Book People | September 2022 | Rebecca Rego Barry

A Collection of Book Collectors

Coming to auction next month is a dazzling collection, notable for its first editions, modern illuminated manuscripts, and beautiful bindings. There’s a Nuremberg Chronicle, a Second Folio, and a Fourth Folio. Plus Arthur Conan Doyle, Samuel Johnson, and Mary Shelley, just to name a few of the stars.

It is the library of American lawyer Edward R. Leahy. “Quietly assembled with taste and discernment over more than a half century, the authors and the works are important, and the copies in this collection are particularly noteworthy for their extraordinary condition and provenance,” according to the Christie’s.

What I find interesting about it, though, is how many famous book collectors it also brings together. Those represented include Phoebe Boyle, Jerome Kern, A. Edward Newton, Estelle Doheny, H. Bradley Martin, Richard Manney, William E. Self, and Cornelius Hauck. Here are some highlights:

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Guinevere jeweled binding
From the Collection of Phoebe Boyle

Guinevere by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Alberto Sangorski for Riviere, 1913. From the celebrated collection of Phoebe Boyle, “probably the finest jeweled binding on a modern illuminated manuscript ever accomplished.” Estimate: $100,000-150,000.

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Woodman and the Nightingale binding
From the Collection of Jerome Kern

The Woodman and the Nightingale, illuminated binding in decorative morocco binding. Sangorski and Riviere, 1916. Formerly in the collection of Jerome Kern (and before that, Boyle!). Estimate: $20,000-30,000

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Life of Samuel Johnson, Newton copy
From the Collection of A. Edward Newton

Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell, 1741. The A. Edward Newton copy with uncancelled leaf. Estimate: $40,000-60,000

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Shelley in Cosway binding
From the Collection of Estelle Doheny

The Poetical Works, Percy B. Shelley, 1892. The Estelle Doheny copy in a Cosway-style binding, with delicate portrait miniature depicting Shelley. Estimate: $4,000-6,000

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Gray's Elegy
From the Collection of Bradley Martin

An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard by Thomas Gray, 1751. The Bradley Martin copy, uncut and sewn. Estimate: $40,000-60,000

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Moll Flanders first edition
From the Collection of Richard Manney

Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, first edition in a contemporary binding, 1722. The Litchfield-Borowitz-Manney copy. Estimate: $40,000-60,000

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Christmas Carol broadside
From the Collection of William E. Self

Christmas Carol! Broadside playbill, February 1844. From the collection of William E. Self. Estimate: $2,500-3,500

Credit: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2022
Lady Godiva illuminated manuscript
From the Collection of Cornelius J. Hauck

Lady Godiva, Alberto Sangorski manuscript, 1911. Formerly in the library of Cornelius J. Hauck. Estimate: $10,000-15,000