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Subject: "Richardson collection sale" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #219
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Alexandra

09-08-99, 04:09 PM (GMT)
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"Richardson collection sale"
 
   I received a notice over the weekend that the Philip Richardson collection at the Royal Academy of Dancing is being sold. Richardson was publisher of Dancing Times -- people here will know whether he was founder publisher; I think he was but, sorry, I'm not clear on the history. I do know he had a fabled collection of dance history materials including much on John Weaver (the 18th century English choreographer who did much the same kind of work as Noverre, creating narrative ballets with quite sophisticated content that were more than the elaborate divertissements then popular. I was notified because there are extensive Bournonville materials as well, and the one that made me the saddest was a first edition of Bournonville's Theatre Life that had been Adeline Genee's (the Danish ballerina who was so important in British ballet history). It's my understanding that Richardson gave the collection to the RAD partly to keep it in the country as a national treasure; partly so that dancers of the future (i.e., our present) might have contact with their past. It's also my understanding that the collection is being sold not because there's a desperate need of money, but because it's not being used. When one gives a collection to a museum or other institution, especially a bequest, it is done with the expectation that one's wishes will be honored. (Guess you know where I stand on this one!) I wondered if there had been any discussion of this here and, if so, what it has been.

Thanks. And a belated Happy Birthday, Bruce. I'm sorry. I haven't been here in awhile and I missed that on the relevant day.

Alexandra


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Richardson collection sale Bruce Madmin 09-08-99 1
     RE: Richardson collection sale Alexandra 09-08-99 2
         RE: Richardson collection sale Bruce Madmin 09-08-99 3
         RE: Richardson collection sale Bruce Madmin 11-08-99 4
             RE: Richardson collection sale Alexandra 11-08-99 5
                 RE: Richardson collection sale John 12-08-99 6
                     RE: Richardson collection sale Francis Timlin 12-08-99 7
     RE: Richardson collection sale Alexandra 13-08-99 8
         RE: Richardson collection sale Bruce Madmin 13-08-99 9
             RE: Richardson collection sale Alexandra 13-08-99 10
                 RE: Richardson collection sale John 13-08-99 11
                     RE: Richardson collection sale Alexandra 13-08-99 12
                 RE: Richardson collection sale Francis Timlin 13-08-99 13
  RAD Press Release Bruce Madmin 22-08-99 14
     RE: RAD Press Release Alexandra 22-08-99 15
     RE: RAD Press Release Jennifer Thorp 25-08-99 16
         RE: RAD Press Release Alexandra 25-08-99 17
         RE: RAD Press Release Bruce Madmin 27-08-99 18
             RE: RAD Press Release Alexandra 27-08-99 19
                 RE: RAD Press Release Bruce Madmin 28-08-99 20
                     RE: RAD Press Release Alexandra 28-08-99 21
                         RE: RAD Press Release - THE TRUTH Johnthy Smith 29-08-99 22
                             RE: RAD Press Release - THE TRUTH Bruce Madmin 29-08-99 24
                         RE: RAD Press Release Bruce Madmin 29-08-99 23
  New Richardson Collection sale thread Bruce Madmin 29-08-99 25

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Bruce Madmin

09-08-99, 05:10 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #0
 
   Well this gets the discussion going - it's actually a story I put on the This Week page when I updated it on Sunday!

I also asked RAD if they had a press release on the issue - none (as yet).

I guess few of us would want to leave them much as things stand....


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Alexandra

09-08-99, 06:26 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #1
 
   LAST EDITED ON 09-Aug-99 AT 06:43 PM (GMT)

Thank you, Bruce! I am so glad that someone (and I hope more) are outraged. I missed it on the Net. Could I ask where it was yiou saw it? I heard from a friend of mine in L.A. who knows the dealer. I called the dealer -- a very honorable man, it seems, who has a fine antiquarian shop in L.A. called The Golden Legend. The story gets worse. He said he had spent two months trying to sell the collection whole, to such institutions as The British Museum, several other European museums and at least one American museum. So they did try at least to keep the collection together.

Some subparts of the collection are being kept together for awhile longer. The Bournonville libretti -- some extremely rare pieces -- are being held in a lot until January; then they will be sold individually.

It upsets me on two grounds. The first because I believe that a will is inviolate, and if they promised to keep those materials that promise should be kept. If Richardson had wanted his money to go for scholarships, he would have done it (he may well have; I don't know the details of his will). And second because spurning such a treasure seems so......(dare I use the words?) ignorant and boorish.

The collection includes a first edition of the libretto to the Ballet Comiqe de la Reine Louise (late 16th century!! and what gets in the books as the very first ballet du cour), a first edition of Noverre's Lettres. It was a very thougthful collection, not just someone gathering up this or that because he liked it, but someone trying to get the source material of which dance history is made, and he wanted little dancers-to-be to be able to see it and touch it.

If the RAD's reason is that no one is using the collection, who's fault is that? I wonder how many people knew it was there -- anyone on this board, for example? Collections like this are usually open to scholars (loosely defined) who want to use it in their research. If you don't know it's there, you can't use it. As for the School, do they have a dance history course? Does the course use those materials? In Copenhagen when Erik Aschengreen was teaching there, he brought in things from his collection -- lithographs, books, etc -- spread them out on the table and let the kids explore them as much as they wanted. Dancers I've talked to say the children would positively skip out of those classes they liked them so much (Aschengreen is good at making history seem like stories, so that helped, of course).

I was curious, of course, what people here would think, and also if there had been any uproar over it. (Silly thought. Who cares about history these days?)

Alexandra


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Bruce Madmin

09-08-99, 10:34 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #2
 
  
>Thank you, Bruce! I am so
>glad that someone (and I hope
>more) are outraged. I missed
>it on the Net. Could
>I ask where it was yiou
>saw it?

More later - sorting the Monthly magazine at the mo. But the Weekly update is at:

http://www.ballet.co.uk/update/this_week.htm

and says the story came from the Society for Dance Reserach Newsletter (a friend faxed it to me). But since then Dance Now has arrived and that has an extended piece about it - Unfortunately I've not had the time to read it yet!


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Bruce Madmin

11-08-99, 08:40 AM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #2
 
   The Dance Now piece, by Moira Goff, is quite long and lists some of the books. It also says that the story first started to emerge back in March. So much for the speed of the Internet!

I don't think there has been anything in Dancing Times either - which is odd given it was Richardson's magazine.

So there has not exactly been rioting in the streets over here.

The more I see ballet and dance the more interested I become in its history I have to say. And the loss of base materials for those who do serious research rankles. Perhaps its sadder that no UK institutions have done anything to rescue even a part. But we don't know what the offer was - perhaps they were thought 'overpriced' for example.

There does seem to be a haemorrhaging, of many things, from the old world to the new. I guess crude economics enter into it, but there are probably cultural things here as well. We live in a country where the old is not so unusual and hence valued perhaps less. In dance specifically there is lots going on, especially if you live within striking distance of London. One gets the impression that the USA is so large and aside from a few bright spots, and then only for a part of the year, things are thinner. (Do forgive me if I have all this wrong Alexandra!) So if there is not so much to be seen perhaps that pushes towards the use of videos and reading more - more of a predisposition to research perhaps and a deeper interest in such books.

Wherever they go I hope the books get to used by those who need and are not just a pleasant investment decision by somebody who quite likes The Nutcracker.

But I think we all had higher expectations of RAD than this.


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Alexandra

11-08-99, 05:31 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #4
 
   Well, Bruce, you and I could be a noisy picket line of two, it seems.

I think New Yorkers might scratch their heads over the thought that dance goes on only part of the year, but aside from that your characterisation of the dance scene here is quite accurate. America has become the repository for lots of things Europe no longer wants -- castles, the Queen Mary, dance books. Partly I think it's because a collection like the Ricahrdson one is valuable only as a collection. The British Museum already has the Weaver books and Ballet Comique, probably; why have two? In America, there are so many museums, there's no only room for them, but there's the social climbing aspect. We yell how wonderful our pop culture is at the top of our lungs, but we'll grovel to get a bit of high culture and pin it on the wall to say how cultivated we are.

I will say on the videos and reading, I'm not sure it's because there's not enough to see. When I started going to the ballet, I was just so obsessed I would read anything. I took open university courses to have access to the films (this was before video). Perhaps it's there are so many of us, the tiny proportion of the audience that is equally obsessed is large enough to become a market?

Back to the Richardson collection, I certainly agree that one expected more from the RAD than this. If they were proud of what they were doing, you can bet there would have been a press conference with plenty of spin of how this scholarship money would benefit the poor. They must be ashamed of it, which makes it rather worse; they know they're the less than honorable thing. Makes me hope there are ghosts.

Alexandra


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John

12-08-99, 09:19 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #5
 
   I feel it needs to be stated from the start that at no time did the RAD offer it's collection to any of the major public libraries in Britain. This is the cause of the outrage and distress amongst dance historians in the UK. As Moira Goff states in her article in "Dance Now", nobody knew about the sale until it appeared in the booksellers catalogue. I find it strange & rather telling that the RAD did not offer the collection to a British bookseller in the first place.


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Francis Timlin

12-08-99, 08:00 PM (GMT)
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7. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #6
 
   Unfortunately, the commercial emphasis should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the RAD's priorities. They are, at heart, a very commercial operation and are being operated according to principles designed to enhance the bottom line and nothing more.


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Alexandra

13-08-99, 00:29 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #1
 
   I just received the catalogue: "The Royal Academy of Dancing, Special sale Catalogue, Rare Books on Dancing from the Richardson Library." The dealer is The Golden Legend in Los Angeles, California. They have a web site: www.goldenlegend.com The collection is not on the page as yet. This dealer has a very high reputation here, I'm told, and is a serious antiquarian. The notations in the catalogue are extremely detailed and very informative, not only about the condition of the books, but of their history.

There's a brief introduction by David Watchman, Chief Executive, RAD, which tells when the RAD was found and by whom ("a group of eminent European dancers who were extremely concerned about the low standards of dance they saw on the professional stage.") and this paragraph:

"Formation of a comprehensive and carefully organized dance library was one of the most important ways to improve the standards of teaching. Over a period of years, Philip Richardson encouraged the development of the library which is today one of the finest dance libraries in Europe. However, a number of the valuable rare books are now not essential to maintaining the requirements and standards of the Academy.

"Having taken careful advice, we have decided to dispose of these books."

There's also a note on Richardson by Mary Clarke (editor, Dancing Times) and a note on the collection by the dealer, Gordon Hollis, on what steps he has taken to try to insure that the collection remains intact.

The catalogue is 68 pages with 141 entries. They are indeed rare books, of interest only to scholars or those very interested in dancing -- or possibly to choreographers, as the collection contains many very important old books on dancing, not only classical ballet, but country dancing, the waltz, etc.

There are many items that are very specifically English, including the works of John Weaver, as I'd mentioned before. One item, to give you a flavor: "Weaver, John. Anatomical and Mechanical Lectures upon Dancing. Wherein Rules and Institutions for that Art are laid down and demonstrated. As they were read at the Academy in Chancery Lane. By John Weaver, Dancing Master. 1721.

There's a "Harlequin Doctor Faustus," a very early pantomime performed at Theatre Drury Lane, 1724. A historian friend of mine who is especially interested in Faust and its theatrical treatment had never heard of this one.

John Playford's "The English Dancing Master," 1651, the works of Kellom Tomlinson, another very important early 18th century English dancing master.

Not English, but very rare and wonderful is Claude Menestrier's "Des Ballets Anciens et Modernes" from 1682, a book I've often read of and wondered about but never touched. Menestrier was a Jesuit priest (yes) who wrote the first history of ballet. It included summaries of hundreds of ballets (all long gone, of course). Some of his libretti -- he staged them too -- are also on view.

I'll leave you with this one: "Music for Dance, including several rare collections of English Dance Music." 18th century.

All of these are first editions, of course. All have Richardson's bookplate in them. The amount of work (not to mention money) it must have taken to gather this collection is absolutely astounding.


Alexandra


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Bruce Madmin

13-08-99, 08:25 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #8
 
   Thanks Alexandra - is there any view on how much the collection is roughly worth?

I wonder where RAD's "carefull advice" came from?

Interesting that Mary Clarke did some words for the cataloge. Has anybody seen anything in Dancing Times about this issue. Or perhaps I should have expressed that as anything of consequence?

Love the RAD comment about "one of the finest dance libraries in Europe." By and large fine library's don't become finer by selling off their rarest books...

I have no problem with the RAD operating in a commercial way; oh that more dance and ballet organisations were similarly focused, but this has to be tempered with a wider view and responsibility to UK and European dance. Assuming it was thought reasonable to sell (a moot point surely) are there really no respected booksellers in London or Paris, with better local contacts, and who might have handled this in a more satisfactory manner?


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Alexandra

13-08-99, 12:47 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #9
 
   Bruce, if I have time later today I'll all up the figures and post it, but it's hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I understand the feeling that a British dealer might be more appropriate, but The Golden Legend is a very respected firm. They may well have been selected because they're the best at placing collections. The annotations in the catalogue are very solid; it's almost a historical resource unto itself. Gordon Hollis, the owner, is quite knowledgeable about ballet and in the brief conversation I had with him, it was obvious that he does care about the collection and, as I posted earlier, had been in negotiations with several institutions, including the British Museum. I'll quote from his introduction:

"In cataloguing the rare book collection at the Foyal Academy of Dancing, I was able to glimpse the overseeing eyes of those who formed it. With an exacting and careful logic, as well as a good bit of luck, Sir P.J.S. Richardson, Ralph Headlum, and ballerina Adeline Genee managed to acquire almost every important Western book ever published on dance instruction. From this collection, one can reconstruct not only the Western dances of the last 400 years, but also the development of dance teaching over these centuries. Richardson, Headlum and Genee also recognized the need to collect the rarest books on dance which might otherwise be lost. As a result of their efforts, the RAD's collection possesses well over a dozen books which can be found in no other library.

"...In dispersing the collections, I have first attempted to find a single institutional buyer so that the entire collection could be kept intact. When no institution came forward, I next contacted those institutions and persons who already collect books on dancing in order to make selected items available to them. In this way, the community of dance scholars may be able to continue its studies with minimum interruption. Thirdly, I have provided extremely detailed descriptions of some of the rarest items. Ifthese descriptions seem a bit long, I hope the reader will understand that these particular books do not have full descriptions elsewhere in the entire bibliographic literature of dance. Thus, it seems worthwhile to describe them fully before they are dispersed."

I don't think it's fair to blame the dealer. If the RAD were on its last legs and its continued existence depended on a few extra hundred thousand pounds, perhaps they could be forgiven. But to toss this collection just because they think it's taking up space seems to me absolutely reprehensible.

Reading Hollis's descrption made me even angrier. This wasn't just a collection of books. This is a collection of books about teaching dancing. What a legacy to give something called a Royal Academy.

Alexandra


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John

13-08-99, 04:42 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #10
 
   Just a small point. It would be no good offering the collection to the British Museum as they do not collect material relating to dance history. The collection should have been offered to the British Library, which is a seperate institution. They even have their own building in King's Cross now. The collection could also have been offered to the Theatre Museum or University of Surrey Dance Dept. My understanding is that none of these institutions have been approached.


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Alexandra

13-08-99, 04:48 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #11
 
   Well, now they know who to call! (I can't say whether Hollis used the term "British Museum" when he meant "library." I do know he's been working to sell the collection for several months and has been the broker for disposing of many past collections.)

There's an article about the collection and sale by Los Angeles Times critic Lewis Segal at: http://www.calendarlive.com/HOME/CALENDARLIVE/CALENDAR/t000071955.html

Alexandra


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Francis Timlin

13-08-99, 08:09 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: Richardson collection sale"
In response to message #10
 
   There would seem to be no reason to conclude that the RAD is on its last legs financially. This is, rather, an illustration of the sort of crass, callous and uninformed decisionmaking that has pervaded the organization under its present management. What I meant to imply (and perhaps the nuance does not translate across the pond, I'm really not sure) by saying that the RAD is a very commercial organization, is that there are decisions (of this very type) being made that are reflective of an organization that is being managed by individuals who have no training, background or commitment the art form, and whose decisionmaking is informed only by what looks good for the bottom line. Old books taking up space are, to such a mentality, something to be obliterated. I am saddened that the organization seems to have no sense of mission or purpose beyond what makes sense (right here and right now) for the cash flow. The concept of *service* to the art (a very non-commercial proposition in itself) seems to play very little part in RAD decisionmaking. A pity, but not a surprise to those of us who have been on the receiving end of the current administration's policies.


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Bruce Madmin

22-08-99, 08:42 AM (GMT)
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14. "RAD Press Release"
In response to message #0
 
   Have just got the following Press Release from RAD. Unfortunately it's not available electronically, so I have typed it in... it's wise therefore to assume that any typos are mine!

The sale, by the Royal Academy of Dancing, of a selection of books from the Richardson Library - facts versus fiction

The sale of a selection of books from the Richardson Library has caused false speculation and rumour, much of it generated by two articles by Moira Goff, published in the summer 1999 edition of Dance Now and Rare Books Newsletter 61.

It taking the decision to sell books from its collection, the Trustees of the Royal Academy of Dancing consulted widely, with its librarians and archivist, the editor of Dancing Times, as well as with a number of independent organisations.

Following advice about the condition of the books and the proper means to conserve them, the decision to sell was made. Of the experts in rare books and manuscripts that were approached, the Academy received the best advice from Gordon Hollis, an internationally renowned antiquarian book specialist.

With the hope of keeping the collection intact, Gordon Hollis offered the books "en bloc" to many institutions in the USA and Europe, including the British Library. Moreover, he contacted Moira Goff directly, at the British Library, before the books were made generally available for sale. Once it was clear that no single institution would buy the entire collection it was agreed to proceed with the sale.

The remaining, larger part of the Richardson Library remains where it has been since his death, on the shelves of the Academy Library for the use of our students. It is worth noting that during the past thirty years, only four scholars have sought to make use of the rare items in Richardson's collection.

As this sale was undertaken following proper consultation and in abidance with the correct procedures, it is unfortunate that Moira Goff did not consult the Academy.



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Alexandra

22-08-99, 08:11 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #14
 
   LAST EDITED ON 22-Aug-99 AT 08:15 PM (GMT)

Thanks for taking the time to put this up the slow, old-fashioned way, Bruce. I have to say it put my spin-detector on red alert.

There's nothing new in this, to me. The barge carying my Dance Now has not crept into port yet, so I haven't been influenced by the piece to which the press release refers, but I must say I'm prepared to congratulate David Leonard on publishing such an article.

The careful, lawyerlike wording of the release simply raises more questions. "We consulted before acting." What does that mean? A teenager caught with the car at 3:00 a.m. could just as easily say he "consulted" with his parents, forgetting to mention that they said no, so he took the car anyway, because that's what he wanted to do. I'm sure the RAD chose Hollis because he has a great deal of experience trying to find good homes for collections. But did people really come in -- experts, no less -- look at the books and say, "Good grief, to preserve them you must get rid of them now?" I don't think so.

No one has addressed the question of the terms of the gift. Richardson, living in an age when ethics were still supposed to be part of any business deal, may not have had any formal documentation of his wishes and what the RAD agreed to do, but it is quite likely that there is, and I'd like to know the terms of the gift before I buy into the notion that all procedures were followed correctly.

What the RAD doesn't seem to understand is the value of the collection as a collection. There are many institutions with first editions of Noverre's Letters. They don't need another. But Richardson wanted to have a collection about dancing and the teaching of dancing in England, because, understanding institutions, he realized that this would not only have an effect on the quality of instruction at the RAD, but was necessary for the RAD's reputation and stature. And he's not just some old fellow seeking a tax deduction for books he collected for his own pleasure. He was founding an institution.

To go on with the points in the release, it's lovely to know that most of the collection is still at home, but why on earth would they consider dumping the John Weaver and rare country dancing materials? If that's disposable, what have they kept? It is not outside the realm of possibility that a choreographer would want to consult these materials -- another reason why collections are important. And just as a matter of common decency, getting rid of a book that belonged to Adeline Genee leads one to assume they don't really know who Genee was.

As for the fact -- tossed down with a flourish, as though this would silence all arguments -- that only four scholars have sought out the materials in thirty years, oh, come now. Do younger scholars know of the collection's existence? Could I just come over, declare myself a scholar and have access to the Weaver or Bournonville materials, or do I have to come in with credentials and after considerable correspondence, and then only have access every second Wednesday between 1:00 and 2:00? And besides, it's not a lending library. This isn't a popularity contest. Scholars don't have to rifle through the pages every fortnight to make them valuable. How often do scholars check the Magna Carta to see if it's still there? Are they going to ditch that, too, or sell it to Bill Gates (he's picked up a few nice Leonardo drawings lately)? (Yes, I know that's not part of the RAD collection.)

Civilization is expensive to maintain in many senses of the word "expensive." It can be destroyed by barbarians without, who burn the Library of Alexandria, as it were, periodically through history, or by barbarians within, who don't understand what a collection of rare books is much less how it is to be "used."

Alexandra


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Jennifer Thorp

25-08-99, 10:39 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #14
 
   THE RAD LIBRARY SALE: A BRITISH PERSPECTIVE


Much is being written, and with growing anger, concerning the sale of 141 rare books bequeathed to the library of the Royal Academy of Dancing by Philip Richardson and others. It is not my place to comment on the current diversionary tactics of the RAD, who appear to be directing focus away from the real issues by making a personal attack on the British dance historian Moira Goff for her published comments on the subject (see in particular the RAD's press release listed here on 22 August) and who, while she works at the British Library, is not the acquisitions librarian who deals with negotiations to purchase rare books for them. It is my place however, given the unfriendly tone of the RAD's press release, to note a few facts which are at variance with it, and which independent parties are able to confirm.

The only comment I will make on the repeated assertion that the British Library was approached to purchase the collection as a whole is that it was not. The first news of the sale over here was the general notice posted by Gordon Hollis in ExLibris in March 1999, by which time I assume the books were already in California. Although several items on sale are unique copies of British imprints, and therefore arguably an essential part of the British dance heritage which Richardson in particular was at pains to preserve, I am not aware of any evidence that formal discussions for the acquisition of the whole collection took place with any national deposit libraries, academic libraries, or dance institutions over here; even Durham University (which is the validating university for the RAD's own degree courses and might therefore reasonably be expected to take an interest in its library) does not seem to have been approached or informed.

The reasons given by the RAD for deciding to sell are, of course, a matter of internal policy and must be respected. They are summarised in Dancing Times May 1999 p.693, in Mary Clarke's response to letters from the chair of the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society (published on the same page) and other correspondents who expressed anxiety at the sale. As a dance historian who is also a professional archivist who also works in a rare books library I do have to say however that I find the concept of selling off nearly 150 rare books to "ensure that they are preserved" rather odd, when there are grants available to assist such predicaments and, failing that, there are several repositories in the UK well able and willing to take the collection on deposit and give it secure care; and the comment that all the books are accessible on microfilm is puzzling since I am aware of only about 50 filmed by University Microfilms in 1971 - and 141 are now being sold. The additional comment in the press release of 22 August, that sale is justified because only 4 scholars have sought to use the collection in the past 30 years, does not stand up to close consideration. (Presumably these four instances don't include my own application to look at originals in the library for a bibliographical study some years ago, since I never received a reply to my letter of application). One might think that an important reason for accepting a bequest of rare books is both to honour and preserve past scholarship and to encourage and serve future scholarship, whenever it might happen?

Apparently no means has been found to keep the RAD collection intact, and I am grateful that at least parts of it will be preserved by the libraries and collectors purchasing now, while hoping that they will make their acquisitions available to researchers. The whole situation however is part of a much larger and graver problem which needs to be addressed with some urgency in the UK. This is not the first sale of its kind (see Rare Books Newsletter no. 60 for a not dissimilar case; or check their website at http://venus.las.ox.ac.uk/rbg/Rare_books.htm) and will not be the last until there is some provision made for protecting collections which form a significant part of the national heritage from being dispersed without first offering an opportunity for them to be saved for the nation. P.J.S.Richardson recognised that need when he made his bequest to the RAD; it is a great pity that they in turn do not seem to recognise it now.

Another copy of the above has been posted to ANCE-HC@LOC.GOV" target="_blank">DANCE-HC@LOC.GOV and to the SDHS newsletter.


Jennifer Thorp
jennifer.thorp@regents-park.oxford.ac.uk


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Alexandra

25-08-99, 11:46 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #16
 
   Ms. Thorp, thank you for such a reasoned and thorough summary of the situation.

One thing I would like to add, as I don't think it has not yet been mentioned, is that if these materials are sold off to private collectors, their life expectancy is limited. I would love some of the Weaver material; it would turn to dust in about three months in my apartment.

Alexandra Tomalonis


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Bruce Madmin

27-08-99, 06:20 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #16
 
   Thanks for posting such a useful and interesting contribution. Unfortunately I'm away from base (another way of saying I'm out most of the time seeing performances at the Edinburgh Festival!), so I'll be brief. And do excuse all the typos...

I can't speak for old books, but the position re collections of old toys is that they mainly seem to get broken up because they are worth more separately than together. In toys at least I would question anybody who gave an instruction to sell at the best price and to try and keep the collection togther - the two are not totaly incompatible, just not common bedfellows in practice. It might be different in books though.

However everybody is concentrating on one aspect of what RAD has done - should the books have been sold and in which way. Indeed the RAD press release concentrates on this as well. But I don't see it can be quite as simple as that. The RAD Board would not sell for the sake of it - there are benefits from the sale and you can only put the downside of loosing the collection in its proper context when the benefits are known. If I read things right those benefits are listed in the May Dancing Times and it would be useful if soembody could list or put them down here. With those known in some detail one can start to best access the position.

Certainly Richardson was a succesfull man and I'm sure he would have appreciated that you don't make the best of your hand by not questioning sacred cows and making new decisions when they are needed. Thats not to say what RAD have done is necessarily correct - we can't answer that because not all the bits of the jigsaw are known - not enough for me anyway.

Whatever the benefits are they need to be very impressive and, most of all, enduring to justify what RAD have done.


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Alexandra

27-08-99, 06:57 PM (GMT)
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19. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #18
 
   I certainly agree with your last sentence, Bruce! I don't get the Dancing Times, so I don't know what the alleged reasons are. I'd be eager to know, so I hope someone will post them.

I have to say that in my experience, in the arts (from perosnal experience) and in politics (from the same kind of reading and watching we all do), the official reasons given for a controversial act -- or, in this case, something that was going along according to plan until it was noticed -- is seldom, upon investigation, the whole story. If there was truly a benign explanation -- that this sale is for the benefit of all mankind, the deserving poor, PJ's real wishes, etc. -- they would have called a press conference, beaming, and announced it a year ago.

Bruce, re what you wrote about the value of collections whole or broken up, I'm sure you're absolutely right, but I don't think that applies in this case, as they first tried to sell all 141 articles as a collection. The breaking up has come because that was unsuccessful.

Alexandra


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Bruce Madmin

28-08-99, 10:42 AM (GMT)
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20. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #19
 
  
>Bruce, re what you wrote about the
>value of collections whole or broken
>up, I'm sure you're absolutely right,
>but I don't think that applies
>in this case, as they first
>tried to sell all 141 articles
>as a collection.

Not sure on this... the cynic in me says that you go and offer a collection to orgainisations but at the price you expect if the collection was sold separately. Low and behold there are no buyers but you can then tell the world you tried to keep it togther etc etc etc... its hard for buyers and their agents to ignore hard cash.

Talking in toys terms (what I know a little about) it might be that a seller says I want you to handle the sale of this collection, I need the money, and I obviously don't want to sell myself short, but I would also like the collection to be sold whole if that is at all possible. (all rather whooly of course, but thats people for your!). The agent is then in an interesting position - sell at less than market value and get less of a commision or really search for a buyer of the complete collection and probably make less money. I'm sure there are many honourable dealers around, who dote on their clients every wish, but dealers are all businesman too.

None of this may directly translate from toys and for the avoidence of doubt I'm obviously not saying that is what has happened in this case.

This is though a subsidiary point - I'm still interested in knowing the benefits to RAD of the sale of an important collection.


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Alexandra

28-08-99, 04:34 PM (GMT)
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21. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #20
 
   Bruce, I read your account of the toy collection world with great interest and now understand your cynicism. My answer above, about how they really did try to sell the collection whole, is based on a gut feeling from talking with Gordon Hollis (who I don't know). I do know that he has a very good reputation in the rare book world and has successfully brokered the sale of collections (whole); I assume that's why they went to him.

But I'm more than happy to believe the worst!

I just received Dance Now. I find Moira Goff's article very solid. It's not a passionate rant at all, and I couldn't find anything in it that was refuted by the RAD press release (which is basically a rewording of the introduction in the catalogue, except for the very nasty attack on Goff).


Alexandra


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Johnthy Smith

29-08-99, 01:07 AM (GMT)
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22. "RE: RAD Press Release - THE TRUTH"
In response to message #21
 
   As an ex-empolyee of the RAofD Ive been watching these messages with interest. So much misinformation has been spread about this subject, particularly by the RAofD, that I feel I must now set the record straight, particularly since Moira Goff who had the courage to reveal the story is now being pilloried by the RAofD.

The story begins early this year when an American bookseller Gordon Holis (not sure of spelling) approached the RAofD and said that hed been offered to buy a book which he thought might have been stolen from them. The RAofD then checked its rare books and discovred that not only this book but many others were missing - first editions of Arbeau, Rameau, Novere, Pecour etc. The books were kept in a locked safe of which only 4 known people had the key. Question 1 who were these people? Question 2 why were the librarians and archvist (Clement Crisp) of the RAofD so inefficient that they didnt notice their collection had been plundered?

The RAofD are desparate to hide their inefficiency. The thief has been caught and promised a light sentence if he will plead guilty, so that there will be no publicity.

What happned next is a mystery, but suddenly all the RAofDs books are being offered for sale by -wait for it - Gordon Holis who reported the theft in the first place!!! The RAofD seem to have made no effort to keep the books for the UK - either they just saw $$$$ floating before there eyes, or they thought that having to seriously care for one of the world's greatest rare dance books collections was too much trouble.

Also implicated is Mary Clark editor of the Dancing Times. The terms of the Richardson bequest state that the books must be available for consulation to the editor of the Dancing Times. Ms Clark kindly waved this condition so that the books could be sold. An expensive catalogue of the books has been produced by Gordon Holis with a forward by guess who - Mary Clark!!!

And lo and behold the new issue of the Dancing Times contains a long letter attacking Moira Goff!!!

The whole situation stinks. This is the British establishment behaving in its usual high handed way and expecting to get away with it at the expense of Moira Goffs reputation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

1 Post this message to any newsgroups you know concerned with dance or rare book preservation.

2. Write to the president of the RAofD complaining about the loss of this great collection and the way Moira Goff has been maltreated. She is:

Dame Antoinette Sibley
President, Royal Academy of Dancing
Vicarage Crescent
London SW11
UK


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Bruce Madmin

29-08-99, 11:29 PM (GMT)
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24. "RE: RAD Press Release - THE TRUTH"
In response to message #22
 
   It's my intention to post-up the published Dancing Times words on all this. But I wouldn't describe the latest Dancing Times as having a long letter 'attacking' Moira Goff. The letter is from Gordon Hollis, the book seller responsible and gives his view on what has happened. There would appear to be some disagreement between Goff and Hollis, but I would put it no more than that. I accept that the RAD press release is much more into 'having a go' at Goff.

I'm a bit concerned about Mary Clarke and Clement Crisp having mud thrown at them in return.

Clarke and Crisp have done what they thought was right I'm sure. I can't believe that either have made any meaningful money out of their decisions. I know neither of them but I have tremendous respect for their knowledge and wider views based on decades of experience. Clarke is also one of the few people involved who would have known Richardson.

I see their involvement in this as an indicator that some serious thought has been given to the issue by some respected people in the ballet world - my first thought is not to assume they are part of a conspiracy or whatever the implication seems to be. And it still concerns me that nobody is putting this into the overall context. Selling a collection is a very serious thing to do (regardless of if it has been sold in the right or wrong way), but it is permissible depending on what the money enables you to do.


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Bruce Madmin

29-08-99, 09:14 PM (GMT)
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23. "RE: RAD Press Release"
In response to message #21
 
   >Bruce, I read your account of the
>toy collection world with great interest
>and now understand your cynicism.
>My answer above, about how they
>really did try to sell the
>collection whole, is based on a
>gut feeling from talking with Gordon
>Hollis (who I don't know).
>I do know that he has
>a very good reputation in the
>rare book world and has successfully
>brokered the sale of collections (whole);
>I assume that's why they went
>to him.

I know some marvelous toy dealers. And most dealers will have sold several complete collections as well - right deal, right instructions from vendor etc. They love their subject and are great experts in their own right. You can have fun with them, learn a lot, but they are businessman and nobody should be under illusions. I can introduce you to several UK dealers who will charm you to bits, but have none-the-less have acted less than 'straightforwardly' on more than a few occasions. But that's life and you learn all the time.

I won't rabbit on about this further - it's mainly to make the point that (in toys blah, blah) collections will often get broken up unless the vendor is particularly insistent that it should be otherwise.


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Bruce Madmin

29-08-99, 11:34 PM (GMT)
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25. "New Richardson Collection sale thread"
In response to message #0
 
   This thread is now getting unwieldy and I thought it would be useful to create a new thread. Here is a link to it:

http://www.danze.co.uk/dcforum/happening/241.html

It would be appreciated if all comments, news, thoughts and facts could be put in the new thread. ta


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