June 2015 Archives

Letters About Literature, a Library of Congress national reading and writing program that asks young people in grades 4 through 12 to write to an author (living or deceased) about how his or her book affected their lives, has announced its 2015 winners.

More than 50,000 young readers from across the country participated in this year’s Letters About Literature initiative funded by a grant from the Library’s James Madison Council with additional support from the Library’s Center for the Book. The initiative is a reading-promotion program of the Center for the Book, with the goal of instilling a lifelong love of reading in the nation’s youth. Since 1997, more than a million students have participated.


DALLAS—A c. 1860 Brooklyn Atlantics Baseball Card, passed down in the family of player Archibald McMahon for more than 150 years, will be on the block Thursday, July 30, 2015, as part of Heritage Auctions’ Platinum Night Sports Auction, held in conjunction with the 2015 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago.  It is expected to bring $50,000+.

“This is a seminal artifact, not just of baseball, but of American history,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage. “It ranks with the most significant mementos of the sport's infancy ever to surface and is, quite possibly, the only team card on Earth printed before the first drop of blood was spilled in the American Civil War.”

New York, NY, June 25, 2015—In memory of the great type designer, typographer, and calligrapher Hermann Zapf (1918-2015), the Morgan Library & Museum will exhibit one of his most virtuosic creations: a calligraphic manuscript of the preamble of the UN Charter, written in French, English, Spanish, and Russian. The work will be on view from June 26, the date the UN Charter was signed seventy years ago, through October 25, the weekend of UN Day, which marks the date the treaty went into effect. 


Hermann Zapf, creator of the legendary Palatino, Optima, and Zapfino typefaces, died on June 4 at the age of ninety-six. Born in Nuremberg in 1918, he was a master of the alphabet whose career spanned a period of enormous technological change in the field of typography. From the era of hot metal type to the advent of digital fonts, he embraced each new form with grace and innovation. Zapf designed letters that pervade our everyday lives—the beautiful lines of his sans-serif Optima, for example, adorn the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the 9/11 Memorial in New York. His innovative typeface Zapf Dingbats was a precursor to the now-ubiquitous emoji set. His command of letterforms is particularly notable in the astonishing handwork of his calligraphic manuscripts.

Addison & Sarova Auctioneers is proud to announce the sale of the library of Robert Easton.  This massive collection will be offered over two different sales in the Summer and Fall of 2015.  

Mr. Easton, known as the “Henry Higgins of Hollywood,” was the premier language and dialect coach in Hollywood for many decades up until his passing in 2011.  He was first involved in the film industry as an actor, but his true passion was language.  He coached thousands of actors during his career and garnered high praise from many household names such as John Travolta and Forest Whitaker (among countless others).

WASHINGTON, DC—On July 1, 2015, David M. Rubenstein, philanthropist and co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager, will become a trustee of the National Gallery of Art, while Victoria Sant will become trustee emerita after 15 years of service on the board, 12 of them also as Gallery president. Rubenstein was appointed for a term of ten years.

“On behalf of the trustees, it is my great pleasure to welcome David Rubenstein to the Board as the Gallery prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary year and the reopening of its East Building in 2016,” said Frederick W. Beinecke, Gallery president. “We will continue to seek the wise counsel and support of Vicki Sant, who has been the Gallery’s tireless champion for decades.”

DALLAS—Heritage Auctions has announced that Lloyd Currey, one of the leading popular fiction specialists in the rare books trade, will be joining forces with Heritage Auctions.

"Lloyd is one of the top specialists in the world when it comes to Popular Fiction, including Science Fiction and Fantasy, Horror, and Mystery and Detective Fiction,” said James Gannon, Director of Rare Books at Heritage. “The entire Heritage family is quite pleased to welcome him to our team. His expertise and reputation in the marketplace for genre fiction immediately raises the level of our rare book auctions."


YORK, Pa.—Superheroes aren’t always the product of fantasy. Sometimes they’re ordinary people who’ve gone on to achieve superhuman goals—like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and baseball legend Martin Dihigo, the only man ever to be inducted in the Baseball Halls of Fame in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Backed by their rich and unique legacies, Dihigo and King unquestionably deserve the title of “superhero” and the right to stand alongside Superman in Hake’s Auction #215, which closes for bidding July 14-16.

The centerpiece among the many important civil rights mementos entered in the 2,600-lot sale is a 1958 first edition of Dr. King’s Stride Toward Freedom, which the civil rights icon signed and gifted to US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren a few months after its publication. Warren’s leadership was widely credited with the passage in 1954 of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark bill that banned segregation in public schools. In a bold hand, Dr. King inscribed the book: “To: Justice Earl Warren, In appreciation for your genuine good-will, your great humanitarian concern, and for your unswerving devotion to the sublime principles of our American democracy. With warm Regards, Martin L. King Jr.” Held in Justice Warren’s personal library for a lifetime and now consigned to auction by the Warren family, the book is a unique cultural artifact and estimated at $20,000-$35,000.

New York, NY, June 23, 2015—The Morgan Library & Museum today announced the appointment of Roger S. Wieck to head one of the institution’s core curatorial areas, its internationally recognized Department of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts. Wieck is a world authority on medieval Books of Hours, and previously served as associate curator and curator in the department, where he has worked since 1989. He replaces William M. Voelkle who has been appointed senior research curator. 

The Morgan also announced that Joshua O’Driscoll will become assistant curator in the department. O’Driscoll holds a PhD in the History of Art from Harvard University and an MA from Williams College. In 2014-15, he presented a series of public lectures at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, based on the institution’s collection of Medieval and Renaissance Art.

BOSTON—Today, the Boston Public Library announced the results of the Print Department Report, a BPL commissioned year-long external review of the BPL Print Collection. Launched in June 2014 and conducted by Simmons College Professor Dr. Martha Mahard, the four-volume report evaluates inventory control and the current physical arrangement of the collection’s 320,000 items, and makes recommendations on how to improve intellectual control and organization of the Print Department assets moving forward. The report covers the need for improved record keeping, primarily from artwork acquired in the latter half of the last century, when new acquisitions outpaced proper documentation and organization.

Upon completion of the project in June 2015, BPL commissioned Dr. Mahard to conduct an item-by-item inventory of the Print Department, which includes 200,000 prints and 120,000 chromolithographs.  Launched on June 8, the inventory will inform the next phase of Print Collection improvements.


When: July 8th - September 19th, 2015

Where: 28 W. 27th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY

Subway: N/R to 28th St, or F to 23rd St

Admission: Free

Opening Reception: July 8, 6-8pm

The Center for Book Arts presents two summer exhibitions, on view from July 8 through September 19, marking the final chapter of its 40th Anniversary year which began in the fall of 2014. In the main gallery, Embraced: The International Community, organized by Richard Minsky, Founder, Center for Book Arts, explores the Center's place within the international sphere of book artists. In the ancillary galleries, /mit ðə detə/: Source Materials Visualized, organized by Alexander Campos, Executive Director & Curator, Center for Book Arts, and Heidi Neilson, artist and Co-Founder of SP Weather Station, considers how book artists are making works structured from concrete data. An opening reception will take place July 8, 2015 from 6 to 8pm at the Center. Roundtable discussions with artists from both shows are scheduled throughout the summer.

PHILADELPHIA, PA—The Raab Collection, the nation’s leading dealer in important historical documents, announced today that it is offering for sale a great American treasure, whose survival had been unknown to the public or historical community: the original Congressional Gold Medal from the early years of the United States, given to victorious General and future President William Henry Harrison for saving the American West in the War of 1812. This medal, which had been retained by descendants until this summer, is one of only a handful known to have survived the centuries and the only from the era given to a President now in private hands. It has never been offered for sale before and is valued at $225,000.

“It is an honor to handle such a historic treasure and remarkable that it survived the ages,” said Nathan Raab, President of The Raab Collection. “It represents a great moment in American history that led to the ascension of an American President. It is a truly unique artifact.”

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BOSTON, MA—(June 18, 15) A typed letter from Ronald Reagan sold for $14,492, according to Boston, MA based RR Auction.

The one-page letter as president signed “Ron,” on White House letterhead, and is dated November 21, 1988. Letter is to the Reagan-supporting Democrat Phil Regan. In part: “You are so right about having the Lord’s help. I know my prayers were heard, and sometimes I called on Him so often I worried that He might get tired of hearing from me. I have come to understand Abe Lincoln’s words when he said, ‘I could not stand this job for 15 minutes if I did nor believe I could call on One who is wiser and stronger than all others.”


New York—A copy of The Great Gatsby inscribed by its author F. Scott Fitzgerald was the top selling lot at Bonhams’ Voices of the 20th Century sale on June 16. It realized $191,000, against an estimate of $80,000-100,000. The book is a 1925 first edition given by Fitzgerald to fellow author Harold Goldman and inscribed for “the original Gatsby.”

Fitzgerald has written in his own hand:

“For Harold Goldman/ The original ‘Gatsby’ of this story, with thanks for letting me reveal these secrets of his past/ Alcatraz/ Cell Block 17/ (I’ll be out soon, kid. Remember me to the mob. Fitzgerald)”

New York—June 17 2015—Herrick, Feinstein LLP's Art Law Group announced today that with its assistance, and working with the United States Government, its client, The Royal Library of Sweden, has recovered two rare books stolen along with dozens of other volumes over ten years ago.  One book, dating from 1638, is a manual for constructing scenes and machines for the theater published by Nicolo Sabbattini (Practica di Fabricar Scene, e machine ne'teatri) in Ravenna, and is considered the first book completely devoted to stage design.  The other recovered volume (Oculus) by Christoph Scheiner and published in Innsbruck in 1619, is a scientific study explaining how lenses could correct problems with sight.  The recovered books were presented to the Royal Library by the United States Government at a ceremony and press conference held at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan on June 17, 2015.      

"Thanks to the swift and professional collaboration between American authorities and our legal liaison Howard N. Spiegler of Herrick, Feinstein, we are once again able to recover some of our lost treasures," said Gunilla Herdenberg, National Librarian at the Royal Library.

Kestenbaum & Company’s forthcoming auction of Fine Judaica will take place on Thursday, June 25th at 3:00 pm in the company’s gallery in New York City. Although by lot count this particular auction will be smaller in size than the norm, a great deal of time was spent on researching and preparing for sale the 130 initial lots of this auction that stem from a single source that we shall refer to as a most Singular Collection. Specialist consultant Rabbi Dovid Kamenetsky was brought from Jerusalem to New York to assist in preparing this exceptional catalogue. 

The Singular Collection is divided into two sections. The first fifty-six lots represent outstanding Hebrew manuscripts pertaining to Rabbinics, Kabbalah, Liturgy, Talmud, etc. Almost one-third of these medieval and pre-modern Hebraic manuscripts are unpublished.

ITHACA, NY—National Book Auctions, located in Ithaca, NY, announces the launch of their next auction catalog. 

This catalog features rare, antique and decorative books as well as select additions of ephemera and artwork.  Interesting collections include a broad selection of early American exploration histories and a private collection of modern first editions with many important author signatures.  Among the artwork are two original mixed media works by Meinrad Craighead and a geo-kinetic sculpture by Larry Lipsky.

(New York, June 12, 2015)—Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that the Museum will present a major retrospective exhibition of the photographs of Irving Penn (1917-2009) to mark the centennial of the artist’s birth. He further announced that The Irving Penn Foundation will make a landmark promised gift to the Met of more than 150 photographs by Penn, representing every period of the great American artist’s dynamic 70-year career with the camera. The gift, selected by the Metropolitan Museum from the Foundation's extraordinary holdings, will form the core of the centennial exhibition that will open at the Metropolitan Museum in April 2017 and then travel internationally, beginning at the Grand Palais in Paris.  

More than 200 photographs by Penn will comprise the exhibition, including: iconic fashion studies of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, the artist's wife; Quechua children in Cuzco, Peru; tribesmen in New Guinea; color flower studies; nudes; portraits of urban laborers; and still lifes. The artist's beloved studio portraits of cultural figures will also be featured. Additional works in the exhibition will be drawn from the Met’s prior holdings of photographs by Penn. Moreover, a selection of the artist’s relatively unknown paintings and drawings may also be included.

LONDON, Dover Street—With Dr Timothy Bolton at the helm, the inaugural Western Manuscripts & Miniatures sale at Bloomsbury Auctions on Wednesday 8th July is a journey through the history of writing and illuminating books in exactly 100 lots. The auction, which spans four millennia and a vast swathe of human experience, will be held at Ely House, 37 Dover Street.

Dr Timothy Bolton, Head of Western Manuscripts & Miniatures said; “We want to bring the ownership of these beautiful and fascinating objects to new buyers as well as the traditional collectors. It is my belief that no private library can call itself complete without a medieval book on its shelves and no home fully furnished without at least one illuminated miniature on its walls.”

James H. Billington, the 13th Librarian of Congress and renowned scholar of Russia, today announced that he will retire from the position of Librarian effective January 1, 2016. In a video announcement shared with all Library staff, Billington said, "Leading this great institution alongside all of you for nearly three decades has been the honor and joy of my 42 years of public service in Washington, D.C."

Billington informed President Barack Obama and called congressional leadership to share his plans. The vacancy will be filled by presidential nomination, with confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced the appointment of Juan Felipe Herrera as the Library’s 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, for 2015-2016. Herrera will take up his duties in the fall, participating in the Library of Congress National Book Festival on Saturday, September 5 and opening the Library’s annual literary season with a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium on Tuesday, September 15.

"I see in Herrera’s poems the work of an American original—work that takes the sublimity and largesse of "Leaves of Grass" and expands upon it," Billington said. "His poems engage in a serious sense of play—in language and in image—that I feel gives them enduring power. I see how they champion voices, traditions and histories, as well as a cultural perspective, which is a vital part of our larger American identity."


Peter de Sève, an illustrator and character designer for feature films, is the artist for the 2015 Library of Congress National Book Festival poster. De Sève is perhaps best known for his many cover illustrations for The New Yorker magazine, but he has also designed characters for such popular animated films as "The Prince of Egypt," "Mulan," "Ice Age" and "Finding Nemo." In 2000, de Sève received the National Cartoonists Society Magazine Illustration Award. His book festival poster features a young girl intensely absorbed by her book while assuming several contorted positions on an overstuffed chair.

"The poster is absolutely inspired by my two daughters, Paulina, 14 years old, and Fia, 9 years old," said de Sève. "They are both voracious readers and, frankly, my heart swells every time I see one of them curled up with a book, which is basically always. More specifically, the girl on the poster is Fia, whom I have found reading in almost every position you see on the poster. For her, reading is practically an Olympic sport."


FALLS CHURCH, Va.—Along with the traditional fare of rare books, Quinn’s Auction Galleries’ Waverly Rare Books and Maps Catalog #265 offers antique maps of European cities, North America and beyond. The highlight of the June 11 auction is an 18th-century orrery, an apparatus that shows the movements of planets around the sun.

The hand-cranked device shows the movements of Mercury, Venus and Earth around the Sun, and the Moon around the Earth, all above a printed, colored dial. W. & S. Jones, London, manufactured “A Table of the Principal Affections of the Planets,” which is dated Jan. 1, 1794. Contained in a mahogany case that measures 13 3/8in x 13 5/8in x 7 1/8in, the orrery is expected to sell for $15,000-$25,000.


LONDON, Maddox Street—200 years after the Battle of Waterloo and the death of James Gillray, Bloomsbury Auctions celebrate political and social cartoons with their auction of Napoleonic & Georgian Social and Political Satire. The sale on Thursday 25th June at Bloomsbury House, London, includes the studiously compiled collection of Lord Baker, which takes the buyer on a visual, chronological tour through the Napoleonic era.

Long known for his fascination for, and expertise in, the English caricature, Lord Baker’s comprehensive Napoleon collection opens the sale with the earliest appearances of Napoleon in English caricature, both by Isaac Cruikshank, who had clearly never actually seen his subject [Lots 1 & 2].

DALLAS—Andy Warhol’s Moonwalk, 1987, direct from the private collection of moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, shattered its previous $111,873 record to sell for $173,000 following interest by 22 bidders in Heritage Auctions’ $4+ million Modern & Contemporary Art Auction in Dallas May 30 in Dallas.

“In some cases, single lots saw action by more than a dozen bidders each—and nearly two dozen bidders for select works,” said Frank Hettig, Director of Modern & Contemporary Art at Heritage Auctions. “Bidders come to our Modern and Contemporary Art auctions with high expectations and we were thrilled to meet and exceed them this season.”


Lucian Freud (1922-2011) was perceived as being so reluctant to talk about his late teenage years that he came under criticism for constructing his own, mythical narrative of his youth. Now, ten unpublished letters written by the teenage artist to his friend, the famous poet and critic Stephen Spender (1909-1995), have emerged from the Spender family collection after 70 years. Casting light on the formative years of one of the most influential British artists of the 20th-century, they will be offered at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Auction on 2nd July 2015 with a combined estimate of £28,000-42,000.

The letters will be sold alongside two works by Frank Auerbach (b. 1931) from the same collection including Head of Gerda Boehm (1961), one of the artist’s finest works on paper estimated at £250,000-350,000.

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A signed first edition of one the 20th century’s greatest novels, James Joyce’s Ulysses, is part of a large collection of the author’s work to be offered at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on 24 June. It is estimated at £60,000-80,000 and the collection has a combined upper estimate of £300,000.

The book is an author’s presentation copy printed on hand made paper and was given to Lewis Galantiere, an American translator of French literature living in Paris where he met Joyce and other leading literary figures of the day.  Ulysses was published in France as it was considered too obscene to publish in England.  Dated 11 February 1922, this is the earliest known presentation copy apart from the one Joyce gave to his wife Nora on the actual day of publication, 2 February 1922, the author’s 40th birthday.  Printing was hampered by difficulties over the colour for the cover which Joyce wanted to match the blue of the Greek flag.

BOSTON—Today, the Boston Public Library announced that two missing pieces of artwork from the library’s 200,000 item Print Collection have been found. The missing Dürer and Rembrandt prints had been misfiled and were located by Conservation Officer Lauren Schott during an 8-week search of the BPL’s print stacks.

“We’re thrilled to have found these treasures right here at home,” said Library President Amy Ryan. “They were found safe and sound, simply misfiled. BPL is still committed to enhanced security and a full inventory, but today is a day of celebration for the entire team at BPL. The staff couldn’t be happier after hundreds of hours of searching. I want to thank the FBI, Boston Police Department, and US Attorney’s Office for their work throughout this period.”

DALLAS—The original art from Alex Raymond’s March 21, 1939 Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim Sunday comic strip (King Features Syndicate) brought $155,350 on Friday, May 29, 2015 at Heritage Auctions—the third highest price ever realized on a piece of original comic strip art at the company—to pace the company’s $6+ million Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction, May 28-30, 2015. 

“Collector interest in original art continues to be strong,” said Ed Jaster, Senior Vice President at Heritage Auctions, “especially as concerns the big names in early comic strips.”


AUSTIN, Texas—The archive of Ben Bradlee (1921-2014), former editor of The Washington Post, has been donated to the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.

With many of the materials spanning the era of Bradlee's editorial tenure at the Post from 1965 to 1991, the archive documents the career of Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, whom former San Francisco Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein identified as the "last of the lion-king newspaper editors."

Minnesota Center for Book Arts (MCBA) is proud to announce the five finalists for this year's MCBA Prize — established in 2009 as the first honor to recognize book art from across the field and around the world.

For the 2015 competition — celebrated in coordination with MCBA’s 30th Anniversary — a jury of three experts in the field of book arts reviewed 170 submissions. Entries represented 18 nations around the world on five continents, including 34 of the 50 United States.

South Kensington—On 17 June Christie’s South Kensington will offer Three Country House Collections: Glebe House, the Property of the late Mr. Anthony Hobson; Mont Pellier, the Property of the late Mrs. Barbara Overland and Woodbury House, the Property of the late The Hon. Mr. & Mrs. Anthony Samuel. These three country house collections perfectly encapsulate the English home and together they present a superb selection of English and European furniture, Old Master paintings and drawings, decorative objects, silver and porcelain. The sale comprises over 350 lots with estimates ranging from £500 to £50,000. The pre-auction viewing at Christie’s 85 Old Brompton Road will be open from 12 to 16 June for connoisseurs, decorators and collectors alike to explore the essence of the English country house.

Auction Guide