Great booksellers are the key to being a great collector
Collecting requires a certain skill in bringing items together in a meaningful way.
My collecting was dictated by how much money was left over each month after the mortgage and the gas bill had been paid. I’ve never spent more than £500 on a book.
Perhaps the most irritating thing a bookseller can say to a collector is, ‘I had a copy, but it sold last week’.
If I could buy a copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer on vellum, I would be like a sleepy labrador, lie down in front of the fire, and go to sleep as far as book collecting is concerned.
The French Revolution is a particularly interesting period for the study of ex-libris. Many noble families with armorial ex-libris revised the design to reduce the risk of unwanted attention during the revolutionary period.
I remember my youthful fascination with leather-bound books. There was something about their weight and smell that was so different from Chinese and Japanese bindings. I used to dream about owning leather books and being able to touch, smell and possess them.
If anyone wanted to start collecting Hebrew books today, I would advise them to concentrate on places of printing that have been ignored – Eastern Europe and Russia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or perhaps Constantinople and Salonika in the same period.
I have a very strong view that bookshops should be supported, and I refuse to purchase books on the internet.
Sometimes I wonder what novels Ian Fleming might have written or what changes he would have made to his existing work if he had not been bound by the Official Secrets Act.