welcome to
Ken Spelman Books
thank you for visiting us on
"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]

70 Micklegate, York YO1 6LF ~ Tel: 07960 350909

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Email or send us a message ~

All about us: Established in York in 1948, with over 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.

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.

Rare Book Specialisms:

Italy & the Grand Tour: I am currently working on a growing collection of over 300 original grand tour books & manuscripts from 1600-1880.

Artists' Manuals of Instruction: A long standing area of expertise, and we have probably the largest unpublished reference database of these books. VISIT THE DRAWING BOOK PROJECT.

Women & Science: A collection in process, with over 200 books by 18th & 19th century woman botanists, scientists &c.

Gardening: We are preparing a series of five catalogues on 18th & 19th century gardening design & history. Also a separate collection on fern collecting.

Shells & the Seaside: An active collection of virtually every 19th century work on sea-side activities - shells, seaweed, &c.

Bookselling, Libraries & the Book Trade: A growing collection of over 200 items from the 18th century onwards

Manuscripts & Ephemera: Regular catalogues issued.

Country House Guides & Picturesque Travel.

Cataloguing, Consultancy, & Commission

An established part of my business is in cataloguing collections (for both the trade and private customers), offering consultancy advice, valuations for insurance or probate, and successfully handling significant items & specialist collections on a private commission basis:
contact: kenspelmanbooks@gmail.com

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

We stock a great range of designer cards.

We now have a small selection of unframed 19th century watercolours and drawings, and are issuing lists of new arrivals

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.

Hours: 12.00am - 4.00pm Monday - Friday.

Please be aware that in order to protect our staff face masks will remain mandatory (subject to exemptions) for all visitors to our shop from Monday 19th July, With just the two of us, if we have to isolate at any time then the shop must shut to everyone. Thank you.

You can also order on-line, and we post out worldwide

See our most recent acquisitions

or browse our current stock files

Include description

Book of the Week:

CARR, J.L.  A Month in the Country.  Introduced by Ronald Blythe.  Number 293 of 300 copies signed by  Carr and Blythe.  105pp. Printed on mould-made paper by The September Press.  A fine clean copy bound in dark green cloth, with printed paper label on the upper cover and the spine, clear acetate dust-wrapper.
crown 4to.  Cornucopia Press.  1990.

£195.00 Further details.

look out for next week's book.

Past Books of the Week:


Visit our store on ebay, with thousands of items for sale, the majority not listed elsewhere.

17th century / 18th century / 19th century
manuscripts & documents / ephemera & objects
Theology / Philosophy / Literature & Poetry / Latin & Greek
York & Yorkshire prints and engravings / Yorkshire books
Drawings & Watercolours / Private Press Books / Women

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

Rare Books & Manuscripts ~

Fully illustrated in colour. These books get their very first appearance in the catalogues.

Rare Book Catalogue 112 (August 2021)
Whaling & related Travel

Rare Book Catalogue 111 (April 2021)
The Bronte Family

Rare Book Catalogue 110 (Feb 2021)
The Brontes

Rare Book Catalogue 109 (Oct 2020)
Polar Travel & Mountaineering

Rare Book Catalogue 108 (Sept 2020)
The River Thames

Rare Book Catalogue 107 (June 2020)
Art & Design

Rare Book Catalogue 106 (Jan 2020)
Manuscripts & Ephemera

Rare Book Catalogue 105 (Nov 2019)
York & Yorkshire
Books from a private library

Rare Book Catalogue 104 (Sept 2019)
17th & 18th century Philosophy & Theology.
The John Stephens Library, Part Two

Manuscripts - archive
Highlight items sold

Monthly Lists ~

A monthly list of 10 interesting recent acquisitions. These have not appeared anywhere else before, and there will only ever be 10 on each list.

Latest List (July 2021)

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

copyright: Ken Spelman Books Ltd, 2021 / GDPR