Emil Offenbacher (Firm): Records, 1945-1990
Emil Offenbacher (Firm).
Records, 1935-1990 (bulk 1945-1990).
Organization and Arrangement
Organized into four series: I. Correspondence, 1945-1990; II. Financial Records, 1945-1990; III. Bibliographical Records; IV. Miscellanea.
Antiquarian bookseller, based in Kew Gardens (Queens), New York from 1945 until his death in 1990. Offenbacher specialized in pre-1800 imprints in science, technology and medicine and, to a lesser degree, in Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and unusual bindings. His clients included major public and private academic libraries as well as institutions such as the New York Public Library, the Newberry Library, the John Crerar Library, and the National Library of Medicine. Offenbacher also worked with numerous private collectors, including physicians interested in the history of their specialties. Among the outstanding private collections he helped to build were those of Cornelius J. Hauck of Cincinnati (on trees and shrubs and unusual bindings) and Roy Neville of San Carlos, California (on early chemistry).
Scope and Contents Note
Incoming and outgoing correspondence and financial records, 1945-1990, including accounts payable and general ledger. Also, bibliographical records and notebooks and miscellaneous materials such as occasional appraisal records, offprints, and catalogs issued from ca. 1947 to 1954 (numbers 3 to 8). There are also materials gathered by Offenbacher in the 1930s for a projected study of book thief Guillaume Libri (1803-1869).
Incoming and outgoing correspondence included in one chronological file.
The antiquarian booksellers’ catalog collection of the Grolier Club includes Offenbacher catalogs nos. 1-2 (1942) and nos. 12-34 (1964/65 Winter-1990 Spring).
Finding Aid Note
Unpublished preliminary inventory available in repository.
Emil Offenbacher (Firm).
Hauck, Cornelius J. Library.
Hauck, Cornelius J. Correspondence.
Libri, Guillaume. Correspondence.
Neville, Roy. Library.
Neville, Roy. Correspondence.
Antiquarian booksellers. New York (State). New York. 20th century.
Business records. New York (State). New York. 20th century.
Occupation (as reflected in collection)
Antiquarian booksellers. New York (State). New York. 20th century.
Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022-1098.
In February 1973, Offenbacher responded to a questionnaire from a person doing genealogical research on the Goldschmidt family. He was related, in an unspecified way, to this family and supplied some biographical details.
Emil Offenbacher was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany 25 March 1912 and married Anne Rapp on 23 August 1934 in Paris, the same year in which he established an antiquarian book business there. His children, Claude (11 May 1936-) and Florence (29 February 1940-) were born in Europe. Offenbacher was living in the United States by 1941, issuing catalogs in March 1942 and June 1943 from the address 655 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Offenbacher performed military service from the latter part of 1943 until 1945, when he reopened his business in Kew Gardens, an area in central Queens easily accessible to Manhattan. His first address there was 118-09 83rd Avenue, but he eventually settled at 85-50 Austin Street, Apt. 7J, from which he conducted his business for over forty years.
Offenbacher’s fields of interest included early medicine, mining, mineralogy and geology as well as chemistry, physics and the biological sciences, and early bindings.
Offenbacher corresponded fluently in English, French and German and did business with dealers and clients in these countries as well as in Scandinavia and Italy, and, of course, the United States. In this country he sold books to many major academic and institutional libraries. In addition to the obvious names, Offenbacher helped build collections for the Armed Forces Medical Library, the Burndy (Medical) in Connecticut, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hunt Botanic Garden (Pittsburgh), and the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He bought and sold to major dealers including Maggs Brothers (London), Walter Schatzki, Leona Rostenberg of New York City, William Salloch, and Zeitlin and ver Brugge of Los Angeles. Among the private libraries Offenbacher helped to build, the list should begin with that of Cornelius J. Hauck of Cincinnati (on trees and shrubs and unusual bindings) and Roy Neville of San Carlos, California (on early chemistry). Other clients included George Sarton, the historian of science, and Joseph T. Freman, MD of Philadelphia. Offenbacher had frequent and cordial correspondence with Philip Hofer of Harvard and Donald Wing, head of accessions at Yale.
Offenbacher’s reputation as a scholarly dealer is manifest in the letters written to him by these and other customers. He collated meticulously, checking items against the appropriate authorities, and some of the letters deal in detail with descriptive bibliographical points.
He was elected a member of the Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry (Great Britain) in 1945 and joined the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA) on its founding in 1949.
Offenbacher generally went on a buying trip of several weeks during May and June, visiting dealers and libraries, and spent some weeks in the summer at his home in Jamaica, Vermont.
In correspondence, Offenbacher stated variously that he specialized in scientific books printed before 1700 and before 1800. His correspondence and catalogs indicate that he handled eighteenth (and some nineteenth century) imprints, but the emphasis was on books printed before 1700.
He died in the latter part of 1990.
[Note: This information has been gathered from the business records of Emil Offenbacher, which were donated to the Grolier Club in November 2000.]
Record Box Contents
Series I: Correspondence 1945-1990 (Incoming and outgoing in
Box 27 January –August 1945
Box 1 September 1945—January/June 1947
Box 2 July/December 1947—January/June 1949
Box 3 July/December 1949—January/June 1951
Box 4 July/December 1951—January/June 1953
Box 5 July/December 1953—January/May 1955 (A—J)
Box 6 January/May 1955 (K—Z)—June/December 1956
Box 7 January/May 1957—January/June 1958
Box 8 July/December 1958—January/June 1960
Box 9 July/December 1960—January/June 1962
Box 21 January/May 1963 [Records for June/December 1962; July/December 1963;
January/May 1964 are missing.]
Box 10 June/December 1964—January/May 1966
Box 11 June/December 1966—January/May 1968
Box 12 June/December 1968—January/June 1970
Box 13 July/December 1970—July/December 1972
Box 14 January/June 1973—January/June 1975
Box 15 July/December 1975—June/December 1977
Box 16 January/May 1978—January/May 1980
Box 17 June/December 1980—June/December 1982
Box 18 January/May 1983—January/May 1986
Box 19 June/December 1986—January/June 1990
Series II: Financial Records
Box 20 Accounts receivable. Arranged alphabetically by customer (institutional and private in one sequence), 1946-1988. Includes debits and credits for each transaction. Items sold indicated by catalog item number for catalog of each year.
Accounts payable. Alphabetically by name of dealer. Record of all transactions from 1945.
Box 21 General ledger, 1978-1990
Cash received 1978-1990. Arranged monthly and then by name of client. Includes amounts and the accounts to which they were deposited.
Cash paid out 1978-1988. Amounts paid to dealers, utilities and also for social security, cash drafts and income taxes.
Box 28 Ledger of items bought and sold, 1945-1961
Ledger of items bought and sold, 1962-1978
Ledger of items bought and sold, 1979-1990
Series III: Bibliographical Records
Box 22 Bibliographical records of Paris inventory, 1934-1941.
1 card file (A-Z) [Includes notes on prices and dealers from whom purchased.]
Bibliographical records of Kew Gardens inventory, 1945-1990
1. Author files with names only. Cards have numbers in upper right hand corner, but the numbers are not related to those of his catalogs nor to ledger entries: A-B, C-Ch, F-G. 1 card file. [The records for “Me” and misc. cards for various letters are filed in the Paris inventory card file box.]
2. Bibliographical card files. The cards are arranged alphabetically primarily by authors but some records are grouped by subject and then alphabetically by author (i.e. Dyeing, Lithography, Ophthalmology, Resuscitation, etc.). These card files are numbered as “Bib. Box l,” etc.
Bib. Box 1 (A-Berlioz)
Bib. Box 2 (Bernard-Bon)
Box 23 Bib. Box 3 (Boo-Ceu)
Bib. Box 4 (Cha-Don)
Bib. Box 5 (Dop-Fox )
Bib. Box 6 (Fra-Gry)
Bib. Box 7 (Gu-J)
Box 24 Bib. Box 8 (K-L)
Bib. Box 9 (Ma-Miniature Book)
Bib. Box 10 (Mining-O)
Bib. Box 11 (P-Printing)
Bib. Box 12 (Prio-Sau)
Bib. Box 13 (Sav-Thomas)
Box 25 Bib. Box 14 (Thomasius-V)
Bib. Box 15 (W-Z)
Catalog Descriptions [i.e. descriptions prepared for his catalogs; cards are
arranged alphabetically by author] Each item is described on a 5-1/2x8-1/2” slip
with letter symbols in upper right, possibly identifying libraries, which held
copies, i.e.: Y [Yale], H [Harvard]?]
Box 26 Cat. Box 1 (A—Sco)
Box 27 Cat. Box 2 (Scr—Z)
Box 15 Bibliographical notebooks kept on book-buying trips to which record dealers visited and specific titles researched in libraries:
1. November 1962—1965
2. July 1965—January 1969
Series IV: Miscellanea
Box 25 Buying trips: folders containing material on itineraries, costs, hotels, etc.: 1963, 1969; 1970/71; 1973 (4 folders)
Offprints presented to EO. 11 offprints. 1 folder
“Notes for Libri”. Notes made, probably in 1930s, on 1859 sale of the library of Count Gugliemo Bruto Icilio Timoleone Libri Carruci dalla Sommaia (1803-1965), also known in France as Guillaume Libri (1 folder)
Denis Duveen, collector of Long Island City, New York. Offprints presented to
EO of articles by DD on Antoine Lavoisier and other topics. Duveen, a collector of books on chemistry, was variously president of the Duveen Soap Company, the Duveen Hospital Library and the Duveen Historical Library. The material covers the period 1958-1965 (1 folder)
Appraisals, 1986-1987. David P. Wheatland, Topfield, MA. Appraisal of 56 early books on the history of science, January 14, 1987; John J. Slocum, Newport, RI. 12 rare classical texts; Harrison D. Horblitt, Ridgefield, CT. 1st edition of Tycho Brahe’s De nove…stella (1573); Levene, MD, Memphis, TN. Collection on ophthalmology (1 folder)
Roy Neville (San Carlos, CA). Collector of early books on chemistry. Offprints, etc. EO want lists, 1958-1970 and miscellaneous years in 1970s and 1980s (1 folder)
Catalog of 16th Century Books Relating to Universities. 1980. Requested from Al LeBriag, Westport, CT
Emil Offenbacher. Lists issued [catalogs of items offered for sale, ca. 1948-
1954. Mimeographed; brittle]
No. 3 No date. Technology, natural history
No. 4 October-November 1948. Medicine/Science
No. 5 Spring 1950. Alchemy and Chemistry; Medicine and Science [bottom
half of sheets detached]
No. 6 March-April 1952. Medicine and Science
No. 7 Summer 1953. Medicine and Science
No. 8 November 1954
H. P. Kraus Catalog on Architecture. January 1973
Exhibit catalogs on paper making; 2 dated 1955 and 1968