Newspaper headlines don’t always do their subjects justice and the Miami Herald was in this predicament recently when it celebrated the continuing generosity of Jay Kislak as he continues to place his extraordinary collection of irreplaceable books and artifacts at institutions. The recent headline was “This college donation is truly historic. And it’s not just the artifacts involved.”
Yes, it’s historic but that hardly covers it. Jay Kislak has been, for most of his ninety plus years, a serious collector and determined auction bidder who fought off the entreaties and challenges of dealers, institutions and collectors who fought with him for the exceptional material that Mr. Kislak collected. Few beat him and the outcome, some sixty years in the making, is the ying to Mr. Kislak’s early yang. Yes, he was a ferocious competitor who, in his sunset years, has become a man of exceptional generosity. Recently, in giving rare books, maps, manuscripts and artifacts to the University of Miami and Miami Dade College he continues to gift significant portions of his collections to institutions so that they will be available for examination and study deep into the future. In his continuing acts of generosity he sets the standard for collectors. In fact it’s appropriate to say he’s rarer than a Gutenberg.
Twelve years ago he donated four thousand rare books, maps, documents, paintings, prints and artifacts to the Library of Congress to form “The Cultures and History of the Americas: The Jay I. Kislak Collection at the Library of Congress." Since then he has continued to make gifts.
Here is a brief list of high points of the 2,300 book, maps, manuscripts he is gifting.
Ptolemy’s Cosmographia, 1486
Peter Martyr, 1521
The Principal Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation, 1589
Lewis and Clark Expedition, 2 vols.
The Miami Herald Article
The Jay I. Kislak Foundation