Henry E. Huntington's Library of Libraries

Henry E. Huntington was one of the most important book and manuscript collectors of the twentieth century. After making a fortune in the railroad industry, he set out to build a rare book and manuscript library. He succeeded in gathering his unequaled collections over a period of only fifteen years, a result not only of personal determination and almost unlimited means but of fortunate timing. In 1911, as he began to develop a serious interest in rare books, important private collections came on the market. In that year, Huntington acquired the most important rarities from the Elihu D. Church and Robert Hoe collections. When other libraries became available subsequently, he responded decisively with en bloc purchases, and the library of libraries was born. Between 1911 and 1917, Huntington dominated the book markets of New York and London. This book recounts the story of those tumultuous years in the book trade. The reader is taken behind the scenes at the auction houses, and the strategies of the major book dealers of the early twentieth century--especially George D. Smith and A. S. W. Rosenbach--are revealed in fascinating detail.