Hungary’s tradition in book culture goes as far back as the 10th century when traveling monks introduced the first codices, not long after the Magyar had conquered and settled in the Carpathian Basin. ...
Early ecclesiastical libraries (also called ‘loca credibilia’) were unique to Hungary, set up in monasteries, the earliest being founded in 996 in the Benedectine monastery of Pannonhalma.
The first Hungarian printed book was produced in the Buda printing house of Andreas Hess at Whitsuntide in 1473. He also produced the Chronica Hungarorum (or Buda Chronicle) after having arrived from Rome to set up the first press in Buda, which was the cultural centre of the empire at the time.
With the beginning of the Turkish occupation in 1526, Hungarian centres of literature were often destroyed and Hungarian books then printed in Cracow and Vienna.
During the time of the Reformation, printers produced a lot of material supporting Hungarian Protestantism. Significant printer’s names were Gàl Huszár and Bálint Mantskovits, who produced the first complete Hungarian Protestant bible, seen as the finest undertaking of 16th century Hungarian printing.
Throughout the 18th century, printing offices opened in Eger, Esztergom, Temesvár, Pécs, Nagykároly, Kassa and in particular in Debrecen and Kolozsvar. Count Széchenyi founded various institutions in the 19th century to build a more progressive and modern society. Amongst many such initiatives and projects, he also founded the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Names such as bookseller Gusztáv Emich stand out or the Athenaeum Literary and Joint Stock Limited Printing Company, which had turned by the end of the century into the most important printing house in the country.
The country’s largest publishing firm, Pallas, was founded in 1884, equipped with a modern typefoundry, a lithographic press, a bindery and various printing presses. In the 1920’s, another publishing firm, Kner, flourished and survived two world wars until it was nationalised in 1949 under the communist regime. Prestigious publishers such as Athenaeum, Révai Brothers and Singer & Wolfner continued their productions of important titles in small editions until the communist era changed the publishing world virtually overnight. Publishers were now censored and only large, socialist enterprises were allowed to publish in very limited segments. Mass publications and socialist education now dominated publisher’s programmes.
However, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, censorship relaxed a little and by the 1980’s, the publishing industry had to start supplying readers who were aware of the impending collapse of Communism. The Hungarian Writer’s Association gave shelter to writers and intellectuals who would start to speak out against the communist regime.
As in the rest of Eastern Europe, censorship ended in 1989 and publishers were able to publish freely and supply a demand, in particular in previously banned literature. Large bookshop chains were set up, just as in Western European countries.
Publishers & Booksellers' Associations in Hungary
Hungary had been one of the earliest countries to be submitted into the International Publishers Association (IPA) and hosted the first international publishers conference back in 1913. In 1998, the Hungarian Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association (MKKE) joined the prestigious European Publishers’ Federation and the European Booksellers’ Federation and Hungary was chosen as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1999.
In 2001, 15 antiquarian booksellers in Hungary founded the Hungarian Antiquarian Booksellers Association, Magyar Antikváriusok Egyesülete, which became an ILAB member in September 2010 during the ILAB Congress in Bologna. The association has helped members and collectors in times of an increasing online market and an expansion of the trade to maintain high standards and to nurture relationships with the international rare book trade.
In 2016, the 42nd ILAB Congress and Book Fair was held in Budapest and brought the international book trade to Hungary. Institutions such as the Academy of Sciences with its famous Kaufman Collection, the National Library and the Bibliotheca Corviniana opened their doors.
A 5-day programme ended with the opening of the ILAB Budapest International Antiquarian Book Fair, held at Budapest’s magnificent music hall, the Budapest Vigado.
Wide media coverage and a unique offering resulted in substantial visitor numbers, all of which would have not been possible without the tireless work of Adam Bosze, President of the Hungarian Antiquarian Booksellers Association, who is very engaged in the work of ILAB and well connected with booksellers worldwide.
The city of Budapest was the right place for an antiquarian book fair: discoveries were made and so were sales and new contacts. A new fair is always an exciting venture with opportunities for the dealer and the collector.
Following this success, Adam Bosze and his team at the Hungarian association have now scheduled a second fair which will run from 15 -16 September 2018.
All information can be found on the website. >> Budapest International Antiquarian Book Fair 2018
A message from Nobert Donhofer, ILAB President of Honour:
Dear colleagues and friends,
I would like to encourage you to participate in the 2nd International Antiquarian Book Fair at Budapest later this year. The marvelous premises of the „Pesti Vigadó,, a concert hall built in the second half of the 19th century, is situated at the eastern banks of the Danube, and just a few steps from the most elegant pedestrian zone of Váci utca, the Opera House, and the famous Café Gerbeaud. The „Muzéum körut“with many book shops is in walking distance as well.
The first International Antiquarian Book Fair at Budapest, back in 2016, and following ILAB’s Congress, was a very successful start, and has proved that there is enormous interest in rare and valuable books, manuscripts, and prints. Private customers from Hungary as well as from several neighbor states, and curators from various Hungarian libraries had flooded the fair during the opening hours then, and many sales were settled within these two and a half days.
Our Hungarian colleagues had organized the 2016 event outstandingly and I am very sure that they will do their best also this year.
A well-educated audience and overwhelming politeness of our Hungarian colleagues, the elegant premises, and the very fine Hungarian cuisine (an important factor for antiquarian booksellers) should be incentive enough to sign up soon!
I hope to meet with many of you this September in Budapest!
Kivánom a legjobbakat,
Norbert Donhofer, President of Honor of ILAB/LILA