Recovering From Devastation, One Rare Book at a Time (Germany)





WEIMAR It would be hard to say whether, in her work of acquiring old literary treasures, there are more thrills or more disappointments for Katja Lorenz. For she has the seemingly enviable, but sometimes not so enviable, job of using somebody else's money to buy first editions of late Renaissance and Enlightenment classics.

Certainly, it was a wonderful success a few months ago when for a mere 5,900 euros (about $7,500), she purchased a pristine copy of "A Natural History of Birds," by Pierre Belon du Mans, published in Paris in 1555 and complete with 160 woodcuts, representing one of the first major works of its kind based on observation.

But only a couple of weeks ago, there was not nearly enough money to get a much desired book, the 17th-century "Rings of Saturn," by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, which went at auction for $16,500, about $10,000 more than she had to spend.



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