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    Foreign collectors attracted by Belgian rare book auctions

    The sale of rare books in Belgium is attracting numerous foreign collectors. Now one in three end up in the hands of foreigners, compared to one in five in the 2000s and only one in ten twenty years ago. This is according to an estimate by the Brussels auction house, Arenberg Auctions.

    On a global scale, some 400,000 rare books were sold under the hammer last year, including 15,000 in Belgium. One-third were acquired by foreign collectors. These are particularly French, Dutch, Americans and Italians who come to Belgium in search of rare books and other manuscripts.

    Henri Godts, a valuer from Arenberg Auctions, explains, “To the extent that Belgium has always been at the crossroads of major European cultures, there is no shortage of material or historic heritage in our country. This amply justifies the interest shown by some international players.”

    The development in recent years of new means of communication and new technologies has made consulting sales catalogues from abroad much easier. In this regard, we must not overlook the launch of online sales.

    However, the valuer says that Belgian heritage is not threatened by foreign covetousness. Mr Godts goes on, “The book market has always been international, and books have been changing hands during international book fairs going right back to the 16th century. With this in mind, it is worth mentioning that the Belgians will also buy from abroad.” He adds, “Moreover, a genuine historic heritage publication does not come up for sale every day.”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times