1. How did you get your start?
I started building an antiquarian book collection after I got married in 2002, but when my wife discovered I’d spent £60 of grocery money on an old Gaelic book, she hit the roof. My obsession with old books would have to pay its way and an online business grew from there – completely from scratch.
2. How has the market changed?
For the books I first specialised in and still collect and sell (Scottish topography and Highland) it has noticeably dropped, which led me to change tack into natural history – particularly Charles Darwin. The market for him went berserk around 2009 and, though it has settled again, remains strong. Mr Darwin and related works are now my bread and butter. We’re thinking about getting a dog, so we should probably go for a beagle….
3. What is the fastest sale you ever made?
Roughly two minutes (and 20 yards). I was visiting a book fair in London a few years back and bought a fine copy of Rock-Climbing in Skye by Ashley Abraham (1908). A few moments later a dealer several stalls along asked me if I could possibly source a copy of Rock-Climbing in Skye for one of his clients. Without telling him what was in the paper bag I was holding I said I had a lovely copy “fresh in stock” and the deal was struck.
4. What books do you have on your nightstand?
A precarious pile of print: Gaelic periodicals, auction catalogues and usually a Highland tour (currently Nauticus in Scotland: A Tricycle Tour of 2462 miles, including Skye and the West Coast). At the top of the pile is Oil! by Upton Sinclair.
5. Real ale or espresso martini?
With apologies to malt whisky aficionados: a Talisker Old Fashioned by the log-stove. No, it is not sacrilege – it’s just lovely.
Gilleasbuig Ferguson Rare Books - Phone: 01470 532808.
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