Is this the most facinating library ever?

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Is this the most facinating library ever?

WHEN Alex Dove opened the 16th-century book on witchcraft, something black and scaly fell out into her hands. Dove, who works in the books department at auctioneers Lyon &Turnbull, was horrified when she realised it was the body of a frog, wizened by time and pressed flat between the pages.

Perhaps it is not so surprising given the singular nature of the collection, and its owner. The painter Robert Lenkiewicz, who died in 2002, had amassed thousands of volumes on philosophy, witchcraft, superstition and the occult, including a "death room" in which he kept the embalmed body of a former friend. By the time the Lyon & Turnbull team had finished cataloguing the books, they had unearthed a frog, two toads and a lizard.

Books specialist Simon Vickers visited Lenkiewicz's library, in a dense network of rooms adjoining his studio in Plymouth.
... Quote:
It was a real rabbit warren, and each room was so full of books there was barely room to shuffle along. It was very atmospheric and, although the embalmed body had been removed, was not the kind of place you'd like to be left alone in.

He describes the collection, part of which will be sold at Lyon & Turnbull this week, as "one of the biggest and best private libraries in the country on philosophy and related subjects, certainly the best put together in the past 50 years".

Vickers expects interest in the sale from across Britain and Europe, and values the books at between 150,000 and 200,000. Although some of the most valuable books on witchcraft were sold at Sotheby's in 2003, fetching 600,000, more than 12,000 books remain in Plymouth.

A brief scan of the shelves awaiting the Lyon & Turnbull sale gives a snapshot of Lenkiewicz's unusual interests: The History of Corporal Punishment, Head or The Art of Phrenology, Polidori's The Vampyre, Observations on Madness and Melancholy, Evil Eye in the Western Highlands, Basilisks, Dragons and other Fabled Animals.

The library is particularly strong on philosophy and classics, including Thomas Taylor's seminal 19th-century translation of the complete works of Aristotle and Plato and Henri Estienne's 1578 edition of Plato.

There are important works by Newton, Locke, Hume and many others, and unusual stand-alones like a rare copy of The Chameleon, the Oxford University journal featuring poems by Oscar Wilde and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas.

... Quote:
As with any book collector, you can see what their passions were by the books that they bought. Like any bibliophile, he bought more books than he could ever read, but there are bits of paper stuck into lots of books, many of them with his handwritten notes on them, so obviously he did read a tremendous number.
says Vickers.

More on the site

The late artist Robert Lenkiewicz even looks like a wizard! Are those two white things in the top left eyes?

lenk.jpg - 39.44kb
By netchicken: posted on 8-5-2007

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