What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

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  • What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

    What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

    (1) If you are a collector of chess books, you will probably have some bookshelves crammed with volumes, pamphlets and unbound magazines.

    (2) If your mania borders on the obsessive, there will be piles of unshelved chess books besides the shelves (see above).

    (3) You may avoid paragraph (2) if you have the wherewithal to devote a room or rooms in your house to your collection.

    (4) Forget paragraph (3) - you have the money to buy any book you want, you have used up all of the shelf space and the books are simply everywhere.

    Paragraph (4) describes the collection of Lothar Schmid, who died on May 18, 2013. He had the biggest private chess collection in the world and now it is up for sale.

    The collection is described with photos in the most recent New in Chess Ė 2014/1.

    In the main library of his house, books are everywhere Ė on tables, on shelves, on the floor and in the middle of the room, a spiral staircase leading up to the attic and many more books. It is estimated that there are 30,000 in total. Just one, Brauneís Apotre de la Symetrie, is worth 4000 Euros.

    His family wants to sell the collection in its entirety but who has the money to buy it and the space to house it?

    And there is no catalogue. Why not? My theory is that it is like having your will drawn up. Most people will say that it is the business-like thing to do. A small number donít, fearing that a couple of years after making your will, you will die.

    Indeed Schmid said this about another great collector and producing a catalogue, ďThatís what Von der Lasa did in 1896, and three years later he was dead.Ē

    There may be a feeling too that cataloguing everything puts a constraint on you. All your best work is in that first volume and you will never do as well again.

    Anyway, an interesting article on chess bibliomania.

    For those wanting to read further on the subject, there are three other articles in the same vein:

    The collections of

    David DeLucia:
    New in Chess 2010/5 p.10

    Jurgen Stigter:
    New in Chess 2008/5 p.76

    John G. White:
    Chess Life December 2012
    Last edited by Wayne Komer; Friday, 14th February, 2014, 01:56 AM. Reason: redundancy

  • #2
    Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

    Not to mention an asking price of 20 million Euros (about 30 million dollars).

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

      Originally posted by Hans Jung View Post
      Not to mention an asking price of 20 million Euros (about 30 million dollars).
      I guess that puts the CFC out of the running.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

        Mr. President you're joking!? Gasp

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

          And that likely doesn't include shipping...
          ...Mike Pence: the Lord of the fly.

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          • #6
            Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

            In the article cited, Schmid quotes 20 million Euros as a figure too large for any collector to spend.

            Ralf Hess:

            Lothar Schmid as a collector was obsessed. His whole life and a large part of his business life were subordinated to his passion for collecting. And if I say his life, this includes his family. This was also why at an advanced age, he told the family that he was ready to sell the collection but his price was 20 million euro, in other words, he didnít want to sell it at all. Because the collection was his life.

            Too bad that Harper is down on libraries Ė what a tremendous resource this would be if relocated to Ottawa!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

              Originally posted by Vlad Drkulec View Post
              I guess that puts the CFC out of the running.
              I think that the certain wealthy people from rich countries can afford to buy that collection only!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                Originally posted by Vlad Drkulec View Post
                I guess that puts the CFC out of the running.
                Maybe the foundation will put in a bid.
                Gary Ruben
                CC - IA and SIM

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                  Originally posted by Gary Ruben View Post
                  Maybe the foundation will put in a bid.
                  The foundation is probably too poor to be able to do that!??

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                    Originally posted by Wayne Komer View Post
                    Too bad that Harper is down on libraries – what a tremendous resource this would be if relocated to Ottawa!
                    Its probably not worth $30 million. That is the figure that Schmid placed on it to avoid having to sell it. Most libraries would not be willing to display such a collection. Probably the Cleveland Library is the only library that might be interested at the right price. Alternatively there is a certain billionaire in St. Louis who might take a look at it.

                    Governments are prone to do ridiculous things but spending $30 million on something that perhaps 100 people in Canada might find useful would be pretty dumb.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                      Originally posted by Gary Ruben View Post
                      Maybe the foundation will put in a bid.
                      If the bid was thirty thousand or less we might have a winning idea there. Of course the cost of housing the collection would be quite a bit more than any bid from Canada.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                        Originally posted by Vlad Drkulec View Post
                        If the bid was thirty thousand or less we might have a winning idea there. Of course the cost of housing the collection would be quite a bit more than any bid from Canada.
                        Have you read the foundations annual financial report?

                        You're right about housing such a collection. These days with ebooks and books on other media I wonder at the demand for paper books. Didn't the CFC sell off their books when they were selling their building?

                        I was kidding about bidding for the books. Using money for the programs, if there are any, is more important.
                        Gary Ruben
                        CC - IA and SIM

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                          Originally posted by Gary Ruben View Post
                          Have you read the foundations annual financial report?
                          Yes I have. I just read the quarterly report a few days ago.

                          You're right about housing such a collection. These days with ebooks and books on other media I wonder at the demand for paper books. Didn't the CFC sell off their books when they were selling their building?
                          I believe there may be a few still stored in someone's garage somewhere.

                          I was kidding about bidding for the books. Using money for the programs, if there are any, is more important.
                          I realized that you were kidding but if we got it for $30,000 we could certainly sell portions of the collection to reap a tidy profit that would fund lots of new chess programs. Of course such musings are what the writers of all of those lottery commercials are trying to tap into.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                            At the 2004 Chess Olympiad I had the honor of enjoying an after dinner meeting with GM Schmid, his wife, and Nathan Divinsky. Among other topics, Fischer's detainment in Japan was discussed, as was Lothar's concern for succession of his publishing company...he never mentioned chess books :)

                            It was certainly one of my fond memories from the event.

                            Brian

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: What Will Happen to Lothar Schmidís Library?

                              I appear, through ignorance, to have omitted in my discussion of great personal chess libraries, the collection of Dr. Jean Mennerat (1917-2007).

                              [It is largest (27,200 books and magazines) after Lothar Schmidís collection]

                              He tried to bequeath it to the French city of Besancon, which declined it.
                              The city of Belfort accepted it and efforts are being made to put the collection on display. The conditions of the legacy were that nothing in the collection could be borrowed and that the entire collection should be kept together.

                              Bob Meadley said of him in 2001:

                              (Mennerat) has been to most of the great post war sales and has been collecting since WW2. The second hand bookstalls along the Seine were a favourite haunt and the Staunton 1851 Tourney book and all the Philidors (French editions) came his way from these sources. 1938 was a very good year. After the war when he was demobilised from FFL of de Gaulle he continued to buy chess books up until 1949 when his family and medical practice took priority. He took it up again in 1984/5 in retirement and now lives with his wife in the French Alps. Many rooms of their home are filled with chess books and he writes that his wife is ď wonderfully tolerantĒ.


                              See Dr. Jean Mennerat in New in Chess 2005/5.

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