What If You’re An Antiquarian Bookseller 如果你是一名古董书商

Douglas Stewart
Owner of the Douglas Stewart Fine Books Pty. Ltd
Douglas Stewart 精品书有限公司所有者

Douglas began buying and selling books in 1995, while still in high school. Fascinated with some of the oldest prints from the western world, he knew that the perks of doing something he enjoys, would not necessarily be about owning any books.

“Although I may not be able to afford to collect the books that I would want, the great joy about my job is that I get to surround myself with books all day. And then every now and again, one will leave and go into a collector’s home and another one will come in.” 

It gives him a real thrill when books they have rescued occasionally end up in the State or the National Library. What could be better than knowing they are placed into a collection where it will be preserved for future generations.

One of his most exciting moments as a bookseller was dealing with the buying and selling of a single page of the Gutenberg bible, regarded as the first book ever printed in the western world in 1455. While there are no complete copies of the Gutenberg bible left in private hands today, they are available in museums and libraries. 

Following the topics on old and rare books, Douglas further commented on works found closer to our shores, “In China, they had prints made from woodblock and moveable type far earlier than that, probably from the 8th and 9th centuries. And very occasionally you get examples of printings from Asia.”

According to Douglas, the most interesting books to do with Asia are the ones that document first contact. These books dictated some of the westerners’ first encounter with the people from China, Japan, the Philippines and even India. 

“Often the Europeans would bring over a printing press to print books on the ground, perhaps for missions in Japan, China or India. These books are rare because they only print a handful of them. And due to the climate and cultural conditions, only a few of them survived.”

Douglas and his team have also handled some rare books printed on rice paper by missionaries who were travelling around Asia in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Australia also has some remarkable tales of its own. A legendary rarity believed to be the first book on Australia, is a copy of Francois Pelsaert’s  story of the shipwreck of the Batavia, one of Australia’s most gripping in all maritime history. This very first edition of Pelsaert is one of the rarest of Dutch voyages and a foundation book for Australia. Available for purchase for A$400,000, it is the most expensive book they have in stock at the moment. 

While first edition of a shipwreck printed in 1647 may instantly command an exquisite price tag, little ephemeral things from our daily lives can also be a collector’s item. 

“My favorite was an original concert program from Woodstock in 1969. The program was actually water stained because very famously the heavens opened and the rain came down and everybody was completely saturated. And this program obviously caught the rain in Woodstock,” said Douglas.

Between exhibiting at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair and other book fairs in Los Angeles, Tokyo or Paris, Douglas’ love for art often sees him visiting art galleries and exhibitions even during his travels. “ I love seeing what’s on display because I enjoy seeing what different people value in different parts of the world. And so, I’m always learning.”

For many years Douglas has been a member of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB), and is currently the President of ANZAAB. He is also a Mentor for the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

Douglas Stewart并非一般的书商。他对艺术和旅游的兴趣已经超出大部分人所能享受的范畴。而渴望寻求发现首个被遗忘的长期航海旅行,他最近收购Ferdinand Mendez Pinto的记叙书,这些最早的目击者是巡游马来半岛、暹罗、南圻国,中国和日本的西方人,正是类似事迹激发他作为古董书商的兴致。

在澳大利亚墨尔本的Armadale大街上,他的精品书店-Douglas Stewart Fine Books与其他古董商、画廊和书店为邻,展示着全球各地最稀有的书籍、文本和艺术品。





作为一名身经百战的书商,他最激动人心的时刻之一就是完成古腾堡圣经(Gutenberg bible)单页的买卖交易。古腾堡圣经被认为是西方世界在1455年印刷的第一本书。虽然现在确认没有完整的古腾堡圣经存留在私人收藏者手中了,但是在博物馆和图书馆里都可以找到。





而澳大利亚也有本身的传奇故事。被认为是关于澳大利亚的第一本书的传奇珍品,是由Francois Pelsaert所著关于巴塔维亚号海难故事的副本,巴塔维亚号海难是澳大利亚海运史上最扣人心弦的故事之一。Francois Pelsaert这本书的第一版是荷兰航海史上最罕见的作品之一,也是澳大利亚的根基书籍。这本书售价40万澳元,是他们目前库存中最昂贵的书籍。



在纽约国际古董书展(New York International Antiquarian Book Fair)和洛杉矶、东京或巴黎的其他书展之间,Douglas 对艺术的热爱让他经常流连于画廊和展览,甚至在旅行期间也是如此。“我喜欢看展览会,因为从中可以发现世界各地不同的人们所重视的珍品。所以,我一直在学习。”

多年来,Douglas Stewart一直是澳大利亚和新西兰古董书商协会(ANZAAB)的成员,目前是ANZAAB的会长。他也是国际古董书商联盟的导师。