MB: Well, maybe just to return to the concept of building lecture or programming space. Prior to our re-opening, we had no public lecture space. This is very important to us, as we have and plan to continue to have a very active educational program. We are really quite proud of our fantastic collection and are well advanced in educational proposals. We bring about 100,000 people to the Museum annually for educational purposes. Many of these are elementary school kids. We have various activities aimed at that population, including a mapping project (information about this is available on our web site) and a book making workshop for kids in the spring. As part of this workshop kids learn about the different formats that books come in and they make books out of bread.
Also, the Philadelphia University of the Arts has a wonderful book arts program, and we are in partnership with them. We have done other programs for kids: for instance, we conceived of a kid-friendly version of Ulysses which a local story teller and performance artist actually perform. And we have commissioned an opera based on the Manjiro Manuscript. Manjiro was the first Japanese person to come to the mainland U.S. He was a fisherman and his boat sank at New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1846 or 1847. A waiting ship picked him up. When he got back to Japan, he was arrested for coming into contact with foreigners. Since he was illiterate, a court scribe told his story.
AT: I’d like to ask you to discuss A.S.W.’s role as the dealer extraordinaire of his time, as the absolutely most important book dealer of the 1920s. What in your opinion made him so special and so important to book history?
MB: Well, first of all it’s important to understand that the Rosenbach brothers had a keen sense of p.r. and of marketing themselves. Typical of their procedure was that they would go to high level auctions, sit in the front row, and pay top dollar for the best items. This got them in the paper. They reached many of their potential customers through good p.r. skills.
…His [Dr. Rosenbach’s] staff was kept busy, now [circa 1931] not so much with descriptions of books to be offered to prospective buyers, as with grandiose catalogues and news