In every book, there is a story, so you can only imagine the stories in The Collectors Treasury, the largest bookstore in the southern hemisphere.
Collector's Treasury - Johannesburg
The Treasury’s story began when Zelda Klass arrived on the shores of South Africa from a little shtetl in Lithuania. She had almost nothing but the clothes on her back and her name. She went to live in Kimberley and eventually made her way to Yeoville in Johannesburg, where she and her husband started making a living selling ginger beer. They then moved on to selling babies’ items and several other things besides. Zelda may not have started the book store (it was opened by her grandson, Geoff Klass), but her enterprising spirit lives on in Africa’s largest book store.
Immediately on entering the bookstore, visitors can affirm that this legacy remains alive. With more than two million books cramming the shelves, you’re greeted by piles of volumes, starting right by the front door. Books are packed against every wall, wedged into every corner and stacked atop any surface that will support them. Ceiling-high piles tower above your head, brush against your elbow and threaten to trip you if you don’t watch where you step.
In addition to books, you will find maps, prints, engravings, newspapers, photographs and thousands of vinyl records, as well as a small selection of decorative art antiquities.
The Klass brothers, Geoff and Jonathan, have been in business since 1974. Over the past 44 years, their trove of literature has been housed at various addresses in Johannesburg. Beginning at what is today the trendy 44 Stanley – where they paid a rental of R385 a month – they progressed eastwards, moving to Pritchard House for five years, then on to a neo-classical building at 63 Rissik Street in 1984, and finally settled at their present address in 1991, which they found and bought within three days.