Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2014 Issue

Antiquarian Bookseller Completes Successful Stock Market IPO

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Shapero Rare Books is a world leader in rare and antiquarian books.

New offerings in the stock market, IPO's (initial public offering), are common these days, particularly in the high tech field. Those from well-known brands like Facebook and Twitter received enormous publicity and billions of dollars in investments. Everyone, it seems, wants to participate. What you don't expect to see is public offerings in old technology, and what could be more old technology than antiquarian books? Of course, yesterday's technology can be today's collectible, and that was the justification for a recent IPO you might have missed. The company was Scholium Group. The IPO was not covered by Bloomberg News, nor debated by the talking heads on CNBC. The stock had no dramatic movement, either up or down, on opening day. This one definitely slid under the radar of the financial news beat.

 

Scholium Group, a name you may not recognize, has three major divisions. There is South Kensington Books, a London shop selling newer titles, and Ultimate Library, which provides books for libraries in luxury hotels and personal residences. However, the division that will be familiar to those in the rare and antiquarian book trade is Shapero Rare Books. Shapero has been selling high-end rare and antiquarian books and other works on paper since it was founded by Bernard J. Shapero in 1979. Scholium acquired Shapero Rare Books a few years ago when its finances became tight, but Mr. Shapero remains with the firm in senior management.

 

While many dealers have found these to be challenging times in the rare book trade, evidently Scholium's CEO, Philip Blackwell, doesn't see it that way. He exudes confidence. Blackwell has long been involved in the book trade if not the rare book trade, he being of the English bookselling Blackwell family. He was previously Group CEO of the Oxford based Blackwell's book stores and international wholesaler. As for the antiquarian market, it should be noted that Shapero's segment, the high end, has been the most robust in recent years. In its registration statement, Scholium reported that Shapero had £5.38 million (roughly US $8.95 million) in sales last year. The average price per book sold was £6,100 ($10,140), the highest £400,000 ($665,000).

 

Scholium provided the following reasons for its seeking additional capital in the public market:

 

“provide it with capital to increase the stock of its business dealing in rare and antiquarian books and works on paper;

 

“provide it with capital to trade, in affiliation with other dealers, in the wider rare and collectibles market;

 

“provide it with access, in due course, to further capital to finance ongoing growth of the business, both organically and by acquisition of related businesses;

 

“attribute a value to its Ordinary Shares to increase employee motivation intended to be achieved by the employee incentivisation schemes; and

 

“enhance its public and corporate profile.”

 

Offered were 8 million shares at £1 each, for a total of £8 million, or US $13.3 million. Trading began on March 28 with listing on the AIM division of the London Stock Exchange. While the offering was not flashy, it was successful. All shares were sold. Adding retained shares, the company ended the day with a market value of £13.2 million ($21.9 million).

 

In a statement released prior to the offering, Mr. Blackwell said, “We are delighted to bring our company to market. The market for rare and collectible items is growing internationally alongside global wealth, and London is a key centre for this trade. The first step is to grow Shapero Rare Books, one of the most respected international dealers in rare books and other works on paper. Supportive capital from the London IPO market will allow us to take advantage of the attractive economics of the more general rare and collectibles market. High end dealers in these markets have limited access to capital and this will put us in a fantastic position to trade alongside these established specialist dealers to find and acquire high value items and collections beyond the reach of their normal capacity. These works will be sold on to the customers of Scholium and its dealer partners. We have an exciting opportunity to provide investors with exposure to the growing global high value collectibles market.”

 

After the IPO was completed, Mr. Blackwell concluded, “We are delighted to have received strong support from both institutional and retail investors. The market for rare and collectible items is growing internationally alongside global wealth, and London is a key centre for this trade.”

 

One point specific to Shapero is that they have connections with collectors to the east, Russia and other remnants of the old Soviet empire. Russia may not be filled with rich people, but there are a few of extreme wealth. Some are interested in acquiring the most important books of their own heritage, many of which found their way to Europe in the years when personal wealth was not considered a good thing in Russia. Shapero is helping facilitate that return.

 

Scholium's plan is to return a share of its profits to investors. They stated their first dividend, subject to “the Group's profitability, underlying growth, availability of cash and distributable reserves, and the need for funding to support the development and expansion of the business,” is envisaged as occurring in June 2015. They add that “the Company will adopt a progressive dividend policy thereafter.” For anyone who has ever dreamed of owning an antiquarian bookstore, but never wanted the hassle of actually running one, you can become a co-owner for as little as a pound, more or less. If you would like to track the stock, its ticker symbol on the London Exchange is SCHO (you may find it on U.S. sites as either SCHO.L or SCHO-GB).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> BEETHOVEN, LUDWIG VAN. Autograph Manuscript sketch-leaf part of the score of the Scottish Songs, "Sunset" Op. 108 no 2. [Vienna, February 1818]. Inscribed by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. $80,000 to $120,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> Violin belonging to Albert Einstein, presented to him by Oscar H. Steger, 1933. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed ("Papa") to his son Hans Albert, discussing his involvement with the atomic bomb, September 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000
    <b>Bonhams: Fine Books and Manuscripts. March 9, 2018</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, to Baron von Steuben, with extensive notes of Von Steuben's aide Benjamin Walker, June 12, 1780. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> NEWTON, ISAAC. Autograph Manuscript in Latin, being detailed instructions on making the philosopher's stone. 8 pp. 1790s. $200,000 to 300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 9:</b> 1869 Inauguration Bible of President Ulysses S. Grant. $80,000 to $120,000
  • <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Copper Printing Plate for "Marshall's Household Engraving of Washington." $500 to $1000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Important Documentary Painting Showing Baseball Great Ty Cobb in Cuba. $1,000 to $2,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> <i>Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age</i>, Inscribed by Bill Wilson. $500 to $1,000
    <b>Leland Little: Important Spring Auction. March 3, 2018</b>
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), <i>Prise à l'hameçon.</i> $3,000 to $6,000
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> Maurice Dufrène (French, 1876-1955), <i>Rayon des Soieries</i>. $400 to $800
    <b>Leland Little, Mar. 3:</b> William Pope.L (American, b. 1955), <i>Intimacy Project</i>. $2,000 to $4,000
  • <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Collection of 131 Herbert Ponting gelatin silver contact prints of Antartica, £6000-8000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of several lots of Henri Cartier-Bresson gelatin silver prints, £200-300
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Vintage gelatin silver print of Diego Rivera by Leonard McCombe, £300-500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Julia Margaret Cameron of Sir John Herschel (April, 1867), £30,000-50,000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Julia Margaret Cameron, Love, 1864 (from the Norman album), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print by Lewis Carroll of Twyford School Eleven (Summer Term, 1859), £1000-1500
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Albumen print portrait by Lewis Carroll of Xie Kitchin as 'Dane' (Oxford, 1873), £500-800
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Calotype print (c1845) by Hill & Adamson of Lady Elizabeth (Rigby) Eastlake, £3000-4000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Group of 12 waxed paper negatives of Scottish scenes by Thomas Keith, mid-1850s, £3000-5000
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> One of 15 lots of Roger Fenton salt prints of his work in the Crimea, mid-1850s, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Quarter plate ambrotype (c.1860s) with ethnographic portrait of a woman seated at a table, £400-600
    <b>Dominic Winter, March 9:</b> Rare whole plate thermoplastic union case of the Landing of Columbus (c.1858),part of the John Hannavy collection, £1500-2000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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