Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2010 Issue

Rare Book Library Sells 3,700 Book Collection

Rush University, from their website.


By Michael Stillman

It was one of the largest, single owner book sales in recent memory, but it passed by virtually unnoticed. This was not an ordinary sale, as it also involved the extremely touchy issue of library de-accession. We have written about this controversial topic in the past (click here), but this story has a happier ending then those at, say, the University of San Francisco. This collection moved in bulk, all 3,700 volumes, from one library to another. No one, as best we can tell, came out of this transaction unhappy.

The collection in question was the Stanton A. Friedberg, M.D. Rare Book Room collection at Rush University in Chicago. Rush is a medical school, Friedberg a graduate thereof. He had donated his collection of 3,700 books dating back as far as 1500 to Rush. However, the collection has been virtually unused for many years. Rush is more involved in current medical research and issues and does not have a focus on the history of medicine. Fortunately, its neighbor and once affiliated college, the University of Chicago, does. The result was about as perfect a storm as you can get. The University of Chicago is close by, the two universities were affiliated when Friedberg graduated, and Friedberg was also a supporter of the University of Chicago. For a university wishing to de-accession a collection that no longer served it any purpose but to rack up bills, this was a match made in heaven. What's more, the University of Chicago wanted the collection.

As perfect as the arrangement was, the two universities went one more step to make sure the transaction would be as respectful as possible to Mr. Friedberg and his earlier donation. Proceeds of the sale will be used to create an endowment in Friedberg's name "to support scholarly activities" at the Rush Library. Meanwhile, the University of Chicago will name the collection the "Stanton A. Friedberg M.D. Rare Book Collection of Rush University Medical Center at the University of Chicago." Friedberg's name will now be remembered in two places, and anyone from Rush University who should want to see the books will have access at the University of Chicago. One can only think that Mr. Friedberg would be pleased with this solution to the issue his collection was causing Rush University in today's environment.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

The issue of libraries needing to de-accession unused, but valuable and gifted books will probably come up with increasing frequency in the years ahead. It is unlikely most will have such a perfect solution, a close-by neighbor who wishes to take on the collection in whole. Still, de-accessioning institutions will need to find ways to complete these transactions in ways that do as little as possible to upset members of their community or the memory (and heirs) of those who made the contributions. Rush University found a perfect solution. Others will probably have to be more creative, but Rush has set a fine example.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s, July 11: Galileo, Document annotated and signed by Galileo, dated Padua, 1595. £500,000 to £700,000.
  • Bonhams, July 15-25: THE AUTOGRAPH COLLECTION OF ISRAEL WITKOWER. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: GEORGE WASHINGTON SIGNED DISCHARGE. June 9, 1783. $8,000 - $12,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: "Shhhhh!" A DAVID SHANNON ILLUSTRATION FROM DAVID GETS IN TROUBLE. $2,500 - $3,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: PICASSO, PABLO. Le Carmen des Carmen. Paris, 1964. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: RARE AUTOGRAPH OF AMERICAN NAVAL HERO CAPTAIN JAMES MUGFORD. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: KARA WALKER SILHOUETTES FOR TONI MORRISON'S FIVE POEMS. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FIRST APPEARANCE OF PINOCCHIO IN ENGLISH. COLLODI, CARLO.New York, 1892. $2,000 - $3,000
    Bonhams, July 15-25: BONAPARTE, JOSEPHINE. Autograph Note (unsigned) in French. $1,000 - $1,500
    Bonhams, July 15-25: FROST ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.Autograph Letter Signed to Adams, July 27, 1934. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: ELIAS BOUDINOT'S COPY OF BARLOW'S COLUMBIAN EPIC. $800 - $1,200
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A SIGNED HART CRANE BROOKLYN BRIDGE POSTCARD TO EDWARD DAHLBERG. $600 - $800
    Bonhams, July 15-25: A STOCK CERTIFICATE SIGNED BY THE "QUEEN OF WALL STREET," HETTY GREEN. $700 - $900
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Rowling (J.K.) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, first hardback edition, 1997. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, July 18: Binding.- Lucian of Samosata Opuscula Erasmo Roterodamo interprete, first Aldine edition, Venice, Heirs of Aldus Manutius and A, 1516. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bacon (Sir Francis). De Dignitate et Augmentis Scientiarum Libri IX, Pierre Gassendi's copy gifted him by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, Paris, Typis Petri Mettayer, 1624. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: Shakespeare (William). The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of Henry, Sirnamed Hot-Spurre…, Printed by Isaac Jaggard, and Ed. Blount, 1623. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Darwin (Charles). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, third edition, presentation inscription 'From the Author' in a secretary's hand, John Murray, 1861. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, July 18: Teague (Violet). Geraldine Rede. Night Fall in the Ti-Tree, first edition, Melbourne, Sign of the Rabbit, 1905; and another. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: India.- Primrose (Gen. James Maurice). Collection of 24 original drawings from his time in India with the 43rd Regiment of Foot, circa 1855 to 1864. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum, July 18: Manet (Édouard). Trente Eaux-fortes originales, the complete portfolio, Paris, A. Stroelin, 1905. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bible, English. [The Holy Bible], first edition of the King James Bible, the Great 'He' Bible, [Robert Barker], [1611]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    18th July 2024
    Forum, July 18: America.- Mathews (Alfred E.) Pencil Sketches of Montana, first edition, New York, Published by the Author, 1868. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum, July 18: Bawden (Edward). Original dust-jacket artwork for 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus, [c.1946]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    Forum, July 18: World.- Fries (Laurent). Tabula Nova Totius Orbis, woodcut map, [c.1541]. £3,000 to £5,000.

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