Antiquarian and Rare Books, Atlases, Antique Maps and Prints
Tim Bryars opened his antiquarian book and map shop at 8 Cecil Court in the Summer of 2004. Our company specialises in rare and antiquarian books, maps and prints, particularly atlases and original antique maps of all parts of the world printed circa 1500-1900, a golden age of discovery and decorative map-making; we always carry a selection of separately issued and folding maps. We also sell early printed books, classical texts and translations, history, literature and travels, and offer a range of antique topographical and natural history prints. The price range is enormous, anything from £30-£30,000, but please note that we only offer original material and do not deal with facsimiles or reproductions.
Tim Bryars is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA), the oldest trade organisation of its kind in the world (founded in 1906) with a strict code of good practice which members adhere to. Tim is currently a member of the ABA Council. Through the ABA we are also members of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers, and Tim Bryars is also a Fellow of the Rare Book Society, founded recently to promote high standards of bibliographical description and knowledge of all aspects of the booktrade through internet-based courses. Tim Bryars is also a joint organiser, with Rainer Voigt and Massimo de Martini, of the London Map Fair. The fair is the largest specialist event of its kind in Europe, held at the Royal Geographical Society each June with accompanying lectures and events. Full details of all these organizations and fairs can be found on our links page.
Traditional ground-floor bookshops like ours allow for browsing and face-to-face discussion, and the chance to examine original material at first hand – all valuable opportunities which we would encourage customers to take up whenever possible. If you make a good impression you might even be offered coffee. We welcome new collectors and also gift enquiries. We regularly supply corporate gifts, leaving presents, wedding presents and we can help find something special for a first wedding anniversary (paper). The more advance warning you can give us the better, especially if we have to track down something especially recherché. We don’t have a jar for tips, but we have yet to reject a well intentioned bottle of wine or vintage port.
Cecil Court now boasts London’s greatest concentration of specialist book, map and print shops. It’s been the new Booksellers’ Row since between the wars, after the early film companies of ‘Flicker Alley’ days moved out. Today, nearly every shop offers printed material in one form or another, from theatre posters to modern first editions, which makes it a unique place in London to go shopping. Renowned worldwide among collectors, institutional librarians and members of the booktrade, Cecil Court itself is a picturesque pedestrian passage, linking Charing Cross Road with St Martin’s Lane. We are right in the heart of London’s Theatreland, a stone’s throw from the galleries of Trafalgar Square and the cinemas of Leicester Square. The bookshop frontages have hardly changed since the Court was rebuilt in the 1890s – booksellers being a fairly conservative lot (with a small ‘c’ of course). You can reach the Cecil court website to find out more from our links page.
Tim Bryars is currently Secretary of the Cecil Court Association (David Drummond is Chairman) and would be happy to help with any general enquiries about the street; he would also be very pleased to hear from anyone with memories or ephemera relating to Cecil Court.
Tim Bryars was formerly a director and co-owner of Paralos Ltd, located near Oxford Circus, where he worked with a similar array of antique books, maps and prints. The company was split amicably after the June bookfairs in 2004, and his friends and colleagues Panagiotis Chantziaras and Louise Bryan now work from a magnificent gallery, also called Paralos, in central Athens. Their stock of Greek material is unrivalled but won’t be found online: any collectors passing through should certainly make a point of calling in. They are ABA members and contact details can be found on the ABA website.
The shop has already proved to be a great place to meet new faces and to encourage new collectors. As I mentioned above, if you can visit us in London or have access to early books and maps closer to home, there is no substitute for handling original material, especially if you are just starting out. However, we take the internet side of our business extremely seriously. We will endeavour to respond to emails as soon as possible and have tried to make the website as easy to browse and as safe to order from as possible. It isn’t always easy to discover how to begin a collection, and on our help page we have written fairly detailed introductory notes about the kind of material we have, how we have described it, who printed it and where you can read more about it. Our antique books, maps and prints are browsable by category, but there is also a quicksearch option always available at the foot of the screen, and an advanced search facility where it is possible to search by almost any criteria, for example by map-maker, printer, date or title. We do not issue printed catalogues, but we keep a current catalogue online, regularly updating it by adding and removing our antique maps and books as we find them or sell them. So that people do not have to browse through pages of antique books and maps which they have already seen we have a ‘what’s new’ page where it is possible to view recent additions, including antiquarian books or maps added since the site was last visited. The site is fully illustrated and we can send more images on request. When you have found what you are looking for it is possible to order immediately by clicking on the shopping trolley icon to the right of each item; sending payment details is fully secure.
We have an extensive stock of antiquarian books and an ever expanding number of portfolios of antique maps and prints, so we never have our entire stock online. For that reason we welcome enquiries for particular antique books or maps which fall within our specialist fields. We also buy antiquarian books, maps and prints in any quantity.
One final thing I should like to do on this page where we have been describing what we do as a company is to define what we mean by ‘classics’, a term which is used variously these days to cover anything from Homer to Dickens. We specialise in Greek and Latin classics, and use that term to cover all aspects of ancient writing. The scope is enormous, covering most of the arts and sciences that we know today. Sometimes the distinctions between disciplines were a little more blurred in the ancient world. For example, Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy) saw no contradiction in writing about astronomy and astrology in the same work, and also composed the seminal classical work of geography. With that in mind we have divided the classics into categories as best we can, so that on the Tim Bryars Ltd website it is easier to find the great works of classical literature by the likes of such poets as Virgil and Catullus, historians Herodotus, Livy, Thucydides and Tacitus, and classical philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Lucretius. We also try to stock antiquarian editions of some of the more obscure classical authors, including ancient novels by Heliodorus and Petronius, ancient medical writers such as Dioscorides Hippocrates and Galen, other classical scientific works such as those on astronomy by Aratus, Manilius and Ptolemy, ancient travellers and geographers such as Pausanius and Strabo, and a whole ranbge of very specific texts which can best be described as technical, including works on ancient warfare by Vegetius and others, or such compilations as ‘de re rustica’, a collection of ancient texts on animal husbandry and agriculture. We also try to offer interesting but spurious works, such as the ancient forgeries of the letters of Phalaris or the supposed eye-witness accounts of the Trojan War by Dares and Dictys Cretensis. We have a section for Bibles and theology, where we list works by ancient theologians including many of the early fathers.