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For its 61st edition, the fair, organised by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, left its former home at the Olympia Exhibition Centre in West Kensington for the leafier setting of Battersea Park where the new venue is located.

“I’m delighted this year’s fair in Battersea showed not only an increase in exhibitors but also a significant rise in footfall, with new faces at the fair and a younger profile of visitor,” said Tony Fothergill, chairman of the event.

A total of 180 exhibitors stood this year, including 18 newcomers. Dealers came from 15 countries, and there were 11 talks, eight demonstrations and 13 tours – including one for children – on offer, as well as the huge supply of rare books, manuscripts, maps and ephemera.

The fair was opened by Honorary Member of the ABA Sir David Attenborough, himself an enthusiastic book collector. He shared with the crowd his first rare book, which he purchased at age 15 for one shilling: a 13th edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.  

Key sales

A menu from Britain’s oldest Indian restaurant from 1786 featuring a handwritten list of 25 dishes was one of the event’s standout sales. Offered with a ticket price of £8500 at Jarndyce Rare Books it went to an American institution.  

Among other key sales was a series of notes for speeches Margaret Thatcher made after she was prime minister in 1996 was offered by Peter Harrington Rare Books for £25,000. They were written in a notebook Thatcher would have been given as a Concorde passenger.

There was also an 1843 pictorial collection of ancient Egyptian ruins by Victorian photographer Owen Jones which Shapero Books sold for £9500. And a signed first edition of Ruth Rendell’s debut novel From Doon with Death (1964), which went to a UK collector for £5000.