Proud dad at Kensington


Saturday 12th December was the start of a busy weekend for us. Marcia and I travelled to London to be part of the PBFA Kensington Book Fair. Many thanks to Deborah Davis of McHardy Rare Books and her wonderful team for putting on another great fair. We had a thoroughly enjoyable day, and made more money than last year – which is always a good result.

There is a panoramic photo and short panoramic video of the fair so that you can see it in all its glory.

I have cornered John Atkinson to feature in this weeks video. Not only is he a fine chap, but he has recently become a father for the first time. Having met Lottie at the York Fair (Lottie is Ali Bird’s daughter – so from a proud line of booksellers herself!) they went on to become a couple, and now little Joss has joined the PBFA family. (Well he will have when he pays his subs in January!). If you are anywhere near Darlington, then do pay John a visit.

Of far more interest to most of us, and already better looking than dad, is the photo of Joss below. joss_atkinson


And in an update from the York fair, I’ve managed to get a snap of a somewhat shocked Lottie with Joss (sorry Lottie).


I have managed to gain a few more snippets at Kensington – which I will put into future blogs (I can’t give up all my goodies at once!)






The Marvellous Mr Marr

Last Sunday I spent a pleasant day in Topsham at the Exeter Book Fair – excellently managed by the ever capable Paul Davis, Kingsbridge  Books. As always, the fair was a genteel, enjoyable affair, where I sold some books, brought some books (and a manuscript poem!) and met some lovely people, some of whom were even new to the fair and PBFA. Today was going to be an interview with Paul – but he got gazumped!

Sunday was Ian Marr’s birthday (although he refused to tell me how old he was). In celebration of this, and once he had imbibed a little lunchtime lubrication (he refused to go near the video before), I have made this interview with him.

Ian has had one of those rambling careers that seem to be a regular part of the bookseller’s life. Having begun his book career in Bonhams, and run away to Bavaria (perhaps it was the alliteration that sent him there), he settled down with Marlborough Rare Books in Bond Street until 2005, when he struck out on his own, blazing a trail into the Wild West of Cornwall.

Since then, Ian has been a regular figure at many of the PBFA Premier fairs, and at the ABA fairs. As Ian says “I do like a book, even a relatively ordinary one, that has some quality to it that lifts it into the category of historical artefact.”  But enough of my commentary – take a look at his video interview below.

As well as being a marvellous chap, Ian has the distinction of being the only book dealer to have thrown a punch at me (so far – and although many have been tempted).  He promises that this was merely a demonstration of technique – but you have to wonder!

Ian claims on his website that “Cornwall is really not as far as you think” – He may share Einstein’s views on distance, but promises he is only 20 minutes west of Plymouth. If you venture to the South West, be sure to pay him and Anne a visit.

Kensington Christmas Fair

It is almost time, and I have been busy packing my stock ready for the Kensington fair this weekend. Why would anyone in their right mind head up to Kensington just before Christmas?  Well the book fair is as fine an excuse as any!  A last opportunity to bag a unique (or at least very hard to find) item for the one you love.

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Once you get a goodly gathering of PBFA dealers, add some authors presenting their works, a sprinkling of Small Press publishers and finish with poster and artwork sellers, then you have a mix to attract anyone (well,  anyone with taste and a yearning for the finer things anyway!)

Whoever you are trying to purchase a gift for – there will be something available. Here is a selection that will be taken by PBFA dealers. Click on the pictures for more information. There is also a slide show at the bottom of the blog that has more images of these items. ken_1

Perhaps you are trying to inspire an appreciation of books in your grandchildren (or children) – You could do far worse than a first edition of “The Vicar of Nibbleswick” by Road Dahl, offered by Sarah Key (The Haunted Bookshop) . A fine first edition, with illustrations by Quentin Blake – it certainly is a nibble at only £20


Sarah is also offering some goodies at the other end of the scale. A lovely numbered, limited copy of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (number 916), with beautiful illustrations by Arthur Rackham. This will be presented for £2,995.




Somewhere in the middle, Black Cat Bookshop is bringing along a first edition of “The Lorax” by Dr Seuss, from 1972. A lovely clean tidy copy, in “unscribbled” condition, a bargain at £295.




For the travellers amongst you, there will be a wide variety of books, maps and items. John Underwood is presenting Peter Heylyn’s  “COSMOGRAPHY IN FOUR BOOKS. Containing the Chorography and History of the whole WORLD and all the Principal Kingdoms, Provinces, Seas, and the Isles thereof” Printed in 1682, and boasting a beautiful hand coloured title page, this contains four folding maps. Complete, and potentially yours for £2,500


Adrian Harrington (newly of Tunbridge Wells) is bringing along an account of the voyages of Captain Cook. Written by John Hawksworth, “An Account of the voyages undertaken by the order of his present majesty for making discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere … “ together with a copy of Cook’s ken_9own “A Voyage towards the South Pole, and round the world.” and also containing Cook’s “A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean” Altogether, these fabulous books, make 9 volumes, all bound into a lovely matching set by the Chelsea bindery. Follow the photo link for a lengthy description of these books and their importance. This one only for the truly deserving! Yours for £25,000.

If you prefer your travel to be fantastical, then we (Harrison-Hiett) will beken_8 taking along a copy of Johann Baptist Homann’s  “Accurata Utopiae Tabula”, a complete (if fictitious) map showing the allegorical isle of fools paradise or Pays de Cocaigne, printed and hand coloured in 1740. It includes the “Kingdom of Extravagance”, and “Empire of Fat Stomachs”, “Tobacco Island” and the “Land of Gluttony”.  All surrounded by Seas of Drunkenness and Lust – when can I visit?  find your own way there for £500


It isn’t just books that are available at the fair. If it is rare signatures that you are looking for, then consider White Eagle’s copy of “Tenzing After Everest” – Tenzing’s own account of the ascent of Everest, and signed by him to the front end paper. Available at £495.

You can also find some interesting London ephemera at the fair. Wool House Books are bringing along a Copper token engraved with the words Lyceum Strand London engraved below figure of a prancing horse ken_92with figure of Mercury on its back. Words engraved around edge: “The First Equestrian Performance in Europe.” Theatre tokens were issued by the London theatres to reserve seats or booths, and as commemorative items. This one offered at £95

ken_94Finally, Wool House are also bringing another piece of London ephemera –  a lovely silk souvenir programme for a performance at Covent Garden June 23rd 1897. Silks were produced for a lasting souvenir in Victorian times, and this, to celebrate the Queen’s 60th anniversary as Queen, shows the program of the operatic performance at Covent Garden. Perfect for lovers of music, London or royal family history. Only £75

I hope you can make it to the fair to visit. If you do, come and say hello to us on stand 11 in the main hall. (If you don’t wish to speak to me, the lovely Marcia will be helping me for the day).

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