Monday, November 26, 2012

A.S.W. Rosenbach in Photos

A.S.W. Rosenbach (1876-1952), legendary bookseller and collector, was a media darling in an age when important sales of rare books and manuscripts featured prominently in the news.  These three original news service photographs in my collection span the prime of his career from the early 1920s to the late 1940s.  A photograph may not always be worth the thousand proverbial words but it certainly can add an immediacy and texture to a collection not found on the written page.  The stories behind each photograph are given below.  The one thread that I found intriguing in all the original news wire descriptions was the emphasis on Rosenbach as a "collector" as much as a dealer in the eyes of the media-- even though it was obvious he was buying items for clients.  Rosenbach cultivated this image as a collector but it was no marketing mirage.  He salted away many items that he couldn't resist, showing them off to visitors while alive, and left behind the fine Rosenbach Museum holdings in Philadelphia are a testament to his acumen.

Rosenbach in 1921 entering his prime. He had just arrived back home after dominating the Christie Miller Library auction at Sotheby’s London where “[Henry] Huntington’s money and Dr. R.’s aplomb swept all before them.  .  . Lot after lot was offered; with boring consistency, no matter what others bid, the Doctor bid a little higher” (Wolf & Fleming Rosenbach).  He also had strong bids from Henry Folger. Now that makes for a happy bookman.
For further photographs read on....