Cover image for Dictionary of American book collectors
Dictionary of American book collectors
Dickinson, Donald C., 1927-2016.
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwood Press, 1986.
Physical Description:
xvi, 383 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Z989.A1 D53 1986 Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Rare Books Reference

On Order

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This biographical dictionary, which represents over 350 private collectors who died before December 31, 1984, underscores the importance of American private collectors and the stature of their collections. Each entry contains a brief biographical sketch of the collector; a narrative discussion of his or her career and chief areas of interest; and a selective bibliography listing catalogues, books, and articles by the collector. Information on the collection includes titles of significant works, sale prices of selected items, and details of the disposition of the collection. Dickinson's volume successfully updates Carl Cannon's American Book Collectors and Collecting from Colonial Times to the Present (H.W. Wilson, 1941). Recommended for academic and large public library reference collections. Melissa Cain, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Book collectors are well known to library administrators who cultivate heir benefactions, and to library historians who recognize their contributions to our scholarly resources. Surprisingly, no overview of their activity has appeared since Carl Cannon's American Book Collectors (1941). Dickinson treats 359 major collectors who died prior to 1985. The list could have been much larger, so as to leave fewer oversights (e.g., it is arguable whether John Jacob Astor was truly a collector rather than, like Walter Newberry, a patron). The biographical sketches average about 500 words each, include major bibliographical sources, and are complemented by subject specialty and general indexes, and a chronological list of major book auctions. The sketches bring the history into perspective; only eight of the collectors date from colonial and early federal times, and 35 more were active before the Civil War. Most were wealthy businessmen; as far as their collections were concerned, scholars more than speculators; and committed to cultural institutions-Yale (37), Harvard (27), New York Public Library (23), Princeton (16), the Library of Congress (15), and the American Antiquarian Society (11) being the major recipients of their benefactions. Book specialists will spot errors (e.g., Andrew Dickson White's name). It will be a valuable asset in all academic libraries, perhaps best located on the reference shelf next to Lee Ash's Subject Collections as a gentle hint to students.-D.W. Krummel, University of Illinois