Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2021 Issue

Shapero Rare Books Publicly Traded Parent, Scholium Group, Experiences Losses

Scholium Group, the publicly traded parent of Shapero Rare Books, posted a loss for the first half of their fiscal year, running from April 1 – September 30, 2020. It came as no surprise. The handwriting was on the wall after a loss in March when much of Britain was forced to close down by the coronavirus. Chairman Jasper Allen even displayed some relief in the company's performance, noting “the Group has performed at a better level than the Board's expectations earlier this year.”

 

The loss for the past six months at Scholium came to £158,000 (US $212,000). This is down from a profit of £64,000 during the same period in 2019. Sales were down for all three of Scholium's divisions, though Shapero Rare Books proved to be the strongest. Shapero's sales declined by 6%. Sales for its Mayflower Philatelics division, which hosts stamp auctions, dropped by 22%, while those at Scholium Trading practically disappeared, declining by 97%. Scholium Trading conducts joint ventures with other companies in selling very expensive collectibles. Shapero Rare Books by itself eked out a small profit.

 

Shapero's relatively good performance was attributed to its being able to expand its online business significantly, while its profits were also attributable to reducing costs. This has not been a good time for practically any book selling business, but Shapero's method of selling was particularly hard hit. They traditionally do much of their selling through their retail location in London and at book fairs. Retail was slow, and at times nonexistent because of forced closures, while practically all book fairs have been cancelled since March. If there is a possible bright side to all of this, it's that there is a good chance the increased online sales will be a permanent feature of the business even after Covid 19 is gone.

 

In looking to the next half year, Scholium pointed to greater focus on online platforms and use of email and telephone communications as positives. The firm has moved its showroom to less expensive quarters to reduce expenses. They also noted that their balance sheet remains strong. Nonetheless, realism necessitated forecasting continued losses. They cited a return to a government enforced retail shutdown and continued cancellations of trade fairs as road blocks in the way going forward. All of that is true, but one suspects if shops were allowed to reopen, and fairs did the same, few people would attend anyway. It looks as if we are facing a brutal winter of infections and deaths, and while the vaccine should help turn things around in the second half of their fiscal year, it likely is too late to make much of a difference between here and March. They will need to continue the cost cutting and virtual selling to minimize the losses until relief comes and they can get back on the positive track the firm had established before the coronavirus hit.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000
  • ALDE, May 28: KIPLING (RUDYARD). Le Livre de la Jungle. – Le IIe livre de la Jungle. Paris, Sagittaire, Simon Kra, 1924-1925. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: NOAILLES (ANNA DE). Les Climats. Paris, Société du Livre contemporain, 1924. €50,000 to €60,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MILTON (JOHN). Paradis perdu. Quatrième chant. S.l., Les Bibliophiles de l'Automobile-Club de France, 1974. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LEBEDEV (VLADIMIR). Russian Placards - Placard Russe 1917-1922. Saint-Petersbourg, Sterletz, 1923. €1,000 to €1,200.
    ALDE, May 28: MARDRUS (JOSEPH-CHARLES). Histoire charmante de l'adolescente sucre d'amour. Paris, F.-L. Schmied, 1927. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: TABLEAUX DE PARIS. Paris, Émile-Paul Frères, 1927. €2,000 to €3,000.
    ALDE, May 28: LA FONTAINE (JEAN DE). Les Fables illustrées par Paul Jouve. S.l. [Lausanne], Gonin & Cie, 1929. €4,000 to €5,000.
    ALDE, May 28: SARTRE (JEAN-PAUL). Vingt-deux dessins sur le thème du désir. Paris, Fernand Mourlot, 1961. €1,500 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: [BRAQUE (GEORGES)]. 13 mai 1962. Alès, PAB, 1962. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MIRÓ (JOAN). Je travaille comme un jardinier. Avant-propos d'Yvon Taillandier. Paris, Société intenationale d'art XXe siècle, 1963. €1,000 to €2,000.
    ALDE, May 28: MAGNAN (JEAN-MARIE). Taureaux. Paris, Michèle Trinckvel, 1965. €3,000 to €4,000.
    ALDE, May 28: PICASSO (PABLO). Dans l'atelier de Picasso. 1960. €15,000 to €20,000.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD

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