Most of you will have these memories of going to your local library and excitedly picking out books for you to consume for the fortnight. I was a big fan of non-fiction and most of the arbitrary stuff that I do recall nowadays was instituted into my brain at a rather early age. Anyway, the one drawcard of a library is you don’t have to spend more than your monthly salary in order to gain some knowledge. More importantly, a library offers books that have been previously loved and enjoyed by tens and maybe hundreds of others. Yes, sometimes pages are defaced or torn out and this causes huge annoyances especially when you’re ten pages from the end of Mario Puzo’s “The Family” and then the book just doesn’t end BUT is that really an issue? Pictures might be removed so someone could get an “A” on an assignment or the story intensified so much that the person just ripped out the page where their favourite character was killed. Books tell you a story but as you read more and more, your imagination develops and the books themselves tell a story. You don’t get this when you get a crisp, brand new, 15th edition of a 1995 bestseller from Expensive Books. These stories spill out the entrance of Collectors Treasury.
Your first time at Collectors Treasury is completely overwhelming. Your mind will be completely boggled by the sheer volume of books on offer. The store is housed in an eight story building which is a five minute walk away from Arts on Main. Every floor is dedicated to books with the exception of one which is dedicated to about one million vinyl records. You cannot imagine this. Do not even try.
The shop has two main floors that are generally accessible to the public (while the other six floors are accessible using a rather rickety lift that is filled to the brim with books.) The first floor has a multitude of trinkets from yesteryear. Theres fine china tea sets of a quality that you’ve never seen. There are beautiful paintings. There are old vases and even tea pots shaped like some guys head. Camera enthuisiasts that aren’t too fond of instant images will fall in love with the beautiful devices that actually take pictures that look like the ones in this post.
The entire store is a step into a world which cannot exist anymore. We happened upon this postcard from one hundred years ago. I stared at it for more than a moment trying to fathom what life was back then. History books tell us about the major events around this time but what about the normal folk? I always wonder how normal life was in this period or during the renaissance and even before that. What did a typical month consist of for a normal human being? What did they talk about? What were their hopes and dreams? This postcard struck me as the content was the equivalent of a modern day instant message. Yet this would take several days just to reach the recipient. In that time, that river would have subsided or even burst it banks. How would you share that information? Or is that information something we didn’t really need to share? Not sharing this seems unheard of in an era where every raindrop is documented across a multitude of social networks where it is open to instant comment. We live in a world completely changed by communication. Anyway, if you do want to boggle your mind a bit more, check out the date on the card.
Downstairs is accessed via this avenue of books that leads you to shelves and piles and nooks of more books. You will find everything here. I stumbled upon an early edition of Mein Kampf during a prior visit. There is also an enormous selection of classic vinyl spanning from the 50s right through to the 90s.
A special room is dedicated to just first editions.
Collectors Treasury is pure magic and although it has so many words etched into the countless volumes, words escape you when you try to describe it. Its best you make a trip there and lose yourself in this maze most beautiful. You will not regret it.
When to go: The shop is open from 09h00 till 17h00 on Monday to Friday and from 10h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays. I’ve only visited on a Saturday. Seeing that it is in town, you should make it an entire day into a trip around the CBD and surrounding areas. Maybe pop into Neighbour Goods Market for an early breakfast then go to Collectors Treasury then do some shopping in town before watching the sunset from the top of the Carlton.
How to get there: The store is located in CTP House at 244 Commissioner Street. It is just beyond the point where Commissioner Street becomes a one-way going towards town. It’s a five minute walk away from Arts on Main.
Cost: With this many books, the prices are going to vary – a lot! The books are pretty well priced for a second-hand book store and so are the vinyl records. Most albums cost around R30 with some going for less and the rarer records selling for a bit more. The store has a huge selection of supremely rare wares and these can retail in the thousands. They do accept cards but take cash if you don’t intend on spending more than a few hundred Rands.
Anything Else: You need to visit this place twice before you can understand it. The first visit warps the mind. You grab onto everything because you just “have to buy it.” I’ve taken several friends there and most start grabbing but then get so stunned by the sheer volume of quality material that they ended up not buying anything. That is perfectly okay. Just enjoy it for the marvel that it is and after a few visits, your personal book collection will naturally grow and be populated a number of beautiful novels.