Source: The Irish Times
By: Michael Parsons
The Jesuit Order in Ireland is to dispose of its internationally important collection of rare books and medieval manuscripts valued at more than €2 million. Thousands of books from the collection have already been shipped to London and will go under the hammer in a major auction at Sotheby’s next summer.
The international auction house says the “rich collection” – owned for the last 117 years by the Jesuit Community at Milltown Park, Dublin – is “one of the most important of its kind to come to the market” and includes rare printed books from the 15th century, early editions of Shakespeare, English and continental literature and medieval manuscripts.
A spokeswoman for Sotheby’s told The Irish Times that “before putting the books up for sale, the Jesuits contacted the National Library of Ireland to enable them to review the collection and consider if they would like a number of important books and manuscripts on long-term loan.
As a result, a group of books and manuscripts were delivered to the National Library of Ireland” last month. However, the bulk of the collection will be sold in an auction that is expected to raise £1.5 million (€1.8 million) and possibly more.
The collection is currently being cataloged and the auction will take place on June 7th next in Sotheby’s saleroom at New Bond Street, London.
The Jesuits will use the proceeds of the sale for charitable purposes including “the upkeep of churches, the care of invalid priests, relief of the poor and religious education.”
“The library at Milltown isn’t equipped to care for these fragile books that require such specialist conservation and facilities,” Sotheby’s said, “hence the decision to disperse the collection.”
Among the books that will not be sold and have, instead, been given by the Jesuits “on long-term loan” to the National Library are what Sotheby’s described as “a rare manuscript on the kingdom of Ireland”, De Regno Hiberniae sanctorum insula commentaries by Peter Lombard, the archbishop of Armagh who died in 1625, “and several incunabula [a Latin term for books printed before 1500], including books by Boethius and Thomas Aquinas, some of which are copies unique to Ireland”.
Specialist care required
A spokesperson for the Jesuits in Ireland said many of the books and manuscripts “are of such an age that they require specialist care and conservation” and that the sale would “allow for these precious books to be properly cared for and appreciated”.
The main Jesuit Library at Milltown, which serves the schools of philosophy and theology, will not be affected by the sale and “will still hold all the important and unique theology and philosophy books” needed by students.
The Government has already approved export licences allowing the collection to be shipped overseas. Sotheby’s told The Irish Times that “export licences have been granted for the sale by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, in consultation with the National Library.”
The collection is known as “the O’Brien Library” as it was originally assembled in the 19th century by Irish judge and noted book collector, Cork-born Justice William O’Brien, who died in 1899. He bequeathed the collection to the Jesuit community at Milltown Park. Ironically, O’Brien had bought some of the books at an auction in Sotheby’s in London in 1890.
Sotheby’s said that “the O’Brien library has barely ever been consulted by students or scholars in the past 100 years” and that “after the sale, Dublin will still be rich in libraries with similar collections”, including those at Trinity College and Marsh’s Library.
The Jesuits, an international Catholic religious order formally known as the Society of Jesus, established its “province” in Ireland in 1860. The order has long played a prominent role in Irish education. Among its best-known schools are Belvedere College, Clongowes Wood College and Gonzaga College. Pope Francis, a Jesuit formerly known as Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio, spent some time at Milltown Park in 1980 learning English.
In 1993, the Jesuits in Ireland gave Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ on “indefinite loan” to to the National Gallery. The painting, believed to be worth at least €50 million, had hung, undiscovered for decades, in the Jesuit House of Writers at Lower Leeson Street, Dublin.[Top]
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com
WENHAM, Mass. – A decision by a Christian college to auction a portion of its rare collection of Bibles and Shakespeare folios donated nearly a century ago by the family of a railroad executive isn’t sitting well with his descendants and some faculty members.
The family of Edward Payson Vining donated the 7,000-volume collection to Gordon College, outside Boston, in 1922 with the condition that it remain intact and with the college.
Gordon, which was thrust into the national spotlight last year when its president joined other religious leaders in calling for an exemption to federal workplace protections for gay and transgender workers, wants to sell about 10 percent of the collection, saying it could generate as much as $2.5 million to help preserve the remainder.
“Simply put, the college believes the best way to honor the larger intent of this collection … is applying the proceeds of the sale of the 10 percent of the collection to preserve and maintain the larger 90 percent,” Gordon spokesman Rick Sweeney said.
The sale has the support of the college’s trustees, he said. It originally was scheduled for April but has been postponed indefinitely for an unspecified reason.
Vining’s great-granddaughter, 76-year-old Sandra Webber, told The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/181rHAg ) she was “shocked” when she was told of the sale by a reporter.
“I know his collection would not want to be broken up,” she said.
Faculty members say they were left out of the decision-making process.
“The Vining collection is an example of the larger issue of a breakdown between the faculty and the administration,” said James Trent, a professor of sociology and social work.
The sale also has disappointed donor Dale E. Fowler, who told the Globe he was considering withdrawing a $60 million bequest. He blamed college president D. Michael Lindsay, who spearheaded the auction.
Officials at Gordon College later insisted Fowler wasn’t considering withdrawing his bequest. Fowler didn’t return messages from The Associated Press seeking comment or clarification on Thursday.
The collection includes a Ximenes Greek Bible, a first-edition Martin Luther German Bible and “Up-Biblum God,” a 1663 Bible translated by the Puritan missionary John Eliot into Algonquin.
Some volumes date to the 1400s and are written in ancient languages from Australia, Southeast Asia and Mexico, said professor K. David Goss, who doesn’t want to see the collection broken up.[Top]
A rare book “les Essais de Montaigne” garnered strong interest from many antiquarian book dealers and was finally hammered down at $9,600 at Kaminski Auctions Sale.
Pre sale estimate – Les Essais de Michel Seigneur de Montaigne, Abel L’Angelier, Paris, 1595, 19th century rebinding, all three books in one volume, bound in full red kid leather with inner gilt borders and marbled end pages, the spine lettered in gilt with five raised bands, gilt page edges, 13 1/4″h x 9 1/4″w. Provenance: From a Massachusetts estate.
EST: $3,000 – $5,000
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Book was defaced by an irate reader who regarded the book as pornographic…
A copy of Ulysses by James Joyce in which a previous reader has written “A Pornographic Bible” under the title. Photograph: Philip Cloherty
Source: The Irish Times
By: Michael Parsons
Tue, Dec 31, 2013, 01:00
A first-edition copy of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses has been valued at €13,500 despite having been defaced by an irate reader who regarded the book as pornographic.
Galway-based rare book dealer Norman Healy, who acquired the book in London, said a previous owner had defaced the book by writing the comment “a pornographic Bible” on the famous blue paper cover beneath the title. The word “pornographic” is underlined.
Defaced books are often worthless but such is the desirability of first-edition copies of Ulysses it has been catalogued for resale at €13,500. Mr Healy said the book would normally be valued at about €10,500 but he believed the comment, added by “a previous, less than enthusiastic owner”, had enhanced the value.
The identity of the previous owner is not known but the defacement is likely to have occurred long before the book’s importance and financial value became apparent. The comment reflected the view, widely held in the early 20th century, that Ulysses was scandalous.
Ulysses was published in Paris on Joyce’s 40th birthday, February 2nd, 1922, by Sylvia Beach, an American publisher and founder of the Paris bookshop Shakespeare and Company. A thousand numbered copies were printed, clad in soft covers that featured the title and the author’s name in white on a blue background. A copy can be worth tens or hundreds of thousands of euro, depending on the condition and whether or not it was signed or inscribed by Joyce.
For collectors of rare books, Ulysses is said to be the most sought-after and valuable 20th century first edition. The most valuable are those rare examples that still have the fragile dust-jacket wrapper intact and were signed or inscribed by Joyce.
The defaced “pornographic” copy is missing half the dust jacket and was not signed by Joyce.
The highest price achieved to date for a first edition of Ulysses was for a copy, inscribed by Joyce to Henry Kaeser, a Swiss publisher, that was sold in 2002 at Christie’s, New York, to a private collector for $460,500 (€333,600).
Of the 1,000 first-edition copies of Ulysses, 200 are reliably believed lost or destroyed. Of the 800 copies known to be extant, about half are in public collections – including that of the National Library – and the others are privately owned. Copies occasionally turn up at auction or for sale by dealers.
In the 1920s the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice ensured Ulysses was effectively banned in the United Sates and copies sent there were seized and destroyed by the post office. Despite strict censorship during the 20th century, Ulysses was not banned in Ireland but was not imported, for fear of a prosecution.
Even some of Joyce’s literary contemporaries expressed disapproval of the novel. DH Lawrence regarded Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at the end of the novel as “the dirtiest, most indecent, obscene thing ever written” and told his wife: “This Ulysses muck is more disgusting than Casanova.”
Virginia Woolf was shocked by the “obscenity” she encountered in Ulysses.
In 1934, a US court ruled that the book was neither pornographic nor and obscene. Further editions were then published and the novel became available worldwide.[Top]
A tiny book of psalms from 1640, believed to be the first book printed in what’s now the United States, sold for just under $14.2 million on Tuesday, setting an auction record for a printed book.
The Bay Psalm Book, which was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Manhattan, had a pre-sale estimate of $15 million to $30 million. A copy of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” was the previous record-holder, selling for $11.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2010.
Only 11 copies of the Bay Psalm Book survive in varying degrees of completeness. The book sold at Sotheby’s was one of two owned by Boston’s Old South Church, which voted to sell it to increase its grants and ministries. Samuel Adams was a member and Benjamin Franklin was baptized at the church, which was established in 1669.
“This is enormous for us,” said the Rev. Nancy Taylor, senior minister of the church. “It is life-changing for the ministries we can do.”
The book was bought over the phone by American businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein, who plans to lend it to libraries around the country. The sale price included the buyer’s premium.
In April, Taylor called the book “spectacular” and said it is “arguably one of the most important books in this nation’s history.”
The church owned five copies of the 6-inch-by-5-inch book. One is now at the Library of Congress, one is at Yale University and one is at Brown University.
The book was published in Cambridge, Mass., by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony just 20 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth.
It was supposed to be a faithful translation into English of the original Hebrew psalms – puritans believed selected paraphrases would compromise their salvation. The 1,700 copies were printed on a press shipped from London.
A yellowed title page, adorned with decorative flourishes, reads: “The Whole Booke of Psalmes, Faithfully Translated into English Metre.” At the bottom, it says: “Imprinted 1640.”
Historians believe an almanac may have come off the press before the Bay Psalm Book. But the chief of rare books and special collections at the Library of Congress, Mark Dimunation, has said the almanac was more of a pamphlet or a broadsheet than a book. No copy of the almanac exists today. Dimunation noted that in the Americas, in general, books were printed in what is now Mexico as early as 1539.
“American poetry, American spirituality and the printed page all kind of combine and find themselves located in a single volume,” Dimunation said of the Bay Psalm Book.
The last time a copy came on the auction block, in 1947, it sold for a record auction price of $151,000, surpassing auction prices for the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare’s First Folio and “Birds of America.”
The auction record for any book goes to the Leonardo da Vinci Codex Hammer, a personal notebook of scientific writings and diagrams. It sold for $30.8 million at Christie’s auction house in 1994.[Top]
November 7, 2013 11:00 am by Frances Dinkelspiel
Photo: Scott Brown
When Peter Howard, the owner of Serendipity Books, died in March 2011, he left behind more than one million books crammed into his two-level store on University Avenue in Berkeley with the oak barrel hanging out front.
Howard’s collection of rare and antique books was considered one of the best in the country; he often sold books and manuscripts to places like the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley or the Lilly Library at Indiana University.
The collection included so many amazing items that Bonham’s held six different auctions of his holdings, selling off early editions of John Steinbeck, a broadside by James Joyce, many modern first editions, early baseball memorabilia — even poet Carl Sandburg’s guitar.
But there are still books left to sell. More than 100,000 books, in fact.
On Saturday at 10 a.m., the doors of Serendipity Books at 1201 University Ave. will open for what will surely be one of Berkeley’s most memorable used-book fairs. Eureka Books of Eureka, California, acquired the remainder of the Serendipity collection, and will sell the books on most weekends through Dec. 15. The books start out at $5 early in the sale, and will drop to $1 each in mid-December.
“It was a one of a kind place,” said Scott Brown, the co-owner of Eureka Books, who was also a longtime Serendipity customer. “I don’t think there is another bookstore like Serendipity around.”
The bookstore was a jumble of books stacked high in shelves and in boxes and bags when Howard, 72, died of pancreatic cancer. The auctioneers moved out most of the books, but the store was still a wreck when Eureka Books came in to sort, said Brown. Workers spent weeks reassembling the place.
The mystery section of the second floor was virtually impassable, with bags of books blocking the floor. Many books were still stacked up on high shelves and were unreachable; the Eureka staff brought them down to viewing height. The shelves in the front room were almost empty, but now have been refilled with books from other parts of the store. (The shelves and other fixtures are also for sale.)
“It would not be wrong to say there were 1,000 bags and boxes filled with books in the store,” said Brown. “By the time we unpacked those I would say the whole ground floor was full again.”
Even though the best books were auctioned off, many gems remain, said Brown. There will be an entire section of 18th- and 19th-century leather books on sale for $5.
“While there are no $1,000 books laying around, we left many, many things that were priced in the hundreds,” said Brown.
Howard’s daughters plan to keep the University Avenue building and find a new tenant after the sale, said Brown. They donated Howard’s correspondence with literary luminaries like J. D. Salinger, Graham Greene and Larry McMurtry to the Lilly Library, he said.
A number of leather-bound old books will be on sale for $5 at the Serendipity Books liquidation sale.
Howard started Serendipity Books in 1967 in a small store on Shattuck Avenue and moved to the University Avenue location in 1986. Howard collected a voluminous number of books – he often bought individual’s entire collections. He had a reputation as an astute rare-book dealer. He discovered and saved many important manuscript collections, as well as collecting works by both well-known and lesser-known writers. He consulted with major libraries on what to buy and how much to bid.
“He was one of the major antiquarian book dealers of our time,” said Victoria Shoemaker, a literary agent, close friend and former neighbor of Howard’s.
Howard made some notable purchases in his lengthy career as a bookseller.
In the late 1990s, he bought the 18,000-volume collection of Carter Burden, a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and a progressive New York politician and businessman. The size of the collection prompted Howard to install space-saving compact shelving, making Serendipity the only bookstore in the world to have such shelving.
In 1991, Howard was offered the archives of Thomas M. Jackson, an Oakland grocer who had served as secretary for the California chapter of the NAACP from 1910 and 1940. After Jackson died, in 1963, someone took his papers to the Berkeley dump. Someone else rescued them and asked Howard to help them find a proper home. Howard sold the papers to the Bancroft Library.
Later in that decade, someone found 946 letters exchanged between two Japanese-American teenagers who met at an internment camp in Utah. Tamaki Tsubokura and David Hisato Yamate were separated for a few years during the war, and they wrote to one another frequently. These letters were also dumped at the Berkeley landfill and later rescued. Howard brokered their sale to the University of Utah.
One indication of the reverence in which Howard was held by the rare-book community came every two years around the time of the Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco. Howard would throw a huge party at Serendipity Books the Wednesday before the fair. He would clear the books in his store out of the aisles and off of the tables, tent-over the parking lot, and have Poulet cater the meal. He would have a suckling pig, and the printer, Alistair Johnson, would print up the menu, said Dahm. The party was so popular that the store and tent were jammed.
The liquidation sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. almost every weekend through Dec. 15th. Check Here for schedule.
All books will be $5 on Nov. 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, and 17th. Then the price will drop to $3 each book on Nov. 21, 22, 23, and Dec. 5, 6, and 7. The prices drop to $1 on Dec. 12, 13, 14, and 15th.
Visit the Serendipity Books Liquidation sale Facebook page.[Top]