Firsts London is one of the most popular and prestigious rare book fairs in the world. It is an event that showcases unique and unusual items from more than 100 leading UK-based and international antique booksellers. One of the reasons for the creation of this book fair was to give dealers from all over the country their chance to impress the crowds in London, and the event attracts a large, wide, and diverse audience of collectors, dealers, enthusiasts, and the curious.
The passion behind Firsts is the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. The fair started way back in the 50s and as well as bringing remote dealers to the masses, an additional aim of the fair was to promote the idea of book collecting and appreciation. This aim stands true today. The event is also keen to demonstrate that this need not be a hobby for elitists and that book collecting is possible on a modest budget. For many years, a stand for “Books under £5” had a spot at this fair and each vendor was asked to contribute to it.
Firsts has seen many manifestations over the years and has been set up in many locations across London. It has now found its home in the heart of Chelsea, where booksellers of old and rare books, manuscripts, ephemera, maps, and more take up their stands across three floors of Saatchi Gallery. Exhibitors here can expect to see old friends and have the chance to catch up with other enthusiasts and collectors while showcasing bound treasures to thousands of visitors during the four-day event. Visitors will be wowed by some of the rarest and most unique books available on the market, alongside wonderful memorabilia and stunning artworks.
In addition to the fantastic antique books on display at Firsts, a range of workshops are available during the fair. One such example is restorative bookbinding, a coveted skill in this field of collecting. Since this is the only fair in London dedicated solely to books, any bibliophile would be mad to miss out.