Catch These 5 Incredible Finds—From Ian Fleming’s Annotated James Bond Draft to a Rare Tolkien Trove—at Firsts, London’s Rare Book Fair

  • Artnet Gallery Network
  • 21. Oktober 2021

The authoritative books and manuscripts fair makes a triumphant return this weekend in a swanky new venue.

Bookworms, rejoice: Firsts London, the expert-adored rare book fair and the Antiquarian  Booksellers’ Association’s annual flagship event, is back. After an 18-month hiatus, the fair returns for its 64th year in spectacular new digs at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. (The ABA leaders are hoping to stay at the venue for the foreseeable future).

Though in new environs, the fair is staying true to its core mission of presenting the very best of iconic rare books, manuscripts and works on paper from around the world, from ancient wonders to contemporary masterpieces from 120 leading UK and international dealers. 

Pom Harrington, ABA President and Fair Chairman, told Artnet News that the fair “will offer booksellers and visitors a well-deserved and much anticipated opportunity to reconnect, meet and trade in Saatchi Gallery’s inspiring setting.” He added that although many of ABA’s member dealers sustained their business through online fairs for the past two years, “There is nothing that compares to the atmosphere and sense of discovery that a real-life fair provides.”

While there are thousands of offerings to peruse, we’ve picked five standout works you won’t want to miss. [...]

A Rare Tchaikovsky Manuscript for “Allegro molto” from the
Opera The Maid of Orleans
Antiquariat Inlibris Gilhofer Nfg.

A rare Tchaikovsky manuscript for “Allegro molto” from the opera The Maid of Orleans (ca. 1878–79). Courtesy of Antiquariat Inlibris Gilhofer Nfg. GmbH.

A very rare musical manuscript, here we see the orchestral score for a dance from The Maid of Orleans, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between 1878 and 1879. The opera premiered on February 25, 1881, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg; the following year, it became the first of Tchaikovsky’s operas to be performed outside Russia, with a production opening in Prague in July 1882. [...]