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Our first year at Olympia

It is almost a month since the 2015 London International Antiquarian Book Fair, at which Antiquates exhibited for the first time. Time to reminisce!

Olympia 2pm

The view from the street

The preparations for it and the fair itself were in equal measure exhilarating and somewhat daunting – months of acquiring stock, several weeks of late nights and many very early mornings had gone into cataloguing my books, and packing up took several days. And that was only the start.

Setting up

I’ve been attending as a visitor since I was an awestruck teenager, and arriving to an empty stand with my 15 boxes of books (many thanks to RF Shipping, who delivered and collected my fair stock wonderfully), fair catalogues (which can still be read, here) and accessories made me feel somewhat the dilletante again. A few hours and several rearrangements later, I was feeling more positive.

Olympia at 9am, before opening

Stand G11, 5 hours before opening

After a good night’s rest, further re-organisation, a quick tour of the fair and some final hints from my friend and next-door-neighbour at the fair, Dean Byass, the stand was ready. Lucky really, as it was 2pm on Thursday, and doors had just opened.

Olympia 2pm

Stand G11, just in time for doors opening


The following two days went by in a flash. After meeting and talking books with customers new and long-standing, writing invoices, popping to the PBFA International Antiquarian Book Fair just down the road (another great event at which Antiquates also had a stall) and sharing a pint with a couple of old friends, it was Friday evening.

Touring rare books

I was happy on the Saturday to conduct a short tour of part of the fair, which also functioned as a brief introduction into why people collect books (soon to be extended into a series on this very blog – watch this space). Thankfully, to the great relief of my vocal chords towards the end of the fair, this featured some cameo appearances from Josh Clayton of Jarndyce (who really captured my small group’s imagination with a Charles Dickens holograph manuscript), Derek Walker of Blackwell’s Rare Books, Christian White of Modernfirsteditions and Sammy Jay of Peter Harrington.

Trade was brisk; I bought and sold some great books. The company was a treat; we were next to Dean Byass, opposite Peter Rowan and just up from Nick McConnell. The venue was majestic, the administration flawless, and security was fantastic.

Why didn’t we see you there?!

Don’t take my word for what a treat this fair – the highlight of the British antiquarian book-trade calendar – really is. If you are a member of ILAB and even considering exhibiting in London, then do; if you’re at all interested in books and book-collecting, then come next year. Or better yet, come to Chelsea in November and then come to Olympia in 2016!