Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2018 Issue

Michael R. Thompson [1940-2018]

9f8f7a8e-d449-4b3e-8083-dfe869e838b5

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

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Westvaco–Inspirations for Printers,</i> 3 volumes, 1938-61. $200 to $300.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Proef van Letteren, <i>Welk gegooten worden in de Nieuwe Haerlemsche Lettergietery,</i> 1768. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Paul Klee, <i>Bauhaus Ausstellung Juli – Sept.,</i> Weimar, 1923. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Michel Seuphor & Jozef Peeters, <i>Het Overzicht Nos.</i> 22-23-24, Antwerp, 1922. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> Wolfrum & Co., <i>Modern Graphik, Serie I…,</i> complete portfolio, 1909. $1,200 to $1,800.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, May 12:</b> <i>Gravure et Fonderie deC. Derriey: Specimen-Album,</i> Paris, 1862. $5,000 to $7,500.
  • <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Mary Anning. Autograph letter signed, to William Buckland, 24 November 1834. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Bolyai. <i>Scientiam spatii absolute veram exhibens,</i> Maros Vásárhelyi, 1832-1833, 2 volumes, half calf. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Vesalius.<br><i>De humani corporis fabrica,</i> Basel, 1555, modern crushed burgundy morocco. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b><center>Sotheby’s<br>Science: Books and Manuscripts<br>15-25 May 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Copernicus.<br><i>De revolutionibus orbium coelestium,</i> Nuremberg, 1543, later boards, Rostock duplicate. £70,000 to £100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Payan-Dumoulin. Profusely illustrated manuscript of fossils, France, c.1875-1979. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, 15-25 May:</b> Albert Einstein. Autograph letter signed, to his son Albert, 4 November [1915]. £10,000 to £15,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Alken (Henry), after. Salmon Fishing; Fishing in a Punt; Pike Fishing, three works, 1820. £600 to £800.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Early Images of Angling.- Hollar (Wenceslaus) Angling; River Fishing; and Salmon Fishing, after Francis Barlow, 3 engravings, [c. 1671]. £500 to £700.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Rolfe (Henry Leonidas). <i>Studies of Fresh Water Fish,</i> 1851. £500 to £700.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Morland (George), After. A Party Angling; The Anglers' Repast, a pair, mezzotints, 1789. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Pollard (James), After. Bottom Fishing; Anglers Packing Up, etchings with aquatint, 1831. £400 to £600.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Angling's Age of Romance.- Sayer (Robert, publisher) & J. Bennett. The Angelic Angler, mezzotint, 1781; and another. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire.- London.- Roberts (Piercy). Patience at Paddington or angling in the Junction Canal, etching after Woodward, 1807; together with Woodward's 'Angling at Sadler's Wells', and another, 1794. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Satire - Cats Fishing.- Seymour (Robert). Waltonizing or - Green-land Fisherman, [c. 1830s]; together with 3 lithographs of cats fishing, [c. 1830s]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Fishing Portraits.- Zoffany (Johan), After. Master James Sayer, at the age of 13, mezzotint by Richard Houston, 1772. £300 to £400.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Images of Angling:<br>The David Beazley Collection<br>of Angling Prints<br>Online Sale<br>20th May 2021</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Wilkinson (Norman). Come to Britain for Fishing, lithographic poster, [c. 1947]. £300 to £400.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Scottish Fishing.- Heath (William). Sporting in the Scottish Isles no. III. Salmon Fishing, 1835; and another. £150 to £200.
    <b>Forum Auctions, May 20:</b> Simpson (Joseph). The Border Angler, drypoint, [c. 1927]. £150 to £200.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions