Sotheby's to auction $15m James S Copley collection

A remarkable trove of original manuscripts of American history, assembled by the late media executive and collector James S Copley during the 1960s-70s, will auction at Sotheby's New York.

The auction house reportedly plans to sell the collection over the course of 2010, beginning on April 14.

Copley's collection is an astonishing survey in original manuscripts of American history and worldwide literary, artistic and scientific achievement.

It includes authors, scientists, and musicians as diverse as Charlotte Brontë, Albert Einstein, and Tchaikovsky.

At the core of the collection is a range of handwritten letters and documents tracing America's history from the earliest incursions of Jesuit missionaries into California, through to the archive of letters sent by General Eisenhower to his wife from the battlefields of Europe.

A July 1776 Broadside Printing of the Declaration of Independence will also
feature in the April 14 auction

As befits a collector who was also a newspaper publisher, the library promises a great deal of breadth and depth of content, reflecting Copley's passions and deep interests.

His collection is all the more remarkable for having been assembled primarily during the 1960s and 70s, regarded as the "Golden Age" for manuscript collecting.

"The Copley Library is of a scale that can likely never again be achieved by a private collector," - David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby's

Copley's collection reportedly numbers approximately 2,000 manuscripts, books, pamphlets, broadsides and maps.

Sotheby's has estimated its value at a remarkable $15m.

The library will be sold in a series of eight auctions throughout 2010. All lots have been consigned by the Copley Press, Inc.

"The Copley Library is of a scale that can likely never again be achieved by a private collector," said David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby's.

"While institutional in scope and significance, the manuscripts and books in the Library clearly reflect the discernment of a passionate collector and equally passionate patriot.

"The birth, survival, and expansion of the United States is brilliantly documented in the writings of the men and women who founded and protected our nation.

"As a reader and a newspaperman, Mr Copley had wide and eclectic interests, which also provided themes for the collection," he said.

Image: Sotheby's

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