IN THE MID-1970s, RISSIK STREET IN downtown Johannesburg was a tranquil road featuring an important landmark – a second-hand bookstore that offered an escape from the city’s orchestrated chaos. It was a true literary world in a period devoid of the sensory overload of today’s technology.
Books were the only source of knowledge for the young intellectuals in bell-bottoms and halter dresses that trickled in to spend hours pouring over the treasures in this bookstore called Collectors Treasury. It has since moved shop from Rissik Street, and today, 45 years on, a little over a kilometer away, the same wonders, and much, much more can be found at 223 Commissioner Street. The 3,000 books, records and antiques collected since 1974 have now grown to over two million items.
All the vintage collectables are housed in an eight-storey building bursting at the seams with the sheer volume of material in it.
Brothers Geoffrey and Jonathan Klass, the co-owners of Collectors Treasury, have come to this realization, that the books are literally everywhere. From the entrance to the office where the men have to walk around them with caution, and from there, to the elevator, the staircase, the passages and even the restroom that has been turned into an impromptu storage space.
“People are definitely reading, and they are reading more.,” offers Geoffrey.