Page 207 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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MEHLMAN/FROM A BIBLIOPHILE’S MEMOIRS
1 9 5
OTHER BOOKMEN
I shall mention a few more collectors who consciously set out to
acquire books and build libraries in order eventually to transfer
them to the public domain.
Avraham Jaffe, who settled in Palestine during the Third
Aliyah, was an exemplary collector known for his enthusiasm and
persistence. He collected systematically with a single purpose in
mind; for a number o f decades he gathered up in his home books
o f poetry and piyut. He intended from the outset to develop as
varied and complete a research facility as possible for students
and researchers o f belles-lettres. To his collection he added old
and new periodicals and collective volumes which had to do with
poetry and its study. His devotion and diligence were boundless.
At times he would travel great distances to acquire a book o f
poetry or a periodical that was lacking in his library, and thus was
created a “treasury o f poetry and piyut” which called forth the
admiration o f specialists. Avraham Jaffe presented his library to
the Tel-Aviv University, where it is o f benefit to great numbers o f
users.
Another collector, who lived inJerusalem, also had in mind to
present his large collection o f books to a public institution. His
many books bore the stamp, “Municipal Library, founded in
1925 by Dr. Shachar.” Apparently, however, his plan fell through
completely. He was unable to reach an agreement with the
municipality, and the library remained in his home. Dr. Shachar
was a unique personality and his ways were strange. He was mod­
est and unassuming, a visionary who lacked a practical sense.
Without financial means, he would buy every cheap book that
came his way. He housed tens o f thousands o f books, which were
haphazardly chosen without any special plan. This was a con­
glomerate o f books, including single items o f a scholarly or
bibliophilic nature. Dr. Shachar lived in great poverty. Late in life
he met up with the sweetheart o f his youth who had been saved
from the Holocaust and they were married. Because o f his dire
straits he began to dispose o f books, both singly and in quantity.
He followed an “original” system in selling his books: half a
grush, and later a whole grush, per page, and he would carefully
count the pages. Any suggestion to set the price o f any volume in
accordance with its market value was met with stubborn resist­
ance. His argument was: “ I am an honest person and I therefore