Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2021 Issue

Shapero Rare Books' Parent Once Again Turns Profitable

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Image from Scholium's financial report.

In a sign that the rare book trade is heading up again, Scholium Group recently announced that the company has turned a profit again for its most recent half-year. Scholium is the parent of Shapero Rare Books, which is the largest of the three businesses they own. Business was brisk for Shapero, which accounts for most of the group's turnaround.

 

Scholium had been struggling the past few years but had finally turned the corner again heading into 2020 when Covid disrupted their, and just about everyone else's, plans. Losses mounted up as they had to close their London showroom and book fairs, an important part of their business, shut down. The good results are perhaps somewhat surprising because the time period for which the company returned to profitability was the six months running from April 1 through September 30, 2021. While Covid-related restrictions were reduced, and many people took to letting it less affect their lives, it has hardly disappeared, and live book fairs remained closed during that period. This was an excellent report and good news, though we now await more word on this latest variant of Covid recently to emerge from South Africa.

 

Scholium reported that sales for the six month period were up 35% over the same period a year ago. This was primarily due to “significantly higher sales at Shapero Rare Books,” where the increase was 40%. Sales for the six months at Shapero were £3,814,000 (US $5,089,000). This was up from £2,730,000 for 2020, and also up from £2,898,000 in 2019 before the pandemic. The result was the Group made a pre-tax profit of £135,000 (US $180,000) vs. a loss of £158,000 last year.

 

Scholium also reported a small increase in its inventories, up £155,000 from last year, attributable to purchases slightly exceeding sales. They now stand at £8,895,000 (US $11,862,000). They added that Shapero “has continued a re-balancing of its stock between rare books and prints to enable it to increase its sales of prints in the future.” It also looks to reduce inventories “as part of a process towards its business towards consignments from third parties for either retail or auction sales.”

 

Commenting on the firm's performance, recently appointed Chairman David Harland said, “We are pleased the Group has traded profitably, despite the cancellation of books and other trade fairs and the enforced closure of the shop for some of the period. The Group has recovered well from the restrictions imposed by Covid 19. The Group remains focussed on maximising sales through online and other channels as well as its premises, and is welcoming the return to London of visitors from overseas, in particular the United States.”

 

Looking to the future, Scholium said, “The Group is continuing to focus its efforts on its various online platforms, as well as maintaining contact with clients remotely via email and telephone. This has now been augmented with face to face contact in the Group's premises and at trade fairs with clients now able to travel with fewer restrictions. Looking forward, the Group is viewing its trading for the second half of the year with optimism.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>A Record Breaking Season</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> <i>The Book of Mormon,</b> first edition, Palmyra, NY, 1830. Sold Sept. 30 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> Vincent Van Gogh, <i>Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, Evening,</i> etching, 1890. Sold Nov. 2 — $161,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edward Ruscha, <i>Stains,</i> title page, one of 70, signed, 1969. Sold Nov. 9 — $112,500.
    <b>Swann:</b> John James Audubon, <i>Carolina Parrot, Plate 26,</i> hand colored aquatint, 1828. Sold Dec.9 — $137,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Edmund Dulac, <i>The Snow Queen,</i> watercolor, gouache, pen & ink, 1910. Sold Dec. 16 — $125,000.
  • <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>February 26, 2022</b>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> ALLEN, Ethan. <i>A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen’s Captivity from the Time of his Being Taken by the British, near Montreal…,</i> Rare second edition, 1779. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne ("Mark Twain"). <i>The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.</i> New York: Charles L. Webster and Company, 1885. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> LANE, Edward William, translator. <i>Tales of a Thousand and One Nights; [or], The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.</i> London, 1838–1841. 32 parts in 33. $7,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Feb. 26:</b> GRANT, James, Lieut. <i>The Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery, performed in His Majesty's Vessel The Lady Nelson...</i> London, 1803. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
    <center><b>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Feb. 4-5<br>Buy Tickets Here - $12</b>
    <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
    <center><b>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Feb. 4-5<br>Buy Tickets Here - $12</b>
    <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
    <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
    <center><b>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Feb. 4-5<br>Buy Tickets Here - $12</b>
    <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
    <center><b>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Feb. 4-5<br>Buy Tickets Here - $12</b>
    <b><center>San Francisco Antiquarian<br>Book Print & Paper Fair<br>Friday, Feb. 4, 11am-8pm<br>Saturday, Feb. 5, 10am-5pm<br>Attend in person!</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br> Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana<br>Online<br>Now through January 25, 2022</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> (Flag) — Commemorative Thirteen-Star Flag. Pre-Civil War, Thirteen-Star Flag of the United States, from the collection of Charles Kuralt. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Fitzgerald, F. Scott. <i>Tender is the Night</i>. First edition, presentation copy, and a former mystery. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Audubon, John James. The "Wild Turkey" manuscript — capturing one of the nation's most iconic symbols of unity. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Salinger, J.D. <i>The Catcher in the Rye.</i> A strikingly fresh first edition of Salinger's essential novel. $20,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Whitman, Walt. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> “America's second Declaration of Independence” — signed by Whitman. $150,000 to $200,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> [Dylan, Bob]. Some of the earliest known professional portraits. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Now to Jan. 25:</b> Y-Worth [Yarworth], William. <i>Cerevisiarii Comes: Or, the New and True Art of Brewing…</i> A rare and early English work on the art of brewing. $5,000 to $7,000.

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