WHITE, WILLIAM AUGUSTUS. Card catalog of his library, 1926
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William Augustus White: Card Catalog of his Library, ca. 1926


Main Entry
White, William Augustus, 1843-1927, collector.

Card catalog of the library of William Augustus White, ca. 1926.

Physical Description
3000 cards (5 boxes) ; 12 x 20 cm.
2.5 linear ft.

Organization and Arrangement
Organized into six series: I. English Literature before 1750; II. Modern English Literature (1750-1910); III. Americana; IV. Foreign Language Books; V. Manuscripts; VI. Maps.

Historical/Biographical Note
William Augustus White (born December 12, 1843 in Brooklyn) was the senior partner in a firm of New York City investment bankers with offices at 14 Wall Street. He began serious book collecting in 1885 and became perhaps the greatest collector of William Blake in the United States as well as a preeminent collector of Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights. He also created an important collection of Shakespeare and one of the first significant collections of Americana. White freely lent his books to scholars and to institutions for exhibitions. He was the chief lender to the Grolier Club’s William Blake exhibitions of 1905 and 1919 and a leading force behind the club’s publication of Geoffrey Keynes’ Bibliography of William Blake (1921). He sold duplicates of his collection at auction in 1911 and 1920 and a few Elizabethan rarities to the dealer A. S. W. Rosenbach. White died at his home in Brooklyn (158 Columbia Street) on May 16, 1927. His library was appraised shortly before his death by Arthur Swann for a total value of $840,875.50. After White’s death, his Shakespeare quartos were sold to Harvard (his alma mater); most of the Blake books were retained by his daughter Frances White Emerson until her death 1957. They were sold at auction by Sotheby’s the following year. His estate entrusted the remainder of the collection to Rosenbach, who sold it on consignment in 1928. The collector Lessing J. Rosenwald purchased many of these books and later donated them to the Library of Congress.

White employed Henrietta C. Bartlett to prepare a catalog of his library. In 1914, the Handlist of Early Printed Books Mostly of the Elizabethan Period was privately printed. The cards for the entire library were photoduplicated, and bound sets (10 volumes, n.d.) were deposited in the libraries of the Grolier Club and Yale and Harvard Universities. Other sets went to the Library of Congress and the Newberry and Pierpont Morgan Libraries and to book dealer John Fleming.

Scope and Contents Note
The collection consists of ca. 3,000 catalog cards (5" x 8") containing detailed bibliographical descriptions for about 2,700 titles.

General Note

White was a member of the Grolier Club from 1889 until his death; he was elected to honorary membership in 1925.

White, William Augustus, 1843-1927. Library. Catalogs.
Bartlett, Henrietta C., (Henrietta Collins), 1873-1963.
Blake, William, 1757-1827. Collectors and collecting.
Grolier Club. Exhibitions.

Book collecting. New York (State). New York. 20th century.
Private libraries. New York (State). New York. 20th century. Catalogs.
English literature. Bibliography.

Catalog cards.

Occupation (as reflected in collection)

Book collectors. New York (State). New York. 20th century.

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