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A new chapter for Maggs Bros in Bedford Square

The entrance to Maggs Bros’ new HQ

Maggs Bros, one of the world’s oldest antiquarian booksellers, has moved to new premises in London. The firm, which employs 20 staff, now has its headquarters in a Georgian townhouse in Bedford Square in Bloomsbury. They spent almost eight decades in Berkeley Square.

This is the latest chapter in the long life of a business that was established in 1853. Back then, Charles Dickens was the superstar of literature while George Hamilton-Gordon, a forgotten man of politics, was Britain’s prime minister, and the Crimean War was just getting started.

Titus Boeder of Maggs Bros

Titus Boeder, who is Maggs’ specialist in Japanese photography, design and travel, was kind enough to provide a guided tour.

“We started by selling to the people in London, and then we sold to Europe and then to the United States, and, today, we sell to the entire world and places like Australia and China are important to us,” said Titus.

Maggs was founded by Uriah Maggs  in 1853 and successive generations of the Maggs family have continued to run the business ever since. Today, Ed Maggs is managing director and his son Benjamin is part of the bookselling team.

After entering the building, there is framed picture after framed picture of the managing directors as you proceed up the stairway.

Downstairs, there is a bright and well-lit room dedicated to modern literature, and after that each room is dedicated to some specialism or other, with Maggs’ in-house experts seated close to the books they are offering for sale.

Maggs’ travel department and Titus’ office

The travel room on the second floor – which Titus shares with colleagues Hugh Bett, Mark Tewfik, Fuchsia Voremberg and Sam Cotterell is quite the office. There is also an exhibition space and Bloomsbury – yes, the Bloomsbury that publishes Harry Potter – is a tenant with space on the top floor.

Moving house is stressful for anyone but must have been mind-blowing for a business that has existed for more than 150 years. “We found books that we never knew we had,” smiled Titus. “It was quite the achievement for us.” Before Berkeley Square, Maggs operated out of the Strand and Conduit Street. Leaving Conduit Street in 1938 for Berkeley Square was a fine idea as their old building was flattened in the Blitz.

Shelves upon shelves of rare books at the Maggs office

Over the years, Maggs had handled the world’s most famous books and worked with governments, aristocrats, institutions and royalty. It’s interesting to learn that Maggs’ 1,300+ catalogues have become valuable reference tools in themselves due to the high level of scholarly research put into them.

Bedford Square is a grand place, designed as a venue to meet the important clientele that sustains their high-end book business. The building is linked by a corridor to a mews at the rear and contains a photography studio, an office dedicated to handling online orders and numerous mini-reference libraries.

Interestingly, Maggs has also opened a shop in Curzon Street in Mayfair to ensure booklovers, perhaps people just starting to collect, have a place where they can just walk in and browse Maggs’ beautiful books.

“We serve established clients around the world but we still want to introduce new people to rare books,” added Titus.

The modern literature section

Pictures of Maggs’ managing directors going back to 1853

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