AUSTIN, GABRIEL. Papers re French book auction catalogs, ca. 1973-1996
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Gabriel Austin: Papers Relating to French Book Sales Catalogs, ca. 1973-1996


Austin, Garbriel.

Lists of French Sale Catalogues (1630-1993) and Related Materials, 1973?-1996.

Physical Description
5 boxes (2.6 linear ft.)

Historical/Biographical Note
Gabriel Austin was curator and then librarian of the Grolier Club (1962-1969), head of the book department at Sotheby Parke-Bernet (1969-1975), and then owner and operator of Wittenborn Art Books (1975-1992), all in New York City. Austin saw the need for bibliographic control of the catalogues of French auctions while working on his book The Library of Jean Grolier: A Preliminary Catalogue, which was published by the Grolier Club in 1971. In organizing his work on French auction catalogs, Austin emulated George Leslie McKay’s American Book Auction Catalogues, 1713-1934: A Union List (1934). He made use of a list prepared by Grolier Club member Waters S. Davis in the 1920s and 1930s, which derived from information in the catalogues of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, the British Museum (now Library), the New York Public Library, and Harvard University as well as catalogs in the Grolier Club. Davis himself gave and bequeathed many such catalogs to the Club. Austin visited additional collections and delved further into the collection of the BNF. He viewed his list as an index to the names of book collectors in France as well as a record of auctions.

Scope and Contents Note
Chronological list of over 14,000 French auction sale catalogs ca. 1630 to 1993, with some indexing by names of collection owners and estates and some identification of auctioneers, number of lots, and holding institutions. As appropriate, references to the catalog in the literature about French auction catalogs are included. Also: correspondence, including a TLS of 1975 from Anthony Hobson commenting of on features of the project and Austin’s reply. The collection also includes three notebooks of lists created by Austin in the course of the project, as well as three folders of his miscellaneous holograph notes and photocopies of selected pages from 30 works consulted in the course of his work. While Austin named his project “French Sale Catalog,” his attention was almost entirely directed toward auction sales rather than sales by dealers. Also: two ALS dated 1936 from Waters S. Davis to Grolier Club librarian Ruth Shepard Grannis that discuss French sale catalogs he is buying for the Grolier Club

Finding Aid Note
Unpublished finding aid available in repository.

Immediate Source of Acquisition
The contents of box 5 were gifted to the Grolier Club in 2018 by Mary Ann and Roland Folter.

Publication about Described Material
Gabriel Austin, “Catalogues of French Booksales: A Handlist,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 89, no. 4 (December 1995), 435-446.

Austin, Gabriel. Correspondence.
Davis, Waters S., d. 1940. Correspondence.
Grannis, Ruth Shepard, 1872-1954. Correspondence.
Hobson, Anthony, 1944-. Correspondence.

Auction catalogs. France.
Book collectors. France.
Booksellers and bookselling. France.
Private libraries. France.
Rare books.

Lists. 20th century.
Loose-leaf binders. 20th century.

Added Entry
Grolier Club.

Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022-1098.

Inventory of Gabriel Austin Papers Relating to French Sale Catalogs

Box 1
3 Notebooks Created by GA
French auction catalogues in the Grolier Club, 1850-1968 (mars). Lists date and name of sale and
abbreviated names of auctioneer. Holograph. Black loose-leaf notebook. 18cm.
Catalogues 1900-1943 in Seymour E. DeRicci collection at the Bibliotheque National de France
not in the Grolier Club collection. List arranged chronologically by year with name of
sale and auctioneer. [Note on first page: “1900+ cats in De Ricci not in Grolier Club.”]
Holograph. Black loose-leaf notebook. 16cm.
French Sale Catalogues [cover title of notebook]. Alphabetical list by names of collection/owner
with date of sale, auctioneer and holding institutions. Typewritten with holograph
additions. Black loose-leaf notebooks. 28cm.

“Census of Printers and Booksellers catalogues up to 1600.” Typescript notes by (?) Dr. Christian Coppens,
Leuven [Louvain, Belgium]. Not dated.

French Sale Catalogues List Created by Gabriel Austin
Chronological list 1630 through1799. Includes name of owner/estate, auctioneer and holding
institutions. Typed list with holograph corrections.
Chronological list 1800 through1850. Same information as above; includes index by institutional
and personal owners which refers to dates in chronological lists.
Chronological list 1851 through 1899. Same information as above. No index.
Chronological list 1805 through 1899 [seems to have variants from other 19th century list]
Chronological list of sales 1900-1993 [printed out from computer database]. Includes dates.
names of owner/estate, auctioneer, and number of lots and holding institutions.

Box 2
French Sale Catalogues List Created by Gabriel Austin (continued)
Chronological list, 1631 through 1799. Typescript [pages not numbered].
Chronological list, 1913 (November) through 1963 (November). [Corrected
typescript [with page numbering starting at 216]
Index by: French Royal family [members of]; towns and institutions; families and
persons; miscellaneous indices. 1994.
Index of names with references to dates in chronological lists.
Index to 1799.

Austin’s account of genesis, history and status of project. Undated typescript. Includes sample pages (?)
from the lists for various periods.

Box 3
Correspondence. 1981-1996. Includes TLS from Anthony R. Hobson dated 1975 January 10 commenting
on the project and copy Austin’s response dated 1995 May 10.
Correspondence, c.1994 in separate folder.
Miscellaneous notes for the project. 3 folders.
Photocopy of a work whose title page reads: Deuxieme Partie: Histoire de la Bibliophilie et des
Bibliophiles par les Catalogues des Bibliotheques Publiques et Particulaires. Undated. This may
be a work by Jacques Techener, published in the 1860s.

Box 4
Waters S. Davis. 2 ALS to Ruth Shepard Grannis [librarian of Grolier Club] regarding French auction
catalogs he purchased for the club.
1936 August 17.
1936 September 11

Photocopies of portions of bibliographical works relevant to French auction catalogs, mostly from the 19th
and early 20th centuries. c.30 items in 2 folders.

Box 5
Austin, Gabriel. List of French Auction Catalogues 1632-1969 Photocopies of handwritten and typewritten pages; includes front matter, index and entries.  Many have proofreading marks.  Entries provided chronologically.

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