• <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> JOYCE, James. <i>Ulysses.</i> London: John Lane the Bodley Head, 1937. PRESENTATION COPY OF THE FIRST ENGLISH EDITION PRINTED IN ENGLAND. $50,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [SHACKLETON, Ernest]. –– BROWNING, Robert. <i>Poetical Works of…</i> London: Smith and Elder, 1906. PRESENTED TO SHACKLETON AND THE OFFICERS OF THE NIMROD BY A MEMBER OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York: George R. Lockwood, [1870]. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> ARISTOTLE. Opera, in Greek, parts one and two only: Organon and Natural Philosophy I. Edited by Aldus and others. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1 November 1495–February 1498. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> COOK, James, Capt. [Collected Voyages]. First and Second Voyages: London: W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1773, 1777; Third Voyage: London: H. Hughes for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, 1785. $14,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CLEMENS, Samuel Langhorne (“Mark Twain”). <i>The Writings of…</i> Hartford: American Publishing Co., 1899–1900. $12,000 to $16,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>The Poems of…</i> Edited by Frederick S. Ellis. Hammersmith: William Morris for the Kelmscott Press, 1893. $12,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> LONDON, Jack. <i>The Call of the Wild.</i> New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905. PRESENTATION COPY INSCRIBED BY LONDON. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> CROWLEY, Aleister (1875–1947). <i>The Winged Beetle.</i> London: privately printed, 1910. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b><center>Potter & Potter Auctions<br>Fine Books & Manuscripts<br>October 20, 2022</b></center>
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> WILDE, Oscar (“C.3.3.”). <i>The Ballad of Reading Gaol.</i> London: Leonard Smithers, January 1898. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> DRYDEN, John. <i>Fables Ancient and Modern; translated into verse from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer: with original poems.</i> London: John Tonson, 1700. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Potter & Potter, Oct. 20:</b> [MAP]. LINSCHOTEN, Jan Huygen van. <i>Delineatio Orarum Maritimarum…</i> London: John Wolfe, 1598. $3,000 to $4,000.
  • <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> John Adams Signed Ship's Passport, partly printed DS as president, signed “John Adams.”
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Extremely Rare James Garfield DS as President Appointing Revenue Service Agent.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Babe Ruth 1939 Cooperstown cover boldly signed — with photo.
    <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Incredible Harry S. Truman Kansas City Auto Club sales ledger maintained by Truman!
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Important Herbert Hoover 4 pg ALS about Chinese Gold Mining.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Rare Calvin Coolidge ALS as President.
    <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Abraham Lincoln Signed Appointment.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Ironic John Kennedy Jr. Handwritten report on why he is accident report form when he attended Collegiate School in 1975.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Katherine Bates Signed -“America! America! God shed his grace on thee.”
    <center><b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions<br>Rare Autograph & Documents<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Apollo 11 - Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Amassed Over Four Decades, an impressive 1100+ piece collection of entertainment and notables.
    <b>One of a Kind, Sep. 29:</b> Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens Signed Letter and Card.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2016 Issue

What Now for the Vast Valmadonna Trust Library?

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The Babylonian Talmud, courtesy of Sotheby's.

In what could be described as saving the best for last, the most expensive book sold at auction in 2015 was hammered down on December 22 at Sotheby's in New York, the last major sale of the year. That book was a complete Babylonian Talmud, published in Venice by Daniel Bomberg in the early 16th century. It sold for $9,322,000, almost three times the price of the runner up. The second highest priced item, the only known Hebrew Bible published in England prior to the expulsion of the Jews in 1290, sold for $3,610,000. Both of these items were offered at the Sotheby's sale of December 22, one of just 12 items in the sale. The single owner seller was the Valmadonna Trust Library of London. Nine of the 12 items sold, bringing in $14,868,000.

 

Prior to the sale, the Valmadonna Trust Library owned approximately 13,000 books and 300 manuscripts of Judaica. It was said to be the finest collection of Judaica held in private hands. A quick calculation indicates they still own about 13,291 items. What were sold were clearly some of the finest items from the collection, which leads to the question, what will become of the rest? The trustees aren't saying, but there is an implication there will be more sales. Sotheby's labeled the Valmadonna sale as "Part 1."

 

The Valmadonna Trust Library began over half a century ago. It is essentially one man's collection. That man is Jack Lunzer, a Belgian born retired British industrial diamond merchant. His wife's family had a small collection of Hebrew books, which fueled Mr. Lunzer's collecting passion. The collection built over the decades, and became something of a solace for Mr. Lunzer after his wife died in 1978.

 

The collection was placed in a trust by Mr. Lunzer for his five daughters. The trustees operate independently of him, though with obvious concern for his wishes.

 

A few years ago, with Mr. Lunzer then in his 80's, it was determined plans needed to be made to find a home for his library after he died. However, Mr. Lunzer made a few stipulations. He wanted the collection to be kept together, and to be available to researchers. This created a problem. The library, which before the sale was valued at something in the $40 million range, was too expensive for most of the institutions that are logical buyers to afford. Its size may also have posed obstacles as 13,300 very old items require much space and care.

 

A few years back, it was reported that the Library of Congress was interested. There were reports that it was willing to pay $20 million, but this is uncertain. The Library never said whether it made an offer. Nothing ever happened, presuming there was an offer, possibly because $20 million was insufficient, or other reasons.

 

In 2009, the Trust brought the collection to Sotheby's in New York to try to arrange for a private sale. At the time, it was said that $25 million was the minimum bid that would be accepted. Unconfirmed reports said there was a bidder at that price, but the bidder was unwilling to meet the requirements that no part of the library be sold off or that it be made available to scholars. What is clear is that no one was willing to meet all of the requirements of the Trust, including the price. No sale was made.

 

Today, Mr. Lunzer is 91 years old. It is said that he is no longer able to fully participate in plans for his library. This has made the need to come up with a long range plan more urgent. It appears that his five daughters keeping the collection together is not an option. Unable to sell the collection en bloc, the trustees decided to separately sell some of its most valuable items. It is likely that the two items that headed the list of highest book auction prices for 2015 were the two most valuable. The thought was that if the most expensive items were sold separately, and these nine alone have taken in almost $15 million of the $25-$40 million the trust expects, the remainder of the library could be priced at a figure some institution might be able to afford.

 

What happens next? Other than the "part 1" implication another sale is coming, it is unclear. Will the Trust attempt to sell off some more top pieces in hopes of further reducing the required price for the bulk of the material? Will another attempt be made to sell the remainder of the collection as a whole, in accordance with Mr. Lunzer's wishes? This is undoubtedly the hope of most Hebrew scholars, but whether such a buyer exists is unknown. Those interested in the outcome of this story, or perhaps even in buying the Valmadonna Trust Library, should keep an eye on Sotheby's upcoming sales.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Extensive archive of papers of Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> George Catlin, <i>North American Indian Portfolio,</i> 1844. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> The Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures, Carefully Translated…after the Best Jewish Authorities, Philadelphia, 1853-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>Printed & Manuscript Americana<br>September 29, 2022</b>
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Wedding book of Eleanor Roosevelt’s bodyguard, Earl Miller, signed by the Roosevelts, 1932. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Textile titled <i>The Resignation of Pres’t Washington,</i> Scotland, circa 1800. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Gideon Welles, Pass for President Lincoln’s White House funeral, 1865. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann September 29:</b> Confirmation of arms and nobility in favor of the Diez y Mora family, Madrid, 1710. $2,500 to $3,500.
  • <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> South America.- Conquest of Peru.- Cieza De León (Pedro de). <i>Parte primera de la chronica del Peru,</i> first edition, Seville, Martín de Montesdoca, 1553. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Asia.- Mandeville (Sir John). <i>Tractato bellissimo delle piu maravigliose cose & piu motabile che sitrovino nelle parte delmondo,</i> Florence, [Lorenzo Morgiani], 1496-99. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Bible leaf, Latin. Single leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, [Mainz], [Johann Gutenberg & Johann Fust], [c.1454/55]. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Publicius (Jacobus). <i>Ars oratoria. Ars epistolandi. Ars memorativa,</i> first edition, Venice, Erhard Ratdolt, 1482. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Biblia Pauperum.- Single leaf from a blockbook Biblia Pauperum in Latin, from the Wiblingen copy of Schreiber's edition III, Netherlands, 1465. £25,000 to £35,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> South America.- Brazil.- Steinmann (Johan Jacob). <i>Souvenirs de Rio de Janeiro,</i> Paris, chez Rittner & Goupil, 1837. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Asia.- Polo (Marco). <i>In cui si tratta le meravigliose cose del mondo per lui vedute,</i> Venice, Matteo Pagano, 1555. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Sir Joshua Reynolds' copy.- Donne (John). <i>Poems, by J.D. With elegies on the authors death,</i> the Joshua Reynolds-Philip Bliss copy of the first edition, Printed by M[iles]. F[lesher]. for Iohn Marriot, 1633. £20,000 to £30,000
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Gilbert (William). <i>De Magnete,</i> first edition, Peter Short, 1600. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b><center>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on paper<br>Thursday 29th September 2022</b>
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Audubon (John James). <i>The Birds of America,</i> 8 vol., New York, George R. Lockwood, [c.1889]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Pratchett (Terry). <i>The Colour of Magic,</i> first edition, signed by the author, 1983. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum, Sep. 29:</b> Flaubert (Gustave). <i>Trois Contes,</i> first edition, one of 100 copies on papier de Hollande, Paris, Charpentier, 1877. £5,000 to £7,000.

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