Dr Anke Timmermann & Quaritch Booksellers Talk at Rare Books London 2017
Bernard Quaritch's "Collecting Pains - symptoms and remedies for book lovers" will provide a fascinating insight into the rare book trade, past and present. Visitors will discover the company’s long history, meet staff and view highlights from the archive and current stock. Incidentally, one of Quaritch's more younger staff members Dr. Anke Timmermann was recently elected as a new Associate Member of the ABA, and her background shows the diversity of people working in our trade. We would like to share her article, originally published in the March edition of the ABA newsletter, below.
Dr. Anke Timmermann - New Associate Member at the Antiquarian Booksellers Association
I came into the book trade in 2014 as a historian of science with the desire to work with books and manuscripts beyond my specialist field of history of alchemy, to be involved in creating collections as well as studying their history, and to live in one of the most exciting bibliophile cities in the world: London.
Books had been the strongest constant in my ‘previous life’: I had begun my education at Heidelberg University (including a year abroad at Trinity College Dublin) when curiosity led me towards the research seminar on history of alchemy, medicine and science at Heidelberg, run by Prof. Joachim Telle (the leading Paracelsus scholar in Germany). Original research was a prerequisite of participation in the seminar, so, by the time I had completed my MA in English and philosophy, I was also an alchemy scholar with knowledge of the Bibliotheca Palatina and the local pharmacy museum’s holdings (a little-known but fascinating collection at Heidelberg Castle). An MPhil at the University of Glasgow (working on the Ferguson Collection on chemistry and alchemy) and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University followed. My research on recipes for the philosophers’ stone focused on the circulation and reception of anonymous verse texts used in workshops, i.e. laboratory experiments related to chemistry, metallurgy and pharmacy, quite separate from the later occult traditions; my monograph Verse and Transmutation: A Corpus of Middle English Alchemical Poetry was published by Brill in 2013.
In my postdoctoral career I continued working in these fields, through my explorations of some remarkable collections: the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, which houses the wonderful Othmer Library of Chemical History and was developing its museum at the time, was my first employer; I later held a fellowship and university lectureship at the Medical University of Vienna, analysing Viennese medical-alchemical books and manuscripts while teaching medical students and Neo-Latin novices; and joined a research group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. While part of the Letters of Bess of Hardwick Project at Glasgow, I produced digital editions of Bess’ correspondence and also developed an exhibition at Hardwick Hall and The National Archives, London, which proposed a revisionist view of the woman and her networks. My final role in academia was as the Munby Fellow in Bibliography at Cambridge University Library for 2013-4, researching (often previously unrecognised) alchemical texts, fragments and images in Cambridge libraries, and compiling ‘Alchemy in Cambridge. An Annotated Catalogue of Alchemical Texts and Illustrations in Cambridge Repositories’ (Nuncius 30 (2015), pp. 345-511).
In 2014 I joined Bernard Quaritch, where I work on travel and natural history, publishing both general travel catalogues and specialist lists such as our recent Women Travellers, which I produced with my colleague Mark James, and which was the subject of articles in The Guardian and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. I have also handled a number of single-owner collections, on subjects ranging from Napoleonic caricatures to books on food and drink from the library of the conductor Christopher Hogwood. The broad range of materials, and the opportunities for specialisation as well as for original contributions to book scholarship, are exactly what I had hoped for when joining the trade; but the international collegiality – which I experienced especially at the ILAB Congress last September, thanks to a Young Antiquarian Bookseller Scholarship (supported by the ABA) – have far exceeded my expectations. I look forward to working within the ABA community for many years to come.
I would like to thank Roger Gaskell and Angus O’Neill for supporting my Associate Membership application, and the ABA committee and members for accepting me into the Association.
To see the full information about Rare Books London, fascinating tours and talks, access to fairs, auctions and libraries, encounters with booksellers and scholars, please visit the website: www.rarebookslondon.com
Image supplied by the author.