H. P. Kraus Reference Library and Inventory to be Auctioned

- by Bruce E. McKinney

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While Mr. Kraus was not able to bring much with him, he did have the foresight to carry a rare Columbus letter, which became his entry into the bookselling world in America. With the Columbus letter and his previous experience in bookselling as his background, H.P. Kraus went on to create one of the most important bookshops of the second half of the twentieth century.

H.P. Kraus died in 1988. For the past fifteen years, the shop has been run by his widow, Hanni Krauss, their daughter, Mary Ann Folter, and a knowledgeable staff. Sadly, with the passing of Mrs. Kraus early this year, the family decided to close down the legendary institution.

More information on this sale should be available in the days ahead on the Sotheby’s website: http://search.sothebys.com. A history and description of H.P. Kraus appeared in the March 2003 issue of Æ Monthly. To access this interesting article by Abby Tallmer, follow this link: Paying tribute to an Honorable Legacy

Subscribers to the Americana Exchange Database can access the listings in H.P Kraus’ memorable Catalogue 185, Americana Vetustissima. This catalogue was issued in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. While not a specialist in Americana, the firm did not forget that their beginnings in America rested on the Columbus letter Mr. Kraus brought with him from Europe. Not only are the Kraus descriptions included in the Æ Database, but also the images from this remarkable catalogue. All but one listing was printed in the fifteenth or sixteenth century, most prior to 1550, and only three were not printed in Europe (two very early Mexican items and the manuscript of the first book printed in South America). To view this material, subscribers to the Æ Database should go to the “Advanced Bibliography Search” and enter “Kraus” in the field for “Database Source.”