Shelf Fulfillment

The Antiquarian Booksellers Association…

Month: April, 2013

Cecil Court update

by Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books


I thought it was high time I posted an update on one of our filming locations – Cecil Court in central London. It’s been a surprisingly long time since I wrote about its fascinating history and even longer since I blogged about the shoot at Goldsboro Books and David Drummond’s shop.

mozart blue plaqueOn Friday I happened to be in the area, so I thought I’d return. First off, you may remember me mentioning that an 8 year old Mozart briefly lived in Cecil Court, at the time that he was composing his first symphonies. Well, since my last visit a blue plaque has been installed to commemorate the fact.

It was unveiled by the actor Simon Callow, a noted supporter of Cecil Court, who also portrayed Mozart on stage in 1979 and has been quoted as saying “I am absolutely thrilled to do anything to celebrate Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.” If you…

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A turn-up for the books

by Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

A Monument of Fame

The latest issue of The Spectator (13 April 2013) contains a long article by Professor James Carley about a remarkable group of books which has miraculously found its way back to Lambeth Palace Library after many decades.

Early in 1975 the Lambeth Palace Librarian noticed a troubling gap on the shelves where some important books had been kept. The books could not be found and a search of the rest of the Library showed that this gap was not unique. On examining the card catalogue it was discovered that the catalogue cards for the missing items had also been removed. This made it difficult to ascertain exactly what was missing but it was thought that around sixty items had been removed from the Library. The police were informed and the bookselling community notified. None of the books was recovered, however, and the trail went cold.

Over thirty-five years later, in February 2011, the newly appointed Librarian, Giles Mandelbrote, was contacted by…

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Printed Catalogues do not Exist

by Laurence Worms - Ash Rare Books

“The booksellers’ stalls are the meanest in appearance of all the bazars, and the effendy, who lord it over the literary treasures, are the least prepossessing, and by no means the most obliging of the many crafts that abound within this vast and diversified emporium. They sit grimly upon their cushions, and appear to pass a negative existence, neither inviting nor repelling customers. Their stores are open; books are placed on their sides, upon the shelves behind, or in inner recesses, and present nothing inviting to the eye. Catalogues are unknown to them. Each sahhaf carries a list of his stock in trade and prices in his head. 


Printed catalogues of printed books do not exist. One of the trade offered to procure for me a written catalogue, but it required a month’s labour and proportionate expense. It was then found to be inexact as to dates, sizes, and number of volumes. Upon remonstrating with the worthy bibliopolist, he exclaimed: “You know these things better than we do, apparently! Of what use, then, is a catalogue? Why not write down the title of any books that you require? I will then procure them. You Franks [Westerners] possess registers of all books, in all tongues. To ask me for a catalogue is to laugh at my beard”.

From Charles White, “Three Years in Constantinople” (1845) – with thanks to Angus O’Neill (Omega Bookshop).