Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2019 Issue

Major Fire at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in St. Louis

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Flames rise from the Karpelis Manuscript Museum in St. Louis.

A major fire struck the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in St. Louis on the night of March 26. It both was and was not devastating. There was extensive damage to the building, with flames shooting high into the night air from the roof and second story windows. It took firefighters a couple of hours to put it out. Originally built in 1907 as a Christian Science Church, the structure has housed the Karpeles manuscript collection since 2015. It also housed the collection of the St. Louis Media History Foundation. The latter specializes in historic newspapers, photographs, and other documents pertaining to St. Louis' print, radio, and television history.

 

Whether the building can or should be saved is not yet clear. The roof caved in and damage was extensive to the second floor and back of the building. However, it is a solid, steel reinforced structure, and the front was not seriously damaged.

 

Now for the good news - the material inside escaped unscathed. Between firefighters and museum associates, it was all taken out of the building before the fire or water from the hoses reached it. The historic material from both organizations was saved. In the case of the Karpeles collection, that includes both St. Louis items, such as documents pertaining to Charles Lindbergh's famous flight in 1927, to others national or international in scope. It was taken to private homes for safekeeping until such time as a permanent home is prepared for it.

 

For many readers, the next question will be, what is the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum? This is even more interesting than the fire. The Karpeles Museum is actually comprised of numerous locations in unexpected places, which explains its relative obscurity. This story goes back to 1983, when it was founded by David and Marsha Karpeles.

 

David Karpeles is a mathematician who has held both university and private industry positions. However, the Karpeles also have been successful real estate investors, which provided the funds needed to develop a major manuscript collection. The collection began after a visit to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, with two of their children. They were fascinated by the original documents they saw, not just copies, but those created by the hands of great people years ago. They began collecting manuscripts, and as they filled more spaces in their home, looked for a location where they could be shared with others. That led to the opening of the first Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Santa Barbara in 1983.

 

There are a few surprising things about the Karpeles Museum. One is that admission is free. The Karpeles were particularly interested in making the manuscripts accessible to children. The cost of admission is such that even a child can afford a visit. Another is that it is held in numerous locations around the country. There are 14 buildings in 12 cities that house parts of the collection. Each has some documents of local interest, while others are rotated around the locations, enabling residents of each city to see major pieces in the collection at various times.

 

Here is one more surprising thing - the museums are not located in major cities like New York or Los Angeles. St. Louis is the largest city with a Karpeles Museum. The others are Buffalo, Charleston, Duluth, Jacksonville, Santa Barbara, Tacoma, Shreveport, Fort Wayne, Rock Island, Illinois, Newburgh, New York, and Alvin, Texas. The explanation is that they once opened a museum in New York City. Hardly anyone came. There is no shortage of museums filled with wonderful things in New York. However, when they took the exhibition to Jacksonville, the place was flooded with visitors. They were reaching people without access to such material as is available in New York.

 

Along with the historic collections, the Karpeles chose to do one more act of preservation. They placed their museums in historic buildings. That is how the St. Louis museum ended up in a century-old church. They are often in historic neighborhoods as well, part of the reason why they can be somewhat obscure even to locals. They may not be where you would expect to find a museum.

 

The Karpeles collection began with the purchase of a draft of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Other manuscripts now in the collection include a proposed draft of the Bill of Rights, a declaration of allegiance from various American Indian tribes, the Thanksgiving Proclamation of George Washington, and the Confederate States Constitution. It is not limited to such American historical documents. There are manuscripts from musicians such as Beethoven and Mozart, scientists including Einstein and Darwin, religious figures including Calvin and Luther, even Peter Roget's original thesaurus. It now numbers over one million items. We are not aware of a private manuscript collection quite like this, other than the Aristophil collection in France. However, that one was built as a financial investment, and as a Ponzi scheme at that. When the scheme collapsed, it became necessary to sell the collection. That sale is currently underway and will continue for several more years. One imagines the Karpeles will be keeping close tabs on those sales to see what comes up.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A further selection of<br>16th and 17th century English books from the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>24 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Locke (John). <i>An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding in Four Books,</i> first edition, second issue, 1690. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Plutarch. <i>The lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes, compared together by that graue learned philosopher and historiographer, Plutarke of Chæronea,</i> first edition of this translation, 1579. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> [Allott (Robert, editor)]. <i>Wits Theater of the little World,</i> first edition, 1599. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A further selection of 16th and 17th century English books<br>from the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>24 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Execution of Quakers in Boston.- Stephenson (Marmaduke). <i>A Call from Death to Life,</i> first edition, 1660. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Boyle (Robert). <i>The sceptical chymist: or Chymico-physical doubts & paradoxes…,</i> 2 parts in 1 vol., second edition, 1680. £3,500 to £4,500.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Atlases.- Morden (Robert). <i>[Geography Rectified: or, A Description of the World],</i> [c.1688]. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A further selection of 16th and 17th century English books<br>from the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>24 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Bread.- Penkethman (John). <i>Artachthos or a New Booke declaring the Assise or Weight of Bread,</i> 1638. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Anatomy.- Collins (Samuel). <i>A Systeme of Anatomy, treating of the Body of Man, Beasts, Birds, Fish, Insects, and Plants,</i> 2 vol., first edition, 1685. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Wine.- [Ames (Richard)]. <i>The Bacchanalian Sessions; or The Conten' tion of Liquors: With a Farewel to Wine,</i> first edition, 1693. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>A further selection of 16th and 17th century English books<br>from the Fox Pointe Manor Library<br>24 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Witchcraft.- Bekker (Balthasar). <i>The World Bewitch'd; or, An Examination of the Common Opinions Concerning Spirits,</i> vol. 1 (all published), first English edition, 1695. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Great Plague and Great Fire of London prophesied.- Lilly (William). <i>Monarchy or No Monarchy in England,</i> first edition, 1651. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 24:</b> Swimming.- Thevenot (Melchisédec). <i>The Art of Swimming. Illustrated by Proper Figures. With Advice for Bathing,</i> first edition in English, 1699. £1,500 to £2,000.
  • <center><b>Koller International Auctions<br>Books, Manuscripts & Autographs<br>23 September 2020</b>
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> Diderot, [Denis] - D'Alembert, [Jean Le Rond]. <i>Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers...</i> 17 text volumes, 4 supplement volumes, 11 plate volumes. €21,930 to €30,700.
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> [Philipon, Ch.]. <i>La Caricature,</i> Journal. No. 1-251 in 4 volumes. With 526 lithographs by H. Daumier, Grandville, A. Devéria, P. Gavarni, M. Delaporte, Adam, Raffet, Huot et al. €7,020 to €10,530.
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> Chagall, Marc. <i>Le Cirque</i>, Paris 1967. With 38 (of which 23 coloured and 3 double-page) original lithographs by M. Chagall. €61,400 to €78,950.
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> L'Isle, Guillaume de. <i>Atlas nouveau, contenant toutes les parties du monde.</i> [AND:] Sanson, Guillaume. <i>Inleidinge tot de geographie. 3 volumes.</i> €19,300 to €28,070.
    <center><b>Koller International Auctions<br>Books, Manuscripts & Autographs<br>23 September 2020</b>
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> Roberts, David. <i>The Holy Land, Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt, & Nubia…</i> Lithographed by Louis Haghe. 6 parts in 6 volumes. 238 original lithographs and 2 engraved maps. €19,300 to €28,070.
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> Berlèse, Lorenzo and Johann Jakob Jung. <i>Iconographie du genre camellia ou description et figures des camellia les plus beaux et les plus rares.</i> 3 volumes. With 301 coloured engraved plates. €17,540 to €21,930.
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> Merian, Maria Sybilla. <i>Over de voortteeling en wonderbaerlyke veranderingen der Surinaamsche insecten...</i> With engraved frontispiece, title vignette and 72 copperplates. €17,540 to €26,320.
    <b>Koller Auctions, Sep. 23:</b> Burckhardt, Johann Ludwig, Explorer. Collection of 24 handwritten letters from his youth and student days to his eldest (step) brother, Johann Burckhardt-Gemuseus and his wife Anna Elisabeth. €2,630 to €4,390.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>25 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Chagall (Marc). <i>Cirque,</i> one of 270 copies on Arches signed by the artist, 38 lithographs, 23 colour, Paris, Tériade Éditeur, 1967. £100,000 to £150,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Sangorski (Alberto).- Poe (Edgar Allan). <i>Annabel Lee and Other Poems,</i> illuminated manuscript in gold and colours, bound in turquoise morocco tooled in gilt and inlaid with 35 jewels, [c.1928]. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Darwin (Charles) and Alfred R. Wallace. “On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties...,” contained in <i>Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society,</i> 1859. £12,000 to £18,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>25 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Ornament.- Basque metalwork.- Zuloaga (Eusebio) and Workshop. Collection of twenty-three original ornament designs for damascening, [19th century]. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Arms and Armour.- Rugendas.- <i>Der Harnisch Von Seinem Entstehen Bis Zu Seinem Wiedervergehen In Bildern Dargestelt Und Gezeichnet,</i> [1714 and later]. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Webster (John). <i>A Monumental Columne, erected to the liuing memory of the euer-glorious Henry, late Prince of Wales,</i> rare first edition, Printed by N[icholas]. O[kes]. for William Welby, 1613. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>25 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Donne (John). <i>Poems, by J.D. with elegies on the Authors Death,</i> first edition, Printed by M[iles]. F[lesher]. for Iohn Marriot, 1633. £6,000 to £8,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Brangwyn (Frank). <i>Venice,</i> oil on canvas, [c. 1908]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Sewell (Anna). <i>Black Beauty: his Grooms and Companions. The Autobiography of a Horse,</i> first edition, original cloth, [1877]. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>25 September 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Gray (John Edward). <i>Gleanings from the Knowsley Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall,</i> first edition, one of c.100 copies privately printed for the author, 1850. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> George III (King). Warrant signed "George R" for the payment of £60,634 granted for the North American Provinces to the Province of Massachusetts Bay, D.s., manuscript, [c. 1761-62]. £2,000 to £2,500.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Sep. 25:</b> Mecca, Medina & Damascus.- 2 manuscript plans of Mecca and El Medinah and a map of Damascus, 3 detailed pen and ink drawings with 3pp. of manuscript notes, [late 19th century]. £1,000 to £1,500.
  • <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Selections from the Library of<br>Gerald and Barbara Weiner<br>Live and Online<br>October 8, 2020 / 10am CT</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> DARWIN, Charles Robert. <i>On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.</i> London: W. Clowes and Sons for John Murray, 1859. [With] autograph note signed. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> [FINE PRESS & LIVRE D'ARTISTE]. -- [KELMSCOTT PRESS]. CHAUCER, Geoffrey. <i>The Works ... now newly imprinted.</i> Edited by F.S. Ellis. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> LAWRENCE, Thomas Edward. <i>Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a triumph.</i> [London: Privately Printed], 1926. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Selections from the Library of<br>Gerald and Barbara Weiner<br>Live and Online<br>October 8, 2020 / 10am CT</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> SHAKESPEARE, William. <i>Mr. William Shakespear's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies…</i> London, Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, R. Chiswell, and R. Bentley, 1685. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> AUDUBON, John James. <i>The Birds of America…</i> [1839-] 1840-1844. -- AUDUBON, John James and John BACHMAN. <i>The Quadrupeds of North America.</i> 1849-1854. $60,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> OGILBY, John, trans. [MONTANUS, Arnoldus]. <i>America: being the latest, and most Accurate Description of the New World…</i> London: Printed by the Author, 1671. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Selections from the Library of<br>Gerald and Barbara Weiner<br>Live and Online<br>October 8, 2020 / 10am CT</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> HOBBES, Thomas. <i>Leviathan, or The Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill.</i> London: printed for Andrew Crooke, 1651. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> BLACKWELL, Elizabeth. <i>A Curious Herbal, containing Five Hundred Cuts of the most useful Plant which are now used in the Practice of Physick…</i> London: John Nourse, 1739. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> MILTON, John. <i>Paradise Lost.</i> London: Printed by S. Simmons ... to be sold by T. Helder, 1669. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <center><b>Hindman Auctions<br>Selections from the Library of<br>Gerald and Barbara Weiner<br>Live and Online<br>October 8, 2020 / 10am CT</b>
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> MALCOLM X. Typed letter signed ("Malcolm X"), to Alex Haley. Cairo, Egypt, 18 September 1964. " 1 page, 8vo. $6,000 to $8,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel. Autograph letter signed (“JRRT”). To George Sayer, Oxford, 7 August 1952. 2 pages, 8vo, creased; morocco folding case. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Hindman Auctions, Oct. 8:</b> WRIGHT, Frank Lloyd. Autograph manuscript signed ("Frank Lloyd Wright"), entitled "To the Countryside." N.p. [Taliesin?], [June 1926]. 2 pages, 4to, creased. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b> John Richard, sketchbook kept by soldier-artist during last months of Civil War, 55 drawings, 1865. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b> Guest register for Catskill Mountain House, with signatures of many notable guests, 1839-43, 1846-52. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b> Manuscript confirmation of arms & nobility, Esquivel y Vargas family, Salvatierra, Guanajuato, Mexico, 1731. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b> Elizabeth Shoumatoff, 3 watercolor studies for famous “Unfinished Portrait” of FDR, 1945. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b><br><i>Sa Ga Yean Qua Rash Tow, Coning Vande Maquas alias Coning Brant,</i> engraving by Pieter Schenck, Netherlands, c.1710s. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b> Stamp from the Stamp Act of 1765, embossed, “II Shillings VI Pence.” $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b><br><i>The Law of God,</i> five volumes, first edition, first Jewish translation of the Pentateuch into English, 1845-46. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b> Diary of James W. Bentley, a cavalry officer protecting settlers on the Overland Trail, 1865. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 24:</b> Pedro de Arenas, <i>Vocabulario manual de las lenguas castellana y mexicana,</i> complete first edition, Mexico, 1611. $12,000 to $18,000.

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