Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2009 Issue

Daniel in the Lions' Den

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Dr. Belanger in 2007


By Bruce McKinney

The history of libraries and rare books came to San Francisco in the person of Terry Belanger to deliver a talk at the California Book Club on Monday evening, October 5th. Seventy-one souls, many fire breathing advocates of the world as Mr. Belanger sees it, came away rewarded with a strong dose of humor and perspective. Who ever said or thought that old books are dry has not seen them through Dr. Belanger's eyes nor heard them parsed and phrased into pauses and bon mots in the Belanger manner. He is himself a work of art. This is his fifth talk in San Francisco since he began his speaking tours in 1983.

Mr. Belanger's career has roughly ghosted the rise and now uncomfortable transition that institutional libraries, as the paramount collectors of works on paper in the United States, find themselves in today. In the heady ascent of books in the twentieth century from open shelves to open envy, locked doors and controlled access, Mr. Belanger years ago emerged as honorary mayor of rare book librarians by delivering, in a clear and consistent voice, perspective and advice. To the village of rare book libraries, their librarians and the dealers whose livelihoods have improved as budgets and institutional collecting have become, to quote auction description, highly significant, he is the important voice. In addressing a nice crowd at 800 Powell Street in San Francisco he spoke on the subject: Eating the Seed Corn: Reflections on Institutional Sales of Rare Books. He directly confronted the issue of deaccession, cautioning against short term thinking in a field judged long term.

Mr. Belanger's prepared remarks were 45 minutes and his after-speech Q & A another 55. In his talk he spoke of the role and responsibilities of institutions that receive books and related materials. He did so in a general way and in the follow-up question period called upon Father Stephen A. Privet, President of the University of San Francisco, to apologize for selling material from the University's Donohue Rare Book Collection to pay for improvements to the physical plant. For those unaware of the earlier controversy hell was raised giving Father Privet the opportunity to see Dante's Inferno up close. Dr. Belanger, in his remarks five months after The University of San Francisco's disputed sale of library material, called upon Father Privet to repent and publicly apologize for forgetting or ignoring the institution's obligation to keep that which it received as gifts, in perpetuity.

Dr. Belanger is perhaps today's foremost advocate in the United States of the rule that material, once gifted to a library, becomes subject to a higher standard than even the donor may have imposed. In his view material may later be deaccessioned only after careful review and then only in a prescribed way. To paraphrase his thinking, for material to enter a library is voluntary, to exit requires consideration of importance and access across the universe. Even for libraries themselves this is a potentially tough standard.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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