The Society of Bibliophiles in Cape Town, South Africa, is for booklovers – not just reading books, but the books themselves.

The website of the Society is maintained and updated by Graham Giles who will gladly respond to enquiries relating to content. These and any new material that might be of interest to Members of the Society may be sent to graham@giles.co.za.

All Original Material, Audios and HTML Coding Copyright © Bibliophile Society 2009 – 2012. All rights reserved.

This is what Arne Schaefer has written about the Society.


by Arne Schaefer

The idea of forming an association for bibliophiles – being book-lovers who shared interests in all aspects of the book beyond its purely literary content – came to fruition in the early 1990′s.   Frikkie Botha gathered some 20 prospective founder members  in the South African Library and decided to launch a society with the object of ‘promoting the knowledge of, and interest in, books in general, and in particular to extend and improve interest in collecting and preservation of books and related printed material’.

From these humble beginnings, the Society has grown to respectable proportions with over 80 members, most of whom are based in or near Cape Town, but a few hail from elsewhere, such as other parts of South Africa, Canada, USA, UK, Portugal, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.   Members get together every 6 or 8 weeks during the year at ‘bookish’ venues, such as libraries, private collections, universities, research institutes, historical and literary landmarks – or attend symposia, exhibitions and go on excursions in congenial company.

Members who have a special interest and want to share it with other members are supplied with a forum where they can air their pet subject during these get-togethers.

Three times a year the Society publishes a journal, Philobiblon, containing articles of lasting value catering to wide-ranging tastes and interests of the Membership as well as other bibliophilic institutions and libraries world-wide.   This quality production has been edited and produced through some 50 issues by two of the Members, and is provided free of charge to Members as part of the annual subscription.

The Society has also, in a very small way, become involved in publishing.   During 2000, the volume, Hidden Treasures – Irma Stern, her Books, Painted Book Covers and Bookplates, was published.   This has already become a collector’s item.   Further projects are in progress.

Although the Society tends to appeal to the more mature person, there is evidence of a new, younger membership making an appearance.   There are no teenagers among them as yet, but we live in hope.   Anyone interested in joining this convivial crowd should contact the Hon. Secretary, Graham Giles Tel 021 852 8480, or email:  graham@giles.co.za.

Subs for Members in South Africa are R125 per annum.   Members from outside South Africa pay an additional charge to cover the cost of postage to the country in question.

Lastly, a thought:  Norman H. Strouse, an avid book collector and learned amateur bookman, said:

Look upon books frankly as a vice, but one which leaves some respectable evidence of its pleasure to show for it.   It’s cheaper than a mistress, and far more amenable to your mood and convenience.   And if you pursue book collecting properly, chances are you can’t afford a mistress and that alone will save you a peck of trouble!