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The long life of the book: public book auctions in Leiden 1725-1805 and the second-hand book trade

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In the Dutch Republic the books that were sold in public auction were bound, which implied that they were second-hand. They came either from private collections or from booksellers' stock. For the eighteenth-century Leiden booksellers auctions were an important outlet for the second-hand trade. This is demonstrated on the basis of the auction ledgers of the firm of Luchtmans. In their auction catalogues booksellers often mixed their own stock in with private libraries. Of only 194 of the 1707 public auctions recorded for the period 1725-1805 catalogues are known, i.e. 11,4%. It is shown that these catalogues are not representative for public auctions in general and cannot be used as sources for developments in the book trade. The practice of mixing in and combining books makes their use as sources for the study of private ownership problematical. In an outline of the Leiden public auctions for the period 1725-1805 the number of auctions is given, as well as the turnovers per five-year period and the average annual turnovers. The fluctuations in the five-year turnovers for 1725-70 correspond with the general economic trends. A remarkable rise in the turnovers occurred between 1776 and 1785 - the more notable as the economic crisis of 1772-3 took a long time to overcome. Just in this period the position of the book and its cultural importance


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