Page 205 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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MEHLMAN/FROM A BIBLIOPHILE’S MEMOIRS
193
conversation clear though halting. He still thought about books
and in my presence suddenly asked his wife: “Did the Yemenite
bring the book which he promised to sell?” With his passing an
impressive personality was taken from the family o f booksellers.
An entirely different type was represented by Michal Rabino-
witz. He was an accomplished scholar with a sharp mind and witty
tongue. His shop on Ben-Yehuda Street was a meeting place for
scholars. As many witticisms and choice tidbits o f gossip were
heard there as words o f learning. He was a bookseller, but in real­
ity it was difficult to part him from his books and he would put o f f
his customers. By nature he was an exceptional lover o f books.
When his shop was bombed he became depressed and it
appeared that he sorrowed more over the destruction o f the
books than for any financial loss. Only at special times, when he
needed funds, would he make the concession o f doing business. I
would then receive a fine letter, usually couched in verse, which
bore an invitation to visit his shop “after hours.” When luck
would have it the negotiations would be successful and quickly
completed. I would take leave o f Michal Rabinowitz with a feeling
o f satisfaction and friendship.
A RARE INSTANCE
I valued the consideration which I received from overseas
booksellers whom I did not personally know. On the basis o f a
catalogue listing I once ordered from the Rosenthal concern in
Oxford a valuable book in which I was interested. I received a
notification from Mr. Ettinghausen, the director, that the book
had already been sold. He added a note saying that he would try
to repurchase it and forward it to me in Israel. A few weeks later I
received the book at its original quoted price. Such a gesture is
unusual in the book trade. My joy was twofold, because o f the
book which I treasured and the kindness o f Mr. Ettinghausen.
I have mentioned the names o f only a few booksellers who are
no longer among the living. There are still active in Israel both
veteran and younger book dealers with whom I had excellent
business and personal relations. The oldest among them is the
veteran dealer Avraham Rubinstein o f Jerusalem. Our relations
were o f the friendliest and I obtained many rare books from him.
To all the above I owe my thanks.