Henry E. Huntington's Library of Libraries

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9780873281539: Henry E. Huntington's Library of Libraries
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Henry E. Huntington was one of the most important book and manuscript collectors of the twentieth century. After making a fortune in the railroad industry, he set out to build a rare book and manuscript library. He succeeded in gathering his unequaled collections over a period of only fifteen years, a result not only of personal determination and almost unlimited means but of fortunate timing. In 1911, as he began to develop a serious interest in rare books, important private collections came on the market. In that year, Huntington acquired the most important rarities from the Elihu D. Church and Robert Hoe collections. When other libraries became available subsequently, he responded decisively with en bloc purchases, and the "library of libraries" was born. Between 1911 and 1917, Huntington dominated the book markets of New York and London.

This book recounts the story of those tumultuous years in the book trade. The reader is taken behind the scenes at the auction houses, and the strategies of the major book dealers of the early twentieth centuryespecially George D. Smith and A. S. W. Rosenbachare revealed in fascinating detail.

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After making a fortune in the railroad industry, Henry E. Huntington set out to build a rare book and manuscript library. He succeeded in gathering his unequaled collections over a period of only fifteen years, a result not only of personal determination and almost unlimited means but of fortunate timing. In 1911, as he began to develop a serious interest in rare books, important private collections came on the market. In that year, Huntington acquired the most important rarities from the Elihu D. Church and Robert Hoe collections. When other libraries became available subsequently, he responded decisively with en bloc purchases, and the "library of libraries" was born. Between 1911 and 1927, Huntington dominated the book markets of New York and London.

This book recounts the story of those tumultuous years in the book trade. The reader is taken behind the scenes at the auction houses, and the strategies of the major book dealers of the early twentieth century—especially George D. Smith and A. S. W. Rosenbach—are revealed in fascinating detail.

Huntington’s motives for collecting on a grand scale changed over time: he began by gathering a trove of sumptuous volumes to satisfy his own tastes and ended by endowing a research library for scholars. But his determination to obtain the best and the unique always controlled the direction of his buying. He brought this desire to excel with him from his career in railroading, along with a straightforward and competitive view of the way excellence was achieved.

Huntington was a builder. He created a vast business empire in Southern California and used his fortune to establish a renowned book and manuscript collection. The Huntington Library as it stands today, a center for humanistic research, is a testament to both his careful planning and his generosity.

About the Author:

Donald C. Dickinson, Professor Emeritus of library science at the University of Arizona, Tucson, is the author of "The Dictionary of American Book Collectors" (1986), "George Watson Cole" (1990), "The Dictionary of American Antiquarian Book Dealers" (1998), "Dictionary of American Antiquarian Bookdealers" (1998), and numerous articles on book collecting and bibliography.

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9780873282031: Henry E. Huntington's Library of Libraries

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ISBN 10:  0873282035 ISBN 13:  9780873282031
Publisher: Huntington Library Press, 1995
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