Page 12 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 49

Basic HTML Version

4
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
finest manuscript and p rin ted literary treasures and that would
match and even surpass the collections o f Europe.
Marx, the librarian-scholar, rightfully re fe rred to Ju d g e
Sulzberger in one o f his letters as the “real founde r o f the Sem­
inary library.” For it was Sulzberger who in 1903 made his first
major gift o f 3,000 p rin ted books and 400 manuscripts which
served as the impetus for increasing the library’s holdings.
T h roughou t his life Sulzberger remained a collector and con­
noisseur o f ra re Hebrew books and manuscripts. He continued
to watch over the development o f the library and to serve as
chairman o f the Seminary library committee. Marx, who was
35 years his jun io r , tu rn ed to him constantly for advice and
support.
As an astute collector Sulzberger guided Marx in his dealings
with bookdealers. Very often when he approved o rde rs for ac­
quisitions he would ask that the bill be charged to his own ac­
count. On one occasion he cautioned Marx: “T h e only word
I have to say is a word o f advice. Do not spend all your money
in one day o r you will have many days for regrets .”
Toge the r with Marx, Sulzberger combed the booksellers’ cat­
alogues and made suggestions as to purchases. He indicated
when it was best to bargain and stressed that one must always
ask for a library discount. O f some items he was quick to say
that “they are no great Metziah.” He was most eager to augm en t
the num ber o f incunabula and manuscripts and had a particular
interest in imprints o f the renowned Soncino press. When in­
formed by Marx tha t he was able to complete an imperfect copy
o f a ra re book o r that he had made a special acquisition he
would express great satisfaction.
An abiding concern o f the two bibliophiles was the building
up o f the library’s collections in various areas. Both men un ­
derstood that this was best accomplished by the purchase o f
the libraries o f individual scholars. A num ber o f letters record
disappointment over the failure to obtain the Baron Guenzberg
collection from Russia because o f the outbreak o f World War
I and the Russian Revolution. O the r letters deal with the details
o f such major acquisitions as tha t o f the Elkan Nathan Adler
collection, which took place in 1923, shortly before Sulzberger’s
death.
As their friendsh ip and collaboration deepened over the
years, Sulzberger came to rely all the more on Marx’s expertise.