Valuable volumes will be more expensive. It is worth thinking about buying, for example, at the auction.
It would seem that in the era of the huge reading crisis that is taking place in Poland, investing in books is a bad idea. Nothing could be more wrong. Regardless of the fact that the level of readership in our country is only 38 percent. population, in this group is a specific circle of true connoisseurs of books. You may even be tempted to say that they are not ordinary readers, because this book madness is about more than just content.
This was the case, for example, in the case of an exceptional ornithological publication published in England in 1839. The author of the texts and drawings was the painter John James Audubon, and it was the graphics layer that made this inconspicuous publication sold for as much as 11 million dollars. For bibliophiles, books are much more than just printed pages.
Just for love
In short, bibliophilia is the love of books and their collection. Most often, rare book editions or exclusive editions are among the book lovers’ interests. But it is not only the content itself or the graphic page of the book that makes it an attractive morsel for the bibliophile. To a large extent it also concerns its provenance, or origin.
The bibliophiles look in the books of the so-called provenance marks that testify to subsequent owners of a given copy. These may be, for example, bookplates, or proprietary marks used by books by wealthy collectors. However, much more interesting are handwritten notes or traces of use left by former readers.
Here is an example: a medieval manuscript for years lay forgotten in the archives in Dubrovnik. Everything changed when an inquiring doctoral student discovered on one of the pages traces of cat paws and an author’s note containing a curse for a pet who had inked the work he had written. It is because of the traces of cat’s paws that the manuscript “Lettere e commissioni di Levante” gained fame in the world of book lovers and from the farthest corners of the Dubrovnik archive it was awarded the honorable place of the incunabula exhibition.
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What books are included?
The previously mentioned ornithological publication was not the most expensive book in the world. Bibliophiles and cultural institutions are able to pay much more for exceptional white ravens. One of the largest auctioned amounts was spent during the fight for the so-called Codex Leicester, crossed out by Leonardo da Vinci himself. The lucky buyer of this unique book turned out to be Bill Gates, and the purchase of the Italian masterpiece cost him – a trifle – 30 million dollars. According to experts’ calculations, today the value of the Code is estimated at as much as 50 million dollars.
What books is worth investing in our yard? In an interview for Polish Radio, Janusz Miliszkiewicz, a columnist for “Rzeczpospolita” dealing with the art market, said that the price includes patriotic publications, kept in good condition, with good provenance. According to the specialist, this is about collections from royal and princely libraries, but also from propaganda publications that were supposed to support the attitudes of Poles, for example during the Polish-Bolshevik war.
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Confirmation of Miliszkiewicz’s words can be found on the website of Warsaw Antiquarian Bookshops and the Lamus Auction House, the organizer of the most prestigious bibliophilic auctions in our country. The antique shop can boast of successful auctions of such works as manuscripts and documents of Polish rulers and leaders. They were, among others documents of Zygmunt Stary, Jan III Sobieski and Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
As Andrzej Osełko from the antiquarian Lamus in an interview for the rp.pl website said, in the Polish yard the transaction for the amount of 35 to 50 thousand zlotys achieved at the bibliophilic auction is not a surprise. Exceptional were not auctions, in which amounts of up to PLN 200,000 were falling. According to “Rzeczpospolita”, in 2017, the turnover on the antiquarian market in our country exceeded PLN 200 million, and the bibliophiles spent 25% on valuable books. more than a year earlier.