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News & Updates Antiquarian Booksellers' Association Quagga Rare Books & Art

End of Year 2021 - Welcome to some new booksellers in the ILAB community Part 6 of 9: Simon Curtis of Quagga Rare Books, Cape Town – South Africa

As the year draws to an end, we look back at 2021 and we spoke to a selection of booksellers who joined the ILAB community in the course of last year.
Quagga Simon and George Curtis

What triggered your interest in rare books and becoming a rare bookseller?

My father George Curtis started Quagga when I was young, but I joined him 15 years ago full time. I think being exposed to auctions, markets and fairs as a child really instilled the interest in me.

What do you deal in?

Being at the Southern tip of Africa, Cape Town has an interesting history, and many unusual items turn up here. Africana forms a portion of what we deal in, but we also have art books, modern firsts, antiquarian maps, photographs, ephemera and art.

Do you specialize?

We don’t specialize in any particular type of material but we try to specialize in adding value to whatever we sell. Researching provenance and building a story around a book or object can bring it to life and add value.

Buying and selling rare books is more than just a job, it is often a passion and a lifestyle. What do you love most about your work?

I probably love buying books more than anything. Going to a new client’s house to look at their books can be thrilling as you never know what you might find. Following this I enjoy researching the material I’ve bought and doing some minor book restoration. My least favourite part is selling the book, especially when the buyer wants “your best possible price”.

When the world opens up again, where will you go?

I’ll probably go to London to continue my studies, but I’m quite happy to stay here in Cape Town and keep my carbon footprint to a minimum. With the sun, mountains, and surf, we are very lucky to live here.