I think that the name Bradley Martin will always confer certain glamour on the books that came through that sale. I also think that the resonance of the Bradley Martin sale is that it permitted or set a style for the dispersal of libraries through “named” catalogue sales in the 1990s.Excerpts and paraphrases from an interview about the H. Bradley Martin sales with Selby Kiffer, Senior Vice President in Books & Manuscripts at Sotheby’s New York, conducted 7/30/03:
[On the economic environment of the Martin sale:] I don’t think that the sale was impacted by the economy at all. 1989 was for example the peak of the art market. I also think that it’s worth pointing out that no matter how high prices seem when they are achieved, they do get eclipsed. For instance, at the Martin sale we sold a copy of the Declaration of Independence for $1,595,000. But in December we sold one for $2 million dollars, which was then resold for $8 million dollars.
[On the importance of the H. Bradley Martin sale to Martin’s legacy:] I think that the sale, its catalogues, and its acquisitions gave people a look at Bradley Martin as a total book collector for the first time. Previously he had been thought of mainly as a bird book collector. But he proved otherwise with strong collections in Americana, English Literature, etc. The sale was important in helping to cement Martin’s reputation in the book world.
[On the importance to Sotheby’s of the H. Bradley Martin sale:] Well, Christie’s had just had the Doheny sale. With Martin, we were able to come back with a sale of similar stature and importance. This was significant. It was also important to me and my colleagues, and it still is, to say that we were able to work on a library of that caliber. Martin is the sort of sale that will be recalled a century later, same as the Hoe sale.