James S. Copley Library
January 27, 2010 11:05 AM
Beginning in April 2010, Sotheby’s New York will have the privilege of offering the James S. Copley Library, an astonishing survey in original manuscripts of American history and worldwide literary, artistic and scientific achievement. The core of the collection is its remarkable range of handwritten letters, documents, and other manuscripts which trace this history of America from the earliest incursions of Jesuit missionaries into California through the archive of letters sent by General Eisenhower to his wife from the battlefields of Europe. The depth and breadth of the library is astounding, reflecting the interest and passions of an inspired collector and newspaper publisher along with a dedicated curator who together sought the finest works available.
Assembled primarily during the 1960s and 70s, a ‘Golden Age’ for manuscript collecting, the Library numbers approximately 2,000 manuscripts, books, pamphlets, broadsides and maps and is valued at more than $15 million. Consigned by The Copley Press, Inc., the Library will be sold in a series of eight auctions that will be held over the course of a year, beginning in April.
Always a voracious reader, Mr.
Copley’s manuscript collecting
made him realize he could also
obtain first editions as well as
original letters of his favorite
authors - principal among them
is his fellow California
newspaper man, Mark Twain. The
Mark Twain Collection is rich in
letters, both to Twain’s
publishers and family and
friends. A number of manuscripts
relate to some of his more
famous publications and the
collection also includes an
manuscript entitled A Family
Sketch. Other literary and
luminaries featured in the
collection include Emily
Dickinson, F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur
Conan Doyle, T. S. Eliot,
Charlotte Brontë, Willa Cather,
James Joyce, George Gershwin,
Julia Ward Howe, and Peter Ilich
Tchaikovsky, among many others.
Achievements in science and the
minds behind them also
fascinated Mr. Copley, and among
the offerings from the Library
is a significant group of
letters and two speeches by
Albert Einstein. Other
noteworthy names acquired by Mr.
Copley include Sir Isaac Newton,
Curie, Louis Pasteur, Charles
Darwin, Thomas Edison and
Alexander Graham Bell.
“In our years of handling private collections, this is a rare opportunity for existing and new collectors to find such a comprehensive treasure trove of American historical documents, books, manuscripts and fine art, including autographs of all the signers of the Declaration of Independence, manuscripts from Presidents Washington to Lincoln and beyond, examples of prolific Americans such as Mark Twain, Albert Einstein and George Gershwin as well as so many other iconic works. It is a veritable Who’s Who from three centuries of America.”
AUCTION SCHEDULE FOR THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY
April 14, 2010