Over sixty years, T. Kimball Brooker, an avid book enthusiast from the United States, has meticulously amassed a treasury of rare literary gems, encompassing over 1,300 16th-century French and Italian volumes.
Now, a pivotal decision has been made to part with this cherished assortment of Renaissance literary treasures. This upcoming autumn, the renowned auction house Sotheby’s will embark on the auctioning of Brooker’s meticulously curated library, with projections placing the earnings at a staggering $25 million. The diverse array of books is poised to range in valuation, from modest estimates of $200 to substantial sums reaching $600,000.
Retaining their original bindings, these books serve as invaluable artifacts that offer a profound insight into their historical context. Charlotte Miller, a distinguished specialist in books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, underscores the significance of the original bindings in providing a glimpse into the era’s perception of books, their utilization, and their readership.
Among the remarkable lots set to be auctioned is an early edition of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Treatise on Painting,” featuring 56 intricate ink illustrations dispersed across 375 chapters. Experts estimate that this manuscript could command bids ranging from $120,000 to $180,000.
Brooker’s curated library also boasts a collection of approximately 1,000 publications produced by the renowned Aldine Press, a groundbreaking publishing venture established in 1494. Notably, this innovative press played a pivotal role in introducing compact-sized books akin to contemporary paperbacks and the use of italics in printing. These titles, dating from the late 1490s to the 1590s, are individually projected to contribute a substantial sum, amounting to an impressive $10 million.
For Brooker, the journey of amassing this extraordinary compilation of books has been a perpetual source of fulfilment and delight, as he expressed in a personal statement.
Source: Adapted from Smithsonian Magazine