Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2003 Issue

A Collector’s Collection:The Rosenbach Museum & Library

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The historic Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, PA is the former home of A.S.W. and Philip Rosenbach.


By Abby Tallmer
The Rosenbach Museum & Library is the former home of Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip, international dealers in books, manuscripts, and works of art during the first half of the twentieth century. Their elegant 1865 Center City [Philadelphia] townhouse preserves a world-renowned collection of 330,000 books and manuscripts amid choice English and American furnishings and fine and decorative art. A collectors’ collection -- left as a legacy for us and future generations of museum members, students, and visitors.
   ---From “Meet Me At The Rosenbach!” promotional membership brochure, n.d.
It is impossible to approach The Rosenbach Museum & Library without appreciating the significance of A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip amongst the world of collectors, and without acknowledging A.S.W. Rosenbach’s role as perhaps the most influential book collector and dealer of his time. To quote from one of the Museum’s own pamphlets, “From 1903 to 1953, the Rosenbach Company achieved international fame as the preeminent source for rare books and manuscripts.”

As a means of honoring the Rosenbach brothers’ legacy, we at AE are proud to announce that as of today, some nearly 8200 records of the Rosenbach Company’s catalogues are now available in AE’s Bibliographic Database. They are a tremendous resource in terms of book history and bibliography. To specifically access them, AE subscribers must use the Advanced Search mode and put in “Rosenbach” as the Source field.

To say that A.S.W. Rosenbach was one of the most influential book dealers of the early twentieth century is no understatement. Dr. Rosenbach, as he was affectionately referred to, dealt with literally everyone who was anyone in American society during the height of their business. During the first half of the twentieth century, many of the greatest and most valuable books and manuscripts in the world passed through A.S.W. Rosenbach’s hands, and A.S.W. Rosenbach virtually single-handedly curated collections that would become the backbone of some of the country’s leading research libraries (Harvard’s Widener Library; The Folger; The Huntington).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 1805 TN Supreme Court Book, John Overton and Hugh White Opinions. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> TN Lunsford Bramlett Archive, incl. Polk White House Invitation, 8 Items. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Civil War Archive, incl. Gen. Bate on Death of Polk, Capture of Nashville. $2,000 to $2,400.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 5 Dickens 1st Ed. Books, incl. Edited by Author. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Charles Dickens, 5 Christmas Books, 1st Eds. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 2 Slave Documents, Nashville TN & North Carolina. $700 to $900.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 3 Maurice Sendak Signed Items, incl. Nutcracker, Pierre. $500 to $600.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 7 Phillip Roth Hardcover Books, incl. Author Signed, 1st Eds. $500 to $550.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 6 Kurt Vonnegut Hardcover Books, incl. Author Signed, 1st Eds. $400 to $500.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Two-Day Summer Auction<br>July 9 & 10, 2022</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> 3 Edward Gorey Items, incl. Print + 2 Books. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Josef Albers, INTERACTION OF COLOR, 1963. $800 to $900.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jul. 9-10:</b> Henri Matisse Jazz Portfolio for MOMA, 1st Ed., 1983. $600 to $800.

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