Old Europe in Poznan

Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego

Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego in Poznan


The bookstore Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego refers to Jan Konstanty Żupański (1803-1883), a book seller and publisher who contributed to the cultural and intellectual life of Poznan. Located 3/5 Paderewski Street, the bookstore is just a few meters away from the square of the Old Town. This second-hand shop was opened in 1955. Agata and Maciej are now in charge and everything reflects their love for old books. They know exactly the interests of their customers. Their advices are useful and always wise. The quality of the service is absolutely exceptional.


Old Europe


This bookstore is a temple for bibliophiles. Every visit is an opportunity to feel the old Europe atmosphere. The most precious books are behind glasses in bookcases. Once, I saw there a first edition of Pan Tadeusz published in Paris by Adam Mickiewicz in 1834. All the books are properly and carefully displayed in wooden shelves. Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego proposes a large selection of literatura piękna that the French translate into “belles lettres” to designate Polish classics. I found there the two missing volumes of our Quo Vadis series published in 1901. The choice of books about Poznan and the Wielkopolskie Region is impressive and certainly second to none. So is the quality of the selection about Polish History, with a focus on the pre-partition period and pre-war politics. On a shelf, martyrologia refers to the darkest hours of the modern Polish History: Katyń and the Warsaw Uprising.


An old stepladder enables the exploration of upper layers. If you are lucky enough, you can find here the beautiful books that delighted our great-grandparents before WWI. Until 1918, Poland was under Austrian occupation, Prussian rule and Russian oppression. But during the 123 years of partition, the Polish culture never faded. In the late 19th and early 20th century, many patriotic books were published to commemorate great legends, great people and great events of the country. Among the most popular titles were Mohort (1883), Grunwald (1910), 1863 (1913) and Kosciusko (1917). All of them are in our family library.  


Cabinet of Curiosities


Still, Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego is much more than a bookstore. This place also welcomes antics on the walls and in showcases. In a corner, a vintage woden clock with two goats (the symbols of Poznan) paces the passing of time. Just beside, stacks of newly arrived books are waiting to be sorted by themes. Two welcoming armchairs invite visitors to browse pages in peace. On a side table, a typewriter from the 1920’s is ready to get your inspiration.


Take your time to dig into the documents displayed on the big table. There, you will find ancient maps from the world, encyclopedic prints from the 18th century, and many other treasures that include lithographs and watercolors. A few years ago, I found there a series of French sanguine color estampes from the 18th century. A few years ago, the bookstore sold an impressive collection of hand printed Herbarz, a Polish armorial with the most famous coats-of-arms.


Past Times


Have a look under the table. Old German books with gothic fonts are stacked in boxes. German families who left Poznań when Poland recovered Independence in 1918 left them behind. Some of these books have distinctive Jugendstil covers. Others books have an interesting background. They date back the years 1940s, obviously owned by German families relocated in the occupied "Reichsgau Wartheland".


The bookstore has a small but finely selected children section. There, you can find a remarkable selection that includes patriotic books, schoolbooks, classic novels, and modern albums. The creativity of Polish illustrators of children books  is amazing. My favorite period is the early 1950s. Many illustrators are today considered full-blown artists. A book published in in English (Captains of Illustration - 2019) pays a tribute to 100th years of children books in Poland.


Hard to leave


On their desk, Agata and Maciej display small treasures such as old pictures, vintage postcards, religious images, devotion books, pre-war calendars, miniature travel guides, card games,... Behind the glass door of a large bookcase, they keep the most precious items of the bookstore: first editions, hand-coloured prints, famous autographs and autographed books. Take your time to watch everything.


It is always difficult to leave Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego after such an exploration of the Polish culture. As soon as the door is crossed, you feel a strong desire to return. If you forget something, Agata will keep it safe until you come back ...



Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego

Paderewskiego 3/5, 61-774 Poznań



Above are four 18th century French sanguines estampes found in Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego. Their paper has the distinctive watermark "à la grande fleur de lys" with the "FP" initials. I keep them in their original conditions, without any restoration procedure. Click to enlarge

Antykwariat im. J.K. Żupańskiego has an impressive selection of books about Poznan and the Wielkopolskie Region. This focus on regionalism is precious for professional and amateur genealogists. Above are some items  found in the bookstore. Click to enlarge.