Bernard Quaritch Ltd has been buying and selling rare books and manuscripts since 1847. Its founder, Bernard Quaritch, was born in 1819 at Worbis, a small town near Göttingen in Germany. After working for booksellers in Nordhausen and Berlin, he set off for London in 1842, aged 23. Quaritch knew no one in the city, but was armed with a letter of introduction to Henry Bohn, then London’s leading book dealer. Impressed by Quaritch’s persistence, Bohn took the young man on. Bernard Quaritch later recalled saying to his employer: “Mr Bohn, you are the first bookseller in England, I mean to become the first bookseller in Europe”. With modest capital, Quaritch set up on his own in October 1847. The same month he issued a catalogue, the first of a series that now numbers over fourteen hundred. On his death in 1899 The Times wrote: “It would scarcely be rash to say that Quaritch was the greatest bookseller who ever lived. His ideals were so high, his eye so keen, his transactions were so colossal, his courage so dauntless, that he stands out among men who have dealt in old literature as a Napoleon or a Wellington stands out among generals”.
The business was continued by Quaritch’s son, Bernard Alfred, until his early death in 1913, when it passed to his two sisters, with E. H. Dring as the manager. E. M. Dring became managing director in 1960, and remained a senior director until his death in 1990. From then until 2004 it continued under the chairmanship of Milo Cripps, Lord Parmoor. The company is now owned by book collector and investor John Koh.