Book dealer Thomas J Symonds.

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1 How did you get your start?

In 1972 I went to my first auction, a book sale at Christie’s, and it was then my father John Symonds, an author and dramatist, suggested I become an antiquarian book dealer.

At the time I was working as a teacher but simultaneously became interested in rare books. Having studied Classics at Trinity College Dublin, the first rare items I bought were Classical authors printed by Aldus Manutius.

2 What is your area of expertise?

Incunabula, illuminated manuscripts, science and philosophy books and decorative prints.

3 Who is one great discovery you have made?

A book printed in the 15th century on geography from Christopher Columbus’ library with the inimitable signature. I remember I found it at Thorpe’s bookshop in London in the 1980s and sold it to a private German collector.

4 What is the best exhibition you have visited recently?

Firsts London’s Rare Book Fair 2022.


A folio of three works in one volume comprising three 15th century Franciscan texts: the Quadragesimale, an anonymous work meant to be an aid for the faithful while enduring the observance of Lent, a compendium of virtues and vices by Antonius Rampigollis and a treatise on the confessional and the administration of last rites by Bartholomaeus de Chiamis. Offered for £18,000 by Thomas J Symonds.

5 What is one question it is important for people to ask before buying?

Is the book absolutely complete with all known leaves?

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