Library News (Spring 2006)

by Francis Campbell

Siegfried von Schuckman settles accounts.

It took place on January 12, in the Waldorf-Astoria’s Louis XVI Suite. The parties involved pursued the objects offered with a fervor driven by the urge to have sole possession. At the end of the affair, the satisfied parties, those who had held their arms erect the longest, were able to claim the prizes. Of course, the affair to which I refer is the book auction held in conjunction with this year’s ANS Gala Dinner and the New York International for the benefit of the Library Chair Endowment. The room was filled with eager attendees from four continents, enticed by sixty-four lots of rare and important numismatic works. Making it all possible were the sale’s donors, who included Dr. Lawrence A. Adams, John W. Adams, William A. Burd, Dan Hamelberg, David Hendin, John R. Melville Jones, Jonathan H. Kagan, George F. Kolbe, Herbert Kreindler, David R. Sear, Roger Siboni, Spink & Son Ltd., Anthony Terranova, Lev Tsitrin, Alan Walker (LHS Numismatik), Andrew Washton, Arnold-Peter Weiss, and Rick B. Witschonke.

Among the items offered were two gems of the sixteenth century. The first, “one of the most attractive early illustrated numismatic books,” according to George Kolbe, was Jacob de Strada’s “Epitome Thesauri Antiquitatum,…” (Tiguri [Zurich]: apud Andream Gesnerum, 1557). The second work was the “Augustarum imagines … quae in posteriori parte numismatum efficta sunt…” (Venetis: Paulus Manutius, 1558), by Aeneas Vico, who, in the words of Ferdinando Bassoli, “united an uncommon talent as an artist and engraver in bronze with literary expertise.” Our thirty-ninth lot consisted of three beautifully bound folio volumes by Frans van Mieris entitled “Histori der Nederlandsche Vorsten,…” (Gravenhaage, 1732-1735), a history illustrated with Dutch medals up to the year 1555. The allegorical frontispiece to the first volume, by Bernard Picart, one of many he prepared for booksellers during his career, was chosen to adorn the cover of our Gala auction catalogue. Picart, who in 1724 had prepared the drawings of engraved gems for Philip von Stosch’s “Gemmae Antiqua,” also prepared the plates for Banier’s French translation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” in 1732, just a year before his death. Also offered was the “Descripcion general de las monedas Hispano-Cristianas desde la invasion de los Arabes” (Madrid, 1865-1869), by Aloiss Heiss. As the sale catalogue indicates, this three-volume set, “in spite of its age… remains a standard reference on the coins of the Spanish possessions in Italy and the Low Countries, as well as in Latin America.”

Frontispiece illustration apearing on auction catalogue. Original by Bernard Picart.

Among the American rarities offered were Henry Chapman’s sale of the Clarence S. Bement collection, May 29, 1916, and the sale catalogue of the Charles I. Bushnell collection, sold by Henry and Samuel Hudson Chapman, June 20-24, 1882, the sale that “established the Chapman brothers as the dominant force in American numismatics.” As a tribute to Q. David Bowers, the Society’s 2006 Annual Gala honoree, lot 10 of the sale bore the description “Bowersiana” and included “five key works on American numismatics” written by Dave.

Herbert Kreindler spots a bidder.

Eager bidders from four continents.

What is often forgotten in the wake of a successful event such as the Gala Book Auction are the people whose time and effort went into its planning, execution, and follow-up. George Kolbe, whose lot descriptions I have drawn upon herein, prepared a most attractive and informative catalogue and, as mentioned, was also a donor to the sale. John W. Adams, Chairman of the Library Committee, prepared the sale catalogue’s introductory comments and offered support and encouragement throughout. Herbert Kreindler, despite a busy schedule at the New York International Show, gave of his time in calling the auction. Gala Chairman Rick Witschonke was not only a donor to the auction but was also present at the Waldorf to maintain the bid book during the sale and assist with pre- and post-sale handling of the books to be auctioned.’

Harold Salvesen examines the offerings.

Charles Davis has found something.

Victor England’s firm, Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., and Ponterio & Associates, Inc., were kind enough to let us use their viewing rooms for pre-sale display of the books to be auctioned. Victor England was also the successful bidder for lot 64, a copy of the sale catalogue autographed by all of the attendees, which he then graciously donated to the ANS Library. He did the same two years ago at an earlier benefit auction held for the ANS Library at the 2004 ANA Convention in Pittsburgh. In addition, the Librarian would like to thank all those who submitted bids, as well as ANS staff members Juliette Pelletier, Joanne Isaac, Bill Hourigan, Alex Caamaño, and volunteer Normand Pepin, for their efforts in assuring that the Gala was truly an Affair to Remember.

Colin Pitchfork claims his prize.

Rick Witschonke and Herb Kreindler reconcile accounts.

All’s well that ends well. Frank Campbell, Librarian.