Land Down Under

Posted by Rachel Mumau on




Well, I have some news that I could hardly wait to tell you! Fawnsberg is taking a holiday to the land down under. In a few short days, our Fawnsberg cards will be available in several locations in Australia, namely, Berkelouw Books and Harry Hartog.  But these are not just any bookstores.  Read on and you will see why we are so delighted to be ushered to the land of the Aussie's by such a lovely store with rich history.

The Fawnsberg mice (the little ones in our logo) are the traveling sort and could not be more excited about their adventure, for not only are they going to a beautiful far-away country where they have never been before, but the bookstore itself is just brimming with history and an aged romance of paper. The Berkelouw family has been in the book business since 1812, beginning in Rotterdam, Holland where Solomon Berkelouw traded popular vellum-bound theology books. (You can see the picture above of Solomon on the street there.) He sold his books mainly to owners and skippers of barges and one day while delivering a parcel to a boat owner by scaling an icy plank, Solomon lost his footing and drown in the winter waters of the harbor.  Following his father’s passion, Carel established his own brick and mortar bookstore in Rotterdam (see picture left of the store in Rotterdam), which in turn, his son Hartog helped to run. They had a great deal of success, but with the besetting of World War II, their stores were bombed and their books destroyed, not sparing a collection of valuable Bibles thought to be the most valuable in all of Europe.

After the war, Hartog’s son Isidoor re-established the firm in Amsterdam, but he must have been the adventurous sort, because he decided to move the business over the seas to the land down under, to Sydney, Australia. They got their beginning in Australia in the 1950’s and by the 70’s when Isidoor’s sons Henry and Leo (see Isidoor and Henry, left) joined the team, the bookstore was growing quite rapidly and had to move to Bendooley, a historic property just outside the beautiful village of Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

So you can see just why William and Rose (the mice) are so anxious to arrive. They will get to meet the sixth generation of Berkelouw’s, by name Paul, Robert, and David who now run six locations. I think they will find themselves quite right at home in Australia’s largest rare and antiquarian, secondhand, and new bookstore. I hope to travel there someday myself, but for now will have to satisfy myself with perusing the carefully chosen collection online and knowing that the Fawnsberg’s are there to enjoy the bookstore’s sights and sounds and perhaps send a letter home or two.  To read the more complete history, click here.



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