Shapero Rare Books

Art and Culture

Any bibliophile knows that there is nothing quite like a book and if it’s an old book, all the better. To feel the weight of well-preserved book, its spine still perfect, its leather or cloth cover still vibrant, its dust jacket still intact evokes an indescribable happiness. It is a joy and happiness that goes hand-in-hand with the knowledge of how valuable these old books are, not just in its monetary estimation but also in its aesthetic beauty and as a key to understanding our past.

There is a certain poetry in knowing that a book has been seen, held and read by countless other nameless, faceless people and that it has possibly survived a war or famine and now found its way into your hands. At Shapero Rare Books this love for rare and antique books and the poetry that goes with it is well-understood and also appreciated. 

Antique or rare – what’s the difference?
A rare book is not necessarily an antique and vice versa. In general and antique book has to be 100 years old or older. A books age alone, however, does not automatically give it value and other aspects like condition and rarity also have to be considered.

First editions in an excellent condition, for example, can be worth much more than just an old book in the same condition. If you add to that an element of rarity the value can increase. Shakespeare’s First Folio is a great example of a book that ticks all the boxes in this regard and can fetch up to an estimated $6 million (roughly £4.6 million) at auction.

An antique book is not necessarily a rare book, especially if said antique book is not really in demand. Similarly, a rare book does not have to qualify as an antique to be valuable. Many rare books are first editions or limited editions of more recent books.

The hardcover first edition first printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in which the credited author is given and Joanne Rowling rather than J.K. Rowling, for example, is by no means an antique, but due to the small number that was printed and the subsequent success of the entire series it has become a highly valuable modern first edition and one can expect to pay about $55 000 (£42 000) for it.

Although rarity and age do not always coincide, it does often happen that an antique book is also a rare book and you will often find the two elements together when looking to buy an antique book.  

Why buy the rare and/or antique book?
Although many, if not all, rare and antique books are available online in some format or another the book itself has become an object of admiration, value and historical interest and they have the potential to be of great monetary value as well. Bibliophiles find themselves drawn to antique or rare book buying exactly for these reasons. A good recommendation though, is to not just buy an antique or rare book for its investment potential.

Yes, the value of the book will go up as the years go by but as lovers of the written word, the content is what we truly love. Look at themes or categories that you would normally purchase, whether it be a new, old, rare or common book, and invest in that. Though some antique and rare books can be very pricy, you don’t need to be rolling in the dough to start your collection as  there are books available for less than $1 000 (£700) that will, most probably, increase in value over the years if they are well-cared for. A store like Shapero Rare Books is the perfect place to start your antique-collecting journey or acquire another book to add to your collection. 

Where and what is Shapero Rare Books
Shapero is situated in the heart of Mayfair, London with its many examples of beautiful Georgian architecture. It is just across the street from Sotheby’s and a stone’s throw away from the historic Hyde Park. Shapero Rare Books, as the name states, is a seller of rare books as well as antiquarian books, works on paper and first edition books. Some of the titles visitors can see are things like a rare first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma with all three half-titles and in contemporary boards or a set of first-edition Winnie the Phoo books signed by both the author and illustrator. Shapero Rare Books is a member of Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA), the Association of Art and Antiques Dealers (LAPADA), and the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) and also takes part in antiquarian and rare book fairs all over the world.

Besides their extensive book collection they also have an art gallery specializing in Modern and Contemporary Art as well as Historical Prints and Watercolors. The gallery, Shapero Modern, was set up in 2014 and focuses on contemporary and modern prints and works of art, historical prints and vintage to modern art photographs. They have precious watercolors by Luigi Mayer, art by Andy Warhol, and photography by Paul Strand. The gallery regularly curates and organizes events on its premises.  They also take part in important art fairs like TEFAF (in Maastricht and New York), Frieze Masters and Masterpieces

The experts
Shapero Rare Books was founded by Bernard Shapero, a man that has been hailed as the top rare book dealer in the world today. He is an expert in rare books and works on paper and specializes in Natural History, Travel and Literature. 15th to 20th century illustrated books, travel and voyages, natural history, literature, children’s books, guidebooks, Herbaica and Judaica, and Russian interests.  

Together with Shapero a group of highly qualified individuals, with more than 250 years of experience between them, who are also experts in their own rite and cover specialties such as 15th to 20th Century Illustrated Books, Modern First Editions, Travel and Voyages, Natural History, Literature, Children’s Books, Guide Books, Herbaica and Judaica, Russian Interests, and Antique and Traditional Prints.

They have come together to cultivate a rich and eclectic mix of antique and rare items. A trip to the store will provide you with an incredible experience as well as expert knowledge and advice from the staff and many a customer has commented on how warmly they were received and guided in their antiquarian and rare book adventure.