Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2003 Issue

A Collector’s Collection:The Rosenbach Museum & Library



AT: Does the Museum have any documentation on the founding of the Museum and on the Rosenbach Company per se?

MB: Yes. Actually, you might be interested to know that the entire Rosenbach archive is part of our collection, unpublished book records included. This includes the financial records and all correspondence.

AT: Wow. That’s an incredible reference resource. Are these records open to researchers?

MB: They’re not only open to researchers, they’re also open to the general public. Which is to say that we get and answer queries all of the time from people who had, say, frames with the Rosenbach company sticker still on the back. We have a lot of the early records and to that extent we can tell people the value of the materials.

AT: Is this true of books and book records as well?

MB: Yes. But I urge people to write to us for these inquiries, not to just stop by, as they require a significant amount of research on our side. But often we can come across the original bill, say, for a book purchased from the Rosenbach Company, as well as the original accompanying correspondence. For instance, we have a lot of correspondence relating to the famous sale by Rosenbach of his copy of Alice in Wonderland.

I should say also that the great portion of these records have been catalogued, and that in the future we are trying to make the history of the Rosenbach Company a more central part of the narrative for people who come here.

AT: Were there any collections that were deaccessioned at the time of the Museum’s founding?

MB: Yes, there are two important collections that were given away: the early American children’s books, which were given to the Free Library in Philadelphia, and the American Judaica, which was given to the American Jewish Historical Society.

…Doctor Rosenbach may be regarded as the personification of the ideals of the American Jewish Historical Society….

In a life characterized by intellectual activity, literary adventure, and romantic association with books and manuscripts, the quiet themes of American Jewish history never failed to exert fascination upon his discerning spirit…..With all of the resourcefulness of one of the greatest bibliophiles of our time, he amassed the world’s most valued collection of American Judaica, only to part with this beloved treasure after years of prideful ownership by presenting it, a munificent gift, to the American Jewish Historical Society.
---Rosenbach [quoting from tribute to Dr. R from the American Jewish Historical Society, 1948], p.561.
AT: Does the Museum have a continuing acquisitions policy?

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> <i>[Sutro Baths] / On the Shore of the Pacific Ocean,</i> designer unknown, 1896. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Osvaldo Ballerio, <i>Biscottini e Amaretti Delser,</i> circa 1900. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Maxfield Parrish, <i>Harper’s Weekly,</i> 1896. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Leonetto Cappiello, <i>Les Parfums de J. Daver Paris,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Jacob Lawrence, <i>Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture,</i> 1968. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Charles Loupot, <i>Lion Noir, Cirage – Crème,</i> 1949. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> <i>Keep Calm and Carry On,</i> designer unknown, 1939. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Walter L. Greene, <i>Adirondack Mountains / Lake Placid,</i> 1930. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Aug 27:</b> Laura Brey, <i>Enlist / On Which Side of the Window Are You?</i> 1917. $1,500 to $2,000.

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