Untitled Document

Report on the Russian Antiquarian Book Trade, 2008

By Eric Waschke, The Wayfarer’s Bookshop, West Vancouver, Canada

Report on the Russian Antiquarian Book Trade, 2008
By Eric Waschke, The Wayfarer’s Bookshop, West Vancouver, Canada

From the 17 th till 27 th of June 2008, I visited a total of thirty used and antiquarian books hops in St. Petersburg (13) and Moscow (17). In my opinion, of the thirty shops I visited, at least fifteen are working at an ILAB equivalent level (three in St. Petersburg and twelve in Moscow ).

The antiquarian book trade in Russia is in transition between the old Soviet style of books hop i.e., people bringing their books in to be sold on consignment (komissionni magazin - commission store) and the newer style of high end books hops equivalent to high end books hops in Western Europe and North America.

The Soviet style (komis.) shops are similar in that: 1. The stock of books tends to be in poor to fair condition with many odd volumes; 2. The shops only have a few if any interesting higher value books ; 3. Prices are moderate to low in comparison to Western Europe and North America; 4. The stock of books is mainly in Russian with less than 5% being in foreign languages; 5. Generally only Russian is spoken by the staff.

The high end books hops are similar in that: 1. The stock of books tends to be in very good condition [although if this is the case, it must be said that the vast majority of the books have been recently rebound in a period style (the covers presumably not surviving the revolution and the two world wars in good condition)]; 2. Prices are comparable to high end shops in Western Europe and North America (although interesting Russian antiquarian books , especially if they are published before 1850, tend to be priced higher by a factor of two or three times in comparison to comparable books in German, French and English); 3. The stock of books contains many interesting higher value books ; 4. There is a higher percentage of foreign language material but rarely more than 10%; 5. The staff often speaks English, and in some cases other languages.

The foreign language books found in Russian antiquarian books hops are virtually always in German, French, and English, and in that order of prevalence. In the 19 th century many books were published in German in St. Petersburg and some also in French in Moscow . The rarity of pre 1850 Russian books is most likely due to them being published in smaller print runs than comparable books published in Berlin , London or Paris , as well as to destruction through revolution and war. This increased rarity no doubt accounts for the higher prices put on interesting early books in Russian. Thus, in my opinion the price level for antiquarian books in Russia is similar to the price level in Western Europe and North America . As a matter of fact, several Russian books ellers expressed amazement at some of the prices paid at the Russian sales of Christie's and Sotheby's, noting that their clients in Russia would not be willing to pay them such prices for the same books .

The largest problem blocking free trade between Russian antiquarian books ellers and their international colleagues are the Russian customs laws. So far these laws have only been changed since Soviet times to allow the import of antiquarian books into Russia . The situation right now only allows the free export of books published in the last fifty years. For books published between fifty and a hundred years ago, one needs to get an export license from the Committee for Culture. Books published over a hundred years ago cannot be exported.

Moscow has held three antiquarian book fairs since 2005. The last of which took place at the Central House of Artists from November 28 – December 2, 2007 in conjunction with the 9 th International Book Fair for High-Quality Fiction and Non-Fiction. This 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair had twenty-five exhibitors.

In the summer of 2007, ‘Pro-Knigi (About-Books),' ( www.aboutbooks.ru ), a Russian magazine for bibliophiles published its first issue. ‘Pro-Knigi' is a quarterly issued magazine devoted to antiquarian books , manuscripts, engravings and ex-libris. The magazine publishes articles about the history of books and printing, interviews with famous book collectors, publishers and librarians, memoirs and stories about historical Russian private libraries and reviews of Russian and international book auctions. When I was in Russia , issue four had just been published.

In 2007, a detailed guide booklet listing sixty-eight antiquarian and used books hops in Moscow was published. Included in this guide book are two auction houses: LG Auction and Auction House Gelos ( www.gelos.ru ). However, Auction House Kabinet ( www.kabinet-auktion.com ), and Chapkin's Paper Collections also hold regular antiquarian book sales. Gelos is the biggest and most known auction house in Russia , but each auction house is covering a slightly different segment of the market with Auction House Kabinet trying to focus on the high-end market segment.

Moscow State University of Printing Arts ( www.mgup.ru ) has for the last two years had an Antiquarian Book Trade Program at the Faculty of Publishing, Book Trade and Journalism. This program covers all aspects of the antiquarian book trade including: history of publishing, the book trade, and collecting (both private and institutional), bibliography, and historical printing and book production methods and materials. This five year program on average has ten graduates a year.

In conclusion, since the end of Soviet communism in 1991, the Russian antiquarian book trade has rapidly developed and expanded. In my opinion, Russia currently has at least fifteen antiquarian books ellers working at a very professional ILAB equivalent level. Also, Russia has had a rich history in books elling and publishing and many important original works in literature and science were printed there. In addition, the Russian economy is booming and Moscow is the largest city in Europe while St. Petersburg is the third largest and the average Russian income has increased five-fold since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. All these factors would make Russia a very important and welcome addition to ILAB.

 

ILAB equivalent Russian antiquarian books ellers.

St. Petersburg :

Antiquarian Book Gallery Bibliographika, part of Akademkniga Magazin "Bukinist-1"

Liteynyy Prospect 57, St. Petersburg 191104, Russia

Propreitor: Alexey Dunaev

E-mail: bibliographika@mail.ru

Tel. 7921-967-8696

Estimated 30,000 new, used, and antiquarian (7,500 used & 7,500 antiquarian books )

Antiquarian books in generally good condition.

10% of stock in German, French and English.

Some English spoken.

Notes: Best stock of antiquarian books in St. Petersburg . Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair; sells 16 th to 20 th century Russian and foreign books , autographs, engravings, maps, photographs, and postcards.

Staraya Kniga (Old Books) 000 "Mir Iskusstva"

Nevsky Prospect 3, St. Petersburg 191186 Russia

E-mail: info@nevsky3.spb.ru ( www.nevsky3.spb.ru )

Tel. 7812-315-1151

Estimated 10,000 used and antiquarian books ; 3,000 antiquarian books .

Other shop at Svechnoy per. 5.

Estimated 5,000 new used and antiquarian books 250 antiquarian.

Antiquarian books in fair to good condition

5-10% of stock in German, French and English.

Some English spoken in both locations.

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair; sells pre-revolutionary Russian and foreign books and engravings.

Antikvarno-Bukinist Magazin "Na Liteynom" Komis Magazin

Liteynyy Prospect 61, St. Petersburg 191104, Russia

Tel. 812-275-38-74

Estimated 15,000 Used and antiquarian books also photos, albums, postcards

3,000 Antiquarian books in fair to good condition.

10% of stock in German, French and English.

Some English spoken.

Notes: Best of the ‘komis' shops in St. Petersburg .

Moscow :

‘Style' on Frunzenskaya

Propreitor: Alexey Lukashin

48, Frunzenskaya nab., Moscow 119270, Russia

E-mail: antik-book@mail.ru

Tel. 7 916 808 1061

Estimated 5,000 quality antiquarian books in very good condition.

10% of stock in German, French and English.

English and German spoken.

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair; sells 16 th to 20 th century Russian and foreign books , engravings and maps. Price range $500 - $300,000US.

Antique Store Bukinist On Sretenka

Antiquarian department head: Elena Gorskaya

9, Sretenka Str., Moscow 127051, Russia

E-mail: sretenka9@bk.ru

Tel. 7 985 763 9167

Estimated 3,000 high quality antiquarian books in very good condition.

15% of stock in German, French and English.

Some English and German spoken.

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair; sells 16 th to 20 th century Russian and foreign books and engravings. Price range $500 - $50,000US. Oleg Lukashin is a partner in this shop.

‘Antik – LG' Antique Salon

Propreitor: Oleg Lukashin (Alexey's father)

Leninskiy prospect 69, Moscow 119304, Russia

E-mail: antiq@dol.ru ( www.antikpodarok.ru )

Tel. 7 495 134 2378

Estimated 5,000 antiquarian books in very good condition, but most rebound in period style.

Less than 5% of stock in German, French and English.

Some English spoken.

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair; sells antiquarian Russian and foreign books , engravings and maps. Has own bindery in basement which produces period style bindings.

Russkiy Bibliofil

Propreitor: Ilya Kamenskiy

Prokrovka 50, Moscow 105062, Russia

E-mail: info@rusbibliophile.ru ( www.rusbibliophile.ru )

Tel. 7 495 723 6919

Estimated 10,000 quality antiquarian books in very good condition. Many rebound in period style bindings.

Stock mainly in Russian with only a few foreign language titles.

English spoken.

Notes: Is often in Paris to buy books and has an apartment there.

‘Biblio-Globus' Trading House Co.

Bld. 1, 6/3 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101990, Russia

E-mail: bukinist@biblio-globus.ru ( www.biblio-globus.ru )

Tel. 7 495 781 1921

Estimated 5,000 used and antiquarian books (2500 antiquarian) in good condition, many rebound in period style.

10-15% of stock in German, French and English.

Only Russian spoken.

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair; sells antiquarian Russian and foreign books . Antiquarian department is part of a very large new book store.

‘ Moscow ' Trading Book House

8, Tverskaya Str., Moscow 125009, Russia

E-mail: buk@moscowbooks.ru ( www.moscowbooks.com )

Tel. 7 495 796 9416

Estimated 20,000 used and antiquarian books (10,000 antiquarian) in fair to very good condition.

10% of stock in German, French and English.

English spoken.

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair. Probably the largest stock of antiquarian books in Russia . Antiquarian department is part of a very large new book store.

Two businesses at 23, Trubnaya Str., Moscow 127051, Russia :

1. Vishnevy Sad on Trubnaya

Propreitor: Alexey Vengerov

E-mail: info@antikbook.ru ( www.antikbook.ru )

Tel. 7 495 628 4878

Estimated 3,000 high quality antiquarian books in very good condition.

5% of stock in German, French and English.

Some English spoken.

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair, sells 16 th to 20 th century Russian and foreign books and engravings.

2. Bukinist On Trubnaya

E-mail: info@bukinist23.ru ( www.bukinist23.ru )

Tel. 7 495 625 3772

Notes: Took part in the 3 rd Moscow Antique Book Fair. Oldest antiquarian books hop in Moscow .

‘Akcia (Action)' Antikvarno-Bukinisticheskaya (Antique Bookshop)

Bol. Nikitskaya, 21/18, Moscow 103009, Russia

E-mail: akcia-antique@list.ru ( www.akcia-antique.ru )

Tel. 7 495 291 7509

Estimated 10,000 used and antiquarian books (5,000 antiquarian) in fair to good condition. 10% of stock in German, French and English.

Russian spoken only.

Notes: A hybrid shop in as much as books are taken on consignment (komis.) and also bought.

‘Arbatskaya Nakhogka' (Godsend on Arbat)

Arbat Str. 11, Moscow 121019, Russia

E-mail: arbat@antiq.info ( www.arbat.antiq.info )

Tel. 7 495 291 3606

Estimated 2,000 antiquarian books in generally good condition but most rebound in period style.

Stock mostly in Russian.

English spoken.

Notes: Antiquarian book department is on the first floor of an upscale antique shop.

‘Bukinist'

Arbat Str. 36, Moscow 121002, Russia

Tel. 7 095 241 3606

Estimated 4,000 antiquarian books in generally good condition but many rebound in period style.

5% of stock in German, French and English.

Only Russian spoken.

Notes: Nice books hop on Moscow 's premier antique street.

‘Moskovskiy Dom Knigi' ( Moscow Book House)

8, Novy Arbat., Moscow 121019, Russia

( www.mdk-arbat.ru )

Tel. 7 495 741 9933

Estimated 10,000 used and antiquarian books (5,000 antiquarian) in generally good condition.

Stock mostly in Russian.

Notes: Some interesting high value books . Antiquarian department is part of a very large new book store.

Also worth mentioning, a purely internet antiquarian shop @ ( www.rarebooks.ru )

Notes on other books hops visited.

St. Petersburg :

Antiquariat

19 Rizhskiy Prospect

Estimated 10,000 used and antiquarian books (2,000 antiquarian).

5% of stock in foreign languages.

General stock in poor to fair condition with many odd volumes.

Only Russian spoken.

Staraya Kniga technical books

29 Bolshoy Prospect V.O.

Estimated 10,000 technical books with less than 100 antiquarian books .

Stock virtually all in Russian.

Only Russian spoken.

Bookshop (Lavka Pisatelei)

Nevsky Prospect 66

New books hop with an antiquarian section of about 200 books .

5% of stock in foreign languages.

Only Russian spoken.

Iskatel (Searcher)

51 Moyki reki nab

Estimated 5000 used books with less than 200 antiquarian books .

5% of stock in foreign languages.

Only Russian spoken.

Sova Bookshop

Marata 52

Estimated 5,000 used and antiquarian (750 antiquarian).

10% of stock in foreign languages.

Antiquarian books in poor to good condition.

Only Russian spoken.

Bibliofil

Livgovsky Prospect 120

Estimated 3000 used and antiquarian books (200 antiquarian)

Less than 5% of stock in foreign languages.

Antiquarian books in generally in poor condition.

Only Russian spoken.

On Staronevskiy

122 Nevsky Prospect

Estimated 3000 used and antiquarian books (1500 antiquarian a few in foreign languages).

Books in generally poor to fair condition with many odd volumes.

Some English spoken.

Dom Knigi (House of Books)

Nevsky Prospect 28

Small (ca. 300 books ) but nice antiquarian department.

Also worth mentioning Antique shop "Tersia"

Italyanskaya Str. 5

Estimated 200 antiquarian books , mostly foreign language, as well as engravings, maps and posters.

Antiquarian stock in fair to good condition.

Some English spoken.

Moscow :

‘Bukinist'Antikvarnaya Lavka (Book's River Crossing)

Ostozhenka Str. 53

Estimated 5000 used and antiquarian books (2000 antiquarian).

Stock virtually all in Russian.

Books in generally poor to good condition.

Only Russian spoken.

Antikvar on Myasnitskoy

Myasnitskaya Str. 53

Estimated 5000 used and antiquarian books (2000 antiquarian).

10% of stock in foreign languages.

Books in generally poor to good condition. Many odd volumes, but some very good quality books .

Only Russian spoken.

Old Medical Books

Kamergerskiy per. 5/7

Estimated 3000 used medical books .

Stock virtually all in Russian.

Books in generally good condition.

English spoken.

‘ Marina '

Mira Prospect 79

Estimated 5000 used and antiquarian books (1000 antiquarian).

Stock virtually all in Russian.

Books in generally fair to good condition.

Only Russian spoken.

‘Lavka Kinogoluba'

Trubnaya Str. 23

Estimated 1000 antiquarian books .

5% of stock in foreign languages.

Books in generally good condition.

Only Russian spoken.

‘Bukinist'

Bolshaya Gruzinskaya 60

Estimated 2000 used and antiquarian books (500 antiquarian).

5% of stock in foreign languages.

Books in poor to good condition.

Some English spoken.

 

 

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