Wednesday, 14 December 2016

#London Christmas Shopping No.14: Richard Smith – Books, Maps & Prints @southbanklondon #SouthBank Book Fair

Daily Constitutional editor Adam Scott-Goulding writes…

It's back! The annual London Christmas Shopping Guide from The Daily Constitutional!

This year I'll be including museum gift shops and markets for gift ideas. 

As well as gifts I'll be pointing you toward local London shops for the best in Christmas food and drink. Where relevant, I'll list the London Walks tour that finishes near the shop in question.

As usual, you can drop me a line with your own tips by emailing the usual address, by leaving a comment below or via Twitter.

London Walks Pen & Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David writes…

Richard Smith – Books, Maps & Prints

This most excellent canopy the bridge


Ticks all the boxes, this one.

Let’s run the table.

In no particular order…

1.     The twins are tiny, identical, speak four languages, cute as a button (or do I mean buttons?) and Russian.

Ok, that wasn’t fair, starting it that way. Cheeky really. But it was fun. And, yes, Katrina and Karina are part of the deal, part of the appeal.*

But let’s get properly to our box ticking.

2.     The “gift” is thoughtful, unusual, beautiful. In a word, special.
3.     It’s highly portable.
4.     The price is right.
5.     The seller – Richard Smith – is one of life’s good guys. He’s fun to chew the fat with. And he really knows his onions, knows his business – has been doing it for 33 years, has good contacts, will give you a straight steer.
6.     The shop itself is – well, “none better”.
7.     The nearby amenities are – well, “none better.”
8.     The twins will be there.

So, what’s the gift? What’s the prezzie?

Richard sells old – and not so old – international (and English) maps. And prints.

Why is the price right? Because he sells them at the open air book market under Waterloo Bridge on the Southbank. Right outside the back door of the National Film Theatre.

Richard & Karina

Let’s mull for a moment. Get things into perspective.

Think of little art galleries in St. James’s or Mayfair or Belgravia. Think about what they’re paying in rent and rates. You think that’s not reflected in their prices? (If you think they’re not paying much in the way of rates and rent I’ve got a real nice bridge in Brooklyn I’d be happy to sell you at a knockdown price.) But seriously, that’s why Richard’s prices are so good.

And as for his “shop” and its amenities – how do you improve on it? He’s under the arch of Waterloo Bridge. He’s got the Thames lapping behind him. And to his left and right. He’s got the NFT as the far bookend for his table of wares. He’s got the Royal National Theatre at 11 am. The Royal Festival Hall at 1 pm. The London Eye at 3 pm. Beyond it, at 4 pm, the Palace of Westminster. Just over the Thames, at 5 pm, Whitehall Court looking like it strolled away from King Arthur’s Camelot, got lost and decided not to go back.

You want it in one? This is the spot Time Out described as “the most romantic in London.”

Anything else? Sure. Richard’s objets d’art come with conservation quality mounting. Natch.

And the collection is stunning and remarkable: “there are some 1480s prints over on that table…sold a 13th century MS. the other day.”

Bottom line – bottom line indeed – something from Richard Smith makes a very special gift.  And you’ll enjoy talking to him and the twins, enjoy the setting. Anything you get from him will be a good present and the getting will be a good memory.

And memories make us rich.

*You could ask them how their MA courses are going. Katrina’s doing one in Historical Research. Karina’s is in Neuropsychology (I daresay she’d be able to tell you what’s going on in your synapse back 40 when you’re looking at one of Richard’s maps).

Here's a map to Richard's stall (below) and his website is at

We pass by Richard's stall on the Fun Photography Walk Saturday 14th January meet at Temple tube 10.45am - full info at

Christmas 2016 With London Walks…

On Christmas Day there are TWO London Walks: 

Walk up an appetite with The Christmas Morning 1660 Walk – meet at 11:00a.m by the big tree in Trafalgar Square

Walk off the pudding with The Christmas Day Charles Dickens Walk – meet by the big tree in Trafalgar Square at 2:00pm

A London Walk costs £10 – £8 concession. To join a London Walk, simply meet your guide at the designated tube station at the appointed time. Details of all London Walks can be found at

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