Scholarship for Young Antiquarians - Report by Anke Timmermann
Published on 22 Feb. 2018
ILAB Congress 2016 – Budapest
Anke Timmermann: Young Antiquarian Bookseller Scholarship (ABA)
One Tuesday evening this September, at the top of the Párizsi Nagyáruház (Paris Department Store) in Budapest, after wending their way through a modern bookshop and up an escalator, booksellers from all over the world stepped into a tucked-away traditional Budapest café (complete with colourful, gilded, frescoed ceilings) to begin the ILAB Congress 2016. This convivial meeting of the modern trade and history, of the booksellers and hidden treasures set the tone for the following week: a series of visits to Hungarian libraries and sights made accessible thanks to the efforts of Ádám Bősze, the President of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of Hungary.
I had the privilege of attending the ILAB Congress 2016 as a young antiquarian bookseller, with support from the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA) and generously sponsored by the Hungarian Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. The scholarship came at an ideal time: I started as bookseller at Bernard Quaritch Ltd in London in 2014, after an academic career in history of science, now specialising in travel and natural history alongside my longstanding interests in medicine, manuscripts, and much more.
The opportunity to meet the booksellers whose catalogues I had perused, with whom virtual contact had been established, or who had not yet crossed my path was a very welcome one indeed. What I had not anticipated, however, was their generosity in sharing their experiences, advice and time – a mind set among the established booksellers within ILAB that will undoubtedly also benefit those participating in the ILAB mentorship programme, the inception of which was announced at the Congress. As for the new generation – represented by the other two scholarship holders, Gaëlle Cambon (Librairie Gambon, France) and Jennifer Johnson (The Book Shop, LLC, USA) – our meeting was equally enjoyable and productive, and established contacts that will be maintained for a long time.
Of the libraries visited during a rich conference programme, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences left a distinct impression. Here treasures not usually shown to the public were exhibited for our attention, from the famous Kaufmann collection as well as other parts of the library; the latter focused on a wide-ranging collection of travel books, in part printed in Turkey, with distinct orientation towards the Ottoman Empire. The National Library also provided a very warm welcome, and showed, among many other things, a recently discovered Mozart autograph musical score fragment, a veritable wonderment of atlases, and printed materials from the theatre collections, with set designs and a programme printed on silk. The University Library showed fine scientific holdings, manuscripts from the Bibliotheca Corviniana (the library put together by King Matthias Corvinus in the fifteenth century), as well as an astounding set of recently discovered Roger Fenton photographs of Balmoral and Queen Victoria’s companions. Tours around Budapest that interspersed the library visits, providing historical and cultural context for the treasures seen and discussed, and the week culminated in a fine farewell dinner.
Please go here to read Jennifer Johnson's report - another young antiquarian who was awarded a scholarship for the congress.