Bright Young Collectors: Aarom Renolt Von Hemmersbach

Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Aarom Renolt Von Hemmersbach, a tattoo artist in Canada who collects Aldines:


Where do you live?

I live in Winnipeg, Canada.

What did you study at University? What do you do now for an occupation?

I studied History in University and am planning on returning to get my masters in the classics. I have been tattooing for 14 years and have had my own shop for the past 8 years now, which has given me the freedom to travel and seek out new additions to my collection.

Please introduce us to your book collection.  In what areas do you collect? 

I collect mostly early printed works, incunabula and 16th century books. However, my main focus is on editions from the Aldine Press.

And do you have a tattoo related to your book collection?

As a matter of fact.. I do!

aldine tattoo.jpg

How many books do you have in your collection?

I have about 250 books that are pre 17th century, and another 400 or so that are from before the 19th century, mostly in the categories of history, the occult, early science and classics. The jewels of my collection are the 34 Aldines, which I enjoy collecting the most.

What was the first book you bought for your collection?

The first book I bought was a 1683 copy of Muret's Funeral Rites. I remember being so fascinated that one could just simply purchase something so old and beautiful...something that I assumed should be in a special archive or museum. I knew in that moment I wanted to protect these treasures, and be their temporary custodian. The funny thing is, I had planned on buying the book for a friend for his birthday, and I ended up keeping it for myself! I think I ended up buying him a coffee mug instead. Selfish, I know!

How about the most recent book?

The most recent book I bought was a 1516 Aldine copy of Lodovico printed a year after the death of Aldus Manutius. It has beautiful rubricated initials throughout the volume, I was excited beyond belief when it came to me!

And your favorite book in your collection?

I'd be truly hard pressed to choose which book in my collection is my favorite..but if I had to choose, I'd say my Aldine copy of Macrobius. I love the world map inside as well as the incredible perspectives the book contains of such an ancient era. It also has sentimental value to me as it lead me to a fantastic friendship abroad.

Best bargain you've found?

The best bargain I found was a copy of George Burchett's Memoirs of a Tattooist. He was as old school as one could get, and a forefather in my industry. I found the book at a flea market, perfect condition with dust jacket, underneath an old fedora hat. I was more than happy to pay the two dollars the seller was asking for it.

How about The One that Got Away?

A while back I had the chance to bid on an Aldine Odyssey from 1517, but i was travelling at the time and the hotel Wifi was unreliable to say the least. That one got away due to a technical malfunction, incredibly frustrating!

What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?

I would love to get, (and I seem like a broken record) an Aldine Dante's Inferno, 1515, I'd also love to have a work from Sweinheim and Pannartz one day..but the holy grail for me would be a copy of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili 1499, although I might have a heart attack on the spot if that ever happened!

What are your favorite bookstores / booksellers?

So many to name, but I really like Forum Antiquariaat in Netherlands, Aimee at Bison Books in Canada, MacLeod's Books in Vancouver, Schilb Antiquarian Rare Books, Powell's in Portland USA, Pirages Fine Books is great out that way as many to mention!

What would you collect if you didn't collect books?

I'd probably collect suits of armor or ancient greek pottery or something..something ancient that would make my friends yawn with boredom like they do now!