints; Nicholas Perkins, who curated the acclaimed exhibition Gifts and Books at the Bodleian Library in 2023, will explore some extraordinary gift books in this talk.

Tours include one by The Book Collector on the art of dust jackets; Clare Marshall from Marshall Rare Books will explore the popularity of colour plate natural history books; Les Ashton will focus on a selection of modern firsts and what makes them a highlight; and learn about the fundamentals of rare book collecting with Andrea Mazzocchi from long-established dealer Bernard Quaritch.

Book your tickets for tours and events HERE

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New to the book trade? Then don't miss this networking event

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association is delighted to host a networking brunch for early career and emerging booksellers.
Saturday 18 May
Light refreshments will be provided. The event will run from 10:00-11:00, followed by a tour of the book fair, led by Euphemia Franklin of Maggs Bros Ltd.
This event is primarily aimed for booksellers in the first 10 years of their careers, irrespective of age.

To see a list of exhibitors and for all information about the fair, visit the fair website: