T. Kimball Brooker has amassed more than 1,000 books over the past 60 years, but now he is ready to hand them on to someone new.
The scholar is auctioning off his comprehensive collection of Renaissance tomes in eight auctions at Sotheby’s this fall. Bibliotheca Brookeriana will be one of the most significant and comprehensive libraries to ever go under the gavel, according to the auction house. It is understandable, then, that the haul is expected to achieve in excess of $25 million.
Brooker’s carefully curated trove includes more than 1,300 16th-century French and Italian books in their original bindings. It also includes the largest collection of editions from the renowned Aldine Press to come to the market in a century, according to Sotheby’s. Established in Venice in 1494, the Aldine Press is considered a precursor to contemporary publishing and pioneered things like italics and small paperback-like books.
“Collecting the books to be offered in this series of sales has been an enduring source of satisfaction and enjoyment; these volumes, many dating from the infancy of the printed word, have also provided the material for much ground-breaking scholarly research on renaissance printing and bookbinding,” Brooker said in a statement.
The books showcase the convergence of art, architecture, and knowledge in the Renaissance era, as well as the meticulous craftsmanship that was executed at that time. The thousand or so Aldine rarities were published from the 1490s to the 1590s. (Other collections of this size and pedigree are held in museums across L.A., N.Y., and the U.K.) In addition, there are another 450 historic hardcovers that date back thousands of years to the private collections of noblemen, kings, and more.
“Although I naturally part with my wonderful books with mixed feelings, I will retain these memories, and am heartened to know that my books, as I send them on their way, will pass to buyers who will care for them and cherish them as much as I have,” Brooker adds.
The auctions will kick off on October 12 with a dedicated sale at Sotheby’s New York. The books will be on display at the York Avenue galleries from October 5 to 11. The rest of the auctions will take place in New York and London through 2025.