Unfortunately, said Gretchen Hause, director and senior specialist of the books and manuscripts department at Hindman Auctions, there is no available information on how or why this small-scale model of Fleming’s gallery was produced. The item had been owned by a Fleming descendant, but had traded hands prior to consignment.
Hause heard about it from a Hindman representative in Arizona, who called and asked, “Does the name John Fleming have any significance to you?” Hause said yes, and when images of the little library appeared in her inbox, she set to work confirming that it was indeed a replica of Fleming’s 57th Street gallery. A photo in the 1988 Christie’s catalogue offering Fleming’s personal collection — a stash that included a George Washington manuscript and presentation copies of modern authors like Conrad, Eliot, and Hardy — captures the dealer in that space. The details looked right, Hause said.
“I’ve always had a strong interest in the history not just of books, but of book commerce, particularly in the United States, as are, I assume, most people in the books and manuscripts field (whether auction or trade professionals),” Hause said. “To handle an object that depicts such a significant center of commerce in New York is a real privilege.”