Lewis Walpole Library Sales and Auction Catalog Collection
Scope and Contents
The Lewis Walpole Library Sales and Auction Catalog Collection—comprised of catalogs, lists, and pamphlets issued by a wide range of booksellers, art dealers, and major and minor auction houses—was largely assembled by author, editor, and collector Wilmarth S. Lewis (1895-1979). The collection spans the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and reflects Lewis’s various scholarly interests, which were primarily centered on the life and work of English author and antiquarian Horace Walpole and his circle. In pursuit of his collecting goals, Lewis acquired print, manuscript, and graphic materials throughout his lifetime.
The materials here provide rich documentation of how Lewis acquired and built the collection that would become the foundation of Yale University’s Lewis Walpole Library. They include catalogs advertising items that Lewis purchased as well as documenting his unsuccessful acquisition attempts. Also represented are catalogs that Lewis kept simply because they contain significant items of Walpoliana or general eighteenth-century interest. Lewis obtained the catalogs in a variety of ways: He received many by subscription directly from dealers and auction houses and purchased others on the second-hand market. Catalogs also came in as gifts or bequests from colleagues such as his friend and fellow collector Elizabeth Hudson (1885-1973).
Beyond the immediate relevance to the history of the Lewis Walpole Library, this collection also provides a glimpse into the history of auctions and the book trade in the twentieth century. Publications are present from over 300 booksellers, galleries, and auction houses, the majority of whom were based in the United States and England; they are supplemented by listings from a few Canadian and European dealers. Sotheby’s represents the largest single portion of the collection with over 800 volumes, while Christie’s has over 300 entries. Beyond the major auction houses, Lewis’s collection reads like a “who’s-who” of the twentieth-century rare book trade. Notable dealers include the firms of Bernard Quaritch, Brentano’s, Charles B. Wood III, Inc., Goodspeed’s Book Shop, H.P. Kraus, Maggs Bros., Marlborough Rare Books, McLeish & Sons, Pickering & Chatto, and the Rosenbach Company, as well as the famed women book dealers Leona Rostenberg, Madeleine B. Stern and Kit Currie. Featured art dealers and smaller auction houses include the American Art Association, Anderson Galleries, Bloomsbury Book Auctions, Parke-Bernet Galleries, and P. & D. Colnaghi & Co. Many of the catalogs were extensively annotated by Lewis or by previous owners. Lewis added his own notes and research, and often laid in correspondence and notes from dealers, providing further insight into his relationships with the trade. Catalogs after 1979 are often annotated by library staff.
This collection is particularly strong in catalogs dated 1900-1979, with most concentrated between 1950-1979. Catalogs pre-dating 1900 are cataloged individually in Orbis, Yale University Library’s online catalog, and can be searched by dealer or auction house. A smaller portion of the collection reflects acquisitions made by the Lewis Walpole Library between Lewis’s death in 1979 and the early 2000s. The collection is not closed; the library will add catalogs if they offered material that was purchased for the library’s book, print, or manuscript collections, though some twentieth-century catalogs with significant scholarly content have been cataloged individually in Orbis.
- 1900 - 2018
- Majority of material found within 1950 - 1979
Language of Materials
In English and French.
Conditions Governing Use
The Lewis Walpole Library Sales and Auction Catalog Collection is the physical property of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the W. S. Lewis Librarian/Executive Director.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Bequest of Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis (Yale 1918), 1979.
Organized into three series: I. Christie, Manson & Wood, 1901-2007. II. Sotheby’s, 1901-2008. III. Other Catalogs, 1900-2018.
111 Linear Feet (276 boxes)
The Lewis Walpole Library Sales and Auction Catalog Collection—comprised of catalogs, lists, and pamphlets issued by a wide range of booksellers, art dealers, and major and minor auction houses—was largely assembled by author, editor, and collector Wilmarth S. Lewis (1895-1979). The collection spans the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and reflects Lewis’s various scholarly interests, which were primarily centered on the life and work of English author and antiquarian Horace Walpole and his circle. In pursuit of his collecting goals, Lewis acquired print, manuscript, and graphic materials throughout his lifetime. The materials here provide rich documentation of how Lewis acquired and built the collection that would become the foundation of Yale University’s Lewis Walpole Library.
Firm corporate headings were based on authorized Library of Congress name authority headings. For those firms without an authorized form, the heading was based on dealer names found in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library’s collection of antiquarian bookseller catalogs (X346). For those headings in neither location, the names of individual dealers were inverted unless it was clear from the material that the individual operated as a corporate entity. Headings with two or more individuals were formatted in natural order as a corporate entity.
Within the box and folder list notes, Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis is abbreviated to “WSL.” Manuscript is abbreviated to “ms.” and refers to handwritten notes and annotations, regardless of who made the annotations.
Dates that display as “Dated” reflect a date that was written or stamped on the item itself because it doesn’t bear a printed publication date. Dates noted as “Received” mean that a catalog was specifically marked with the date it arrived in Farmington. These dates were presumably added by either by Lewis or by library staff and serve as an approximation of publication date. A date given as “circa” indicates that dating was assigned when the collection was processed and is based on other related factors.
- Amanda Hall Rare Books
- American Art Association
- American Art Association, Anderson Galleries (Firm)
- Anderson Galleries, Inc
- B.H. Blackwell Ltd
- Bernard Quaritch (Firm)
- Bloomsbury Book Auctions (Firm)
- Brentano's (Firm)
- Charles B. Wood III, Inc
- Christie, Manson & Woods
- Currie, Kit
- Emily Driscoll (Firm)
- Francis Edwards (Firm)
- H.P. Kraus (Firm)
- Hudson, Elizabeth
- Lathrop C. Harper, Inc
- Leona Rostenberg & Madeleine B. Stern (Firm)
- Lewis Walpole Library
- Maggs Brothers Ltd.
- P. & D. Colnaghi & Co.
- Parke-Bernet Galleries
- Peter Murray Hill
- Pickering & Chatto
- Rosenbach Company
- Guide to the Lewis Walpole Library Sales and Auction Catalog Collection
- by Eileen A. Horansky
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.