Trade in antique books in Russia from the era of Peter I to the present day
The developed system of book antiques trade, with the relevant rules and laws, is one of the most important components in creating the most favorable conditions for the emergence of a collection of antique printed and manuscript books. In book antiques, as, perhaps, in no other area of antique collecting, a competent intermediary specialist is needed between the collector and the owner of the subject of his interest.
Antique collectors in Europe were engaged in the sale of ancient books in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The first catalogs of old books that were sold at fairs in Leipzig and Frankfurt were published in Germany in 1564. This date is considered the beginning of the professional trade in book antiques.
Until the 18th century, antique books were sold among other antiques. Only at the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries, the trade in ancient books became a separate type of antique trade. The largest centers for the sale of antique books in these centuries were Paris, London, Munich, Milan, Amsterdam. At the turn of the 18th-19th centuries, trade in ancient books was also emerging in Russia as a special part of the book trade. The ancient bookseller was called antiques at the time.
After the decrees of Peter I, which prescribed the collection, storage and rewriting of old manuscripts, in Russia, book antiques become an object of interest for private collectors, which contributes to the emergence of antique booksellers. One of the first experts and collectors of Russian antiquities was I.F. Ferapontov (1740-1820), who in the last third of the 18th century began to sell ancient manuscripts and books.
Representatives of the first generation of Russian dealers in book antiques owned unique book collections and were excellent connoisseurs of ancient Russian manuscripts and printed books, and not theoreticians, but practitioners. They specialized in selling mainly the oldest books created before the beginning of the 18th century. As a result of their efforts to search for ancient manuscripts and printed books, the richest private and official collections of ancient Russian books were formed. Since 1791, Moscow began to sell books by the Bolshakov antiques, whose activities continued until 1917. The founder of the company was T.F. Bolshakov, a connoisseur of manuscript and early printed Russian books, who knew how to date these books by the nature of the design, type, who knew the ancient masters and publishers. In addition to selling books, Bolshakov collaborated with the Imperial Moscow Society of Russian History and Antiquities, the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg, the Society of Ancient Writers and other institutions.
In 1841, the Shibanov family began to engage in the sale of ancient books, which continued until 1935, already under Soviet rule. According to contemporaries, when dating the ancient manuscript, the founder of the case, P.V. Shibanov, the error was no more than 25 years.
No less famous were P.L. Baykov (1827-1887) and I.L. Silin (1837-1893) who traded in Moscow in the 19th century with old books, icons, and other antiquities. These antiquaries traded in their own hand-made old books, which they searched for and collected throughout Russia. They traded really rare and valuable publications, designed for the exquisite tastes of collectors or historians of interest from a scientific point of view. In addition to such antiquaries in Moscow and St. Petersburg there were second-hand book dealers – booksellers who sold both new and old, used books, as a rule, in the markets: by weight, by choice. Since 1845, catalogs of Russian antique books with a detailed description of their value, design, and safety begin to appear.
The second half of the XIX – the beginning of the XX century – a time of special interest in old books in Russia, the heyday of the antique book trade. Booksellers-antiquaries of the second half of the XIX century were not only practitioners, but also experts in the history of books and literature, knew the basics of bibliography and foreign languages. The subject of their interest was old manuscripts and printed books, prints, autographed publications and notes by owners, which were very expensive. In St. Petersburg, I.G. Martynov (1840-1889), who opened his “Antique Book Trade” in 1878, had N.V. Soloviev (1877-1915), who published illustrated catalogs of antique books and the first Russian bibliophile magazines. K. Gartier (1849-1911), who owned the antique company “Intermediary” and others. Prominent specialists in book antiques were also V. I. Klochkov (1850-1915), who produced catalogs of ancient books, P. P. Shibanov (1864-1935), the founder of bibliographic circles in Moscow and St. Petersburg, A. A. Astapov (1840- 1918)