Auctions | December 20, 2019
Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

Ludwig Bemelmans, Sketch for Madeline, gouache & ink. Sold for $22,500.

New York — Swann Galleries’s sale of Illustration Art on Tuesday, December 10 featured an array of original works, from well-known characters of children’s literature to striking New Yorker covers and theater designs. The auction was a success, with seven of the top 20 lots ultimately acquired by institutions.

Children’s illustrations proved to be the centerpiece of the sale with a gouache and ink sketch for Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline, which featured Miss Clavel and Madeline picking flowers in front of the Eiffel Tower, selling for $22,500. Also by Bemelmans were two 1947 watercolor, ink and wash drawings for the artist’s A Tale of Two Glimps that sold for $7,500. Additional childhood favorites included H.A. Rey’s 1939 watercolor and gouache work for Rafi et les 9 singes featuring several of the monkeys skiing down Cecily the giraffe’s neck ($15,000); Ernest H. Shepard’s 1949 pen and ink drawing for Kenneth Grahame’s Bertie’s Escapade ($13,750); and Harry Rountree’s 1901 illustration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, showing an irate Queen of Hearts ($8,125).

Further nostalgia-filled illustrations featured one of Dr. Seuss’s 1937 calendar designs for the Thomas D. Murphy company at $17,500. Also by Seuss was a 1955 billboard advertisement for Holly Sugar starring a Grinch-like character, which earned $15,000. Two original four-panel Peanuts comics by Charles Schulz performed well: Your Hero Had Feet of Clay, Huh?, 1963, featuring Charlie Brown and Patty, and The Biggest Star Measured So Far, 1961, featuring Linus and Lucy. They sold for $16,250 apiece.

The popular New Yorker section of the sale delivered exceptional results. Charles Addams’s Nevermore, an iconic image of Edgar Allan Poe struggling to find the voice for his famous narrative poem, brought $22,500. Ilonka Karasz’s cover illustration for the August 27, 1927 issue, Chop Suey, garnered a record for the artist at $13,750.

Edward Gorey works from the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust included the magazine illustrations: Print or Perish, a 1988 pen, ink watercolor and wash work for the cover of the January/February issue of Print Magazine ($16,250); and He Will Not Be Right Back After this Message, a 1980 pen, ink, watercolor, graphite and wash illustration for TV Guide Magazine ($8,125). Also of note from the trust were costume designs for the Andre Eglevsky Company 1975 production of the second act of Swan Lake ($10,000) and the 1984 exhibition poster design for Gorey Stories: Books & Drawings by Edward Gorey ($12,500).

Christine von der Linn, the house’s Illustration Art director noted of the sale, “I was so pleased to have choice examples from some of the most famous names in illustration in this sale and see them make the list of top lots. It proves that narrative art continues to be a highly collectible field and that Swann is a terrific place to cross-market those works with our long history of specialization in Americana, literature, fine art, and graphic material.”

Swann Galleries is currently accepting quality consignments for the spring 2020 season, with another offering of Illustration Art scheduled for June. Visit or download the Swann Galleries App for more information.

Auctions | December 20, 2019
Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

He Mau Palapala Aina A Me Na Niele No Ka Hoikehonua, No Na Kamalii, engraving by George Luther Kapeau, Lahainaluna Seminary, 1840. Sold for $68,750.

New York—Swann Galleries closed out the decade with a marathon sale of Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books on Tuesday, December 17. The auction brought $910,087 and saw a 93% sell-through rate. Highlights included rare cartographic publications from Hawaii, atlases from across the globe and historic prints.

The sale was led by a rare 1840 Hawaiian-language school geography atlas printed by the Lahainaluna Seminary. Engraved by George Luther Kapeau, who would go on to become a statesman and governor of Hawaii, He Mau Palapala Aina A Me Na Niele No Ka Hoikehonua, No Na Kamalii, made its auction debut at $68,750. Additional atlases of note featured Claudius Ptolemaeus’s Geographicae Enarrationis Libri Octo, Lyons, 1535 ($27,500); Thomas Jefferys’s The American Atlas: Or, a Geographical Description of the Whole Continent of America, London, 1776-77 ($20,000); Willem and Joan Blaeu’s 1658 second volume of Novus Atlas comprising of France, Spain, Asia, Africa and America ($16,250); and Joseph Nicolas Delisle’s Atlas Rossiiskoi, St. Petersburg, a 1745 Russian-language edition of the first comprehensive atlas devoted to the Russian Empire ($15,000).

A strong offering of maps featured Tabula Terre Nove, Strasbourg, Martin Waldseemüller’s “Admiral’s Map” from the 1513 edition of Ptolemy’s Geograpiae ($25,000); America a New and Most Exact Map, London, a scarce 1748 map by Thomas Bakewell ($11,875); and Africae Vera Forma, et Situs, Antwerp, 1593, with hand-coloring, by Cornelis de Jode ($9,375).

A rarely seen 1865 Currier & Ives’s large-folio hand-colored lithograph, Mississippi in Time of Peace, made an impression, bringing $21,250 over a $9,000 high-estimate. Caleb Kiffer, the house’s Maps & Atlases specialist, noted of the print, “Mississippi in Time of Peace has everything going for it. Unbelievably beautiful to look at, extremely rare, fantastic condition—and it’s historically significant.” Further historic illustrations included Buffalo Hunt, Chase, a nineteenth-century oil on canvas painting after George Catlin, which sold for $9,375.

Hartmann Schedel’s Liber Cronicarum cum Figuris et Ymaginibus ab Inicio Mundi, Nuremberg, 1493, formed the cornerstone in an offering of biblical material. The Nuremberg Chronicle, of which “no other illustrated book printed in the fifteenth century rivals its scope and ambition,” reached $62,500. A 1665 cartographically-illustrated Bible printed in Basel, which featured six engraved hand-colored folding maps, was won for $7,500.

Swann Galleries is currently accepting consignments for the spring 2020 season. Visit or download the Swann Galleries App for more information.

Auctions | December 20, 2019
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The original Olympic Games manifesto outlining vision for modern revival of ancient Olympics soars to $8.8 million.

New York — Yesterday in Sotheby’s New York salesroom, three international bidders competed for more than 12 minutes for The Original Olympic Games Manifesto, driving its final price to $8.8 million – a new world auction record for any sports memorabilia, and nearly nine times the manuscript’s high estimate of $1 million. Written in 1892 by French aristocrat, educator and athletics advocate Pierre de Coubertin, the manifesto outlines his vision for reviving the ancient Olympic Games as a modern, international athletic competition.

The Original Olympic Games manifesto led Sotheby’s December sales of Fine Books and Manuscripts and History of Science and Technology, as part of Sotheby’s final day of auctions in 2019.

Selby Kiffer, International Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department, said: “Driven by competition from around the world, today’s record result stands as a testament to Pierre de Coubertin’s vision of more than a century ago, and the reverence with which the Olympic games are still held. It was a personal honor to serve as today’s auctioneer, as this marks my highest price on the rostrum in more than three decades at Sotheby’s.”

The original Olympic Games manifesto, written in 1892 by French aristocrat, educator and athletics advocate Pierre de Coubertin, outlines his vision for reviving the ancient Olympic Games as a modern, international athletic competition. The 14-page manuscript is the only known copy of the manifesto in existence, and was written in French by Coubertin as a speech he delivered in 1892 for the fifth anniversary of the French Athletics Association held at the Sorbonne. The first modern Games were organized shortly thereafter in Athens, Greece in 1896, and the ideas espoused by Coubertin continue to underpin the Olympic spirit of excellence and sportsmanship that has made the Games the preeminent international sporting spectacle to this day.

In his speech, Coubertin outlined his idealist vision for reviving the ancient Olympic Games as part of a wave of progressive social movements taking hold in Europe and the United States, and he drew connections to the rise of athletics to other new ideas, technologies and systems that were propelling human progress and innovation, such as the telegraph, railways and developments in scientific research. Coubertin provides case studies on the state of athletics in countries such as Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, France, and elsewhere around the world to show that athletic endeavor was no longer primarily the domain of military training, but had evolved into a pursuit of individual excellence that had personal as well as societal benefits.

Two years after delivering the speech at the Sorbonne, Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee in 1894, with the ethos of his speech serving as the foundation of the committee’s mission. In 1896, the modern Olympic Games debuted in Athens, and Coubertin’s admonishment that the future of sport would be democratic and international proved prescient and lasting.

*The previous world auction record for sports memorabilia was $5.6 million, for a jersey worn by Babe Ruth sold in June 2019.

Richard Austin, Head of Sotheby’s Books & Manuscripts Department in New York, commented: “It was a privilege to handle this exceptional edition of John James Audobon’s The Birds of America. We’re thrilled that it has been acquired by Graham Arader, who shares our enthusiasm for Audubon and this icon of American art.”

Sold in a single-lot sale following the conclusion of our Fine Books and Manuscripts auction, an early subscriber’s edition of John James Audubon’s incomparable The Birds of America reached to $6.6 million – surpassing it’s $6/8 million estimate. Featuring 435 magnificent hand colored etched plates depicting 1,065 life-size birds representing 489 supposed species of the then-known birds found in the United States, the folio is an unusually large and brilliantly colored edition, with the plates in very early state. Commonly known as the Double Elephant Folio – named for the size of the paper that had to be specially made for the publication – The Birds of America has long been recognized as the most important and most beautiful color-plate book ever published, and it is universally acknowledged as one of the most important achievements in both book illustration and natural history.

Sotheby’s third annual History of Science & Technology auction totaled $2.5 million on Tuesday, and was led by a Four-Rotor (‘M4”) Enigma Cipher Machine. Appearing at auction for the first time ever, the fully-operational Enigma M4 from 1942 achieved $800,000, setting a new world auction record for an Enigma machine and far surpassing its high estimate of $500,000. Considered the most desirable of all Enigmas and the hardest version to decrypt, the present machine is an example of the famous German Four-Rotor Kriegsmarine Enigma Cipher Machine, which were specifically developed for use by the U-boat division of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) for communication with the naval bases. In pristine condition and with all of its working parts, the machine was one of 15 Enigma machines used at a German naval base in Trondheim, Norway during World War II. In addition to its rare status as a fully functioning Enigma machine, the M4 is particularly unique as it boasts completely traceable provenance: seized by a member of the Norwegian navy who specialized in radio and radar after the conclusion of the war, the machine was consigned to yesterday’s auction by his son.

News | December 17, 2019
Courtesy of the MCBA

My Mighty Journey, written by John Coy and illustrated by Gaylord Schanilec, has won the 2020 Minnesota Book Artist Award.

Minneapolis, MN — The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library has named a collaborative group as the winner of the 2020 Minnesota Book Artist Award for their collective efforts on the new artist’s book, My Mighty Journey: A Waterfall’s Story. This annual award is presented as part of the Minnesota Book Awards with Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA), and recognizes a Minnesota book artist or book artist collaborative group for excellence in new artistic work. Winners also demonstrate depth of knowledge and quality in the book arts through supporting previous work, as well as significant contributions to Minnesota's book arts community.

My Mighty Journey, written by John Coy and illustrated by Gaylord Schanilec, is the story of the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River – and the changes it has witnessed over twelve thousand years. The idea was originally conceived twenty-three years ago as Coy worked for the Minnesota Historical Society, guiding Minneapolis Riverfront tours. Through his words, and eventually his own participation in image creation, text composition, and printing, he brings to life the geology, history, and people of this place, told from the waterfall’s perspective.

Enhancing this dramatic story are stunning images created by a collaboration of book artists using materials collected along the riverbank: wood and bark from fallen trees, fossil- encrusted limestone, discarded bricks, and even a long-dead dogfish. Collected materials were prepared for direct printing, creating type-high printing blocks, inked and impressioned using Vandercook cylinder printing presses. The illustrations show the progression of the waterfall – eventually known as St. Anthony Falls – as it moved fifteen miles upriver from present-day Saint Paul to its current location in downtown Minneapolis. My Mighty Journey helps viewers realize that most of us are newcomers and that there is so much to learn about the waterfall, the land, the people who have been here, and our relationship to them.

Members of the award committee praised the way that the book clearly demonstrated the great amount of thought and detail that went into every aspect – from the illustration and words to the binding, paper, and typeface – and how the book itself exists as a kind of community, honoring everyone’s best abilities. The committee also commented on how the weight and impressive scale of the work fits with the subject. “It couldn’t have been any other way,” stated one juror.

Anchored by internationally acclaimed artist Gaylord Schanilec, the image development, composition, printing and binding team grew over the five years of this collaboration to include artists Sorcha Douglas, Barbara Eijadi, Paris Fobbe, Ellen Janda, Hans Koch, Greta Lapcinski, Monica Edwards Larson, Rayan Macalin, Kerri Mulcare, Paul Nylander, and Emily Pressprich, as well as papermaker Amanda Degener.

An exhibition celebrating My Mighty Journey will be on display February 7–March 22, 2020 in the Main Gallery at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, located in Open Book (1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis). A reception will take place on Thursday, February 13 from 6–8pm in MCBA’s Main Gallery, with an artist talk in the Target Performance Hall at 7pm. The group will also receive special recognition and an award at the 32nd annual Minnesota Book Awards Celebration on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at the Ordway in downtown Saint Paul, sponsored by Education Minnesota.

Auctions | December 17, 2019
Courtesy of Potter & Potter Auctions

A 1788 copy of Henri Decremps' I Segreti Disvelati Della Magia Bianca / Cinque Sessioni Oltre un Trattato Della Bacchetta Magica realized $3,360.

Chicago — Potter and Potter's December 14th auction, the company's final event of 2019, capped off the decade in a most positive way. After the hammer fell for the last time, 42 lots realized $1,000-2,500; 16 lots realized $2,501-$9,999; and 3 lots broke the five-figure mark. Prices noted include the company's 20% buyer's premium.

Broadsides and posters featuring early 20th century magic acts took many of the top slots in this sale. Lot #266, a c. 1905 color lithograph of coin trick artist T. Nelson Downs (American, 1867-1938) was estimated at $8,000-10,000 and delivered $15,600. This eye-popping poster featured a central bust portrait of Downs, surrounded by vignettes of his coin manipulation act, ribbons of coins, and red flowers. Lot #274, a c. 1900 half sheet color lithograph of Harry Kellar (American, 1849-1922) titled A Walk in the Woods was estimated at $9,000-12,000 and made $13,320. This rare example featured the magician strolling through the forest with demons peeking out from behind trees. Lot #270, a 1930s-era German lithograph poster advertising Erik Jan Hanussen's occult-leaning séances was estimated at $2,000-3,000 and sold for $7,200. Lot #271, a c. 1905 poster for the Adelaide Herrmann and Company Hindoo Magic troupe performing their decapitation illusion traded hands at $5,040. And lot #262, a c. 1910 Asian-themed broadside for Chung Ling Soo (William Ellsworth Robinson, American, 1861-1918) was estimated at $6,000-9,000 and scored $6,000.  

A number of extraordinary, centuries-old conjuring books from the collection of magician Giovanni Pasqua were best sellers at this event. Lot #27, a 1788 copy of Henri Decremps' I Segreti Disvelati Della Magia Bianca / Cinque Sessioni Oltre un Trattato Della Bacchetta Magica, was estimated at $600-900 and realized $3,360 - more than five times its low estimate. Lot #40, a 1761 copy of De’ Giuochi Aritmetici Trattato di N.N. al Nob. Signor Leonardo Rizzoni, was estimated at $300-500 and made $2,640. This book -- one of three copies known -- featured mathematical games, some involving demonstrations with playing cards. And lot #43, a fourteen volume collection of Dizionario delle Ricreazioni di Scienze Fisiche e Matematiche from the 1806/08 timeframe was estimated at $150-250 and delivered $960. This lot included an additional fourteen miscellaneous 20th-century Italian volumes on math, puzzles, and games and 18 issues of the magazine Per Gioco.

Rare 20th-century magic themed publications also caught the eye of buyers at this signature sale. Lot #112, a first edition of Guy Jarrett's Jarrett Magic and Stage Craft Technical from 1936 was estimated at $1,000-1,500 and landed at $3,600. Jarrett produced approximately 500 copies of this book on a table-top hand press, writing the text as he set the type, then collating, binding, advertising, and selling the books himself. And lot #111, Edgar Heyl's A Survey of Conjuring Books from 1997 made $1,560 on its $150-250 presale estimate. This collector's treasure was number 4 of 5 copies, printed by permission of Heyl’s estate, and bound in quarter leather over marbled boards.   

Books, photos, apparatus, and ephemera related to legendary magician Harry Houdini continue to captivate collectors worldwide. Lot #162, the Houdini-Slade-Weiss locked book, as profiled in A Magician Among the Spirits, traded hands at $12,000. This book was used in the trial to expose Henry Slade, a supposed spirit medium, by Remigius Weiss. This historically important volume was accompanied by a handsomely framed collage of Houdini memorabilia. Lot #159, a real photo postcard of Harry and Bess Houdini from 1903 was estimated at $800-1,200 and delivered $3,120. This image was taken during the years of their earliest successes, and used as a Christmas and New Year’s greeting. And lot #175, three annotated and wire service stamped news photos of Houdini’s underwater coffin stunt at New York’s Shelton Hotel rose to $720 on its $150-250 presale estimate.  

Ephemera, antiques, new and vintage apparatus, and merchandise that defied conventional categories brought this well curated magic sale full circle.  Lot #315, a c. 2004 appearing magic kettle from John Gaughan, was estimated at $2,500-3,500 and served up $5,280. This illusion -- one of six examples manufactured by Gaughan -- enabled a magician to produce a tea kettle from an empty foulard, and then to pour any drink called for from it. Lot #119, a complete run of Jay’s Journal of Anomalies by Ricky Jay and W. & V. Dailey from 1994/2000 realized $1,560 on its $300-500 presale estimate. These specialty publications were letterpress printed on heavy Rives paper and featured tipped-in color illustrations and text illustrations. And lot #231, the manuscript and artwork for Tom Palmer's unpublished The Book of Illusion was estimated at $500-750 and turned the page at $2,400. This c. 1970 archive was housed in its original suitcase. It included approximately 100 loose sheets of cardstock, each hand-lettered and illustrated by Tom Palmer, describing the effect and method behind classic stage illusions. According to our catalogers, "This volume, apparently unpublished, is essentially an oversized and camera-ready project that was never completed. The quality of the artwork and hand-lettering is a testament to the author’s considerable artistic abilities."

According to Gabe Fajuri, President at Potter & Potter Auctions, "We were thrilled with the results of the sale, and especially the prices the books and ephemera in Roxy's collection achieved. Considering the narrow market for Italian works on conjuring, the final tally was impressive. What's more, competitive bidding throughout the auction led to a strong sale all the way around, and even a few records or near-record prices."

Auctions | December 17, 2019

Dallas, TX – A rare encryption machine used by Nazi German forces to communicate without interception and translation by opposing nations sold for more than four times its opening bid to end at $106,250. The cypher device was offered at a public auction of historic WWII artifacts in Heritage Auctions’ Historic Flags of World War II Auction Dec. 14.

The “Enigma” Encrypting Machine Used by the German Military in WWII was used from 1934 until the end of the war, but fewer than 250 are believed to remain in existence; many were destroyed by the Germans to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands, Winston Churchill ordered all others to be destroyed after the war, and many were lost at sea.

“Enigma machines were critical tools for the Germans, and were believed to have provided an essentially ‘unbreakable’ code through which German forces could communicate,” Heritage Auctions Americana Director Tom Slater said. “Not only are they historically very significant, but the fact that both the Nazis and Churchill wanted them destroyed makes the remaining examples like this one very hard to come by, and drives the massive demand.”

The machines went through evolution of several designs in an effort to stay ahead of code-cracking attempts. The three-ciphor rotor design, referred to as “M3,” was thought to have only one flaw beyond human error: the fact that the machine could scramble the letters into any of 17,576 combinations except the use of the original letter. But it was human error, including but not limited to the fact that many users of the machine signed off at the end of their communications with “Heil Hitler,” a pattern that eventually became a step in the Allies’ process of breaking the coded communications.

The machine offered here is a model M3 with the serial numbers of the rotors matching the machine itself, a pairing that did not always happen because of the interchangeability of the rotors. The metal wheels are engraved with the Third Reich emblem: a black eagle over a swastika.

The interior of the wooden lid includes operating directions in German, above the QWERTZUIO mechanical keyboard, which would light up when the machine was used. The socket locations are marked "Kabelprufung" (cable test) and "Lampenprufung" (lamp test).

Auctions | December 13, 2019

Assen, The Netherlands — Catawiki offers a wonderful edition of Maxime du Camp’s 1952 photo book, Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie, which depicts his travels to Egypt and the Near East in 1849-1851. The book is one of the first photo travel books in the world. Estimated value between €50.000-€80.000.

This photo book by Maxime du Camp contains 61 text pages, 125 pages with photographs (using the albumen paper printing technique of Blanquart-Evrard) and three engraved plates (one double page).

Courtesy of Catawiki

The book was examined  in person by Marc Harrison, one of Catawiki’s book experts: “We have found this to be a very good to fine copy. It has the original full leather binding in place, which is a little rubbed to the edges, but holding well.” Internally the book is in very good condition, with only very light foxing to the title page and foxing to the plates.

Maxime Du Camp travelled around Europe and the Near East between 1849 and 1851 in the company of French novelist Gustave Flaubert. Their travels are well documented in both of their writings. Du Camp was an early amateur photographer, and his travel books were among the first ever to be illustrated with photographs.

The auction will be online from the 6th of December to the 17th of December and can be found here:

News | December 13, 2019
Courtesy of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Susan R. and L. Dennis Shapiro with some of their presidential letters and related materials.

San Marino, CA — The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced today that it is establishing the Shapiro Center for American History and Culture at The Huntington, thanks to a generous gift from L. Dennis and Susan R. Shapiro. Along with financial support, the Shapiros, who make their home both in Los Angeles and Boston, are donating their collection of some 340 rare items focused primarily on American presidential administrations from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. The gift includes an endowment for innovative programming and the long-term care and growth of The Huntington's premier early-American collections of rare books and manuscripts, which are unique on the West Coast.

The Shapiro Collection is particularly rich in correspondence by John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams, including dozens of Adams-related documents and letters penned by the second and sixth presidents, father and son. “I collected the Adamses,” Shapiro said, “because I personally connected with their feelings toward family and country, and felt that they were underappreciated. But the wisdom of these two men, made evident in their frequent correspondence, speaks volumes about human dignity and empathy and the deep connection between them.” The collection includes, as well, a rich trove of material from Albert Gallatin, secretary of the treasury under Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Presidential spouses are also represented, including letters by Dolley Madison and Abigail Adams.

The Huntington is known for its substantial collections in American history and has long been a center of research for American historians, some of whom have written prize-winning and other critically acclaimed works based on The Huntington’s rare materials ranging from the colonial period to the Civil War and beyond. Alan Taylor won the Pulitzer prize for The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772–1832 (2014), and Anne Hyde was awarded the Bancroft Prize for Empires, Nations and Families: A New History of the North American West, 1800-1860 (2012); both were researched at The Huntington. Civil War historians have also credited The Huntington for providing source material and space for the research they conducted for their award-winning books: James McPherson won the Pulitzer for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1989), and David Blight was awarded both the Pulitzer and the Bancroft Prizes for his biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (2018).

“This generous gift from the Shapiros comes at a significant moment during our yearlong Centennial celebration, highlighting and expanding American historical material collected by Henry E. Huntington himself,” said Karen R. Lawrence, president of The Huntington. “It is a transformative gift that allows us to spotlight our materials from the early republic as never before, provide greater scholarly and public access, and encourage reflection on the relevance of the country’s founding ideas for an increasingly diverse America.”

The Huntington is home to hundreds of archival collections and more than 200,000 individual manuscripts, rare books, prints, photographs, and ephemera documenting the history of the United States, with special strengths in the American Revolution and the early republic, the antebellum decades, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and beyond. “But, like many research libraries, only a fraction of it is discoverable online,” said Sandra L. Brooke, Avery Director of the Library. “The Shapiro gift will help provide much wider online access to these important materials and further inform our research and education offerings as we push forward to make them as accessible as possible.”

The Center will not be a bricks-and-mortar facility, said Brooke. Rather, it will be program-oriented, with initiatives that will include lectures, fellowships, exhibitions, and publications, as well as a robust online presence.

Importantly, the gift will fund a biennial book prize, the first to be offered by The Huntington, for a first scholarly monograph in American history and culture. The Shapiro Prize will focus on books that make exceptional use of primary source materials, especially documentary collections. The inaugural prize, which will carry with it a $10,000 cash award, is targeted for 2021.

The Center will also serve as a fulcrum for studying the history of collecting American documentary materials by periodically bringing together scholars, collectors, and librarians to advance knowledge in the field, said Olga Tsapina, Norris Foundation Curator for American History. “It’s an area of study we are only just beginning to explore,” she said. “Like Henry Huntington before him, Dennis Shapiro is a successful businessman, keenly interested in American history, and discerning about the materials he assembled. In Huntington’s case, he purchased whole collections that reflect what a particular person was interested in. Shapiro’s collection was primarily personally assembled, item by item. Collections are a lot like snowflakes—they look structurally the same in many ways, but each is unique and fascinating.”

Moreover, said Tsapina, with so much focus today on the Constitution and the turmoil in Washington, D.C., there is increased interest in American history, the founding documents, and more. “People are hungering for deeper understanding and insight. These are the types of historical treasures that can provide for those types of insightful moments.”

The Center will also fund two new fellowships for researchers working on topics in American history and culture. While fellowships currently are offered in this area, the additional support will expand the number of awards made each year.

The Shapiros and their collection

L. Dennis Shapiro is an electronics engineer and inventor credited with helping to pioneer the personal response industry that allows millions of elderly and disabled individuals to live independent lives. He was chair for 28 years and CEO for 10 years of Lifeline Systems Inc., later acquired by Royal Philips Electronics. His wife Susan is a retired partner at the law firm Ropes & Gray, LLP.

“I have a collecting gene,” Shapiro admitted. “I collected stamps as a kid. I liked the idea of having things with a history. As a company president, I felt a bond with other presidents who all knew too well, as Harry Truman liked to say, ‘The buck stops here.’”

But the initial purchase, Susan Shapiro said, was her doing. “He’s impossible to buy for when it comes to birthday gifts,” she said, recalling that when he mentioned to her in 1985 that he had seen presidential correspondence in a Boston antiquarian bookstore that piqued his interest, she quietly made a surprise purchase. The rest, as they say, is history. In purchasing historical documents, Shapiro delves deeply into the context of the correspondence: How does a particular document embody the writer’s decision-making and motives? How does it elucidate what was happening in the wider world?


Henry E. Huntington laid the foundation for the institution’s American history collections in 1911 when he purchased the Elihu Dwight Church library, which contained such gems as the Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes of Massachusetts (1648) and the holograph manuscript of the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Subsequent acquisitions—most notably in the collections of Robert Hoe and William K. Bixby—ensured The Huntington's status as one of the nation's leading repositories for historical Americana.

The Library is famous for its collections related to the nation’s founders, especially the papers of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The extensive archives of John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudoun, the commander of the British forces in America between 1756 and 1758, and of his successor, James Abercromby, provide rich resources for the history of British and French America in the 18th century. A large collection by renowned Virginia collector Robert A. Brock documents three centuries of the history of the American South.

The Library holds a massive Abraham Lincoln collection, including the papers of his cabinet members, friends, and adversaries; numerous letters, diaries, and memoirs of Union and Confederate soldiers; and the recently acquired archives of the U. S. Military Telegraph.

Auctions | December 12, 2019
Courtesy of Bonhams

London — An important collection of more than 80 works by the leading 18th-century caricaturist James Gillray is a highlight at Bonhams Prints and Multiples sale on Wednesday 18th December in Knightsbridge. The etchings, that span the last three decades of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, capture Gillray’s outstanding body of political and social satire.
Many of the etchings from this collection illustrate historically significant moments including Gillray’s L'Assemblée Nationale; a rare print showing Charles James Fox, a prominent British Whig statesman and other opponents of the government of the day, holding a reception with the Prince Regent. The Prince Regent later paid for these prints to be destroyed but the plate managed to survived.
The number of works that Gillray produced at this time reflected the mood of the British public. Capitalising on the upper-class’s demand and curiosity for engaging content, the etchings would be posted daily on the shopfront window of Gillray’s publisher-printseller Hannah Humphrey’s print shop. The hand-coloured etchings allowed an alternative form of political criticism to the current conservative newspaper format.
Bonhams Prints Department Director at Knightsbridge, Carolin von Massenbach, said “James Gillray is the father of political cartoon and his large collection represents an outstanding body of work that has been exceptionally well-preserved. The extensively hand-coloured works reveal Gillray’s virtuosity as both a printmaker and a celebrated colourist.”
Other highlights from the sale include a wide range of works from Old Master printmakers such as Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt to works by modern masters including Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
Highlights include:
    •    Banksy’s Girl With Balloon that has an estimate of £50,000 – £70,000.
    •    Harland Miller’s artist’s proof Overcoming Optimism. Estimate £12,000 – 18,000.
    •    Richard Hamilton’s I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas. Estimate £6,000-8,000.
    •    Two light installations by Chris Bracey including SEXY, 2001 and FISH, 2000. Both have an estimate of £10,000-15,000.


Recent Publications | December 10, 2019
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The new book, Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words reveals the civil rights icon through her private manuscripts and handwritten notes for the first time.

Washington, D.C. — A new book from the Library of Congress reveals the civil rights icon, Rosa Parks, for the first time in print through her private manuscripts and handwritten notes. The publication with University of Georgia Press is a companion to the new exhibition of the same title, Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words.

For years, Parks’ personal papers were not available to the public. Her personal writings, reflections, photographs, records and memorabilia were placed on loan with the Library in 2014 and became a permanent gift in 2016 through the generosity of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

The new book, written by Susan Reyburn of the Library of Congress, explores a variety of objects from the Rosa Parks Collection that bring to light Parks’ inner thoughts and struggles throughout her life and activism. At the height of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and 1956, Parks was both pilloried and celebrated – and found catharsis in her writing.

“With the publication of Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words, the Library of Congress is pleased to share a rarely seen view of an extraordinary woman through her private writings and in her own hand,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden wrote in the book’s foreword. “These writings reveal her keen observations, youthful rage, strong faith, and ongoing hope, as well as an abiding love for those closest to her.”

Parks’ writings include her description of her infamous arrest on a city bus after she refused to give up her seat to a white man, candid reflections on the segregated South, recollections of childhood experiences, letters to her family during the boycott and in the aftermath, and notes from a lifetime of battling inequality.

Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words draws on this collection of handwritten descriptions, recollections and letters to shed new light on the life of a civil rights icon. It is the first book to reproduce some of Parks’ personal manuscripts in print.

Lesser-known anecdotes from Parks’ life in the book include:
    •    Her night-long vigils as a 6-year-old child, staying up with her grandfather in defense of the family home as the Ku Klux Klan rampaged through the area killing black residents and burning black churches and houses.
    •    A tense childhood encounter with a white boy that precipitated a harsh scolding and a difficult lesson in the reality of race relations.
    •    Her longtime work for the NAACP investigating brutal crimes against African Americans in Alabama, taking testimony from victims unwilling to speak to others.
    •    Her handwritten account of the moment she refused a bus driver’s order to give her seat to a white passenger.
    •    Her reunion, 37 years later, with the white woman who offered Parks her own seat on the bus after she was ordered to give up hers.

The new 96-page book features more than 80 color and black and white images from the Parks Collection. It is available in paperback ($16.95) from the Library of Congress Shop, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., and from book retailers worldwide.

The exhibition, Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words, opened Dec. 5 and will be on view through summer 2020. The book and exhibition are part of an ongoing initiative inviting Library visitors to Explore America’s Changemakers through a series of exhibitions, events and programs. Another exhibition drawing from the Library’s collections explores the fight for women’s voting rights 100 years after the passage of the 19th Amendment.