Nick Schors (1925-2014)

Another interesting character who somehow crossed the life of Farwerck.

As you can see on the right, Schors owned books previously owned by Farwerck. I know a few such example. Schors’ ex-libris says: “Librairie des Sciences Occultes, W.N. Schors” (‘library of occult sciences’) and his address in Amsterdam.

This is not the only connection between the two, Schors also published a book of Farwerck. That is to say, in 1976, so after Farwerck died, he republished Farwerck’s first book from 1927 with an alternative cover. Schors (re)published more books from the publishers Duwaer and Van Ginkel who published Farwerck’s debut.

Then there is the fact that Schors was born in Hilversum where Farwerck had lived all his life. Would the two have known each other? Let us first have a look at the man.

As I said, Willem Nicolas Schors was born in Hilversum in 1925, so he was 36 years younger than Farwerck. Should they have known each other, Farwerck would probably have been well over 50 by the time.

In 1983 there was an interesting interview with Schors in the newspaper Het Parool (1).

That interview has the one of the few photos that I found of Schors. The reporter visited Schors at the address that can be found on his ex libris: Reguliersgracht 52, Amsterdam. This is a small house (in the sense of: not wide). The reporter describes how she lands in what she calls an “antiquariaat”, an antiquarian bookshop. The ex libris speaks of “library”. Did Schors manage his business from his house, or was what nowadays looks like a regular house, then entirely furnished as a bookshop?

This question can be answered. In 1972 “mrs. Schors” asks for a maid to help with the housekeeping of “a small canal house”. From around the same time, the shop started to use “Reguliersgracht 52-54” as address. Apparently the couple acquired the house next door, which could coincide with the opening of Arcanum in 1970, see below. In 1973 an advertisement was placed with both “Boekhandel Arcanum” and “Antiquariaat W.N. Schors” and the address with both numbers.

Anyway, according to the interview the shop opened at the Kerkstraat in Amsterdam in 1953. Schors was 28 then, so he left Hilversum at a fairly young age. As we saw, Farwerck was in Amsterdam a lot, so that doesn’t really matter. To the journalist Schors says that from the start the shop sold erotica and esoterica. These are both not the most common subjects for a 28-years-old opening a shop, especially not when you are reminded that selling erotica was illegal at the time. As a matter of fact, Schors was the first shop in Europe who openly sold erotica (according to himself). In the interview he says that soon after opening the police paid a visit, but after showing them his respectable clientele, they never visited him again.

Was erotica an uncommon subject for a bookshop in these days, esoterica was just as much so. Only Freemasons came to visit his shop he says (Farwerck?). This -of course- is not entirely true, because Amsterdam also had a Theosophical bookshop since at least 1933.

At some point Schors’ customers found the stock interesting, but expensive, so Schors and his wife also started to publish books and a bookshop called “Arcanum” in 1970. Perhaps this means that at the Reguliersgracht there remained the antiquarian shop and “Arcanum” sold newly published books. As we saw, this was mostly likely in two adjoining houses and the couple also still lived there.

The Schors couple also started to guide their customers. What books to buy, which to avoid, they gave spiritual council and Maggie Schors started to write practical books about astrology, card reading, etc. Apparently their bookshop was also a meeting point for spiritual seekers.

A last quote from the newspaper interview: “erotica and esoterica, two sides of the pole between which man lives”.

There is something that is not mentioned in the interview. Schors knew Joost R. Ritman (1941-) very well. Ritman is the founder of the “Embassy Of The Free Mind”, but I prefer the older name “Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica”, in Amsterdam. Indeed, Schors and Ritman were both collectors of occult books and it seems that Schors tutored Ritman in how to.

And thus we come to another source of information. Online a PDF can be found (2) with the history of a library and the personal reflections of a collector by Hans Thomas Hakl. Hakl is an Austrian author, translator (of Julius Evola among other things) and collector of occult books. In his reflections he mentions Schors and Ritman (that’s how I found the text). Hakl says that he got most of his books from Schors’ Arcanum bookshop.

The most colourful and quite probably the most important book hunter in Europe in the field of occultism was undoubtedly W. N. ‘Nick’ Schors of Amsterdam (Boekhandel Arcanum), who also procured books for people such as Gershom Scholem, C.G. Jung, Oskar Schlag, Antoine Faivre and Joseph Ritman (Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica). In his youth he had begun his career as a brothel director; he subsequently became one of the principal dealers in rare erotica, counting all devotees of this literary genre among his clients, from politicians to the highest aristocratic circles.

A little further Halk writes: “It was only thereafter that he began to specialise in occult literature.” This suggests that before his 28th birthday, Schors had already been “a brothel director” and first moved to erotica and then esoterica. Schors himself said, as we saw, that both subjects came together from the start.

That said, Farwerck mingled with people in ‘high places’ in his neighbourhood, but I don’t know how likely it is that he would have known a brothel director who was much younger than himself. My guess is that if he knew Schors, this will have been from the time that Schors had his bookshop. It does still make it likely though. The fact that Farwerck’s auction catalogue contained some erotica as well, makes it even more likely that he knew Schors’ shop.

Then there is this thing I wonder about. If Schors and (the brothers) Farwerck knew each other, wouldn’t it have been logical if (a part of) Farwerck’s library had found its way to Schors’ antiquarian bookshop? I haven’t found out if at the auction of Farwerck’s books in 1971 the whole lot was sold, if separate books were sold to different buyers and/or if not everything was sold. As we saw, both Farwerck’s and Schors’ ex libris can be found in several books together. Perhaps Schors was one of the bidders at the auction. It must be weird to buy books of somebody you knew at an auction. Or would Schors have had first access to the library and the rest was sold at the auction? That’s something I would like to find more information about.

As with other people, it is not unlikely that Farwerck and Schors knew one another. They shared interests and moved around in similar circles, but besides probabilities, I haven’t really found anything.

To close the information about Nick Schors. We saw a name for his wife: “Maggie”. By the time Schors died he had a wife called Ilonka van Amstel. I don’t know if he survived his first wife.

A son probably from the first marriage took over the publishing house and the shop. The latter is now called Fabula Rosa and judging the website it is a fairly typical New Age shop.

Schors wrote an autobiography by the way The Memoirs Of An Erotic Bookseller in 1969 (the year that Farwerck passed away) which was translated in several languages. Judging the title it focusses on one side of Schors’ interests, but since I can’t find much information about the contents online, I got myself a copy. Would Farwerck be in the book?


(1) Schors, ‘n baanbreker met erotiek boven de toonbank (‘Schors, a groundbreaker with erotica above the counter’) by Marjo van der Meulen, 31/12/1983

(2) The history of a library and the personal reflections of a collector by Hans Thomas Hakl at Academia.edu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *