TEFAF Dealer Spotlight
Daniel Crouch Rare Books, London and New York
Specialty: Rare books and maps
TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE GALLERY.
DANEI. CROUCH: For me, trading in books and maps is not a career but a passion, and I have been dealing in them since I was 16 years old—first at Sanders of Oxford, then at Bonhams before joining Bernard Shapero Rare Books in London in 2002. While I was there I was approached by investors and given 15 minutes to make a pitch for opening my own shop, and in September 2010 I opened my London gallery in partnership with longtime colleague Nick Trimming in the heart of St James’s. We have just opened a space in New York. I signed the lease the day after the Brexit referendum. While having a hedge against the U.K.’s economic suicide seemed sensible, that wasn’t the main driver. We happened to find Noah Goldrach andKate Hunter—the right people to run the business. We also realized that many New York booksellers are nearing retirement, and the trend away from retail premises means that, unless we did something about it, there would soon be nowhere for collectors to go for rare books in the city.
YOU CURRENTLY HAVE A $10 MILLION MAP ON OFFER. IS THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK YOU HAVE TENDERED TO DATE AND HOW DID YOU COME TO BE ITS BROKER?
DC: The 1531 planisphere, which is signed and dated by Vesconte Maggiolo, is a monumental early 16th-century Portolan chart of the known world, in astonishingly good condition, with rich decoration, vibrant colors, and embellished in lapis lazuli, gold, and silver. It is one of the earliest depictions of Verrazzano’s ﬁrst voyage, which was the first European exploration of the northeast seaboard of North America and the first voyage of discovery under French auspices. The motivation behind the map’s production was clearly political. The 1494 line of demarcation determined at the Treaty of Tordesillas is prominent, as are the ﬂags and territories claimed by Portugal, Spain, and France. A faint line marks an antemeridian in the East Indies, albeit in a different location from that agreed two years earlier at the Treaty of Zaragoza. The sovereigns of most of the major powers in the early modern world are shown astride their kingdoms, and many important city—states are depicted in bird’s—eye views that reveal their prominent landmarks. I’d known about the map’s existence for several years. After a guerilla campaign of boozy lunches, its owner ﬁnally relented. It is without a doubt the most beautiful and historically important map we’ve ever handled, but I can’t say that I’ve sold it yet—we are in negotiations.
YOU HAVE BEEN EXHIBITING AT TEFAF SINCE 2011. WHAT ARE YOU PRESENTING THIS YEAR?
DC: Given the U.K.’s recent decision to leave the EU, we thought it might be fun to mark this moment by using historical maps to remind us what we mean by “nation state.” The exhibition will include the first “national atlas”- Christopher Saxton’s I 579 atlas of England and Wales—sans Scotland; monumental wall maps of Europe and the Low Countries by Frederick de Wit, which viewers will recognize as the background of many of Vermeer’s paintings; and works relating to the long struggle for Dutch independence from Spain, including atlases and globes by the Blaeu family of mapmakers. My father, Colin, an academic sociologist, has written the introduction to the catalogue for our stand, an essay titled “The Myth of the European Nation State.” EH