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2024 Theme

Firsts London 2024: The Art of the Book
“It is with the reading of books the same as with looking at pictures; one must, without doubt, without hesitations, with assurance, admire what is beautiful.”
(Vincent van Gogh)

In books, the visual arts meet literature, and beauty may be admired in illustration and illumination; in calligraphy and cartography; in typography and photography; in printmaking and paper manufacture; and within the art of bookbinding itself. Book design represents shifting tastes and conventions through the centuries and across cultures, as well as revealing socioeconomic factors which influence their production.

Our theme for Firsts 2024 brings together the best the market has to offer when it comes to beautiful books, in the appropriate setting of the Saatchi Gallery. From bejewelled bindings to pop-up books, from Japanese woodblock printing to illuminated Qur'ans, Firsts London 2024 will gather over one hundred international dealers under one roof, promising to be an exceptional demonstration of the book as art and the art of the book.

Our artwork for the fair this year was kindly provided our partner, the Bodleian Libraries, who have one of the most important book and manuscript collections in the world.

This finely illuminated 14th century manuscript page depicts poet and court writer Christine de Pisan (1364 – c. 1430) presenting a book of her own creation to Jean, Duc de Berry. The Italian-born de Pisan caught the attention of wealthy patrons at the court of Charles V of France with the quality of her ballads and poems. She became a prolific writer, her involvement with the production of her books earning her the reputation as the first professional woman of letters in Europe. This beautiful medieval illumination, which appears in de Pisan's Épître d'Othéa (MS. Laud. Misc. 570, fol. 24r.) records an early act of female book creation - a remarkable historical moment. The transmission of special books from one pair of hands to another encapsulates the purpose of an event like Firsts, and, more broadly, of the rare book trade as a whole