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Ken Spelman Books
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"A true treasure trove" [The Times]

"One of the 10 best rare bookshops in Britain" [The Independent]

"One of the best independent retailers in the country" [Royal Society of Literature]

Books bought in all quantities - we travel throughout the country

70 Micklegate, York YO1 6LF
Open: 9.00am - 5.30pm Mon-Sat. tel: 01904 624414

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All about us: Established in York in 1948, with 70 years of experience we are always happy to provide professional and confidential advice - whether you are an experienced collector or a first time buyer or seller.

Rare and Secondhand Books, Manuscripts & Documents, contemporary art exhibitions, designer cards, and in winter a real coal fire. There is on-street parking right outside our door - a rarity for York!

I joined Spelmans in 1979, becoming a partner in 1984, and since 2012 I've owned the business with my wife Nicki.
I have served on the Council of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association, and was Chairman of the ABA Rare Book Fair London from 2014-2018. I am currently Fair Manager of the PBFA York National Book Fair, the largest fair of its kind in the U.K.

If you are thinking of selling or thinning out your collections - or just have individual books of interest - then contact me - I buy books in all quantities and travel extensively throughout the country. I am also always keen to purchase any manuscripts, diaries, journals, inventories, estate plans &c pre 1850.

I regularly handle significant items & specialist collections on a private commission basis: contact: tony.fothergill@kenspelman.com

For nearly 40 years I have worked with major institutions and collectors in developing their libraries.


We stock original prints by a number of leading modern printmakers, including Andrew Waddington, Neil Bousfield, Angela Harding, Tom Frost, Hannah West, Matte Stephens, Alan Turnbull, Tessa Asquith-Lamb. Also the shop now stocks a superb range of designer cards, and wrapping paper, and we even offer a free wrapping service for purchases. Also books by Mark Hearld, and his wonderful flying bird cut-outs.


Book Collecting Prizes

In 2017 I was delighted to announce that I established the York University Book Collecting Prize. It is open to all students at the University of York, and offers the opportunity to win a £500 cash prize, and to progress to the ABA National Book Collecting Prize.

2018 winner: Sky Duthie. The theme of the winning collection was Animals in Print c.1700-1900.

2019 winner: Elizabeth Dunnett. The theme of the winning collection was Head to Toe: Historical Costume from Antiquity to1930.


copyright: Ken Spelman Books Ltd, 2019 / GDPR

Visit our store on ebay, with nearly 2,500 items for sale, the majority not listed elsewhere.
17th century / 18th century / 19th century / manuscripts /
Theology / Philosophy /
York & Yorkshire prints and engravings / Ephemera / Drawings & Watercolours / Private Press Books

and lots more.... new items are added daily.

Include description

Private Press Books - we have just bought two collections, and items are being added here on a daily basis.

Catalogue 103 (April 2019)
Art & Design

Catalogue 102 (January 2019)
Manuscripts & Ephemera

Catalogue 101 (November 2018):
17th & 18th century Philosophy & Theology.
The John Stephens Library, Part One.


Monthly Lists ~
I send out a monthly list of 10 interesting recent acquisitions. They have not appeared anywhere else before, and there will only ever be 10 on each list.


Rare Books & Manuscripts ~

I issue regular catalogues - fully illustrated in colour. These books get their first appearance in the catalogues, and are not found on ABE or other websites as a courtesy to our customers.

Just email us to join the mailing list to receive these.

Manuscripts - archive
Highlight items sold


Large Stock of quality secondhand books:


Book fairs - I exhibit at the following major ABA & PBFA Fairs each year, Cambridge, London, Chelsea, Oxford, & York. complimentary tickets for all fairs