A few years ago the James S. Copley Collection of rare books and manuscripts made news quarter after quarter as Sotheby’s systematically loaded their cannons and sent exceptional material careening through their rooms into the outstretched hands of buyers. On November 25th the final heir of his Copley generation, Mr. David C. Copley, died of a heart attack a short block from his destination, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. He was 60 years old.
His family's history has long been intertwined with the history of the printed word, the family fortune rising on the growth of newspaper publishing.
In 2010 Sotheby's handled the dispersal of his father's collections in a series of four very successful sales. Selby Kiffer of Sotheby's, remembering these sales and speaking of David said "While he was not directly involved in the building or disposition of the library we knew him to share his parents' interests and to be a great supporter of cultural institutions. We contribute in different ways."
Printed obituaries, the long established custom of the newspaper trade, are today many and prolific in their recounting of his life. In time these details will fade. The Copley connection to the collectible printed word will however endure for collectors appreciate that books passing through time gather the fingerprints and notes of owners, adding their connections and in time becoming part of the history of the copy.
For the Copley family these connections will prove indelible.