Deborah Coltham.

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1 What is one little-known fact about book collecting?

Building up a great collection does not have to cost lots of money. Most begin with modest means, and the best are those built from the heart. There are ‘trophy’ books which people will aspire to, but in general, buy the best copy that you can of what you love. Condition is all-important, and things like good provenance or association can give an extra ‘wow’ factor.

2 What is exciting about your field at the moment?

A new generation of enthusiastic collectors seems to be emerging. I am lucky enough to sit on the judging panel for the ABA’s National Book- Collecting Prize. Eight UK universities now award an annual prize, and the winners are encouraged to enter the national competition. The entrants all display great enthusiasm, passion, and bibliographical knowledge.

3 What is one challenge that buyers and/or collectors currently face?

Whatever happens post-Brexit, we may face some changes to regulations regarding import and export. Will it be so easy to bring back books in a suitcase? There will be more paperwork and box filling no doubt.

4 What is the most spectacular exhibition you have visited recently?

The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War at the British Library.

It really was a once in a generation exhibition. Having studied medieval history at St Andrews, seeing Beowulf and the Lindisfarne Gospels was jaw-dropping.

5 How about a smaller show?

I went to Duke University in North Carolina last month to see Five Hundred Years of Women’s Work: The Lisa Unger Baskin Collection. A noted bibliophile, activist and collector, Lisa assembled a vast collection of material documenting women at work.

She was able to quietly amass it over 45 years, the subject matter at the time not being a ‘traditional’ collecting area. It will become a major academic resource for future researchers in all fields, and she is an inspiration to many female collectors and dealers.

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