Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2018 Issue

Michael R. Thompson [1940-2018]

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A memorial service for Michael R. Thompson at William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

Michael Thompson was a bookseller, rising through the chances and opportunities that life provided, to ply the trade for essentially his entire life.  He was bookman of the old school.

 

The road to perdition and ruin was discovered early, when he was a graduate student at the University of Texas and met Jake Zeitlin, then a bookseller, publisher, collector, poet and intellectual in Los Angeles.  Michael was already a bookseller but unschooled and unseasoned.  One thing led to another and Mr. Thompson was hired by Mr. Zeitlin where he did yeoman service and learned the trade.  Five years later he emerged to start his own business, Michael R. Thompson Rare Books.

 

Over the years, he would move several times and always maintain a divided inventory, one portion for scholarly material and the other for rare books.  Over time the financial significance of scholarly material declined while rare and collectible material increased.  It was the classic story of the flower bending to the light.  He closed his retail shop in 2006 and moved into an office setting with the Internet becoming his public presence.

 

Looking back he would remember with distinct pride the appraisals the firm conducted for Francis Crick of Watson and Crick who discovered the structure of DNA.  He would also remember with pleasure and satisfaction his relationships with institutions.

 

In 2017 his wife Kathleen passed away.  He had one daughter, Kelly Thompson Rigotti, who when growing up was his stalwart companion at book fairs.  Fast forward to this fall Kelly, now a software executive, and her daughter will join Carol Sandberg, Michael’s partner for more than 30 years, who will carry on the company and its traditions and be exhibiting in Seattle in October.  So, when the lights then come up, though Michael will be gone, two generations will be there in solidarity.

 

Death is inevitable but this in no way lessens its blow.  Booksellers tend to live long lives.  Michael made it to 78.

 

I met Michael at the Grolier when I was doing research and he spotted a “young” prospect and asked Jose Pena who the youngster was.  He then came by and asked me to explain what the database was I was building.  He then handed me his card and said “sign me up” and has been a database member ever since.  I have always appreciated the gesture because back in the first years of the new century most dealers weren’t interested in the Americana Exchange and he was.  Thank you Michael.

 

Over the years, AE and later RBH became places where aggrieved buyers came to complain.  But, in all these years I’ve heard nothing but good things about Michael.  That is a difficult thing to achieve.

 

The firm will continue under the guiding hand of Carol Sandberg.  She expects to narrow the focus and concentrate on higher value material and appraisals. 

 

The field is changing and its rare book dealers change with it.

 

He will be missed.

 

Here are links to two memorials written in remembrance of his life well-lived.

 

The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

https://clarklibrary.ucla.edu/blog/michael-r-thompson-in-memoriam/

 

https://www.ilab.org/node/68905 [same through ILAB]

 

The University of Utah

https://openbook.lib.utah.edu/michael-r-thompson-in-memorium/

 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rackham (Arthur). The Old Hag Standing Outside a Cottage, original drawing, signed by the artist, [c.1909]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first printing, signed by the author, original pictorial wrappers, 1997. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Castiglione (Giuseppe, after). Twelve plates from <i>Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan,</i> 1783-1786. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Antiphonal.- Antiphonal manuscript, [Spain], ca. 1650. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Almanach de Gotha.- Almost complete run 1769 to 1945, 12mo & 8vo, Gotha, C.W. Ettinger [- Justus Perthes]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Bible, Greek.- New Testament [Greek], Novum Iesu Christi D.N. testamentum, ex bibliotheca regia, 2 parts in one, Robert Estienne, Paris, 1550. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Lithgow (William). <i>The Total Discourse of the rare Adventures… from Scotland, to the most famous kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Affrica…,</i> woodcut illustrations, 4to, I. Oakes, 1640. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Interest.-16th -18th Century. Large collection of letters related to prominent members of the Spanish court and clergymen,; v.s., late 16th-mid 18th century. £1,800 to £2,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,</i> 2 vol., FIRST EDITION, first issue8vo, John Murray, 1871. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Loewy (Raymond) ARR. Mickey Mouse, original gouache and air brush illustration of Mickey Mouse, signed by artist., n.p. [1946]. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Potter (Beatrix) & Sendak (Maurice). <i>The Tale of Peter Rabbit,</i> NUMBER 2 OF 250 SIGNED COPIES, WITH AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY SENDAK, New York, 1995. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Wolstenholm (Jonathan) ARR. Books on Books, original watercolor, signed and dated by the artist, 2005.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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