I find that there is something utterly compelling about old books. Whether MS, antiquarian, first editions, or piles of yellowing Penguins, the thought of all the people who have handled, read and been inspired by their contents never fails to stop me in my tracks.
Today I went over to the Grosvenor House Hotel, which is hosting a small edit from the Baroque and Roccoco rare books segment from the Collection of Arthur & Charlotte Vershbow. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Arthur Vershbow (1922-2012) married Charlotte (1924-2000) in 1947 and they quickly became avid collectors, especially with opportunities to purchase fine books that came up in the years following the Second World War. Upon Arthur Vershbow’s death last year, his estate decided to disperse the book collection.
Over 70 pieces from the collection are on display, including a first edition, hand coloured copy of Aesop’s Fables dating from 1651, Johann Christoph Volckamer’s first edition of one of the most celebrated 18th century fruit books from 1714, and Giuseppe Zocchi’s Vedute delle ville, e d’altri luoghi della Toscana, Firenze, 1757. There is also some quite glorious Piranesi work.
I was lucky enough to be talked through the exhibit by James Lecky, Head of Books at Christies New York, who must have one of the best jobs in the world. He is handling the sale of the entire collection, of which the June sale is only one part: The Vershbow Collection is one of the most celebrated American book collections and is to be sold throughout 2013 in four parts.
They are here in London for just three days as a preview for their auction by Christies New York at the end of the month. With possibly eighty percent of the collection expected to stay in private hands, this is probably the only chance ever for people in the UK to see some of these glorious works in person. So if you get a chance do swing by: It finishes on Thursday afternoon.
There is more information on the Christies auction here.
The exhibition is open to the public in London:
Tuesday, 4 June – Thursday, 6 June 2013
10:00am – 5:00pm
Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel.
86-90 Park Lane, London, W1K 7TN