Sunday, March 26, 2017

Goodbye Dear Friend

Richard Schimmelpfeng (July 13,1929-March 16,2017)

Richard Schimmelfeng was a gentleman in every sense of the word.
He was much more than a mentor  and a passionate collector of many things including  bookplates, glass paperweights and children's literature.He was one of the most centered people I have ever met .He gladly shared his knowledge and enthusiasm with friends and colleagues 
Have a safe journey Richard, you will be missed.

Lew Jaffe
March 26,2017

The Passing of Richard H. Schimmelpfeng

It would be difficult to find someone more dedicated to the UConn Library’s Archives  and; Special Collections than Richard Schimmelpfeng. Perhaps it is because of the solid foundation he built beginning with the Special Collections Department after his arrival in 1966. But more likely it is because of his dedication to the collections after his retirement in 1992. Mr. Schimmelpfeng began volunteering in the Archives the day after his retirement and was a daily staple until his recent illness a few months ago. In a March, 2005 article he stated “I intend to continue as a volunteer until either I fall over, am dragged out, or told to quit,” he quips. “I figure I’ve got about 15 more years to go.” We estimate that he worked more than 15,000 volunteer hours over 20+ years. As Norman D. Stevens, Emeritus Director of the UConn Library says in his obituary below, “his fifty years of service to the University of Connecticut is perhaps unsurpassed.”
Our sadness is beyond words. We will truly miss his knowledge and dedication, but mostly the smile he brought us every day.
Richard H. Schimmelpfeng(7/13/1929-3/16/2017)
The son of Harold W. and Rose Schimmelpfeng, Richard was predeceased by his brother Harold W., Jr. and is survived by his niece, Margaret R. Lilly, and nephew, William J. Reynolds, and five grandnieces and nephews.
A graduate of the University of Illinois, with a triple major in English literature, history, and modern languages, and, in 1955, of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Library Science. He began his library career as a cataloger, rising to the head of the department, at Washington University in Saint Louis.
In 1966 he joined the staff of the University of Connecticut Libraries to protect and preserve the library’s rare and unusual books and manuscript collections. He had become head of a somewhat larger and more formal Special Collections Department by the time he retired in 1992. The day after his retirement he began working as a volunteer in what had become the Archives and Special Collections Department, where he served as its principal cataloger until early 2017. His fifty years of service to the University of Connecticut is perhaps unsurpassed.
During the course of his official appointment he oversaw an enormous growth of special and unusual archives, books, and other printed materials in a wide variety of fields. His own interest in collecting in many areas, led to the creation of a number of specialized collections including bookplates – he was an active member of the American Association of Book Plate Collectors and Designers – and the limited edition publications of major book designers.
He was especially adept at giving his employees, including students, support and encouragement. That led, for example, to the establishment of one of the country’s strongest collections of Alternative Press materials that continues to grow as it documents the growth and development of the counter-culture movement that began in the late 1960’s and early 1970s. It also resulted in the publication of a multi-volume annotated edition of the manuscript materials of the noted American poet Charles Olson.
He and his father shared an interest in collecting hand blown glass paperweights that Richard continued throughout his life. He was an active member of the New England Paperweight Association. Shortly before his death a few recent purchases joined The Schimmelpfeng Collection of Contemporary Glass Paperweight at the New Bedford Museum of Glass. His love of the visual arts extended to illustrated children’s books and he was an active participant of the American Book Collectors of Children’s Books (ABCs). He delighted in dressing up for a number of years as Clifford the Big Red Dog to entertain children and their parents at the annual Connecticut Children’s Book Fair at UConn.
For many years he used his specialized knowledge of books to assist the Mansfield Public Library in identifying and pricing items donated to their regular book sales. He was himself an avid reader who especially enjoyed detective stories.
He was also the Librarian and a member of the Executive Council of the Mansfield Historical Society from 1992 through 2016. He had begun his service to the MHS in 1982 when he indexed their scrapbook collection.
Richard’s love of the visual arts and music contributed to his enjoyment of concerts and programs at UConn and his active support of those programs including the donation of visual materials to the Benton Museum of Art.
In the fall of 2017 the Homer Babbidge Library at UConn will host an exhibit Glass Animals presented by the New Bedford Museum of Glass that will include a significant number of important pieces for which he had provided the funding. During that exhibit there will be a program to honor Richard and recognize his generous support of the University and the Mansfield community.
Colleagues and friends may post a note on the guest book for his obituary at, or may wish to share with one another their reminisces of Richard through e-mails, cards, phone calls as well as small gatherings and/or postings on social media.
Norman D. Stevens
March 12, 2017

 In memory of a giant

I have known Richard Schimmelpfeng for almost twenty years. A native Midwesterner, Richard settled in Storrs, Connecticut, walking distance from the library at UConn, where he worked and volunteered for decades.

Our relationship consisted of long emails, the occasional phone call and a yearly get together extravaganza that became a classic: I used to spend my Thanksgiving long weekends in CT to celebrate at my in-laws house and the day after Thanksgiving Richard and I always made room in our agendas to spend the day together and share stories and anecdotes and a ton of prints, which exchanged hands at a very brisk pace.

Richard had been collecting for forty plus years, prioritizing European prints from the twentieth century and amassing a collection second to none (especially for the bookplate literature). He helped the American Bookplate society for decades and shed light  many lesser known artists and prints. His knowledge went way past bookplates: he was a true collector (paper weights, art, music among other things).

Richard did not like traveling and never attended bookplate congresses, the exception being the Boston one in 2000, but was nonetheless known within the ex libris world for his generosity, knowledge and availability.

I ended up acquiring the Schimmelpfeng collection. Over the last two years Richard and I arranged for the massive transfer of his boxes. The last one occurred three months ago between Christmas and New Year, with Richard’s health already declining. I am proud and grateful to have had such an opportunity and will do my best to keep his legacy and collection intact and look forward to writing about it in depth.

I will miss Richard . I think of him while browsing through boxes and coming across his unmistakable hand writing and artistic use of marbled papers. He was not only a librarian.a friend and  scholar but also a gifted teacher.

Luigi Bergomi
March 26,2017

Richard Schimmelpfeng (1929-2017)

Richard Schimmelpfeng, the former head of Special Collections at the Benton Library at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and a vital presence there since 1966, died on March 16. Richard formally retired in 1992, and on his first day of retirement returned as a volunteer at the Archives and Special Collections Department, serving as the lead cataloger there until early this year. He was a noted ex-libris collector, and only recently sold his comprehensive collection of Dutch bookplates and related materials, but to the very end he was still actively adding to his collection of illustrated books. He was on the subscription list of many private presses here and abroad - I believe that his collection is earmarked for the Benton library, where it will further enhance holdings that he is largely responsible for gathering throughout his career.
I met him in October, 2014, because a bookplate collector in Philadelphia had introduced us, and suggested that Richard might be interested in some of my ex-libris stock. Richard and I planned a meeting at his house in Storrs on my way home from Oak Knoll Fest in New Castle, Delaware. We hit it off at once, and spent a good part of the afternoon talking about fine press books, bookplates, the state of the world, and his long and fascinating career. Before I had left late that afternoon Richard had examined and bought a copy of the James Reid portfolio of wood engravings that I had recently published and shown at Oak Knoll Fest, and showed me some of his wonderful book collection.
The next time we met, I bought a number of the prints that he had collected over the years, an eclectic mix unified by his good taste and discerning eye. We kept in touch, with an occasional get-together for lunch when I was in the area. I last saw him at the end of January, stopping on my way at Rein’s Deli in Vernon for the roast beef Reuben sandwich that he favored. Richard was a man unafraid to express forceful opinions that were firmly grounded in a lifetime of studying and collecting the beautiful works that surrounded him. Whenever we parted company, I always came away more well-informed than when I arrived. I’ll miss our lively conversations about fine press books, prints, and the pleasures of collecting.

Robert Strossi

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