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Mind the Gap: Recent Provenance of Antiquarian Materials

A two-day symposium sponsored and organized by the Bibliographical Society of America
Friday November 6 and Saturday November 7, 2015
At the Grolier Club, 47 East 60 Street, New York

Scholars researching book history have focused increasingly on the history of collecting and chains of ownership known as provenance. Yet these studies rarely touch on recent owners: Where has the book been for the last century? This conference investigates why detailed and complete provenance is integral to contemporary collecting and to bibliographical scholarship, documenting and often authenticating each work as a historical object, establishing its significance and providing its social and political context.

Tickets are $75 ($25 for students), advance reservations are required, and space is limited to 150 seats. To register contact Michele Randall, BSA Executive Secretary, at

Friday, November 6, 2015

12 p.m.: Registration opens

2 p.m.: Welcome from The Grolier Club (Eric Holzenberg, Director)

2:20 p.m.: Introductory Remarks Concerning Recent Provenance – Marcia Reed, Getty Research Institute (BSA Program Chair)

2:45 p.m.: Early Materials, Later Histories (Moderator: Nina Musinsky)

Falk Eisermann (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preussischer Kulturbesitz): Lost in Transaction: “Discollecting” Incunabula in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Milton McC. Gatch (Union Theological Seminary): Disappearing Ess/Phillipps Manuscripts

Patrizia Carmassi (Herzog August Bibliothek): Through the hands of librarians and booksellers: Examples of recent alteration in medieval manuscripts of German collectors.

5:00 p.m.: Reception

Saturday, November 7, 2015

9:00 a.m.: Case Studies: Book and Archival Histories Lost and Found (Moderator: Heather Wolfe)

Silvia Pugliese (Biblioteca Marciana, Venezia): First, loose and then, bound together: the case of Marco Polo’s last will and the collection of documents in Lat. V, 58-59.

Caroline Duroselle-Melish (Folger Library): Anatomy of a Pamphlet Collection: From Disbinding to Reuniting

Hope Mayo (Houghton Library, Harvard): From Bamberg to Cambridge: The Story of One Copy of Christopher Plantin’s Polyglot Bible

11 a.m.: Coffee Break

11:30 a.m.: Dispersed Archives (Moderator: John Crichton)

Joseph Bristow (UCLA), Rebecca N. Mitchell (Univ. of Birmingham): Provenance and Literary Analysis: Oscar Wilde as Case Study

Theodore Crackel (University of Virginia): Provenance Lost: The Papers of George Washington

12:45 p.m.: Lunch at restaurants nearby the Grolier Club

2:00 p.m.: Panel Discussion: Provenance, Collectors, and the Trade: John Crichton (Brick Row Book Shop), Nina Musinsky (Musinsky Rare Books, Inc.), and Mark Samuels Lasner (University of Delaware)

3:00 p.m.: New Concepts and Tools for Tracking Provenance (Moderator: Marcia Reed)

Katharine Kyes Leab (American Book Prices Current): Marked Improvements: Provenance and Theft

Laura E. Aydelotte (University of Pennsylvania) : The Provenance Online Project

4:15 p.m.: Closing Comments & Discussion: Martin Antonetti (Smith College)

5:00 p.m.: Closing Reception