Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2020 Issue

Americana is a Creed


To understand the process understand the players

The Clements Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan, founded in 1923 at the University of Michigan holds collections of print and manuscript materials on the history of North America and the Caribbean, with particular strengths in 18th and 19th century American history.  It is an important American institution.  They issue books on an irregular basis and I’m lucky to be reading their most recent, Americana is a Creed, a series of excerpts and essays on many of the important librarians, collectors and dealers involved in Americana.  It’s the second volume of two, the first – The Pioneer  Americanists:  Early Collectors, Dealers, and Bibliographers was published in 2017.


The introductory essay to the recent volume is a gem that weaves the complex threads of collecting into a coherent view on the changing times, themes, and personalities.  The individual pieces are similarly illuminating.


The following persons have been nominated for canonization:



Edward Everett Ayer  1841-1927

Wymberley Jones De Renne 1853-1916

Wilberforce Eames 1855-1937

William L. Clements 1861-1934

Henry R. Wagner 1862-1957

Charles E. Goodspeed 1867-1950

George D. Smith 1870-1920

Bruce Cotton 1873-1854

Charles P. Everitt 1873-1951

Arthur Alfonso Schomburg

Harold C. Holmes 1877-1965

Edward Alexander Parsons 1878-1962

Wright Howes 1882-1978

Edward E. Eberstadt 1883-1958

Charles F. Heartman 1883-1953

E. Millicent Sowerby 1883-1977

Thomas W. Streeter 1883-1965

Margaret Bingham Stillwell

Ernest Wessen 1887-1974

Douglas C. McMurtrie 1888-1944

Randolph G. Adams 1892-1951

Michael J. Walsh 1894-1984

Dorothy Porter Wesley 1905-1995

David Magee 1905-1977

David A. Randall 1905-1975

Leona Rostenberg 1908-2005

Madeleine Stern 1912-2007

Charles Hamilton 1913-1996

Marcus A. McCorison 1926-2013

Charles L. Blockson  1933-

Michael Zinman 1938-

John H. Jenkins 1940-1989

William S. Reese 1955-2018


It’s logical, if disappointing, to see Bill Reese on this list.  He belongs, but his death at an early age, injects reality into a list that could otherwise mostly be statues in a museum.  And I’ve written elsewhere of the importance of Wright Howes and Ernest Wessen who bought and sold gems at very reasonable prices.


I can also see places for others who have been omitted. No auction houses?  It’s as if this is a book about the biggest waves in a world that has been transformed by storms, none bigger than Sotheby’s and Christies or persistent than Bonhams and Swann’s.


It’s an interesting group for whom the common denominator is involvement.  To get on that list you needed to be brilliant, well-connected, generous and in few cases, ruthless.  In other words, old books and collectible sundries are simply a particularly beautiful patch on the tapestry of life.


Both volumes are highly recommended.  The first is available online through Oak Knoll Books.  The second volume will probably be offered soon.  And I’ll announce the third volume today, which to make the set complete must tell the stories of the auctions and the contentious battles throughout the 20th century as they shifted from “for the trade” to all with the will, resources and a paddle.



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.

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