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These are certainly challenging times we are all facing so first and foremost I would like to wish good health to all readers and their families, colleagues and friends.

The world has changed dramatically since I wrote my last introduction. We have all been affected both personally and professionally by this pandemic and the repercussions of the economic dislocations in recent months will undoubtedly last for months, possibly years, to come.

In many ways, the rare book world is fortunate in that our market tends to react with less volatility than others and we can transact effectively online – but that is not to under-estimate how tough continued trading will be.

We at Forum want to play our part in helping all those involved in rare books to continue to play an active role in this remarkable and age-old business we all love.

The online experience

In starting Forum four years ago we emphasised the importance of the internet in the future of the book world and thus focused considerable attention on ensuring that the online bidding experience was easy, transparent and as far-reaching as possible.

As a result our online-only sales are continuing to perform extremely well, with sell-through rates consistently exceeding 90% and realisations always in excess of pre-auction low estimates. If you have not yet participated as buyer or vendor with us, I encourage you to have a look at our forthcoming calendar of these fortnightly events.

We have the capacity to increase our schedule to weekly auctions should demand from vendors continue to rise.

Importantly, we are in the favourable position of being able to offer immediate pre-auction advances for those vendors facing funding difficulties or simply looking to free up cash for other purchases.

Our larger-scale bi-monthly Fine Books sales, conducted by an auctioneer and broadcast over many platforms such as thesaleroom.com, continue to attract considerable attention and we are proud to be releasing our largest catalogue yet for the forthcoming auction on Tuesday, June 9.

The pandemic has not compromised our enduring aim to offer buyers and sellers the optimum experience with regard to books and works on paper at auction

Newton presentation copy

Among the many treasures on offer is a highly important presentation copy of the first edition of Newton’s Opticks, 1704, given to his close friend and collaborator Nicolas Fatio de Duillier and dated five days before Newton presented a copy to the Royal Society.

The forthcoming selection compliments another strong year of growing sale realisations for Forum. Over the course of the past 6 months we were delighted to have been instructed to handle the £800,000 ‘white glove’ sale of the Birmingham Assay Office library; books from the renowned collection of The Garden Ltd; and many more offerings from the estate of James Stevens-Cox.

We are very much open for business and continue to receive major (and frequent) consignments not only of books but also manuscripts, Old Master and decorative prints, maps, photographs, posters, and printed ephemera.

The pandemic has certainly not compromised our enduring aim to offer buyers and sellers alike the optimum platform, service and experience with regards to books and works on paper at auction. While not a genre central to the theme of this books supplement, Forum’s modern and contemporary prints department is likewise thriving with the notable achievement of having handled more than one in five of all Banksy editioned prints sold at auction worldwide during 2019.

As ever, we warmly welcome hearing from both new and established clients. I end by reiterating my best wishes to you all and looking forward to happier times ahead in the knowledge that you will find the following pages a welcome temporary respite.


Rupert Powell is Deputy Chairman of Forum Auctions Ltd.