Source : Jenkins
|Various Catalogues of the highly esteemed dealer John H. Jenkins
| John Holmes Jenkins was one of the most colorful booksellers the world has ever known. He came to Austin in 1958 to attend the University of Texas, and stayed on as he developed a great love of history, Texas history in particular. He opened a bookshop in Austin and grew to be one of America's top dealers. He handled much in the way of fine material, but his most notable coup was purchasing the inventory of Eberstadt and Sons of New York when that legendary firm closed down in 1975 (the reported price was in the millions of dollars).
Along with being a great historian and author of scholarly history books, he was a crusader against book theft. He came to the cause after someone tried to unload some very valuable Audubon illustrations stolen from Union College in Schenectady, New York, on him. He received an honorary degree from Union for his efforts. In 1980, he was elected President of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), where he served until 1982.
However, Jenkins had another side. He was a flamboyant personality and a world-class poker player, winning large prizes in Las Vegas. He was suspected of fraud and forgery in some of the items he sold, and the three fires at his insured premises also generated deep suspicion. In 1989, Jenkins was found dead in Texas' Colorado River near Bastrop. It was ruled a suicide though the gunshot was in the back of his head and the gun was not found.
Whatever his personal oddities, Jenkins compiled some outstanding catalogues during the 1970s and 1980s.
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