• Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Davies, John, of Hereford. <i>Wittes Pilgrimage</i>. London, [1605?]. $10,000-15,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Rowley, Samuel. <i>When you See Me, You know Mee</i>. London, 1632. $3,000-5,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: <br>Ariosto, Lodovico (John Harington, trans.). <i>Orlando Furioso in English Heroical Verse</i>. (London, 1591). $90,000-120,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Marlowe, Christopher. <i>The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta</i>. London, 1633. $40,000-60,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Caius, Joannes. <i>Of Englishe Dogges</i>. London, 1576. $30,000-50,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, <i>Or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth</i>. London, 1651. $25,000-35,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Missal, Use of Sarum. <i>Missale ad usu[m] insignis ac preclare ecclesie Sar[um]</i>. London, [1512]. $15,000-20,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Bacon, Sir Francis. <i>Instauratio Magna [Novum Organum]</i>. London, 1620. <br>$20,000-30,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Walton, Izaak. <i>The Compleat Angler or the Contemplative man's Recreation</i>. London, 1653. $70,000-100,000
    Sotheby's NY December 2-4:<br>Milton, John. <i>Poems</i>. London, 1645. $25,000-35,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Baldwin, William. <i>A Myrroure for Magistrates</i>. London, 1559. $100,000-$150,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Newton, Isaac. <i>Opticks</i>. London, 1704. Presentation copy given by the author to Edmund Halley. $400,000-600,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Shakespeare, William. <i>Poems</i>. London, 1640. $150,000-200,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Chaucer, Geoffrey. <i>Canterbury Tales</i>. London, 1526. $200,000-$300,000
    Sotheby's NY Dec 2-4: Donne, John. Autograph letter signed to Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, presenting a first edition of <i>Pseudo-Martyr</i>, London, 1610. $150,000-200,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop.</b> A patriot who fought with George Washington Superb Daguerreotype of Baltus<br>Stone at age 101 (1846).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Edward Curtis portrait of Honovi, Walpi Snake Priest "Honovi was one of the author's principal informants" (1910).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> The Execution of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators by Alexander Gardner (1865).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Harriet Beecher Stowe, Catharine Beecher, Henry Ward Beecher, and the other siblings with their father Lyman Beecher. By Mathew Brady (1850s).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> From Slaves to World-Famous Entertainers Millie-Christine, "The Two-Headed Nightingale" (c. 1868-71)
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Goldfield, Nevada Photograph Collection Fabled Western Mining Boomtown (1905-1906)
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Tycoon-Collector Benjamin Richardson poses with his great-grandson as appeared in parade.
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Alexander Gardner portrait of Lincoln the only known copy, ex-John Hay (1863).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Magnificent Niagara Falls album with a strong provenance (1867).
    <b>19th Century Shop.</b> Spectacular American West Album From Yosemite to Salt Lake City to San Francisco.
  • <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn. A lovely copy of Twain’s masterpiece.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and <br>the Sea. A pristine copy of this American classic.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland. A high-spot of children’s literature.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Actively seeking famous works of literature.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Cotton Mather, Triumphs of the Reformed Religion, in America. A rare family association copy.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. An inscribed first edition of Rand’s magnum opus.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> John K. Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces. Easily the most hilarious Pulitzer Prize Winner.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Click here to view our latest catalogues.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Ian Fleming, Casino Royale. First American in the exceptionally rare 1st issue jacket.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> John Donne, Poems. One of the great 17th century works of poetry.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to <br>the Galaxy. Inscribed first edition.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Seeking to purchase exceptional books.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian. Most important work of American fiction from the 1980s.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are.<br>A lovely first edition.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Basis for the beloved 1971 film.
    <b>Whitmore Rare Books.</b> Click here to view our latest catalogues.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24:<br>Art, Press & Illustrated Books</b>
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24: Kelmscott Press, <i>The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly<br>imprinted</i>, Hammersmith, 1896. $45,000 to $60,000.
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24: Marcel Schwob, <i>Vies Imaginaires</i>,<br>with illustrations by George Barbier & F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1929.<br>$20,000 to $30,000.
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24: Marc Chagall, <i>Psaumes de David</i>, signed first edition, Geneva, 1979. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24:<br>Art, Press & Illustrated Books</b>
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24: Collection of 84 Weimar-era book jackets, including designs by<br>George Grosz, Moholy-Nagy, et. al., Berlin,1926-32. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24: Antoni Tàpies, <i>Llull-Tàpies</i>, 75 of 105 copies signed in an edition of 165, Paris and Barcelona, 1985.<br>$7,000 to $10,000.
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24: Black Sun Press, Harry Crosby, <i>Shadows of the Sun</i>, first edition<br>in 3 volumes, Paris, 1928-30.<br>$5,000 to $7,500.
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24:<br>Earl of Rochester [John Wilmot], Sodom: <i>Ein Spiel</i>, illustrated by<br>Julius Klinger, folio, Leipzig, 1909.<br>$3,500 to $5,000.
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24: Herbert Matter, <i>Trademarks and Symbols</i>, 2 volumes, California, 1960s. $3,000 to $4,000.
    Swann Auction Galleries Nov 24:<br>H. Boylston Dummer, <i>The Robin<br>Book</i>, 14 typed pages with water-<br>color illustrations, string-bound & hand-painted, Rockport, c. 1925.<br>$300 to $400.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2014 Issue

The Jacqueline Kennedy Letters, and Why They Were Withdrawn from Sale


All Hallows College (photo from their website).

The previous article in this month's issue of AE Monthly recounts the case of an astounding collection of letters written by Jacqueline Kennedy to an Irish priest between the years 1950 and 1964. They revealed the innermost thoughts of America's most famous and glamorous first lady, from the time just after her college graduation, though the terrible assassination of her husband. What was surprising was that this personal archive was being put up for auction. Many questioned the appropriateness of selling these letters. Then, with pressure mounting from all sides, the sale was abruptly canceled.


Two days later, the college that possessed these letters for the past half a century, announced it would be winding down operations and permanently closing its doors. This second surprise reveals why the controversial decision to sell the archive was made in the first place, and tells us more about the difficulties declining institutions with valuable collections face. There were no easy choices for All Hallows College in Dublin. Ultimately, they were forced to make the final one.


Early this year, All Hallows College began the process of evaluating the worth of a Book of Hours it possessed. It was dated 1460, a date that almost certainly would make it a very valuable item. Bookseller Owen Felix O’Neill was called in to appraise it. That led to O'Neill examining other items possessed by the college, which led to the stack of Kennedy letters kept in a drawer.


Jacqueline Kennedy, then Jacqueline Bouvier, first met Father Joseph Leonard on a visit to Ireland in 1950. Fr. Leonard ushered Ms. Bouvier and her step-brother around Dublin. The young woman found him more open and accessible then the priests she knew back in the states. He would be someone she felt comfortable in confiding her inner thoughts. She only saw the Priest one more time, on a visit to Ireland with her new husband, John Kennedy, in 1955. Nonetheless, she corresponded with him by letter for the rest of his life. Fr. Leonard died in 1964. There were 33 of these letters in his possession when he passed on, including some written shortly after her husband was assassinated.


What we have only recently learned is that while it was having the value of its archives assessed, All Hallows College was in desperate financial straits. It had been running at a loss for many years, and was unable to make up the difference through contributions or other sources. The decision to sell such personal items was borne of necessity – these letters were possibly worth millions of dollars, and while this would not solve the college's long term needs, it could put off the day of reckoning awhile longer. Perhaps the solution to its financial problems that had eluded the college's administrators for so long could be found if it could buy more time by selling off valuable, but unneeded items from its archives.


All Hallows College is not a recently formed educational institution. It has a long history, explaining why it would have some very old material in its possession. It was founded in 1842 as a place to train priests who would in turn become missionaries to far off lands. Fifty years later, operation of the college was taken over by the Vincentian Brothers, followers of the teachings of St. Vincent de Paul. They have operated the college since 1892. However, as the need to train priests to serve in far off lands decreased, it was decided to change the college's mission. It would become a typical college, open to all. Undoubtedly, this choice, made in the 1980's, was necessary for the college to survive at that time.


When Father Patrick McDevitt, recently appointed President of the college, and other officials examined the Kennedy collection, they assumed it was the property of All Hallows. Fr. Leonard had left no will of which they were aware, and his letters had remained at the college, where he lived, in the 50 years since his death. Surely there must have been concerns that auctioning the letters might raise some controversy, but they were at the end of their financial rope. They commissioned the Dublin auction, Sheppard's Irish Auction House, to conduct a sale. Sheppard's is not noted for selling documents and works on paper, but they do sell furniture and other antiquities from their location in Dublin. It also appears that All Hallows hoped to keep their name as source of the letters, as well as their specific content, out of the press.


Unfortunately for All Hallows, some conflicts arose with bookseller O'Neill. It appears he believed his role was greater than that envisioned by All Hallows. He made photocopies of some if not all of the letters, and appears to be the one who made some of the content known to the Irish Times and the Boston Globe. The Boston Globe had images of some of these letters, which they ran in their newspaper. The source and content was out. Sheppard's then sued O'Neill to stop releasing information about the letters, or depicting himself as being their owner. Perhaps O'Neill was implying his ownership to hide All Hallows' identity, and was publicizing content to help earn a greater price. Boston is home to the Kennedy's, and to the most obvious potential buyer, the John F. Kennedy Library. Shortly before the auction was withdrawn, a court ordered O'Neill to turn over his copies of the letters to them for safekeeping.


Besides the negative publicity and messiness of a court dispute, two other things intervened to disrupt the planned sale. One is some sort of objection raised by the Kennedy family. It is not clear whether objections were made directly to the college, or some back channel concerns were expressed. Whichever it was, it became apparent that the Kennedy family was not pleased with Mrs. Kennedy's personal letters to a priest being made the subject of a public sale. Those sentiments are certainly understandable.


The second issue was the ownership of the letters. Later on, it turned up that Fr. Leonard had left a will. He left all of his possessions to the Vincentian Brothers. While the Vincentians ran the college, the college and the Brothers are not the same. They are the owners of Fr. Leonard's letters, and their wishes for them are not necessarily the same as those of the college's administrators. President Fr. McDevitt conceded that the sale would have given the college more time, but wouldn't have prevented its ultimate closure. The Vincentians may not feel that delaying the likely inevitable is a good use of the letters.


It now appears that the parties, the Vincentians and All Hallows, are in discussion with the Kennedy family as to the proper repository for the letters. Where they will end up is not known. Our guess is that ultimately they go to the JFK Library, as we can think of no more appropriate place for them to be. The letters are deeply personal, and they and the thoughts they reveal should be treated with the respect they, and Mrs. Kennedy, deserve.


Another wrinkle to this story has been added by Fr. McDevitt, according to the Irish Times. This is another issue institutions in trying situations, and many not in such circumstances, nonetheless are confronting. Reportedly, Fr. McDevitt told the Irish newspaper that “a sizable number” of items were missing. He estimated their value in the “thousands.” However, bookseller O'Neill estimated this more likely to be in the millions of dollars. O'Neill reportedly estimated over 100 books and some very valuable artwork was missing, the college having been “plundered” for a long time, some thefts coming recently. Among the items he listed included prints by Raphael, a first edition by Issac Newton, a 1484 sermon, books sent to Fr. Leonard by Mrs. Kennedy, and correspondence Fr. Leonard had with George Bernard Shaw, including an undated script sent to him by Shaw. Apparently, some valuable items were legitimately sold by the college in the past, during earlier financial troubles. Whether that accounts for the differences in estimates between Fr. McDevitt and bookseller O'Neill, or if it is explained by a deeper familiarity with current values by the latter, is unclear. Whatever the value, something went very wrong, and All Hallows College is hardly the first, nor will it be the last, institution to suffer these problems. Even healthy institutions have a hard time finding the funds needed to adequately manage their collections. How much harder is it for ones like All Hallows, teetering for so long on the brink of extinction?


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Christie's London, December 1: Valuable Books & Manuscripts</b>
    <b>Christie's London Dec 1: </b> Lot 144. BLOCH, Marcus Elieser. [Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische:] 12 parts in 9 volumes, comprising 6 <br>text vols. Est. £40,000-£60,000 .
    <b>Christie's London Dec 1: </b> Lot 77. JOYCE, James (1882-1941). <i>Ulysses</i>. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922. Est. £50,000-£80,000.
    <b>Christie's London Dec 1: </b> Lot 1. THE THREE MARYS AT THE SEPULCHRE and THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. Est. £150,000-£200,000.
    <b>Christie's London, December 1: Valuable Books & Manuscripts</b>
    <b>Christie's London Dec 1: </b> Lot 164. VALTURIUS, Robertus (1413-84). <br><i>De re militari</i>. Edited by Paulus Ramusius, Junior. Verona... <br>Est. £35,000-£45,000.
    <b>Christie's London Dec 1: </b> Lot 171. [POTTER, Beatrix (1866-1943), illustrator]. Frederic E. WEATHERLY. <i><br>A Happy Pair...Illustrated by H.B.P.</i><br> Est. £5,000-£8,000.
    <b>Christie's London Dec 1: </b> Lot 181. CAO, Junyi (fl. 1644). <i>Tianxia jiubian fenyie renji lucheng quantu.</i><br>Est. £300,000-£500,000.
    Arader Nov 21: Lot 93. A Mapp of Ye Improved Parts of Pennsylvania in America... Description: Thomas Holme (1624-1695). Est: $15,000-$20,000
  • <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 113. EINSTEIN, ALBERT. 1879-1955. Autograph Manuscript Signed<br>("A. Einstein") on final page.<br>US$ 80,000-120,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 10. BURNS, ROBERT. 1759-1796. Autograph Revised Manuscript, <i>Monody on Maria<br>R._________</i> US$ 10,000-15,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 100. WOOLF, VIRGINIA. 1882-1941. Autograph Letter Signed ("AVS"), 4 pp recto and verso, 8vo. US$ 10,000-15,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 28. DICKINSON, EMILY. 1830-1886. Autograph Note Signed ("Emily"). US$ 10,000-15,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 79. REVERE, PAUL. 1735-1818. Autograph Note Signed ("Paul Revere"), 1 p, oblong 16mo. US$ 10,000-15,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 22. DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. Autograph Letter Signed ("C. Darwin"), 2-1/2 pp, 8vo. US$ 8,000-12,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 58. OYCE, JAMES. 1882-1941. Autograph Letter Signed ("James Joyce"), December 5, 1920. US$ 8,000-12,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 249. MATISSE, HENRI. 1869-1954. MALLARMÉ, STEPHANE. Poésies. Lausanne: Albert Skira, 1932. US$ 40,000-60,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 229. STOKER, BRAM. 1847-1912. Dracula, 1899. <i>First American edition, inscribed by the author</i>. US$ 12,000-18,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 241. GAUGUIN, PAUL. 1848-1903. [Noa Noa, Vojage de Tahiti. 1893-1894.] US$ 15,000-25,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 233. CHAGALL, MARC. 1887-1985. Poémes. Geneva: Cramer Éditeur, 1968. 124 pp. Poems. US$ 20,000-30,000
    <b>Bonhams Dec 9th: </b> Lot 20. CUMMINGS, EDWARD ESTLIN. 1894-1962. Autograph Manuscript Signed ("E.E. Cummings"), headed "Poem". US$ 5,000-8,000
  • Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
    Pierre Bergé & Associates in Collaboration with Sotheby's, Personal library of Pierre Bergé, <br>11 Dec 2015.
  • Bloomsbury Auctions London, 9th December Western Manuscripts
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 19, Extracts from various authors on demons<br>and demonology, [France, 13th c.] Est.: £3,000-5,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 3, Leaf from an illuminated monastic Missal, [southern Germany, 10th c.]<br>Est.: £3,000–5,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 23, Large cutting from an extremely early <br>copy of Gratian's <i>Decretum</i> [northern France or Low Countries, 12th c.] Est.: £2,000-3,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 47, Christ holding a book and blessing, within a mandorla supported by two angels, [northern France, 11th c.]<br>Est.: £25,000-35,000
    Bloomsbury Auctions London, 9th December Western Manuscripts
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 56, Animal initial with a bear and a griffon,<br>from a monumental illuminated manuscript Bible [France, 12th c.]<br>Est.: £8,000-12,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 57, Animal initial with two dogs, from a monu-<br>mental illuminated manuscript Bible [France, 12th c.] Est.: £7,000-9,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 61, Cutting showing the murder of a youth, [northern France (Paris, 14thc.]<br>Est.: £6,000-8,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 74, Leaf<br>from a finely illuminated manuscript Missal with an almost nude man and two men's heads [Italy, c.1290]<br>Est.: £4,000-6,000
    Bloomsbury Auctions London, 9th December Western Manuscripts
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 105, Fragment of a Sefer Torah (Genesis 28:7-47:3), [Sephard (perhaps c.1300)] Est.: £30,000-50,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 115, Bernard of Botone, <i>Glossa ordinaria</i> on the Decretals of Gregory IX, [Italy, c. 1300] Est.: £30,000-50,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 125, The Hours of Gabrielle d'Estrées, Use of Paris, [northern France, c. 1480]<br>Est.: £8,000-12,000
    Bloomsbury Dec 9: Lot 118,<br> The Astronomical Compendium of San Cristoforo, Turin, including Regiomontanus, Calendarium [northern Italy, (perhaps c. 1474)] Est.: £40,000-60,000

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