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Bibliophiles as Intermediaries: The Case of the Antwerp Book Collector Jean Baptiste Lauwers (1755-1829)

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Abstract This article discusses an important aspect of bibliophily, viz. the collector’s consciousness of being part of a pedigree, passing books down from one generation to the next. This idea of bibliophiles as intermediaries is illustrated by the Antwerp librarian and book collector Jean Baptiste Lauwers (1755-1829). Taking advantage of the many auctions held in his time, he built a private library which showed a clear preference for illustrated eighteenth-century books in excellent condition, mainly from France and the Netherlands. Lauwers had intended to publish a ‘memorial’ catalogue in 1810, but it never progressed beyond a printer’s proof. A detailed catalogue was published only in 1829, when his collection was auctioned in Antwerp. The auction attracted numerous well-known bibliophiles such as Charles van Hulthem and Richard Heber. Numerous items were bought by private and institutional collectors who guaranteed the preservation of substantial portions of Lauwers’s collection.

Affiliations: 1: University of Antwerp & KU Leuven Belgium


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