To the book (and parasol) fair
This year's London International Antiquarian Book Fair opens tomorrow. It's an annual event over at the Olympia Exhibition Centre and, among other things, it gives those who have no intention or hope of parting with large sums of money for long-sought treasures the less costly pleasure of merely gawping at some of the most unusual and beautiful of books still on the market – as well as the sometimes unexpected objects that some astute dealer has picked up along the way. Hence the photo above: this is apparently one of Queen Victoria's parasols.
It's for sale together with a photo by A. J. Melhuish, in which the monarch is, most unusually, seen smiling (albeit "slightly") at her daughter Beatrice, standing beside her, parasol aloft. The lot could be yours, via Sophie Dupré, for £7,500. The same dealer is also has on offer a short but rather poignant letter from Charles Dodgson (£6,250) and the Countess of Clonmel's fan, signed by another pseudonymous writer, Samuel L. Clemens, among other luminaries (£3,250).
Not tempted? All right. If those prices seem somewhat beneath you: consider, as alternatives, the "extraordinarily clean and bright" copy of the Golden Cockerel Press The Four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ (Sophie Schneideman Rare Books, £11,500):
Or how about the "original concept album cover artwork" for the US issue of Jimi Hendrix's album Electric Ladyland (Lucius Books, £11,000)?
Or Shackleton's Heart of the Antarctic, in signed, limited and de luxe form, bound in vellum (Bernard Quaritch, £30,000), or the first edition of Pride and Prejudice in a contemporary binding (Jonkers Rare Books, £57,500), or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz signed by both L. Frank Baum and his illustrator, W. W. Denslow (Jonkers, £150,000). Or, to descend rapidly from six figures to three, perhaps Antiquariaat Dik Ramkema will pick up £335 for what seems to be a rarity, a Book of Trades (c. 1830), with plates; sure enough, "bookseller" is one of the listed trades, alongside plumber, house-painter and lighterman:
And so the gawping goes on. . .