„I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.“
Jorge Luis Borges
Ever lasting values are good investments, and of these rare books, autographs, manuscripts and prints are the best - financially, intellectually and aesthetically. On Sunday evening the 52nd Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair closed after three days of huge public interest. Most exhibitors from Europe and abroad were happy with five- and 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 attracted dealers and collectors, who had come all the way from Italy, France, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States, as well as museums, libraries, archives and other public institutions who were keen to buy rare and valuable items to complete their collections.
In its 52th year the second oldest antiquarian book fair in Europe once again proved that the fair is not too old to attract young visitors. Even the very young collectors were present. An eleven (!) year old customer purchased autographs and musical scores from J.A. Stargardt (Berlin) and Adam Bosze (Budapest). The young man is an emerging talent on the piano and decided to read as much as possible about his passion as early as he could.
Günter Linke, one of the avant-garde specialists who exhibit in Stuttgart year by year, sold Yvan Goll’s „Le mythe de la roche percée“ with engravings by Yves Tanguy (9.800 €), Mouvement Dada (8.000 €) and the first edition of Gottfried Benn’s „Morgue“ (4.800 €). Two adorable hand-coloured lithographs of a Hawaiian royal couple were among the many sales reported by Helmut Schwarzfischer (11,000 €). Stefan George’s „Hymnen - Pilgerfahren - Algabal” (14,000 €) and Nietzsche's „Zarathustra” (€ 22,000) were two of many highlights purchased by Herbert Blank, while Eberhard Köstler sold a superb and nearly complete collection of presentation copies and first editions of Kurt Tucholsky’s novels and satires (30,000 €) along with a diary written and decorated with lovely sketches on a trip to Africa (7,800 €).
So it is not surprising that many catalogue highlights changed hands within the first few minutes. If more than one person is interested in a book from the Stuttgart Book Fair Catalogue, the winner is established by lottery. The lot had to be cast, among others, for Chateaubriand's „Mémoires d'outre-tombe“, offered by Tusculum Rare Books (8,800 €). The lucky winner out of ten competitors came from France. Equally hard fought were the typographic gems offered by Leo Cadogan who sold rarities such as Brogiotti’s „Indice“ (5,650 €) - to a colleague who had come from London.
The most beautiful bindings from Sangorski & Sutcliffe to Cosway could be admired at the stand of Reiss & Sohn. Sales included a splendid Ottheinrich binding from the property of the greatest and most famous German 16th century bibliophiles (24,000 €). The Viennese dealer and ILAB Vice President Norbert Donhofer sold, among others, Herberstein’s „Moscoviter histories“ (14,500 €). He said: „It was one of my best Stuttgart fairs ever.“ This was echoed by Manfred Nosbüsch. No wonder: On Sunday afternoon his showcases and boards were nearly empty.
In a ceremony on Saturday evening Professor Reiner Speck and Dr. Michael Knoche were awarded ILAB Patrons of Honour. The internationally renowned collector Reiner Speck owns one of the world’s famous libraries on Petrarca and Marcel Proust. Even more important: he does not keep his treasures in secret. They are presented to the public in a magnificent modern library building created by one of Germany’s foremost architects. Dr. Michael Knoche is the director of the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar. When the library was burnt down in 2004 he himself rescued some of the very rare books which were kept there, among them the first edition of Martin Luther’s bible. Since then, he is responsible for the rebuilding of the library and the restoration of the books. After the ceremony over a hundred guests enjoyed music, a brilliant lecture by Dr. Helmuth Mojem about J. G. Cotta and this year’s exhibition which was devoted to the most prominent publisher of German classical literature.
„Excellent.“ One word was enough for Heribert Tenschert to characterize the outcome of the Fair 2013. The Swiss antiquarian bookseller - who presented the absolute highlight, an „etiquette” written for the Italian aristocracy in the Middle Ages „Il Fiore di Virtù” (780,000 €) - sold three extremely rare prints on vellum for an impressive six figure sum. US dealer Eugene Vigil, who made excellent sales with natural history books, added: „I will certainly come back!“