Robert Nikirk Papers, 1956-1991
RLIN ID No.
Papers, 1956-1991 (bulk 1973-1991).
5 boxes (2 linear ft.)
Founded in 1884 by a group of seven New York City Book collectors, with the object, as stated in its constitution, “of literary study and promotion of the arts pertaining to the production of books.” The club has employed librarians for several decades. Robert Nikirk had a background in art historical studies and employment in a book auction house when he was appointed Club Librarian in the spring of 1970. In addition to his work as librarian he accepted some invitations from bibliophile groups, university libraries and the organizers of conferences to speak on subjects such as book auctions, the nature of rare books and collecting, and American bookbindings. He died in September 1990.
Scope and Contents
Manuscripts and typescripts, correspondence, programs, and some miscellaneous items documenting lectures and articles prepared by Robert Nikirk during his years at the Grolier Club. Bibliophile societies, university special collections, and the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries were among the audiences he addressed. Of special note are the lectures he prepared on Clara Peck (Transylvania University, 1984) and on Samuel Putnam Avery and Beverly Chew, important nineteenth century collectors who were founders of the Grolier Club. Correspondence, photographs and miscellaneous files, including material on a course on mounting exhibitions he offered at the Rare Books School (Columbia University, School of Library Service) in 1984 and 1985, are also included.
Finding Aid Note
Unpublished finding aid available in repository.
G. Thomas Tanselle, “In Memoriam Robert L. Nikirk,” Gazette of the Grolier Club, n.s. no. 42 (1990), 5-16.
Avery, Samuel Putnam, 1822-1904.
Chew, Beverly, 1850-1924.
Eccles, Mary Hyde. Correspondence.
Nikirk, Robert. Correspondence.
Association of College and Research Libraries. Rare Books and Manuscripts Section.
Grolier Club. Library.
Transylvania University. Library.
Book auctions. England.
Book collectors. United States.
Clippings. 20th century.
Photographs. New York (State). New York. 20th century.
Programs. United States. 20th century.
Occupation (as reflected in collection)
Librarians. New York (States). New York. 20th century.
Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022,
Robert Nikirk Papers Inventory
Box 1: Lectures 1974-1981
If the lecture appeared in printed form, bibliographical details are given.
“Ninety years at the Grolier Club.” Associates of the Syracuse University Library, 1974
Corrected typescripts with various pagings.
“Ninety-Four years at the Grolier Club.” Caxton Club, Chicago, 1977 (Sept. 28).
Correspondence and printed invitation. Only. See “Ninety-Five Years” below.
“Two American Book Collectors of the Nineteenth Century: William Loring Andrews
and Beverly Chew, Conference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section,
Association of College and Research Libraries, Toronto 1977 (June 14-17). Correspondence and typescripts with autograph corrections; various pagings. Published in Book Selling and Book Buying: Aspects of the Nineteenth-Century British and North American Book Trade, ed. Richard G, Landon (Chicago: American Library Association, 1978), pp. 99-118. (ACRL Publications in Librarianship, no. 40)
“Ninety-Five Years at the Grolier Club.” Illustrated lecture to C. W. Post Library
Association (Greenvale, NY), 1978 (Nov. 3). Corrected typescript. 21 leaves.
“Origin and Development of the English Book Auction.” Pittsburgh Bibliophiles, 1978
(Nov. 16). Autograph manuscript; various paging. Also correspondence and
photocopies of research materials.
“Seventeenth-Century Book Auctions in England.” Baltimore Bibliophiles, 1979 (Jan.
29). Correspondence only; see Pittsburgh Bibliophiles folder for text.
“Taste and Trends in Book Collecting Today.” Friends of the Cleveland Public Library,
1979 (April 25). Typescript with autograph corrections. 18 leaves. Also
miscellaneous notes and drafts.
“Bookbinding Collecting in the United States.” Seminar on the Tradition of Fine
Bookbinding in the Twentieth Century, Hunt Library, Pittsburgh, 1979
(November 13). [RK spoke at the dinner and focused on important collectors of
bindings, particularly Samuel Putnan Avery.] Autograph draft on lined paper and
corrected typescript; various pagings. Also outlines, notes, correspondence and
“Samuel Putnam Avery, Book Collector.” Trinity College (Hartford) Library Associates,
1979 (Sept. 14). See entry for Guild of Book Workers, 1980.
“Robert Hoe/Samuel Putnam Avery.” Guild of Book Workers, 1980 May. 2 typescripts
with autograph corrections. 15 leaves ea. [The lecture represented by one of these
typescripts appears to have been given at Trinity College in 1979.]
“Recollections of a Bookman.’ Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, N.Y., 1981 (Feb.
23). Typescript with autograph corrections. 20 leaves.
“A Look at Rare Book Collecting Today.” Friends of the White Plains Public Library,
1981 (May 22). Typescript with autograph corrections. 15 leaves.
“Deaccession and Donor Relations.” Conference on Deaccession of Research Materials
In Rare Book and Manuscript Libraries, Brown University, 1981 (June 11-12).
Autograph manuscript and typescript with autograph corrections. Published in
Deaccession in Research Libraries (Providence, 1981, pp. 34-37.
”The Heritage of Book Collecting.” Two Millionth [Volume] Celebration, 1981 (Sept.
17). Autograph typescript. 10 leaves. Also correspondence. Published in
Celebrating the Acquisition of the Two Millionth Volume of the State University of
New York at Buffalo Libraries. Ed. Robert J. Bertholf and Stephen M. Roberts
(Buffalo: State University of New York Libraries, 1983), pp. 50-59
Box 2: Lectures 1981-1984
“The First English Book Auctions.” Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Library, 1981
(March 11). Typescript with autograph corrections. 15 leaves.
“Preservation Ethics for Librarians.” Second Annual Conference on Preservation and
Conservation of Library Materials, Arlington, VA, 1982 (Feb. 22-23). Autograph
draft and typescript with autograph corrections. Various pagings. Also
correspondence and research notes.
“Hand Book Binding in America.” Guild of Book Workers 75th Anniversary, Newberry
Library, 1982 (Jan. 18). Typescript with autograph corrections, correspondence
and research materials.
“A Seminar on the Early Romantics”: Dedication of the W. Hugh Peal
Collections. University of Kentucky Libraries, 1982 (Oct. 14-15). [RK was
invited to attend this event and make informal remarks at the dinner.]
Correspondence and program. Text not included.
“Honour’d Relics: Objects Having Once Belonged to Eminent Writers." Grolier Club
(New York City), 1983 Mar. 15. [RK gave a talk at the opening of the exhibition
of this name.] Typescript with autograph corrections. 12 leaves.
“Early American Bookbinding.” Lecture for Antiques magazine collectors’ series, 1983
(May 4). Correspondence only.
“Mutual Interests, Shared Goals: Collectors and Librarians.” Conference of Rare Book
and Manuscript Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, Los
Angeles, 1983 July 2. Unpaged autograph manuscript and correspondence.
Clara Peck Collection, Transylvania University (Lexington, Kentucky). Clara Peck collected rare books in the fields of sport and natural history. She left these to the Transylvania Library. RK was asked to speak about the collection on 25 March 1984.
“Clara Peck.” Typescript with autograph corrections (2 photocopies); various pagings.
Also research materials and bibliographies.
Correspondence and list of books in Peck Collection and miscellaneous correspondence.
Revised version of lecture given to Hroswitha Club (1984 Oct. 25.).
Miscellaneous material on Transylvania University.
Material from the Peck Collection was used for “Hawking, Hunting, and
Horsemanship: An Untold Tale of Book Collecting, DeWitt Literary Society,
and Rutgers University Inaugural Louis S.F. Bishop Lecture, 1985
Box 3: Lectures 1985-1989
“American Collectors of Bookbindings.” Caxton Club (Chicago), 1985 May 15.
Photocopies and correspondence only.
“A Tribute to Harold J. Kittleson.” Minneapolis Public Library, 1986 June 20.
Correspondence, miscellaneous printed items, and typescript with autograph
corrections. 19 leaves.
“Rare Books, Cowboys and Indians: The Mysterious Collecting Career of Miss Clara
Peck.” Mercantile Library, St. Louis, 1987 Feb. 4. Correspondence and typescript
with autograph corrections. 22 leaves.
“The Rare Book World Today.” Friends of the Library, McNeese State University (Lake
Charles, LA), 1987 May 5. Typescript with autograph collections. 26 leaves.
“Book Auctions Come to England.” Friends of the Cornell University Library, 1988 Apr.
20. Typescript. 20 leaves.
“The Rare Book World Today.” University Club Associates, 1989 Mar. 16. Typescript.
“Book Collectors and Their Clubs.” Friends of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library,
University of Toronto, 1989 Oct. 26. Correspondence and typescript. 24 leaves. Published as “Book Clubs an d Their Members” in Gazette of the Grolier Club, n.s. 40/41 (1988-89), 61-78).
General lecture on book collecting. Autograph manuscript on lined paper. 25 leaves and 2
leaves of notes. N.d. [This text is similar to but identical with that delivered as
“Taste and Trends in Book Collecting Today” given in Cleveland in 1979.]
Box 3: Articles 1978-1991
Article for Times (London) Literary Supplement on the rare book scene and New York
and Toronto. Photocopies, research notes and typescripts with various pagings.
Not published due to industrial action of printers. Also: TLS (aerogramme) from
John Gross, editor of the TLS, to RK, 1978 Feb. 7.
“A Miniature Incunable in the Library of the Grolier Club,” in A Portfolio Honoring
Harold Hugo for his Contributions to Scholarly Printing (Lunenburg and
Meriden: Stinehour Press and Meriden Gravure Company, 1978), no. 12 (5 pp.)
“Foreword” in David Farrell, Fifty Fine Books at Kentucky: A Catalog of an Exhibition
(Lexington: Libraries of the University of Kentucky, 1979), pp. [3-4]. Autograph
manuscript and typescript drafts; various pagings.
“Looking into Provenance,” in A Miscellany for Bibliophiles, ed. H. George Fletcher
(New York: Grastorf & Lang, 1979), pp. 15-45. Article completed Sept. 1978/
Correspondence, typescripts with autograph corrections (various pagings) and
final galley proofs.
“Antiques: The Elegance of Rare Bindings,” Architectural Digest, Sept. 1979, pp. 76-80.
Typescript drafts with autograph corrections, outlines and correspondence. Also:
reprint in translation as “Antiquariato: Preziosi da sfogliare” in the Italian edition
of Architectural Digest. October 1987, pp. 173-176.
Review of Mirjam [sic] M. Foot’s The Henry Davis Gift: A Collection of Bookbindigns (Vol.
1, 1978), Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 75 (1981): 498-99.
Autograph drafts, typescripts and correspondence.
Review of Howard M. Nixon’s British Bookbindings Presented by Kenneth H. Oldaker to
the Chapter Library of Westminster Abbey (1982), Papers of the Bibliographical
Society of America, 78 (1984): 528.Typescript drafts with autograph corrections
and correspondence. Also: 4 offprints.
“Private Collecting,” in Rare Books 1983-84: Trends, Collections, Sources, ed. Alice D.
Schreyer (New York: Bowker Antiquarian Books Annual, 1984), pp. 27-32.
Autograph manuscript and typescripts; various pagings. Also correspondence
“The Cover [Grolier Club Bookplate], Journal of Library History-, 20 (1985): 196-199.
“Foreword,” in Modern Literature from the Library of James Gilvarry (New York:
Christie’s, 7 Feb. 1986), pp. [9-10] Autograph manuscript draft; two typescript
drafts and one final typescript; various pagings. Final Typescript dated
[Discussion of the Rosenwald copy of the first edition of Sebastian Brant’s Das
Narrenschiff (1494), in Visions of a Collector (Washington, D.C.: Library of
“The Grolier Club Library,” in The Grolier Club 1884-1984: Its Library, Exhibitions, &
Publications (New York: Grolier Club, 1984), pp. 35-47. RK’s notes only.
Rare Books and Manuscripts Section, Association of College and Research Libraries.
Conferences attended. Papers given by RK at the 1977 and 1983 conferences are described under “Lectures.”
1978 (June 21-24). New Haven. Programs, correspondence, etc.
1979 (June 19-22). San Antonio. Programs, correspondence, etc.
1984 (June 19-22). Austin. Programs, correspondence, etc.
New York City (June 24-27). Programs, etc. Also: introductory remarks for speaker
1987 (June 23-26). Stanford. Program, correspondence, etc. RK on executive committee
of RBMS 1995-1987.
Correspondence and miscellaneous items. While some of this correspondence does touch on Grolier Club concerns, RK kept it grouped with his own papers.
Correspondence relating to appointment as Grolier Club Librarian and related matters,
Autographs cards and notes from Mary Hyde Eccles, 1978-1985. 12 items.
Miscellaneous invitations, announcements, etc., ca. 1970-1989.
Clipppings, ca. 1956-1984. Most relate to RK, including an account of his graduating
class at the Corning Free Academy (1956).
“English Furniture, 1750 to 1800…. Senior Term Paper, Corning (NY) Free Academy.
English 4, 1956 March 27. Typescript. 10 leaves with comments of instructor.
Grolier Club London Trip, 1970 (July). Correspondence, etc. During his stay, RK
visited Stationers’ Hall with James Moran.
France and Belgium Trip, 1988 (Feb. 1-10). Itinerary and correspondence.
Princeton University. Judge for Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize, 1978.
Correspondence, clippings, etc.
Library of Congress. Center for the Book. Planning Meeting, 1977 (Oct. 20). RK an
_______. Symposium on Incunabula in American Libraries, 1987 (April 1-2). Program
Paul Needham (Pierpont Morgan Library). RK interviewed him in connection with
exhibition “Twelve Centuries of Book binding at the Pierpont Morgan Library.” Book Collector’s Market, vol. 4, no. 2 (March/April 1979), 4-5. Notes and photocopies of interview.
Columbia University Oral History Project. RK interviewed by Gerald Gottlieb, 1973
(April 2). Carbon copy of transcript with RK autograph emendations. 45 leaves.
Rare Books School, School of Library Service (Columbia University). RK gave week-
long course rare book exhibitions in 1984 and 1985. Correspondence, student
applications, photocopies of some course materials.
Bibliographical spoof sent to RK. Photocopies. 5 items.
Photographs of RK at exhibits, etc., ca. 1972-1979. 9 b x w photographs; 20 x 25 cm and
smaller. Also: 2 b x w 20 x 25 cm undated photographs mounted on board of exhibition at Columbia University entitled “Great Festival Books.”
Thomas Campbell Vestments, Ltd. (New York City). Color brochure of vestments for
priests of Byzantine Rite. RK the model in several shots.