Das Deutsche Literaturarchiv Marbach hat kürzlich eine Frankfurter Privatsammlung zu Eduard Mörike erworben. Der Sammler Klaus Berge, verdientes Mitglied der Deutschen Schillergesellschaft und langjähriger Freund des Hauses, hat über mehr als drei Jahrzehnte hinweg sachkundig Handschriften, Erstausgaben, Widmungsexemplare, Grafiken und Gegenständliches von und zu Eduard Mörike sowie seinem Umkreis zusammengetragen.
105 years ago, from 6th to 8th August, 1908, a famous 19th century autograph collection was auctioned by J. A. Stargardt in Berlin. The owner of the collection was Fritz Donebauer, born in 1849 as a son of a Bohemian innkeeper who became a banker and insurance agent in Prague, and most of all: a collector. In his lifetime he owned hundreds of autographs and manuscripts of mostly Bohemian theatre artists and musicians as well as rare documents from the history of Bohemia and the Thirty Years War. Little is known about Fritz Donebauer, whose collection came to auction in Berlin in April 1908, and even less is known about the private collectors, dealers and institutions who bought the documents, manuscripts and handwritten letters. Eberhard Köstler tries to reconstruct Fritz Donebauer's life and the fate of his famous collection.
This (or a variant of it) is probably the most often asked question I hear. What I'm talking about is, of course, whether it is better to buy a book (or get it autographed by the author) with just a signature alone or whether it is better to have it with a personalized inscription.
The British Library has acquired the personal archive of Sir Alec Guinness. The archive includes more than 900 of his letters to family and friends and over 100 volumes of diaries from the late 1930s to his death in the year 2000. The letters and diaries of the award winning British actor enrich the British Library's collection of archives of great 20th century artists along with those of Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.
How much is it worth? This question is most often asked by book collectors. And most often, there is not a precise answer. Although it is quite common nowadays to discuss rare books "as investments", the value of a book can hardly be counted in Dollars and Euros. It is even more difficult to measure the "worth" of dedication copies. Is the book inscribed by the author? Is this author famous and important, dead or alive? To whom is the book inscribed? Which words did the author choose to express his gratitude or sympathy? Eberhard Köstler, autograph specialist, gives examples of dedications by George Bernard Shaw, George Orwell, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann and many other authors, and he shows that nothing is binding when it comes to the "real worth" of dedications.
In detective fiction and on the cop shows it's called "chain of evidence." Book collectors call it provenance. Unless you plan to build your private library solely with "hot off the press" titles, you need to understand provenance. The concept is important for all kinds of collectibles, from works of art to books to archaeological artifacts. Basically, it means: "to confirm or gather evidence as to the time, place, and if appropriate, the person responsible, for the creation, production or discovery of [an] object."
Great news: The Guardian and Associated Press report that the Hebrew University of Jerusalem puts online 2,000 documents from the Albert Einstein archives including unseen letters, postcards and research notes.
After the Pasadena book fair in February this year I enjoyed a scenic drive up the Pacific Highway to Seattle, where I met up with the local dealers who invited me to come exhibit at the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair in October. I thought that sounded like fun, so jumped back on the QF93 to attend my first book fair in the Pacific Northwest.
Beautiful, rare and unusual books are in steady demand in an economically unsteady world. After three busy days the Stuttgart Book Fair closed with excellent results. Almost all the 80 exhibitors from Europe and the USA reported five or even six-digit sales. At the opening on Friday, 27th January, the stands were crowded. The high quality of the items in the Book Fair Catalogue had attracted dealers and collectors from Europe and overseas as well as museums, libraries and archives. So it is not surprising that many catalogue highlights changed hands within the first few minutes. Among them were Napoleon's personal copy of "Ossian" (Fons Blavus 150,000 €) or De Bry's "Collectiones Peregrinatium (Patzer & Trenkle 90,000 €). Heribert Tenschert, who exhibited a stunning collection of early manuscripts and books all written and printed on vellum, was very satisfied with the attention which this collection commanded from dealers and collectors.
To those of us who plan to stay in this book business on-line this might be an article of worth. We know that 20,000 to 50,000 books can get out of hand where space is limited and locating a title can take more than five minutes. Some of us, if we are honest with ourselves, might take 30 minutes to locate a book, so a proper management and planning system should be set up at the beginning. As the time taken extends, the less efficient your business becomes, especially when you work alone ...
The term completist, as applied to book collectors, has always struck this writer as something of a misnomer. In one sense, the term certainly is applicable: i.e., it describes the attempt to collect everything a particular author ever wrote, or everything a particular publisher ever published, or everything ever written about a particular topic. On the other hand …
January 22nd is the birthday of English statesman, philosopher, writer Sir Francis Bacon (1561), whose writings are said to have had great influence on modern science, law and society. There is also a school of thought that credits him with some or all of the works of William Shakespeare, though that idea has largely been discredited. In any case, what is known is that Bacon was, for a time at least, an influential thinker and politician during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, something of a feat in itself, given that the two courts were not on the best of terms with each other. He enjoyed the favor of Queen Elizabeth I, whom he had met while he was a student at Cambridge. The queen seems to have admired his brilliant young mind. Later, he served the queen as prosecutor of his former friend, Robert Devereau, who was convicted of treason and beheaded. Bacon then wrote an account of the whole affair for Elizabeth, which was published after heavy editing from Elizabeth and her advisors.
Booksellers' firsts are as rare as some rare books. Often printed and produced with much love and energy, yet on cheap paper and for a still small company of customers, they are "used" – and thrown away. Who started when? What did he or she offer? And for what price? Only the first catalogues can answer such questions. How did he or she present the material? With illustrations, elaborate descriptions, old-fashioned, modern, sophisticated or funny? A fine selection of 100 titles, or the abundance of 4000 items in one volume? In form of a "real" print catalogue or as a photocopied list? The catalogues, and especially their covers, reflect the taste and customs of the decades in which they were printed. Some months ago Tom Congalton of Between the Covers Rare Books started to publish pictures of rare booksellers' first catalogues on Facebook. The most outstanding examples are presented here.