June 20th, 2005 with Marguerite Goldschmidt
When I asked about material they sold that was memorable she spoke of a set of Matisse's book and portfolio Jazz prints that they acquired in Europe and sold in the 1950s for $400. Today that material commands a very high price.
In 2001 Nicholas Basbanes wrote a lovely book, "Patience & Fortitude" that includes a description of the well educated European dealers who immigrated to the United States in the 1940s and brought intellectual vigor to the art and book fields. In it he discusses Mr. Goldschmidt's career. He quotes a talk Mr. Goldschmidt gave at Columbia University in 1969 lamenting "the loss of the scholarly bookseller," an appropriate description of himself. At the time he said, "The most important change of his fifty years in business, is the striking devaluation of literature and reading." The lament of course rings ever more loudly today although the analysis is not the same. Certainly the material prized a generation ago is today less read although certainly not lower priced. Two generations of scholarly dealers are gone but the books they prized, catalogued and sold remain. In time, what made them appealing to these dealers during their careers will be rediscovered. Until then what was valued as "worth reading" is now more often appreciated for its financial value. They closed their shop in 1987 and sold some books to Peter Kraus. The reference library was sold by Swann Galleries in 1994.
Looking back Marguerite remembers the first days of the incendiary bombings at Bristol. She remembers the terror, the damage to her parents' home and her resolve to survive and do well. Now, in considering her life in the retrospect of nine decades, she looks me in the eyes and smiles, "I've done it and would change nothing."
These days Mrs. Goldschmidt keeps her apartment clean, her days filled and her memories alive with thoughts of her children in the present and life with her husband in the past. She speaks of her husband as if he is nearby and in every sense he is. Their experiences together live in the artwork on the walls, the old furniture they acquired, the friends they made, catalogues they issued and the rare material they found and shepherded to collectors and institutions over a lifetime.