A highlight of the book fair season this February is the Winter Edition of Firsts, the book fair of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, and we are delighted to present a selection of books and manuscripts on the occasion.
In line with our wide-ranging specialisms, at Firsts Online we present travel books, private press publications, literary works, scientific history, and manuscripts, as well as photobooks, engravings, and woodcuts. A slim eye-witness account of the Mutiny of the Bounty virtually sits beside 34 volumes of what is said to be the last typographic journal to be printed letterpress. An illustration from an incunable forms a counterpoint to an iconic photobook by William Klein. A finely-printed engraving of a plant found by Joseph Banks and his artist Sydney Parkinson in Australia is matched with an autograph letter by the explorer George Lyon, written to a mining engineer and geologist in 1827.
Altogether, the 21 items we selected for the fair cover a broad range of objects we are enthusiastic about – you will be able to tell from our characteristically detailed descriptions that we are fascinated by their histories.
What distinguishes our offerings at Firsts, first and foremost, however, is their rarity and uniqueness. We have a number of items of remarkable provenance. There is George Meredith’s novel The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859) from the libraries of William Erasmus Darwin – the oldest son of Charles Darwin – and his great-nephew Stephen Keynes. There is A Journal of the Life… of John Woolman (1824), the American anti-slavery campaigner and Quaker minister, this copy formerly in the library of James Blyth, and given to him by the distinguished Quaker missionaries James Backhouse and George Washington Walker (a fascinating history, which can be explored in detail here). There is the aforementioned letterpress journal, Matrix, from the library of the Castle Hill Press founder and biographer of T.E. Lawrence, Jeremy Wilson. And there is a rare copy of Alfred Munnings’ poems, illustrated by him with two drawings of horses (and his trademark brandy bottle), and inscribed to his friend Sir Desmond MacCarthy.
Among the rare items we bring to the fair are a scarce celluloid dustwrapper accompanying a copy of Henry Williamson’s The Labouring Life (1932, one of 122 copies), and an affecting Victorian manuscript of poems.
All items listed at Firsts are also listed on this website, where browsing our different departments may also lead you towards books and manuscripts that we are not exhibiting at the fair. In the virtual world, it is a short step from the premier London fair into our book room and gallery. We hope you will enjoy browsing!
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