Page 203 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

Basic HTML Version

one. Instinctively I did not re-enter the house but shut the door
behind me and, followed by my companion who carried the
briefcase, headed directly for the crowd. Luckily, it retreated
somewhat to open up a path, permitting us to pass through with­
out harm. Many accompanied us silently until we reached the
Armenian quarter. My friends and acquaintances who later
heard o f the incident all quoted the verse: “The Lord protects the
simple . . .”
The books which I bought from private individuals with or
without incident were only a tiny part o f my library. The over­
whelming majority were acquired through the usual commercial
avenues, by dealings with leading booksellers in Israel and else­
where, who included competent, professional dealers and schol­
arly bookmen. Heretofore many excellent rare book dealers did
not merely have their eye on profit, but deemed it their duty to
supply libraries, researchers and bibliophiles with their needs,
and to the extent possible in fine editions. They found satisfac­
tion and took pleasure in this and profited as well. Often close
friendships developed between seller and buyer.
I should like to recall some o f the ideal booksellers I knew.
Shmuel Wahrmann, who emigrated from Frankfurt to Jeru­
salem, was an exceptional dealer. He conducted his business effi­
ciently and elegantly in partnership with Nathan Bamberger.
They issued catalogues regularly and the fair prices which they
set served as a general guide in the field. Wahrmann, who was
clever and discerning, knew his customers and was aware o f their
good and bad points. He dealt with them wisely and honorably
and not without a touch o f irony. He was an expert in acquiring
entire libraries that had to be placed on sale. Prior to World War
II he brought to Palestine the library o f the Berlin Jewish Acad­
emy, and shortly after the war he obtained the extensive library
o f the Ashkenazi Kehillah in Amsterdam. Following the Holo­
caust he carefully kept track o f the rare Hebrew books which had
been confiscated by the Nazis and placed in secure hiding places.
He was successful in finding and acquiring the finest volumes o f