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More than 200,000 expertly catalogued books covering more than 40 subjects are on offer and illuminated mansucripts, autographs and maps are included.

Initially an Anglo-American venture with 23 founder dealers the number participating is expected to rapidly rise to 100. All are members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

Worldbookdealers.com is the idea of two antiquarian book dealers, Hugh Pagan from London and The BookPress from Williamsburg, Pennsylvania.

Mr Pagan says: “The time is right for the top international rare book dealers to come together and set a new standard of quality in e-commerce books. The combined experience and expertise of the participating companies is such that between us we have seen or handled copies of virtually every major book produced since printing was invented.”

Dealer-led and dealer-owned, among the major names already signed up to the new venture are Maggs Bros., Bernard Quaritch, Bertram Rota, Bernard Shapero and Sims Reed.