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peterharrington.co.uk

1. How did you get your start? Working for my father from about the age of 13 doing the occasional Saturday or summer job. I was put to work polishing books, packing and working in the back room. I joined Harrington Bros straight from school in 1994 working for my father and uncle.

I particularly enjoyed selling books and in 1997 I helped my father to start Peter Harrington Rare Books at 100 Fulham Road. In 2000 I took over the running of the shop and after my father died in 2003 I became the owner.

2. Fairs vs shops vs online?

Book fairs are very important to us and we regularly attend fairs all around the world. We also have two rare book shops in London; the original four storey shop in Fulham Road and a newer shop in Mayfair where customers come to visit us and talk to our experts.

It is, however, increasingly clear that the website, which does generate new sales and customers, works hand in hand with the shops and fairs that we attend, and it is the ‘all of the above’ approach that we find works best.

3. Biggest threat to the market?

The rise of rogue sellers on the internet, who sell inferior books as fine. Also, the ease with which forgeries are being sold through online auctions and sellers.

4. A favourite book available at the moment?

Crusade in Europe by Dwight Eisenhower, which contains the signatures of 21 dignitaries from the Second World War, including Churchill, Truman, Eisenhower and Montgomery. The book was owned by an American soldier who wanted to create a legacy for his son and spent 10 years sending the book out asking for signatures.

5. What’s in your private collection? I’m a collector of Roald Dahl books, and specifically inscribed first editions. My first one – Henry Sugar – was a present from my father. It’s something I will never sell.

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