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A Century of Rare Bookselling - Michael Ginsberg in Conversation with Marguerite Studer Goldschmidt

"He was a gentleman and I knew it then."

Marguerite Studer Goldschmidt was born in England to Swiss parents, she was educated in England and Switzerland. Her father, Paul Studer, was professor of Romance languages at Oxford University. In 1932 Marguerite began to study librarianship at the University of Geneva, apprenticed at the libraries of  the Universities of Bristol (UK), Geneva (Switzerland) and Tubingen (Germany). She became assistant cataloguer at the University of Bristol library, associate of the British Library, and librarian of the Bush House Library at the BBC in London. There she met Lucien Goldschmidt: “on a double date for lunch at Lloyd's Corner. She remembers that he added money to the tip, a generous act that conveyed a sense of European manners and courtliness that even 59 years later still brings a smile. ‘He was a gentleman and I knew it then.’"

Lucien Goldschmidt
, one of the most important and influential antiquarian booksellers of the 20th century, was born in Brussels in 1912 and educated at the College Royal Français in Berlin. He worked for Pierre Berès in Paris and established a New York branch for Berès in 1937. When Lucien Goldschmidt met his later wife Marguerite Studer, he had already established his own business.

“He had left Germany in the early 1930s after two years experience with Max Perl to work five years in Paris at Librairie Incidences. In 1937, with war approaching, he traveled by ship via Cairo and the Suez Canal across the Far East to Hong Kong, Yokohama and eventually San Francisco. Arriving in America with his intelligence, seven books entrusted to him by Pierre Berès, a white suit, a fine hat and five dollars he made his way to New York to become a book dealer. He took a small place on 53rd Street, and nine years later Marguerite joined him there, he to sell books in post world war New York and she to assist in the endeavor. Later they moved to the second floor of the Partridge Building - into a beautiful paneled space and then uptown to around 79th St. as prosperity took hold. The firm, initially called Pierre Berès, later became Lucien Goldschmidt, Inc. Marguerite's part in the business became cataloguing, bookkeeping and a bit of everything, he the selection of material, cataloguing, creating their always changing window displays and making sales.”

Lucien Goldschmidt Inc., founded in New York in 1953, was the first gallery in the United States to purchase Matisse's portfolio "Jazz". Among the customers were Carl Schniewind, later curator of prints and drawings at the Brooklyn Museum, Alan Shestack and Seymour Slive, directors of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Fogg Museum, and dealers like Alexandre Rosenberg, Peter Deltsch, Curt Valentin, Charles Sessler and Jacob Zeitlin. The Goldschmidts organized exhibitions, helped put together the unpublished correspondence of Toulouse-Lautrec, which Lucien edited in 1969, and shared a particular interest in early photography and first books to be illustrated with photographs. At that time, no one had studied this subject before, and the exhibition 'The Truthful Lens' at the Grolier Club was groundbreaking.

Besides all this, Lucien and Marguerite Goldschmidt were scholarly booksellers in the best sense who published remarkable rare book catalogues of which “The Good Citizen” is one of the most shining examples. This catalogue was an original approach to political theory from the ancient world to the present day, represented by books.

The Goldschmidts closed their shop in 1987. Their reference library was auctioned by Swann Galleries in 1994.

Marguerite and Lucien Goldschmidt represent a whole century of the antiquarian book trade, they were “citizens of the world” and their New York gallery was called "the kind of book-cum-picture shop that Daumier would have liked to draw and in which Baudelaire would have whiled away the hours."


Marguerite and Lucien Goldschmidt in the Press


>>> June 20th, 2005 with Marguerite Goldschmidt (AE Monthly, the quotations above are taken from the article by Bruce McKinney)

>>> Lucien Goldschmidt, Rare-Book Dealer, 80 (The New York Times)

>>> Lucien Goldschmidt (The Independent)

An informative article on Lucien Goldschmidt is published in:

>>> Ernst Fischer, Verleger, Buchhändler & Antiquare aus Deutschland und Österreich in der Emigration nach 1933. Ein biographisches Handbuch. Verband Deutscher Antiquare 2011 (in German).

Click on the names in the left column to continue.

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