Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2013 Issue

Preserving Works on Paper – A Pennsylvania Organization Offers a Contest

Ccaha

The CCAHA is saving endangered artifacts.

A contest to promote the preservation of historic works on paper and other artifacts has begun in the state of Pennsylvania. This story may be of particular interest to residents of the Keystone State, but the issue to which it calls attention applies to all 50 states and hundreds of nations. Changing times have wrought changes to institutions that have traditionally preserved our historic artifacts. We will need to be vigilant lest they fall through the cracks in the changing landscape.

The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), located in Philadelphia, has called on statewide libraries, museums, and historic sites and archives to participate in a program called Pennsylvania's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts. They are seeking nominations to preserve “inspiring historic items – drawings, paintings, manuscripts, rare books, maps, photographs, objects, textiles and more.” The winners will receive assistance with fundraising as well as a grant from the CCAHA.

The CCAHA describes itself as “one of the largest nonprofit conservation centers in the country... Our mission is to provide expertise and leadership in the preservation of the world's cultural heritage.” In particular, they focus on the preservation of “works of art and artifacts on paper, such as drawings, prints, maps, posters, historic wallpaper, photographs, rare books, scrapbooks, and manuscripts, as well as related materials such as parchment and papyrus.”

What the CCAHA is attempting to accomplish would be important in any time, but it is particularly relevant to this era. Libraries in particular, other institutions to some extent, were created to convey information. They were not invented as a means of preserving physical material. If a librarian was concerned about a book being lost or damaged, it was to assure that it and the information within would be available to the next reader. As time went on, libraries began to build permanent collections, rare book rooms if you will. Still, the purpose was to preserve content, and rare old books needed to be pampered and cared for simply because that was the way to preserve what was inside.

All of that changed with the digital age. It is no longer necessary to have a physical copy of that old book, lovingly protected to make sure its information is available for future generations to come. Its pages can be scanned and preserved forever in a computer. The preservation of information no longer requires the preservation of a hard copy. As any rare book librarian knows, preserving old books is an expensive proposition, requiring security, costly climate control, storage space, supervision, etc. However, the words of thousands of old books can be preserved on a chip that fits easily in your pocket. Climate control, security, storage space – none of these are a factor. Will old books continue to be preserved by institutions whose main mission is to convey information, considering the high cost of doing so?

And so today, the work of the CCAHA and everyone else who seeks to preserve the works on paper of our history is more challenging than at any time before. What they are doing, in the form of a clever contest, is to call attention to the issue, and the need for us to be actively involved in this preservation before the pieces of our history disappear forever. Institutions in Pennsylvania can nominate works they possess for the Top 10 list for preservation and the public will have a chance to vote on them. A website has been set up for this purpose, and it can be found at patop10artifacts.org. For those who do not live in Pennsylvania, you may want to think about ways of preserving such artifacts in your own communities. Every one of them has a history of its own to tell.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Les Cigarettes Mekka,</i> 1919. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Plinio Codognato, <i>Cicli Fiat,</i> circa 1910. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> L.N. Britton, <i>Warning! Consider the Possible Consequences,</i> c. 1917. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonardo Bistolfi, <i>Première Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs Modernes,</i> 1902. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Paquet Pernot / Biscuits Pernot,</i> 1910. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Jul 15:</b> Jessie Tarbox Beals, archive of signed photographs, 15 silver prints, c. 1930. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Francesco Nonni, <i>Font Meo / Acqua Minerale Naturale,</i> 1924. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Frederick Winthrop Ramsdell, <i>American Crescent Cycles,</i> 1899. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> <i>Be a Tight Wad! Own Something!</i> designer unknown, 1925. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> Candido Aragonese de Faria, <i>Chamonix–Mont–Blanc,</i> c. 1910. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 5:</b> W.E.J., <i>Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania,</i> c. 1915. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Maitres Affiches by MUCHA - Papier a cigarettes Job. 202. $5,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> De Bry - Map of the West Indies (including Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Parts of Central & South America, Sea Monsters, Ships). $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gould - Short-billed Toucan (Ramphastos Brevicarinatus). $5,000 to $8,000.
    <center><b>Trillium Antique Prints & Rare Books<br>Fine Art<br>Antique Engravings & Lithographs<br>Works on Paper<br>Accepting bids until August 7</b>
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Redoute, Folio - Pale Iris - Iris flavescens. 375. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gillray - Light Expelling Darkness or The Sun of the Constitution. $200 to $500.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Gerard - Wild Hemp or Weed, Cannabis. 708. $150 to $450.
    <b>Trillium, Aug. 7:</b> Shaw & Nodder - Head of The Dodo. 165. $100 to $300.
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Family photograph album ("The Hughes family Album"), 1957-1962. £30,000 to £50,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Typed letter signed, to Ted Hughes, on "my own private doctrine", with a poem, 5 October 1956. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath. Pen and ink portrait of Ted Hughes, [1956]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Your Own Sylvia:<br>Sylvia Plath’s letters to Ted Hughes and other items,<br>Property of Frieda Hughes<br>9 to 21 July 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. Joint autograph letter signed, to William and Edith Hughes, March 1960. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Photographic portrait by David Bailey, inscribed by Plath, 1961, and another press photo. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Tarot de Marseille. Deck of cards owned by Sylvia Plath. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 9 – 21 July:</b> Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Pair of gold wedding rings. £6,000 to £8,000.

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