Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Big Story Updates

I can't remember the last time we had two major biblio-news stories occurring at the same time like this - between the Crockett Contretemps and the Truro Trouble there are many updates to report this morning.

Crockett first, I guess, and as usual Scott Brown's got the inside track on all the new developments there. Here's the Texas Historical Commission press release (now removed from their site, according to the Houston Chronicle) announcing the purchase of the letter, and here's Scott's take on the THC's announcement that an expert panel will be convened: "Once again, the state of Texas has it all backwards. First, the governor personally announces the purchase before anyone does even basic analysis and now that the document is questioned, Texas is hiring the experts."

On ExLibris, Kevin MacDonnell posted yesterday that he sent a statement on the letter to several Texas papers, "and suggested that in the interest of public trust and transparency that they [the Texas Historical Commission] make the names and qualifications of their 'team of experts' known, including full disclosure of any connections, past or present, that those experts might have to the buyer or seller, as well as any court or state agency complaints ever registered against any expert on their team." I certainly hope they take his advice.

Scott also questions the dealer's story about finding the letter in a folder "tucked away in a desk." Does seem a bit fishy, doesn't it?

Switching gears, things are also moving quite quickly with the story I wrote about on Monday regarding the sale of the Phillpott Library by the Truro diocese. Local papers and the BBC are reporting that the diocese is "seeking legal advice to see if it has any cause for redress after losing out from the sale."

Pulling double-duty here - and doing so incredibly well - Scott has some important updates for us on this story too, as well as an important question that I've been trying to answer since December and will cast upon the waters now. He reports that the collection was originally appraised by a representative of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 2002 for £20,000 (making Thornton's later £36,000 offer seem pretty decent).

The comment that's drawn the most responses is Scott's final paragraph: "An interesting point not mentioned in the Times article is that the Macklin Bible - the massive extra-illustrated Bible that was the first item sold - went to a dealer who showed up at the auction house, razor
blade in hand, and cut out the 300 best drawings and prints, leaving the rest. The auction house, Dominic Winter, subsequently placed the remainder with an American university library. Anyone know where it ended up?"

That bible is the one I've posted about here (the post includes some new comments as this story has grown); since I first read about it in December I've been trying to figure out which American library it was that accepted the book after that wretched dealer (who has thus far managed to remain anonymous) took his razor blade to it. If anyone knows and can share, please do.