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Book dealer Fabrizio Govi.

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1. How did you learn the antiquarian book trade?

I was lucky enough to have two mentors: my father, who opened Libreria Govi in 1973, and Axel Erdmann, a Swiss bookseller, who is my partner in the historical company Gilhofer und Ranschburg.

2. What is the first sale you remember making?

My first purchase was a magnificent anatomical atlas by Antonio Scarpa (Tabulae neurologicae, Pavia, 1794).

I was at a vast antiquarian fair and the book was lying forgotten by the merchant, a furniture specialist. The pleasure of buying was increased by the fact that my father told me I wouldn’t find anything at that fair.

3. What is one way you would like to change the market?

The most dramatic problem we face is the disappearance of competent collectors, those who know their field deeply, start new collecting fields, and leave an important legacy.

We should all cooperate to foster such customers. I know it is a huge task, but still, it is worth a try.

4. What is an effective way to meet potential clients?

Book fairs are attended by more or less the same old customers. Today the internet is probably the most effective channel to meet and create potential clients.

5. What is your ‘holy grail’?

The Christianismi restitutio (Vienne, 1553) by Miguel Servet, a Spanish theologian and scientist. Because of that book, he was burnt alive by John Calvin, who also destroyed all the copies he could trace (only very few survive). It would not change my life economically, but it stands for all that is at the centre of my studies and interests.

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