Q&A with our rare book expert, Jennifer Jaeger

In anticipation of our upcoming rare book auction, being held in January 2022, we took the opportunity to ask Jennifer Jaeger some questions about her love of books, and what she has her eye on in this forthcoming auction!

Jennifer Jaeger with one of the rare books that form part of the Abbeys Rare Book Auction in January 2022.

We are thrilled to be able to have the assistance of Jennifer as a rare book expert in consigning this unique collection.

Jennifer has been the owner and manager of Australia’s foremost Egyptology and Ancient History bookshop for over 30 years. She is also a member of ANZAAB (Australianand New Zealand Association for Antiquarian Booksellers) and ILAB (International Association of Antiquarian Booksellers and ANZAAB’s parent association).

Q: What’s the best thing about collecting books?

A: Jennifer | “Of all the items you can collect I think books are one of the most interesting. Not only can you hunt for the book you want, once found you can display it in pride of place. A good book can take you anywhere, it gives you the thoughts of other lives and worlds, it can transport you to Narnia or Middle Earth, to Ancient Egypt or even Dune. It can teach you the philosophy and wisdom of the ancients, or show you through biography the lives of all sorts of people. If like me you like playing with old classic cars there is nothing better than a well written owners handbook! A good book will always be there to enjoy.”

Q: What’s your genre of interest?

A: Jennifer | “I have always been interested in Ancient Egypt, when I say always, I mean, since before I can remember. I love the Amarna Period most of all, the 18th Dynasty, think Tutankhamun and Nefertiti. I have collected extensively on this subject and in 1989 I started my bookshop, Ankh Antiquarian Books to follow this passion. I also collect Tudor history, the Titanic and Nelsonia, Latin and Ancient Greek books. Signed editions are a particular favourite too, particularly signed editions of famous Egyptologists like TGH James, Salima Ikram, William Kelly Simpson to name a few.”

Q: What is special about this next rare book auction at Abbeys?

A: Jennifer | “It is wonderful to see my friends at Abbeys venturing into this field and they will do it very well indeed. Their first rare book auction will be very exciting with standout copies of fine Australian rare books, Cook, Bougainville, Dampier, MacGillivray.

“Plus, signed editions from very famous 20th century greats like John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemmingway and Joseph Conrad, etc.

“The Jules Verne books are of great interest, as are two books on early whaling. Really there is in this collection a cornucopia of collectable rare books that would grace any discerning collectors’ shelves. I shall be adding some very nice Ancient History books to the auction. I can’t wait for January 15th!”

Q: If you could buy one book from this collection, what would it be?

A: Jennifer “What a question! I really love the little Dampier with the surveying maps of the foreshore of Australia, I really gasped when I opened that little jewel.

“A Continuation of a Voyage to New-Holland In the Year 1699” by Captain William Dampier

“But I think if I could buy one it would be the Steinbeck with the personal signature to a friend, also included in that book is a sweet 1960’s card from “Mum and Dad”. When you obtain a book with a signature and something personal from the author, I think it brings you closer to what makes the author tic and why he or she became so well-known.”

Q: What people do you think will be most interested in this collection?

A: Jennifer | “This auction will be of interest to people interested in early Australian books. Overseas and local collectors of signed editions and also people just starting out their collection, many of these books are worthy of a State Library collection.

There are about thirty books which will be very reasonably valued, all signed by the author, for example Stephen Fry, a science book on DNA and one on Margaret Thatcher for example.

Some of the early exploration books such as Surveying voyage of the HMS Fly by J Beet Jukes and Coasts of Australia the years 1818 & 1822 by Captain Phillip King have some wonderful illustrations. The Wanderings in South America, the North-West of the United States by Charles Waterton, 1825 in particular is very fine in two volumes.

Of course, there will be more in this auction than what I have seen so far and I am sure, knowing Abbeys Auctions, they will be very exciting too.”

Q: What’s one recommendation you could give to prospective bidders when it comes to buying at an online auction?

A: Jennifer | “Abbeys Auctions has a very easy to use website for online bidding, when the catalogue comes out, I usually mark my likes online with a heart which then is saved for me. I go along to the rooms, if possible, to personally view the items and perhaps research the value of the items online to give me a guide to my bidding. Once I know what I like, I bid confidently to my own set limit. I try not to get carried away; but that can be very hard!

Abbeys is working hard to bring this excellent collection to its customers and I am proud to be helping them with my own expertise of 32 years in the book trade and as a member of ANZAAB and ILAB, organizations of the highest standards in presenting rare books to the world.

I wish everyone who is interested in rare books the best of luck in their purchases at Abbeys Auctions in January 2022″

The full catalogue of the rare books auction will go live in December – click here for more details and to view highlights.