|Rosenbach in 1934 posing with the earliest draft of Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner" shortly after his victorious $24,000 auction bid. The auction was highly publicized and competition was unexpectedly fierce but Rosenbach had an ace in the hole. The manuscript came from the collection of Henry Walters. Walters had intended it as a bequest to the City of Baltimore where it would be housed in a permanent shrine. Because of estate complications the manuscript had to be offered at public sale. Behind the scenes maneuvering took place and Rosenbach represented the Walters estate at the auction with basically an unlimited bid. Nice publicity for Rosy, happy estate, and a key document in American history placed in a proper home. See Wolf & Fleming for more details.
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.