The Best Exhibitions & Events in November 2019

The nights are getting longer and the mercury is sinking lower, but there’s no excuse to stay at home this November. The Shapero team have picked the best exhibitions and events for November 2019 both in London and further afield.

Egyptian treasures, surrealist photography, book fairs and more make the cut in the first of our monthly round ups of the best in culture.

What: Marie-Antoinette: Metamorphoses of an Image

When: Ongoing until 26th January 2020

Where: Conciergerie, Paris

Only a handful of historic figures have been the subject of such an abundance of representations.  Marie-Antoinette is one of these, both during her lifetime and more notably after her death.  Even today, this queen-turned-icon is still a key emblem in popular culture.

The exhibition illustrates the many representations of her through almost 200 works, artefacts, heritage and contemporary archives, never-before-seen interviews, film extracts and more.

What: The ABA Chelsea Rare Book Fair 2019

When: 1st - 2nd November

Where: Chelsea Old Town Hall

Held each autumn in the beautiful and historic Chelsea Old Town Hall, this 29th edition of the Fair brings together more than 80 exhibitors from all round the world, including Shapero Rare Books, Stand 43.

For those of you who plan their Christmas shopping in advance (as opposed to the mad dash many do come Christmas eve), this is the perfect place to find the perfect present for the bibliophile in your life!

What: TUTANKHAMUN: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh

When: 2nd November - 3rd May 2020

Where: Saatchi Gallery

The third stop in a record-breaking global tour that has seen both Paris and Los Angeles play host to the boy pharaoh.  In LA the exhibition was among the most successful in the history of the California Science Centre, while in Paris it became France's most attended exhibition of all time with over 1.4 million visitors!

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, it will be the final chance for Londoners to see these glittering world heritage artefacts before they return to Egypt forever.

Exploring the life of King Tutankhamun, and the history of the discovery that captivated the world, there are more than 150 authentic pieces from the tomb, 60 of which are travelling outside of Egypt for the first time.

What: Marvellous and Mischievous: Literature's Young Rebels

When: 8th November – 1st March 2020

Where: The British Library

A free, family-friendly exhibition exploring rebels in classic children’s literature.

Roald Dahl's handwritten drafts of Matilda sit alongside Quentin Blake's iconic illustrations, as well as other enduring classics from The Secret Garden to Where the Wild Things Are.

The annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, is a key event in any book collector’s calendar. Run under the aegis of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), it draws in a wide selection of exhibitors from America and abroad (including Shapero Rare Books), and attracts a diverse range of collectors.

If you're attending do drop by Stand 519 to say hi to Bernard, Jeffrey and Roddy.

What: Dora Maar

When: 20th November – 15 March 2020

Where: Tate Modern

Exploring the breadth of Dora Maar’s long career in the context of work by her contemporaries, this is the largest retrospective of the Surrealist photographer ever held in the UK.

During the 1930s, Maar’s provocative photomontages became celebrated icons of surrealism. Her eye for the unusual also translated to her commercial photography, including fashion and advertising, as well as to her social documentary projects.

What: Troy: Myth and Reality

When: 21st November – 8 March 2020

Where: British Museum

A legend that’s endured for more than 3,000 years, the story of the city of Troy, plunged into a 10-year war over the abduction of the most beautiful woman in the world, is irresistibly dramatic and tragic.

This allure has sent adventurers and archaeologists in quest of the lost city, which is now widely believed to have existed. But what of the characters and main players who are said to have taken part in the Trojan war? This exhibition explores these captivating characters, bringing them to life through some truly breath-taking art.

What: Quentin Blake: An Anthology of Readers

When: 29th November - 22nd December

Where: Shapero Rare Books

Yes, yes, we know! It's our exhibition! But we couldn't include a round up of the best exhibitions in November without including it.

Opening on the 29th November 2019, An Anthology of Readers is comprised of seventy-two new pen, ink & watercolour drawings by the much-loved Quentin Blake, all of which affectionately caricature people who love books - the perfect Christmas present for any bibliophile.

Head over to the blog to read an interview we were lucky to do with the great artist.

What: Antony Gormley

When: Ongoing until 3rd December 2019

Where: Royal Academy of Arts

Following in the footsteps of Ai Weiwei and Anselm Kiefer, Antony Gormley is the next artist to take over the Main Galleries at the RA.

Testing the scale and light of the RA’s architecture, this is the most ambitious exhibition seen from the artist in more than ten years.

Caring for Antique Books

Here is some basic advice to help keep books in the best possible condition.

Even if you are not an avid collector, these basic precautions are sound habits to ensure a long life to any of the books on your shelves.

Storing books

  1. Store books on flat, smooth shelves that are strong enough to support their weight.
  2. Books should not come into contact with unsealed wood as it can release damaging vapours.
  3. Place similar size books together upright on a shelf.
  4. It’s important not to pack books too tightly to prevent warping or damage when removing from the shelf.
  5. Use book ends to prevent books falling over.
  6. Dust-jackets should be covered in acid-free book jacket covers.
  7. Do not leave any acidic papers such as newspaper inside the book. It will darken the pages.
  8. Make sure books aren’t stored under plumbing and water pipes. Water damage from these sources is more common than one might think.
  9. Make sure bottom shelves are raised from the floor in case of flooding.


  1. Keep all books in a stable environment.
  2. Excessive heat or high humidity will attract insects and encourage mould growth. Air needs to circulate freely.
  3. Avoid direct sunlight, which will fade leather, cloth and dust jackets.

Handling books/cleaning

  1. Always carefully wash and dry hands before handling books.
  2. Use book marks. Do not place open books face down, and definitely do not turn the corner of pages over.
  3. When reading, carefully turn pages and don’t force the covers down flat or even beyond; this can damage, even break the spine.
  4. Regularly clean book shelves, even if it’s only once or twice a year.
  5. Don’t eat or drink near books.

Extra protection for your books

While everyday practical tips will avoid unnecessary damage and deterioration, there are some extra protection methods one can adopt to avoid any expensive repairs to a treasured collection.

  1. Regularly clean books with a cloth or a soft brush.
  2. Purchasing a book shelf with a glass door may help to avoid dust build up.
  3. For the most valuable books consider custom-made cases to fit the size of each specific book.

Restoration and repair

Repairs to highly collectible books should only be done by a recommended and highly skilled restorer or book-binder.

We hope this will help you to understand how to handle and take care of books for years to come. When considering the purchase of a book for your collection, the condition and, if applicable, the dust jacket are very important factors affecting the value.

This article was written by Dakota Murphey; content writer and literature enthusiast. Working alongside bespoke library interior designers, Artichoke ltd.