Derick Dreher has been the Director of the Rosenbach since 1998. He has an M.A. in the History of Art from Yale University,and is a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton. A Fulbright scholar, he was awarded a Kress International Research Fellowship, for research in Germany. A specialist in graphic arts of the Renaissance, he has published on a variety of subjects, including prints and drawings ranging from Dürer to Daumier, and has spoken internationally on drawings, rare books, libraries and the art of memory.
We met recently at the Museum on a rainy Philadelphia morning to talk about the life, loves and business practices of celebrated bookseller and collector 'Doctor' Abraham Simon Wolf Rosenbach, who got his PhD. in 1901, and subsequently went into business with his older ambitious Anglophilic brother Philip who sold fine and decorative arts. The Doctor was bent on selling books and manuscripts. We examine his ability to turn customers into collectors, to build libraries, to serve as an advisor not a dealer; his first great customer, street car magnate Harry Widener, who went down with the Titanic; what $100,000 bought in 1912, the Doctor's relationship with the Huntingtons and Folgers, his brilliant, ruthless book buying and selling practices, his skill at manipulating prices and the media, the manuscript of Alice in Wonderland, making private collections public, the Museum's 333,000 odd documents, the manuscript of James Joyce's Ulysses, bought at auction for the reserve price, Stoker's notes for Dracula, Conrad's manuscripts, tours as appetizers, the correspondence and physical library of Marianne Moore, and Maurice Sendak as a bridge to the museum's entire collection.
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