If you love hunting for rare and antique books, any of the Kensington hotels offer an ideal base for your activities while in London.
Buying antiques has never been more popular in the UK, and if antique books are your particular thing, any of the top Kensington hotels offer an ideal base for hunting out those rare volumes.
Antique collecting and the passage of time
It’s a strange thing, but popular interest in antique buying and collection tends to increase in direct relationship to social uncertainty. It’s almost as if when the familiar assumptions surrounding our society are perceived to be at risk, the more we tend to harken back to times when things were more reassuring and certain! Of course, the cynics will point out that ‘past times’ were often far less certain and secure than we imagine them to have been. No doubt they are right, but for whatever reason, antique collecting is booming and one particular area that is a very popular is that of antique books.
What to look for
It’s almost impossible to give advice about what you should or should not buy; a lot will depend upon your own personal collection and reading interests, and it’s always worth keeping in mind the economic reality of life that the values of antiques, just like shares, can go up or down over time. In fact, you should always be cautious about any suggestion that purchasing antiques is a sure-fire investment for the future.
However, if you are visiting staying in one of the Kensington hotels and want to try and find some potential bargains, you’ll be pleased to know that in nearby Church Street there is a wealth of antique dealers, and many of them offer an extensive selection of antique books.
If you’re hoping to pick up a genuine antique volume, and one that might even hopefully be a bargain, some of the following tips might prove to be useful.
1. Although it might be harder to fake old volumes than some other types of antiques, even so, forgeries and artificially aged works do exist. For that reason, buying from established and reputable dealers is a sound idea if you wish to avoid the risk.
2. Look carefully at the condition of the book. Broadly speaking, condition is critically important and the value of an old book can diminish significantly if its overall condition is describable as ‘poor’.
3. Look for re-binding. The logic behind this is the same as per the above point but, of course, if your interests are purely literary, this may be less of an issue. In fairness, re-binding is also sometimes essential when a rapidly deteriorating book needs to be preserved.
4. Check the prices being asked against reference prices online. The prestigious Kensington hotels will normally have WIFI Internet access and it’s important to try and relate the asking price of a rare volume to at least a degree of external market reality. In passing, the margins for most antique dealers are typically very small, so don’t assume that they are making a fortune on the sale.
5. Ask for confirmation in writing, as part of your receipt process, of what is being sold to you. If the dealer has told you that it is, for example, a first edition, then make sure that is also written explicitly on your receipt. This will give you a degree of consumer protection should you wish to return the volume for any reason following subsequent concerns about its authenticity.
Above all though, have fun! Hunting for antique books from your base in any of the Kensington hotels can be great fun and can help make your visit in the capital all the more enjoyable.
Antique Books, Kensington Hotels