The gentle invasion
Continental emigré booksellers of the thirties and forties and their impact on the antiquarian booktrade in the United States
I am honored to have been summoned all the way from California to give this lecture, which I dedicate with respect and affection to the memory of my friend Sol Malkin.
I was allowed to choose my own topic, and when I began researching some of my ideas, I was alarmed to see confirmed what I had suspected all along, namely that everything I could think of has already been said - at least three times, and by people far more qualified than I am - in the century-and-a-half between Dibdin and Rostenberg. Yet for this lecture I simply had to find something new and different, and that something would not only have to meet the rigorous standards of our no-nonsense academic host Terry Belanger (no cute booksellers' anecdotes for him!), but it would also have to be a fitting memorial to Sol Malkin, the foremost chronicler of the antiquarian booktrade in America during its formative years, a man without whose devotion and involvement our world would have been far, far duller. Those of us whose careers, especially whose early careers, coincided with Sol's active years as editor of the AB, owe him an immense debt of gratitude.
So at first, there was panic. But then came enlightenment. I found the proper topic: it's not austerely bibliographical, but we can call it "para-bibliography or better still, what a librarian friend of mine likes to call "light" bibliography. After all, the recently miraculously born-again Bibliography Newsletter isn't strictly bibliography, either... Something very important happened in the world of rare books in this country in the nineteen-thirties and -forties, something which, I think, changed this little world of ours dramatically, and permanently. This something was the exodus of the German and Austrian booksellers which followed the rise of Nazism in Europe. Since by far the largest number of these booksellers, and booksellers-to-be, settled in the United States, it is here that their impact has been most profound. Yet their story as a whole has not been told. I say "as a whole", because there have been a number of individual biographical sketches published here and there - some obituaries too, alas. And most members of this audience are familiar with a rather bulky autobiographical volume entitled A Rare Book Saga.
Let me tell you how I went about gathering my information, other than that which was available from published sources: I am, myself, the son of one of these emigré booksellers, Erwin Rosenthal, so I lived quite a bit of the story firsthand; and through my father, and later on my own, I have personally met practically all of the dealers involved in this story. I drew up a questionnaire with a dozen-or-so pertinent (and some impertinent) questions, and I sent it to all the persons, or their descendants and/or friends, who were on my list. I accompanied this with a request that any names I might have forgotten should be called to my attention. The response was most gratifying - a mail advertiser's impossible dream: about 90%! Even more gratifying was the fact that not a single one of my respondents accused me of running a covert operation designed to elicit all their business secrets under the camouflage of preparing a lecture.
As is inevitable when one starts on a project of this sort, original definitions proved inadequate: booksellers, like the antiquarian books they deal with, cannot be neatly categorized, and no matter how hard you try, it's impossible to fit them into a rigid statistical group - you'll always have at least one or two who don't fit. For example, I wanted to entitle my lecture "The Jewish refugee booksellers from Germany and Austria, etc." But Mr. Salloch, Mr. Efron and Mr. Goldschmidt spoiled that one for me - Mr. Salloch because he's not Jewish (but, at least, he married a nice Jewish girl, so his credentials are impeccable), Mr. Efron because he was born in St. Petersburg, and Goldschmidt because he was born in Brussels. So that took care of the original title - the final title says "continental," and I made it non-denominational... Then I thought I would include only those persons who were already active as booksellers in Europe before coming here, and I wanted them all to be here before Pearl Harbor (I remind the younger members in the audience that that was December 7th, 1941). But when the replies started coming in, I found that some of my most respected and successful colleagues had not been booksellers in their native countries, and I found others - booksellers - who wanted to come to the US but didn't make it until after the War, and others still who, even though they had managed to come before the War, had another occupation before they were able to realize their intention of going into the book business. Sol changed the dates, and instead of 194I I picked 1948 as the cut-off year. There were several reasons for this, one of them being that in 1949 I decided to become a bookseller, and I have sworn to myself to stay away from autobiography (in the course of this talk, however, there will be a few lapses...). Yes, I'm sorry: the title on the announcement which you received and on the poster is wrong; in its final form, which it received long after the deadline for printing had passed, it reads The gentle invasion: continental emigré booksellers of the thirties and forties and their impact on the antiquarian book trade in the United States
There were also borderline cases - should I include dealers who specialized in prints and drawings? I included only those who, in addition to prints and drawings, also had illustrated books. Alas, that forced me to exclude the one specialist who dealt exclusively in graphics, Richard Zinser of Stuttgart, who died about two years ago, aged almost 100. On first meeting him, one would hardly suspect that this somewhat uncouth and outspoken man with an almost comically heavy Schwabisch accent, was perhaps the greatest, most sensitive expert in his field. He never issued a catalog, he never had a shop. He will probably soon be forgotten. Knowing the opinion he held of most collectors, colleagues and museum curators, I'm sure he wouldn't mind.
It's also clear to me that some persons must have escaped my dragnet, but I am hopeful that as a result of this talk, more information will be forthcoming.
I will not stand here this evening and reel off a series of capsule biographies with the names and dates of these dealers (many of them would deserve a lecture all for themselves). Rather, I will attempt to tell you, in general terms, the history of their arrival and their settling here, and of the effect they had on the world of rare books in this country.
But first, a bit of historical background. Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party came to power in Germany in early 1933. The party's doctrine included virulent anti-semitism, not just as a sideline, but as one of the central tenets of its platform. The first official manifestation came barely a month after Hitler took power, when a "Boycott the Jews Day" was proclaimed...
I still remember that day when, by order of the new Nazi rulers, two huge swastika banners were draped over the façade of my grandfather Jacques Rosenthal's patrician house in Munich, and the crudely-lettered word "Jude" was painted near the entrance of the book store, where a brownshirt was stationed. It was precisely during this period, incidentally, that Sotheby's had arranged to exhibit a selection of Chester Beatty manuscripts on the premises of Jacques Rosenthal - not exactly a propitious time for this sort of thing. It should be recorded that a number of people who couldn't care less about manuscripts entered the shop, simply to shake hands and to express shock, amazement and shame. I wish I knew their names they were part of that "other Germany" which never really died entirely; on the subject of that "other Germany" it should also be recorded that, while some booksellers undoubtedly took advantage of, and profited from, the distress of their Jewish colleagues (or partners, or employers) and actively hastened their ruin, a number of others gave whatever help they could: most could only stand helplessly by. By 1935, the war against the Jews was codified at Nürnberg with the passage of legislation prohibiting Jews from holding office, teaching in schools and universities, practicing law, marrying (or even employing) gentiles and, in general, depriving them of all their civil rights. German troops marched into Austria in 1938, that country became part of Germany, and a few days later the Nürnberg laws were applied there too.
The exodus, only a trickle until then, began in earnest; and yet, in retrospect, it is easy to ask what took the German Jews so long to realize the true extent of the danger. The explanation is simple: emigration, even under the best of circumstances, is an unnatural, wrenching experience, a solution of last resort. The choice of emigration becomes even more difficult when it involves breaking not only economic and social ties, but also the severing of a deep cultural attachment and identification of the kind the German Jews felt for their country. It was the country, after all, in which since Moses Mendelssohn there had developed a political and social climate which allowed them unprecedented opportunities for participating in, and contributing to, the country's intellectual, artistic, scientific, professional and commercial life. The Jews fought in Germany's wars and proudly wore the iron crosses they had won for bravery and which, they thought, would render them immune from persecution. All were loyal Germans - some were outright and vocal nationalists. The German booksellers belonged to this sophisticated, emancipated and loyal class.
Another factor: without exception, the people who came here were past the age of easy adaptability - the oldest was Emil Hirsch, 72: the youngest was Lucien Goldschmidt, 25. Most others were in their thirties or older. Only two had been in this country before. To this must be added the fact that the Nazi laws were particularly fiendish in that, on the one hand, they made a normal existence impossible while at the same time they made emigration almost equally difficult - generally, permission to leave the country after about 1936 was obtainable only upon the surrender of one's entire possessions and the payment of a ruinous emigration tax. To sum it all up: I don't know how many of you have read the preface of the new STC: on p. 7 of the Introduction, Kitzi Pantzer explains the order in which the location of copies is arranged in the entries: first the English libraries then, after a semi-colon, the American ones. The way she puts it (tongue in cheek, perhaps?) is in the following, immortal sentence: "In the entries, the Atlantic Ocean is represented by a semi-colon." I hope to have shown you that it was a lot more than a semi-colon then.
The United States is a land that has always been nourished by, and thrived upon immigration - that's a truism. Yet it is interesting to note that there seem to have been only two waves of what one may call intellectual immigration: the first one in the late 1840s when many political refugees from Europe sought asylum here (Carl Schurz is, of course, the most famous example: closer to our world was Hermann Ernst Ludewig, the bibliographer who was the subject of Michael Winship's Malkin Lecture here last year). The second occurred almost a century later, when the persecution of the Jews in Europe brought to these shores a large number of highly-educated people from the European continent, chiefly Germany, Austria and Italy. The antiquarian booksellers who made it to these shores were part of this much larger invasion of academics, artists, philosophers, scientists, doctors and other professionals, whose arrival profoundly affected the history and culture of this country. Tiny as this band of refugee booksellers may be in the larger scheme of things (we are talking about less than thirty people!), it perfectly mirrors the larger picture.
By 1939, Germany and Austria had lost a large part of their established, internationally active and prominent antiquarian booksellers. We must bear in mind here that not all the Jewish booksellers managed to leave the country, and also that some firms continued to exist, after their owners had been forced to turn them over to non-Jewish ownership - a forced liquidation called "Aryanization". Let me mention a few examples: Frankfurt lost Julius Baer, Bamberger & Wahrmann and Heinrich Eisemann; Berlin lost Martin Breslauer, Paul Gottschalk, Paul Graupe and Otto Haas; Julius Hess, Emil Hirsch and the various Rosenthals left Munich; Vienna lost Otto Ranschburg and William Schab, who were the soul of the firm Gilhofer & Ranschburg; the Antiquariat Ignaz Schwarz also ceased to exist. You may have missed a couple of well-known names in this list - that's because these gentlemen didn't really become famous until after they got here. Not everyone, by the way, came to the United States: they went to Scandinavia, France, Holland, Switzerland, England, Latin America, Palestine (now Israel), China and Canada. The largest number, I would say 60%, came to the United States, most of them settling in the New York area: the next-largest contingent, about 22%, ended up in England.
In England, there already existed a substantial, world-renowned antiquarian book-trade, with its own long history and traditions, and with its own established trade organization, the ABA. The newcomers seem to have merged rather easily and effortlessly into the existing professional landscape, and they settled comfortably, without really making waves, among colleagues whom they had known for many years.
Things were quite different in America: for one thing, the people who went to England were already established booksellers, or sons of booksellers who fully intended to carry on the business of their fathers. But of the refugees who came to the United States, more than a third decided to become booksellers after they arrived here. And so we must really speak about two distinct groups: the pros and the pros-to-be. Whatever the distinctions, whatever the differences, they all had several things in common: with a single exception all were jewish (and that exception, Mr. Salloch, came because his wife was jewish). Without exception, they came because they had to, not because they wanted to. Their educational level was exceptionally high: most had at least the "Abitur", a high-school degree roughly equivalent, in the humanities, to two years of college or more. More than a third had Ph.D.s! It is amusing to see a rather spectacular confirmation of the old adage that an early, thorough apprenticeship in the trade is easily the equivalent of a formal higher education: of the three who never got as far as the Abitur, one, Emil Offenbacher, was a high-school dropout (long before it became fashionable...); today he is surely one of the most scholarly and learned members of the trade. Another one, Emil Hirsch, founded the world-renowned firm in Munich and, after a long apprenticeship with Jacques Rosenthal, competed mightily with him. And Mary Rosenberg, who was practically born in her father's bookstore in Fürth and never had time to finish school, continued and increased the success of her father's firm after moving to New York. These immigrants had another common trait: none, I think, can claim to have been part of any "poor, huddled masses", and I have good reason to believe (although, I assure you, this was not part of my questionnaire) that none of them arrived here via steerage class. Their backgrounds, both cultural and economic, were definitely middle- and upper-middle class.
The antiquarian book world such as it existed in the United States at the time was, as far as I can piece it together, far different from the scene which these refugee booksellers had just left behind - even though, as I noted with some astonishment, a number of this country's "Establishment" booksellers had, themselves, been immigrants, albeit voluntary ones: Gabriel Wells from Hungary, Charles Grand from Russia, Fred Rosenstock from Austria, Charles Heartman, Weyhe, Charles Sessler and Harry Lubrecht from Germany, Arthur Swann (the long-time head of the book department of the Parke Bernet Galleries) from England. The only thing the American trade had in common with Europe was that practically all the major, internationally active dealers were concentrated in a large metropolitan area: New York. So it is not surprising that most of the newcomers came to this city. New York offered other advantages, hardly believable in our day: prices were cheap by Berlin or Vienna standards, rents were low, and abundant space was available. Besides, booksellers always tend to go where the books, and other booksellers, are - and New York was the obvious place.
Not only was it a far different world - even the very term "antiquarian bookseller" was not in general use here. "Dealers in rare books", or "in old and rare books" were the terms commonly used. Richard Wormser single-handedly coined and, in his inimitable tongue-in-cheek manner, stuck to the designation "Uncommon Rare Books". There was no national or even local association - it wasn't founded until 1949 (that's another reason for my 1948 cut-off date), and it was only then, when it adopted the rather cumbersome name of "Antiquarian Booksellers" Association of America, Inc." that the term "antiquarian bookseller" was, so to speak, codified. So there's no question that the rare book world here was more unstructured and more free-wheeling than in the Europe these newcomers had left behind, and there was, of course, infinitely more elbow room here. Also, let's not forget that those who went to England soon had to put up with inconveniences, such as bombs falling on them, internment as enemy aliens (a chapter every bit as shameful, if not more so, than the internment of the Americans of Japanese ancestry in California after Pearl Harbor), or being drafted into the British Army. In the United States, after 194I, there were similar inconveniences; but at least we didn't have the bombs. The draft, or work related to the war effort, interrupted the newly begun careers of a high percentage of my respondents. On the West Coast, German and Italian immigrants who had not yet received their American citizenship lived under curfew and travel restrictions.
The already-established continental booksellers found in the New York area colleagues and clients with whom they had been doing business for years - even decades; while the soon-to-be booksellers found themselves in a climate that was favorable to the establishment of a small, family-style enterprise: the country was just barely recovering from the Depression, jobs were extremely hard to find, and the job prospects for freshly-minted Ph.D.s with strong accents were poor...
The first of the new arrivals were precisely in the class of the not-yet-but-soon-to-be booksellers: Marianne and William Salloch, December 1936; but they didn't become booksellers until 1939. The first "real" bookseller to open a shop here was Lucien Goldschmidt - but Lucien wasn't on his own at that time: he had been working at the firm of Pierre Beres in Paris for several years, and when he came to New York in 1937 it was to open a branch of that firm. So who, then, was the first to open a shop here on his own? It was Walter Schatzki, in December 1937. We couldn't wish for a more wonderful "father"! The last pre-Pearl Harbor arrival was my father, Erwin Rosenthal in 1941, and the last one to make it before my 1948 deadline was Ernest Gottlieb, who in that year decided to become an antiquarian bookseller. In this twelve-year period from 1936 to 1948, about twenty-three firms were established in this country. That's probably more than 10% of the original membership of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America.
So it is quite obvious that the emigré booksellers changed the trade by sheer numbers - in the New York City area, I would say that they increased the number of firms by at least 20%, perhaps 30%. In 1953, the earliest year for which a membership directory of the ABAA was available to me, our group still accounted for about 8% of the membership nationwide, and about 18% in the New York area. But the most lasting influence of these booksellers is not in their sheer number: it's in their expertise, their craftsmanship and what one might call the bibliographical consciousness which all of them brought to their trade. It's not that this approach had been unknown here, not at all. But by and large I have the impression that, with some obvious exceptions (Lathrop Harper and Richard Wormser immediately come to mind) the antiquarian book business was a more provincial, relaxed, not to say happy-go-lucky affair here, and that the reference libraries left behind by the continental immigrants outweighed those of their American counterparts by ten to one. Yet one need not go so far as to agree with the jaundiced assessment of the irascible Herbert Reichner: when this recent arrival from Vienna interviewed a shy, eager young woman who had applied for the job of secretary - her name was Leona Rostenberg - he noticed with a great deal of surprise that she knew something about books. "How amazing that you know anything about books", he hissed, "nobody in America really does". The newcomers brought with them, as we have seen, an enviable baggage of humanistic education and learning. And those who didn't have a lot of learning had, at least, a great deal of respect for it. Their cataloging methods profoundly influenced the trade here, and they clearly parallel - once more the microcosm! - a kind of teutonization of scholarship which the refugee academics brought to this country's universities. Those who had been booksellers in Europe had already applied this erudition - just look at their catalogs - and now they transferred these skills to the trade here in the US. Not only skills, but also continental books which had received relatively scant attention in this country until then - H. P. Kraus gives some amusing descriptions of going to auction sales in New York where the only buyers of continental books were he and his refugee colleagues, a kind of Austro-German mafia. Those who became booksellers after their arrival were ideally suited to fit this scholarly framework. I give you an amazing statistic: of these nine, all had a Ph.D. or its equivalent - the proportion remains roughly the same if we include wives actively engaged in the business with their husbands. You'd think that people with Ph.D.s would have more sense than to go into the antiquarian book business...We shall come back to these Ph.D.s a little later.
Let me talk first about the "real" booksellers. I said that some of them didn't bring only their expertise, but also books. How, you may ask, did anyone manage to bring books with them, given the harsh emigration laws? WeIl, some of them had seen the handwriting on the wall early enough and had emigrated before the laws were fully applied. Others managed to save part of their stock by enlisting the help of colleagues and collectors abroad: fictitious sales or on approval shipments were arranged, and these were nullified as soon as the bookseller followed in person. Other firms had branches abroad. The booksellers who shipped their most valuable books out of Munich had additional help from an unlikely source: the person appointed by the government to process and oversee export applications and to prevent any hanky panky was Dr. Georg Karl (co-founder of the world renowned auction firm Karl & Faber, now Hartung & Karl). Dr. Karl had been a member of the Nazi party from its earliest beginnings, but he remained loyal to his friends and colleagues and, at no little risk to himself, tried to help as much as he could - so he closed both eyes and turned the other way. Those booksellers who were unable to bring their books with them received help from their colleagues, who would give them books on generous consignment terms. A striking but by no means unique example of this was Thomas Heller: he left Vienna for Paris and then crossed over to England, where he was promptly interned as an enemy alien, the victim of one of those "inconveniences" I was talking about earlier. Upon his release from camp, he contacted his colleague Clifford Maggs and, at the latter's suggestion, steeped himself in the study of the history of science, a field in which he was later to become a leading specialist. He finally arrived in New York in early 1943, all but destitute, "his only assets being", in the words of my informant, "his fiancée who awaited him, an unusually comprehensive knowledge of historical science and medicine, and a trunkful of books on consignment from Maggs Bros" (those of you who have had the privilege of knowing Clifford Maggs will recognize this as being vintage Clifford). Among the people supported by Lathrop Harper was Otto Ranschburg. Years later, this same Otto was to become director of the firm and managed, under very trying circumstances, to revitalize it - so here you have a case of an Austrian immigrant eventually heading one of this country's oldest and most "Establishment" firms. Others joined forces and pooled their meager resources: Hellmuth Wallach and Walter Schatzki, for instance, shared the same premises in the early days. Schab and Kraus pooled their (not-so-meager...) resources and quickly became a formidable team. Emil Offenbacher, who had left Germany in 1934 (he may have been a dropout, but he could read the handwriting on the wall a lot better than most:) and had established himself in Paris as "Emil Offenbacher, Livres Anciens", managed to get out just ahead of the German army and in 1941 transformed himself into "Emil Offenbacher, Old and Rare Books" on Madison Avenue, in association with another recent arrival, Erwin Rosenthal. Ernest Dawson in Los Angeles helped with offers of employment and, in at least one case, by providing an affidavit.
European connections were maintained even during the war - books could still be shipped from and to England and Switzerland, and even from and to China. Yet no one, I think, ever equalled the feat of Mr. William Schab who, from New York, managed to sell a Claude Lorrain drawing to the Musée du Louvre in Paris while France was under German occupation. Now there's a bookseller.
It is precisely this continental connection which quickly placed these "real" booksellers into the more sophisticated strata of the trade here, and soon many of them were part of the "Big Leagues", even though none of them could even remotely match the great books, the flamboyant style and the awesome power of the legendary Dr. Rosenbach (since then, however, one of the boys made it...). I think, by the way, that while the newcomers quickly established close ties with the local trade, they were awed by Dr. Rosenbach - yet those who mustered the courage and had enough chutzpah to visit him were cordially received, and they marvelled at the low prices of some of the Doctor's continental books. Allow me to quote from Messrs. Wolf and Fleming's biography of Rosenbach (p. 5I4): "Dealers such as the Austrian refugee H. P. Kraus found the Rosenbach shelves a mine and, as the need presented itself, carried off a nugget now and then". I might add that, nowadays it's we who occasionally - well, very occasionally - find and carry off a nugget from that Austrian refugee's shelves...
The continental connection, obviously greatly reduced during the war, was quickly reestablished once the war was over, and a number of these newly-minted American booksellers lost no time in going back to Europe on buying expeditions. I might add here that, after the war, there was relatively little rancor between the emigrants and the few of their German colleagues who had survived. It took many years for the German trade to recover from the combined blood-letting of emigration, Nazism, war and destruction. The vacuum has been filled by a vigorous new generation (and now already a second generation) of booksellers and auctioneers, and after a very brief initial period of hesitation, there now exists a strong professional camaraderie between the Germans and their German-speaking American emigré colleagues. The latter, as a matter of fact, are received with respect and, on the part of the younger German dealers, also with something akin to awe and curiosity, as representatives of, and a link to, another age, an age which is to most of them, thank God, incomprehensible.
After 1945 it also became possible for those who had tried unsuccessfully to come here earlier, finally to make it: in 1946 came Ludwig Gottschalk, who had managed to survive in Holland and to save the considerable stock of his uncle, Paul Gottschalk, who since 1939 had resided in New York. In 1947 arrived Kurt Schwartz, who has the honor of having taken the most circuitous route: he left Vienna in 1938, going first to Paris, then to London, and, no wishing to face the uncertain prospect of internment as an enemy alien, he accepted an appointment as Librarian of the Royal Asiatic Society in Shangai. When the Japanese occupiers closed down the society, Kurt and his fellow refugee, Heinz Heinemann, started the Western Arts Gallery Bookshop, which catered mainly to the many foreigners stranded in Shangai. In 1947 Kurt Schwartz finally made it to the US and settled in Los Angeles.
And now, what about the soon-to-be booksellers? What made them enter the trade? Well, one of them had been an avid collector of books on chess. His Doctor of Jurisprudence was of no use to him here, so he began buying and selling chess books: he knew Russian (like any self-respecting chess freak, I suppose), so he started dabbling, and later dealing on a large scale, in Russian periodicals - that was Albert Buschke. Herbert Reichner had been a publisher in Vienna. Among his many distinguished publications was the Philobiblon, a sort of continental forerunner of the Book Collector. So when he had to choose a new career in New York, antiquarian bookselling offered him the opportunity of continuing to live in a world thoroughly familiar to him. George Efron, who had worked in his father's Berlin publishing firm, was encouraged by New York art-dealer and bookseller friends to go into the book business. The Herr and Frau Doktor couples, the Bernetts (art historians) and the Sallochs (medievalists), had also worked for publishers, but soon decided to put their educational backgrounds and their (perhaps unsuspected) entrepreneurial skills into the book trade, to which they were attracted, like most of us, because it offers the opportunity of being independent - at least that's what we all think when we start... Between them, they've published almost 700 catalogs up to now: Others, like Mr. Heinmann and Mr. Phiebig, an engineer and a statistician respectively, found that their knowledge of languages applied to the book trade came in handier than their degrees, and they used their cosmopolitan backgrounds to supply things like out of print Arabic translations of Freud or street guides to Budapest. Ernest Gottlieb in Los Angeles had been, among other things, publisher of the now much sought-after editions of German exile literature: his "Pazifische Presse" - Pacific Press - in Los Angeles published twelve titles and was, of course, a commercial failure. Mr. Gottlieb put to good use his love and knowledge of music and, with the help of the recently arrived Kurt Schwarz, established himself as a dealer in rare music - the first such specialist in this country. If I remember correctly, much of his stock was purchased from Otto Haas in London, himself a refugee from Germany who had come to England in 1936.
So by 1948, it had become impossible to tell the "real" booksellers from the "soon-to-be" booksellers - they had all become pros. They all eagerly, and effectively, collaborated in the establishment of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, they joined bibliographical societies and bibliophile groups, and soon became part of the landscape.
The influence of the new booksellers was also felt in the specialties they brought with them. It's understandable that they stayed away, at first at least, from specialties thoroughly covered by the established trade, such as U.S.iana, American and English literature, STC books, autographs. Instead, they specialized in medieval manuscripts, early continental printed books, children's books, fine illustrated books of all periods, art books, fine bindings, history of medicine and science, bibliography, out-of-print scholarly books in the humanities - or more narrowly specialized fields such as Neo-Latin authors, medieval and Renaissance miniatures, early music. Of course, many of these specialties were already practiced here, but the new arrivals added quality, innovation and quantity... It should also be noted that this was a period when American academic libraries began to develop strong appetites in most of these fields, and a new crop of sophisticated librarians and collectors now found a readily accessible group of booksellers able to supply their needs and, when called upon, to give advice. The books they wanted were no longer out of reach somewhere in Europe, or confined to the shelves of a few rather intimidating, or seemingly intimidating, establishments: and the expert dealers one previously visited in Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna or Berlin were now in mid-Manhattan or Los Angeles. European haute cuisine lunches and Sacher Torte were, alas, replaced by the ham and cheese sandwich.
I can best illustrate the point by injecting a slightly off-color story: it was a matter of common knowledge that in World War II, American GIs in Europe were much drawn to the English and continental ladies (an attraction which was, happily, reciprocal). One GI, returning home after his discharge, was asked by his somewhat suspicious fiancée: "Tell me," she said, "what did these European girls have that we don't have?" "Nothing," he answered, "but they had it over there". Applied to the book trade, I would say that American collectors and buyers, formerly drawn irresistibly to Europe, now found it over here.
Another and very striking effect of the displacement of large quantities of antiquarian books to the United States, of this redistribution of sources, made itself felt after Europe (and Japan) recovered from the destruction of World War II: the century-old one-way flow of books from Europe to America began to be reversed. European libraries and bibliophiles could no longer depend solely on their local suppliers - they had to turn to the United States. The trend, though not entirely reversed, was significantly altered. The first straw in the wind was, I believe, the Wilmerding sale in New York in 1950 and 1951, when European buyers attended the auction in large numbers and demonstrated considerable financial clout by outbidding their American colleagues. The newly prosperous libraries of Europe, now able to repatriate their national treasures, had to buy them here. Japanese collectors and libraries in search of incunabula, early continental books and scholarly reference books had to include America in their itineraries. The whole antiquarian book trade became realigned, and as a result it is now much healthier, and less lopsided. In all this, the continental immigrants played a key rôle.
Those same continental dealers who, while active in their native Germany or Austria, had been largely responsible for sustaining the flow of antiquarian books from Europe to the United States, now also furthered the reverse flow from the United States to Europe after World War II. Their backgrounds, their knowledge of European libraries and bibliophiles, combined with their newly acquired expertise in the American market made them ideally suited to deal with this new trend.
When we speak of influence, our thoughts must naturally turn to catalogs: but we must bear in mind that, taken all by itself, the number of catalogs issued by a dealer is not a true indicator of that dealer's standing, size of stock, knowledge, or business activity. The output varies greatly - some dealers like Schatzki, for instance, published hardly any catalogs at all: others published them in a constant stream. The study of these catalogs is far too big a subject to be covered here, so I will confine myself to saying that, by and large, they did set a new standard of excellence. Perhaps, as I hinted before, they may on occasion strike us as a little ponderous, a bit too much on the "we-must-educate-the-public" side - that's what I meant by teutonization. But, let's face it, the public, then as now, needed to be educated: and those who don't - well, no one forces them to read these long, learned annotations... It was an approach that all the emigrés brought with them - the "real" booksellers had already practiced it with great success for years, even decades: and their soon-to-be colleagues were, as we have seen, ideally suited by temperament and education to follow this pattern.
One of the questions I asked my correspondents was whether their business would live after them. I found that only a handful will be continued, and only three or four by members of the family. But do not weep. I am often told - I hear it ad nauseam - that in our trade "they don't make them like they used to", or "the good ones are all gone". That's utter nonsense. If anything, they make them much better now than they used to, and we should be very pleased to see such a surprising number of young (and no longer quite so young) colleagues who are every bit as erudite and sophisticated as this older generation, if not more so. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that as the obvious great books, the ones that are so easy to de scribe (all you need is an appropriate citation from the Encyclopedia Britannica, Printing and the Mind of Man or other standard source) - as these disappear from the market, the less obvious ones get more attention, and they require a fresher approach and more original research. As Mr. Breslauer once remarked to me: "Our books seem to get worse all the time, but our descriptions get better and better". These newly-minted postwar booksellers are the real heirs of the continental immigrants, and I dare say that if we now have in this country a far larger proportion of learned, literate and cosmopolitan booksellers than ever before, it is because a generation ago, the Gentle invaders had set the example and prepared the ground.
In closing, let me read to you the names of these people, these Gentle Invaders:
Ilse and Frederick Bernett
Marguerite and Lucien Goldschmidt
Gerda and William Heinmann
Hanni and Hans P. Kraus
Marianne and Albert Phiebig
Edith and Herbert Reichner
Mariane and William Salloch
If applause is due, it is due to them, not to me. Thank you.