Sunday, November 29, 2015

Collector Profile Bill Glaseman

 Note from Lew
When I retired  my employer held a farewell luncheon for me in Chicago.
I continued westward and visited friends along the way
In Arizona I made an appointment to see Bill Glaseman ..
Looking back, six years later it was the highlight of my trip.
Bill was ninety four years old  and he was (and still is) at the top of his game.
I am pleased to publish this long overdue tribute to him.

How did you stumble into bookplate collecting ?

My introduction to bookplates came in a rather interesting manner.In an attempt to purchase a fresh water pearl ring for my wife ,I visited an estate dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. He specialized in buying out old estates , and reselling jewelry.His office was overrun with mounted works of art which caught my attention. I inquired about them and was told they were bookplates .
I purchased the ring, which had to be sized ,so I had to come back a week later to pick it up.
When I returned I  was drawn to the bookplates and the dealer asked if I would be interested in buying the collection and "take it off his hands".He quoted an extremely low price and I was hooked. That is how I came into possession of five large trunks and many boxes containing bookplates and bookplate correspondence from around the world.

Who was the original owner of the collection ?

The collection came from the estate of William R.A.. Hays (1875-1943). He devoted a large portion of his life to a worldwide quest for bookplates. The collection consists of more than 33,000 bookplates of which at least 20,000 are mounted.
In addition there are in excess of 6,000 letters .These letters were in response to Mr. Hays requests to exchange bookplates. They came from royalty,captains of industry and notable people from many countries. He wrote more than 30,000 letters in his quest for ex libris.
I do not know how he had time to deal with his law practice. The combination of correspondence and responses alongside the bookplates adds a unique dimension to the collection.

How have you organized such a large collection ?
Thanks to computers,I have entered  into a database about 12,000 bookplates,indicating a reference number,owner,artist,date,and country of origin.
The database also indicates normal size bookplates, miniatures (about 1,500) erotica , schools , libraries etc.
I still have a long way to go. I recall from our meeting many years ago that you estimated “it would take two lifetimes.”
The bookplates are matched with correspondence and placed in acid free sheet protectors which are housed in three ring binders.

Another ongoing project  I am working on is to include biographical information for the bookplates of notable owners.

Has the collection been exhibited anywhere ?

In 1972 the Cleveland Public Library learned of the collection and asked about the possibility of exhibiting some of the material in their downtown facility.I agreed to their request and they sent a team from their fine arts division to my home.For three days they examined the collection. I was not at home during the research period but my wife kept hearing "WOW"throughout their visit.
Several hundred were selected and framed and the exhibit was open to the public for six months.

What are your favorites bookplates in the collection ?

There are so many it is hard to make a selection but since you asked, here are two 
I particularly like.the Enrico Caruso group.
I feel that the two trial proofs must have been handled by Caruso and the combination of the three items are unique.

Enrico Caruso Engraved by A.N. Macdonald (three items)

Trial Proof #1(This is a scan of a Xerox copy)
Trial Proof #2 Before Lettering
Completed Bookplate

David Greene Engraved by Paul Revere

Note From Lew - In my next blog posting I will show some examples of Mr Hays letter writing skills
and some of the responses he received..
Only In New York City
"Stealing is punishable by the law," the sign reads. "If you are caught stealing the bathroom tissue from dispenser, you will be barred permanently from all New York Public Libraries."

Had I seen this sign in the Morisania Branch of the New York Public Library I would have been tempted to take it and add it to my ephemera collection :however, the sign is gone.
Staffers at the library put the sign up three months ago but took it down after it went viral. 

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