Sotheby's to Offer the James S. Copley Library's Original Manuscripts

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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.

“The Copley Library is of a scale that can likely never again be achieved by a private collector,” said David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s. “While institutional in scope and significance, the manuscripts and books in the Library clearly reflect the discernment of a passionate collector and equally passionate patriot. The birth, survival, and expansion of the United States is brilliantly documented in the writings of the men and women who founded and protected our nation. It would be wrong to think of the Copley Library as exclusively American, however. As a reader and a newspaperman, Mr. Copley had wide and eclectic interests, which also provided themes for the collection. Letters and manuscripts from authors, scientists, and musicians as diverse as Charlotte Brontë, Albert Einstein, and Tchaikovsky also found a place in the Library.”

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