For three days in May (22nd to 24th) the airy halls of Olympia will once again play host to the Antiquarian Book Fair. The highlight of the year for book lovers and collectors, this major event brings together over 180 leading dealers from across the globe, offering thousands of rare, unusual and unique items. From the seasoned first-edition fanatic to the novice visitor there’s something for everyone here.
Alongside the glorious historical items from the early days of printing are highly collectable more modern pieces – the flawless first edition of David Copperfield; the rare signed Eliot; the inscribed Shackleton; and the very latest authors’ first editions – not to mention numerous other items to fascinate and tantalise: prints, photographs, manuscripts, ephemera and original art works spanning the centuries, with prices ranging from the accessible £10 to half a million – and occasionally more. You could purchase a text that came off the printing press hundreds of years ago or a photograph of Alfred Hitchcock in a frock!
The happy visitor might discover this fabulous original movie poster (above right) for the 1931 Swedish adventure film Nomadie, directed by Marius Anderson and Alexander Singelow.
Or there’s this extraordinary oil can which houses a catalogue for Poppetgom, an anarchic theatrical production created and performed by Theater Scarabee in 1970, a group of artists led by director Adri Boon. The 224-page book documents the production. Renowned graphic designer Jan Van Toorn proposed the idea of concealing the book inside an oil tin, which had to be opened at the bottom using a can opener (this is an unopened copy). The bulky volume tended to fall apart when removed, and was held in place inside the can by a yellow plastic pillow.
There’s an extraordinary and previously unrecorded photograph album containing holiday snaps of the 23 year old Alfred Hitchcock positively frolicking at Shoreham-by-Sea with his future wife, Alma, and his boss and mentor, the director, Graham (Jack) Cutts – then a leading figure in the British film industry. In this particular photograph Hitch is to be spied preening himself on the tennis court wearing a borrowed dress. Who knows why? Certainly it gives a completely unexpected insight into the young Alfred Hitchcock.
And there is as much to entertain and amuse as to buy. At the heart of the Fair is the dedicated LIVE! area, where our carefully chosen experts will be giving fascinating demonstrations and talks on their specialist subjects. On Saturday there will be activities devised especially for children and families. There will also be themed guided tours of the Fair led by several of our expert exhibitors, offering a deeper look at the Fair’s many treasures, rarities and curiosities.