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>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> London, 1859. First Edition. Letter Addressed to Dr. Ogle and Envelope Signed by Charles Darwin. $278,000 to $333,000.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Ortelij, Abrahami. <i>Epitome Theatri Orbis Terrarum.</i> Antuerpiae: Exstat in Officina Plantinian, 1612. Rare Edition. $5,560 to $6,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> González de Mendoza, Juan. <i>Histoire du Grand Royaume de la Chine, Situé Aux Indes Orientales.</i> [Genève]: 1606. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Chapman, Conrad Wise. <i>Landscape of the Valley of Mexico.</i> Oil on wood. Signed and dated. $26,120 to $30,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Thesaurus Exorcismorum...</i> Coloniae, 1608. Collection of Six Works of the Most Important Franciscan Exorcists of the 16th Century. $1,670 to $2,230.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Saggio delle Transazioni Filosofiche della Società Regia.</i> Napoli, 1729-1734. With a Map of California by Eusebio Kino. $1,120 to $1,440.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Scherer, Heinrich. <i>Delineatio Nova et Vera Partis Australis Novi Mexici, cum Australi Parte Insulae Californiae...</i> Münich, ca. 1700. $850 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Santacilia, Jorge Juan-Ulloa, Antonio de. <i>A Voyage to South America. Describing at Large, the Spanish Cities...</i> London, 1760. $890 to $1,120.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Limborch, Philippi. <i>Historia Inquisitionis Cui Subjungitur Liber Sententiarum Inquisitionis Tholosanae...</i> Amsterdam, 1692. $1,340 to $1,670.
    <b>Morton Subastas: Auction of Books by Explorers and Travelers, Maps, Landscapes, Science, and Religion<br>Tuesday, January 28th, 2020<br>5:00 p.m. (CST)</b>
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> Castro, C. - Campillo, J. - Cumplido, I. - Lauda, L. - Rodríguez G. <i>Mexico and Its Surroundings.</i> Méx, 1855-56. $5,000 to $5,560.
    <b>Morton Subastas, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Medical Gazette. Periodical of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico...</i> México, 1864 - 1943. Pieces: 169. $1,340 to $1,560.
  • <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Measure for Measure</i> (extracted from the First Folio). London, 1623. Sold for $52,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $47,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams: </b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. Sold for $43,825.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $1,912.50.
    <b><center>Bonhams<br>Consignments invited (2020)</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. Sold for $150,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. Sold for $15,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. Sold for $175,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. Sold for $131,325.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> BOOLE, GEORGE. <i>An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.</i> London, 1854. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHANNON, CLAUDE and WARREN WEAVER. <i>The Mathematical Theory of Communication.</i> Urbana, 1949. Sold for $27,575.
  • <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> [Paine, Thomas]. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America… Philadelphia: R. Bell, 1776. $200,000 to $250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Autograph letter signed, to Joshua Reed Giddings, 21 May 1860. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Oakley, Annie. <i>A Brief Sketch of Her Career and Notes on Shooting.</i> [N.p.]: ca. 1913, Signed. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Washington, George. One autograph letter signed & 3 letters signed to General Alexander McDougall, September 1777. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Mather, Cotton. <i>The Wonders of the Invisible World. Being an account of the tryals of several witches...</i> London: 1693. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> James, Benjamin.<i><br>A Treatise on the Management of the Teeth.</i> Boston, 1814. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Winter in der Schweiz,</i> 1921. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Evelyn Rumsey Carey, <i>Pan American Exposition / Niagara / Buffalo,</i> 1901. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Arnost Hofbauer, <i>Topicuv Salon,</i> 1898. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job,</i> 1896. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Georges de Feure, <i>Le Journal des Ventes,</i> 1898. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Cycles Perfecta,</i> 1897. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Edward Penfield, <i>Orient Cycles / Lead the Leaders,</i> circa 1895. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Adrien Barrère, <i>L’Ideal du Touriste,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Willem Frederick Ten Broek, <i>New York / Wereldtentoonselling / Holland – Amerika Lijn,</i> 1938. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Dwight Clark Shepler, <i>Sun Valley / Union Pacific.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Flexible Flyer Splitkein / Smuggler’s Notch,</i> circa 1935. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Louis Bonhajo, <i>Vote / League of Women Voters,</i> 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.

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