Antiquariat F. Neidhardt is an antiquarian bookselling firm based in Böblingen about 20km south of Stuttgart in Germany. Fritz Neidhardt started the business with a bookshop in Stuttgart in 1953. During this era of rebuilding and reconciliation, Fritz Neidhardt, who died in 2007, was a bookselling pioneer, re-establishing business connections across Europe and helping to organize the annual Stuttgart Rare Book Fair.
Today, Max Neidhardt, Fritz’s son, runs the business, which specializes in rare and illustrated books from the 15th century through to the first half of the 20th century, as well as art, toys, games, and antiques. Customers will discover a wealth of books about natural history and editions with luxury bindings. The business offers a small appointment-only bookshop in Böblingen and is a member of ILAB (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers).
Max Neidhardt spent three years learning the trade with Munich-based auction house Zisska & Kister, and then completed a vocational training course and a six-month internship with Shapero Rare Books in London.
“Zisska & Kistner taught me the basic requirements of working with antiquarian books, the diversity of the objects on offer and the basics of writing bibliographical descriptions,” said Max. “The auction house had an extensive reference library and I got a good insight into bibliographical reference works. My time at Shapero was also valuable for making international contacts.
“I inherited the principles of honest, trustworthy and transparent bookselling from my father and have not discarded them to this day. For over 40 years, my father delivered the most extravagant books to renowned collectors and made a name for himself as an expert in arts and antiques collecting.”
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Browsing the inventory of Antiquariat F. Neidhardt is a lesson in literature and art, as well as natural history.
“My greatest love is the books of the Renaissance,” said Max. “On the one hand, I find this era fundamentally very exciting and, on the other hand, book production was reaching one of its climaxes in terms of prints.”
Aside from books and art, Antiquariat F. Neidhardt offers antiques for sale, including optical toys, stereoscopy (which is the illusion of depth in a two-dimensional image), and children's games such as jigsaw puzzles.
“These objects naturally have something playful about them and they are fascinating when used or demonstrated,” said Max. “They can be understood by anyone with no historical knowledge and that makes selling them easier.”
For young collectors, he stresses the importance of “listening to their inner voice” when making decisions about what to purchase.
Max describes simple curiosity as a key inspiration behind the wide variety of objects offered for sale. “I am curious about the objects that I don’t understand,” he said. “Fortunately, I have reference library to help.”