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Subject: "Richardson Collection Sale - thread II" Archived thread - Read only
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #241
Reading Topic #241
Bruce Madmin

29-08-99, 11:32 PM (GMT)
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"Richardson Collection Sale - thread II"
   The old thread was getting too unwieldy and I thought it best to start a fresh thread for this discussion.

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

{the old thread is below or use this link to bring it up - but please, new posts here.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  May 99 Dancing Times words on RAD sale Bruce Madmin 29-08-99 1
     RE: May 99 Dancing Times words on RAD sale Paul W 02-09-99 7
  Hollis Letter in September Dancing Times Bruce Madmin 29-08-99 2
     RE: Hollis Letter in September Dancing Times Michael 30-08-99 4
         RE: Hollis Letter in September Dancing Times Bruce Madmin 02-09-99 9
  RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II Alexandra 30-08-99 3
     RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II Ann Williams 02-09-99 5
         RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II Alexandra 02-09-99 6
         RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II Bruce Madmin 02-09-99 8
  RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II Steve T 02-09-99 10
     RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II Alexandra 02-09-99 11
         RE: ?terms of the bequest grace 06-09-99 12
             RE: ?terms of the bequest Bruce Madmin 10-09-99 13
                 RE: ?terms of the bequest Alexandra 10-09-99 15
                     RE: ?terms of the bequest Michael 11-09-99 16
                         RE: ?terms of the bequest Alexandra 11-09-99 17
                         RE: ?terms of the bequest Bruce Madmin 11-09-99 18
  Bassett letter to Dance Now Bruce Madmin 10-09-99 14

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Bruce Madmin

29-08-99, 11:36 PM (GMT)
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1. "May 99 Dancing Times words on RAD sale"
In response to message #0
   The May issue features 2 pieces in the Letters to the Editor section. One is a letter (from the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society) together with a short note under it from the Editor and referring to a second piece. The second piece is featured in a grayed out box which makes it stand out on the normal letters page. The piece is unsigned though presumably it's by Mary Clarke. Here are the words - assume typos are mine:

The RAD Library

Dear Editor - The announcement (on an internet subscription list) of the sale of what must constitute The Richardson Collection (and other rare books) by The Royal Academy of Dancing is a source of grave concern. While not commenting on the necessity for this, the manner of the sale will lead to the dispersal of an important collection, with the likelihood that most volumes will go abroad.

At a time when dance scholarship in Britain is growing in confidence and international acclaim, it is a great blow to lose volumes such as these, particularly as several are not in the holdings of the British Library. However, equally regrettable is the dismantling of the unique and personal collection of a leading protagonist in the establishment of a dance culture in Britain.

Surely the readers of this magazine must recognise the need to keep this magnificent collection intact, to maintain a value greater than the sum of its parts. Ironically, this will be true in commercial terms also. The RAD must be urged to withdraw the books from sale and seek a purchaser for the collection whole.

Yours sincerely
Anne Daye
The Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society

Note: We have received several similar letters. The true situation and the fragility of the books is explained on this page. Editor (DT Editor that is!)

The RAD Books

The Royal Academy of Dancing is disposing of approximately 140 dance books. The Academy has been advised that the rare books, some dating from the 16th century, are deteriorating and need to be preserved in a secure environment with humidity and temperature control. The expense of undertaking this project was beyond the Academy's resources and the Trustees accordingly decided to dispose of the books to ensure that they are preserved.

All the books are either in the British Library or other libraries throughout the world so access for students and researchers is assured. Moreover the Philip Richardson Collection of rare books has been available on University Microfilms ever since he bequeathed it to the Academy on his death in 1963.

The books are being sold on behalf of the Academy by Golden Legend Inc of Los Angeles who operate internationally; therefore it is possible that the books could remain in the UK if a suitable purchaser can be found. Proceeds from the sale will be used to start up a scholarship in the name of Philip Richardson; to help computerise the library (which is named after Richardson); and to finance other artistic Projects.


I've spend all my time getting all this in - lots of thoughts come to mind but they will have to be put down another day.

But the one sentence which staggers me (in the DT Editors piece) is "All the books are either in the British Library or other libraries throughout the world so access for students and researchers is assured." While we all appreciate that the world is getting smaller, I have to say this is one of the weakest pieces of justification I've seen for anything in soem time. Could not many of our museums sell off all their contents while we remain secure in the knowledge that the material will be available somewhere in the world should one of the British public want to see it...

The other quickie concerns the letter and it assertion that the collection is worth more together than apart. I don't believe this was ever so and in any case events would seem to have indicated otherwise.

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Paul W

02-09-99, 03:44 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: May 99 Dancing Times words on RAD sale"
In response to message #1
   This discussion is certainly one of the most interesting I've seen on the internet! I disagree strongly with the sale of such a collection, on principle, particularly the sale of a bequest. And I disagree with the view that the collection together is not or has never been worth more than its components separately. I assume you are referring to the monetary value as a measure of "worth". In that case, this could be so, no argument there. But surely there are other valuation systems than the amount of money each component could fetch. I don't know anything specific about RAD, but from the discussion about it, it clearly is not a commercial operation. One would think that, as an institution (whether public or private), once a decision is made to sell a collection, it at least should have some larger objective than simply recouping the most monetary value for the collection. The publicly stated reasons for the sale do not at all seem very convincing from what I've read.

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Bruce Madmin

29-08-99, 11:37 PM (GMT)
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2. "Hollis Letter in September Dancing Times"
In response to message #0
   The following letter is from the September 1999 edition of Dancing Times. I think its odd in that the author chooses to write to Dancing Times when the Goff articles appeared elsewhere. It repeats the assertion that the British Library were offered the books, and gives some detail on the circumstances. It would be nice if those who posted earlier or others could comment on the facts presented. Ok here is the letter (and as before assume typos are mine!):

Rare Books

Dear Editor - In Moira Goff's recent articles in British publications about the sale of the Royal Academy of Dancing's rare book collection there are several inaccuracies. Because my firm, Golden Legend Inc., is the California bookshop entrusted with the sale of this collection and because some of the books, which are from the Richardson Library of the Academy, were originally in the collection of Philip J. S. Richardson, founding editor of your magazine, I should like to correct at least two of the inaccuracies through your pages.

Firstly, Ms Goff has mentioned that there was "no chance of a private treaty sale which might have kept the collection together". This is not correct. In hopes of keeping the collection together, I advertised this collection as for sale "en bloc" until mid_april 1999. I circulated this advertisement widely among institutions in the United States and Europe, including the British Library and other important English institutions.

Ms Goff further states "nor did {English Libraries} have the opportunity to purchase individual works not otherwise represented in their collection". This is not true. When news reached me through a friend of a certain "upset" at the British Library because they were not given preferential treatment, I took steps to rectify the situation. I assumed the B.L. was upset at the prospect of losing the early English books, which just happened to be about dancing; because, for reasons detailed below, I did not think the B.L. collected books on dancing.

I called Moira Goff herself at the B.L. as she was reportedly expressing the most vocal concern. I assured her that the B.L. would be offered preferential treatment in the purchase of early English imprints. Ms Goff passed on to me the name of the Curator of the Department of Early Printed Collections and this exchange led, I am happy to say, to the placement of two rare English imprints missing from their collection. In addition, I sent proofs of the entire catalogue to that Department and invited them to order in advance of the general issuance of the catalogue. (They have not done so.)

The problem might have been addressed at an earlier date but for the fact that I have never sold even one antiquarian dance book to the British Library, in all my years of specializing in these books and selling them from New Delhi to New York. I know, of course, that in the British Library there are many rare books on dance, as these items are cited in the older dance bibliographies, including Ifan Kyrle Fletcher's Bibliographic Descriptions of Forty Dance Books in the Collection of P.J.S. Richardson O.B.E. (1954). But my experience has led me to belive that the B.L. like other important libraries with large repositories of dance books (including the Library of Congress), is presently not interested in the acquisition of further material. Since my responsibility to The Royal Academy of Dancing was to sell the books without further delay, once it was clear that no institutions would buy the entire collection, I chose to approach the many institutions and collectors who currently acquire these books.

Yours faithfully
Gordon Hollis
Golden Legend Inc
Sunset Boulevard

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30-08-99, 02:20 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Hollis Letter in September Dancing Times"
In response to message #2
The letter appears to be something of a smokescreen, as neither of Moira Goff's articles suggest the bookseller has done anything wrong. He is apparently a perfectly reputable antiquarian bookseller who has done exactly what the RAD asked him to. Why then did he feel the need to write to the DT justifying his actions?

In my view the letter raises more questions than it answers.

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Bruce Madmin

02-09-99, 08:46 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: Hollis Letter in September Dancing Times"
In response to message #4
   I'm sorry but I don't fully understand - perhaps I'm being thick!?

Surely a central part of the Goff piece was that the British Library did not have the opportunity to secure the collection before it was effectively too late... and the Hollis letter says this was not particularly true. Of course many criticize the RAD decision to sell in the first place, but the thing that really rankles with most is the collection leaving the country and also being broken up. Painting Hollis as a man under instruction seems far to simple - I would suggest you don't become a major antiquarian bookseller with premises on Sunset Boulevard by just following simple instructions - you advise and lead clients, spot opportunities etc (as well as listen to clients).

Or are you saying that RAD specifically asked Hollis not to bother trying to sell as a collection to a British institution? But the Hollis letter does not really lead to that conclusion. Apologies for being confused and thick..

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30-08-99, 00:27 AM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II"
In response to message #0
   Thanks for starting the new thread, Bruce. It was getting unwieldy. And thank you very much for taking the time to put in the letters. For those of us who don't see The Dancing Times, it's very valuable. I hope your posters do have access to Dance Now, so they can read the Goff article (and, I am told, haven't checked yet, another one, very anti-sale, from the Laban Institute) for themselves.

I would echo your sentiments that the reasons sound weak.

I'd also like to offer a heretical thought. If the motivation was purely to save the dear little things, why sell them? Why not offer them to another library -- one of the British universities, for example. Someone who would keep them instead of having them locked away in a very unsafe safe, if our earlier poster is accurate? Again, I speak as someone who actually believes in the sanctity of wills. Richardson did not give them the books as an asset, the way some wealthy men give a woman jewelry, to be sold off when they tire of each other. He gave them to stay in England and become the foundation of English scholarship.

I also wanted to comment on your assertion that collections are always worth more split than together. I didn't mean to question that; I'm sure you're right. I meant I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, that they really did want to do the right thing, if in only one tiny little way. It's worse for them if the intention was always to make the most money and, basically, to hell with the collection (suppose I'm an ardent Noverrist and hate John Weaver and would like to buy the material to burn it, so no one can refute my claim that Noverre alone pioneered dramatic ballet, for example, would they take my money?)

I do hope someone checks the court records in London to see if anything can be found to corroborate Mr. Smith's version of events.

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Ann Williams

02-09-99, 00:24 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II"
In response to message #3
   I am amazed at this thread, which I read for the first time today (parts 1 and). It reads in parts like a thriller, and I am surprised that the national broadsheets do not appear to have caught up with it. One can imagine what a field day the 'Daily Telegraph, for instance, could have with it. Isn't it worth alerting them? It would only take a simple telephone call. (I may of course be being very naieve here).

More seriously, I am only sad that it took an American like Alexandra to alert us (at least those of us who read this board) to this possible plundering of a valuable British collection. We owe her our gratitude.

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02-09-99, 00:37 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II"
In response to message #5
   LAST EDITED ON 02-Sep-99 AT 00:51 AM (GMT)

Thanks, Ann. I agree with you that it's tabloid-worthy. Seriously, I think it should be investigated. It's England's heritage, but it's everybody else's, too. If these books disappear into private collections (and then probably disintegrate or disappear) we're all the poorer. Good idea, though. The tabloids won't know about it unless they're told.


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Bruce Madmin

02-09-99, 08:27 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II"
In response to message #5
   Well its nice that somebody else in the UK has posted. We have much to thank Alexandra for - BUT to be fair to us I note that our This Week page contained a piece about the RAD sale before Alexandra posted. We aren't always first, but on this occasion we were. Ditto the RAD Press Release.

Er.. and I know - for sure - that some in the broadsheets look at this site. Actually there is strong evidence that many important people, in dance/ballet 'trade' look at what's going on here.

I sense there seems a lot more to come out about the Richardson collection - both positive and negative. Unfortunately the legal beagles have been mentioned to some (for the avoidance of doubt not to us) and that gives people pause for thought.

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Steve T

02-09-99, 02:41 PM (GMT)
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10. "RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II"
In response to message #0
   I've been seeing this steadily unfold,
but nobody seems to have yet put down a
complete view of what might have
happened. What we have up until now are
some facts, some prejudiced thoughts,
some ordinary thoughts, some
straightforward questions and some odd
ones where you get the feeling that the
poster might know more but won't say.

This is an attempt to fit the facts and
sensibly extrapolate from them what may
have happened. It may well be wrong -
either in detail or possibly great
chunks of it. Only a few people know the full
story and it would be logical for them
to tell it how it is rather than leave
things as they are now. On with the
fairy tale...

RAD is given a rare and valuable
collection of books by Richardson - he
wants them to be used by scholars and
researchers. What better place than
RAD? RAD accept the gracious gift but
on broadly open terms which allow them
to do what they like with them. (A legal
construct that said they had to look
after them in perpetuity would not
generally be acceptable, because
something might happen in the future
that could turn a gift into a noose and
institutions need some flexibility in a
changing world.)

Somebody in RAD realises the value of
some of the books and starts to steal
and sell them off - it might even be
more than one person involved. Nobody
notices because the books are not on
open display and up to that point hardly
anybody seems to be interested in
looking at them. However once books are
gone there is then a large vested
interest, by the person(s) who stole
them in dissuading anybody from looking
at the collection - or there is a big
risk of the missing books being
discovered. So the 'fact' that only 4 or
so people asked to see the collection is
dubious and indeed we know that somebody
who asked for access got no response
from RAD at all.

Management and other advisors are just
not aware that rare books disappear from
libraries all the time and are not
looking out for this eventuality. Indeed RAD
management might well not even be aware
that they have such valuable assets. One
might expect the auditors to have
stumbled on something also.

The first RAD hear of the problem is
when Hollis (the West Coast book dealer)
contacts them as part of provenance
checks on a book he is being offered.

The sorry tale unfolds and it's possible
to imagine great turmoil in RAD as
people trying to investigate what books
are where, actually at first unknowingly
involve the person or persons
responsible in the audit. Eventually it
becomes apparent that books have indeed
gone, the police are called in etc.

But it's major embarrassment time for all
involved in the RAD management structure
above the culprit(s). Understandably
this is not something that they want to
shout from the roof tops and they decide
to try and keep quiet about it - 'hush
it up' would be a more emotive term.

So we are now moving from a position
where the collection was effectively not
available to anybody who might enquire
because the thief made it that way, to
one where RAD itself would be edgy about
giving anybody access at such a time.

So what now? From knowing nothing about
the collection, RAD management really
home in on the issue: reports are called
for, urgent meetings held. Clearly some
form of security is needed to protect
the remainder of the collection. What's
more some of the books are found to have
deteriorated because they have not been
held in what are now considered proper
conditions. A quick report is produced
that says it will cost 150,000 (or
whatever large number you fancy) to
build an air-condioned and secure
environment for the books. A number of
options are missed? - like the
possibility of getting a grant to help
preserve the books or putting them into
free secure accommodation elsewhere - at
another library. These might not
actually be realistic alternatives
(grants can effectively be mythical when
they are really needed.) or they might
have been identified and then

The next RAD board mtg must be rather
interesting. An employee has been caught
stealing, part of a valuable book
collection that one of their founding
fathers entrusted to them has gone and
will not be recoverable and to cap it
all RAD unexpectedly needs to find
150,000 to protect the rest of the
collection. That's 150,000 nobody has
budgeted for and they simply don't have.
Several people in the room will be very
uneasy since they effectively failed

Management propose a plan that is like
manna from heaven - sell the books. That
way the immediate need to find 150k
goes. On a positive note having the
cash enables them to get a scholarship
going in Richardson's name - somebody is
directly benefiting from Richardson's
generosity rather than just a load of
books sitting there and only requested "4
times" in 30 years or whatever. And the
extra money they were desperately trying
to find to computerise the library (Item
12b on the agenda) ceases to become a
problem - and the library is named after
Richardson anyway; how appropriate.
"Suddenly the asset is really working
for RAD and its students".

It would be noted that Richardson
bequeathed the books with no
particularly onerous terms and everybody
would be sure that if he were alive
today he would see the merit in using
valuable assets in new ways. The one
stipulation we know about, that the
Editor of Dancing Times should have
access to the collection, is waived by
Mary Clarke (current DT editor),
somebody keen to support RAD (and
Clement Crisp as Archivist) in a moment
of need. And because she also worked
with Richardson for many a year, she
might understand what his view on all
this might have been....

But there is also a dark undertone -
probably not discussed at the Board
meeting. If the books are sold away from
the UK there is a possibility that it
won't become known that the Richardson
Collection is no longer the collection
it was - it's the Richardson collection
minus a number of rather good books.
Even darker, one might note that should
the collection be broken up, it then
becomes very difficult for anybody to
realise the collection was plundered
and, joy of joys, more money is made.
And it is a joy, because RAD just see
the Richardson bequest as assets which
RAD should make the most of, rather then
as being custodians of a national or
even international resource.

Hollis (the West Coast Book dealer) is
contacted - he is known to be an
excellent specialist in this area, he
kindly alerted them to the problem in
the first place (one good turn deserves
another etc) and everybody knows that
the Americans will probably buy the
books anyway so best to work with
someone at the centre of that market.
Best of all it's not in the RAD backyard
(ie the UK) and therefore not so open to
obvious scrutiny.

RAD instruct Hollis to maximise their
proceeds from the sale of the books, but
to try and offer them as a collection if
only for a short while. But all parties
probably appreciate that selling the
collection whole is unlikely to happen
in practice.

Because the collection has been
plundered and RAD still want to keep it
quiet, they don't alert any of the UK
institutions to the sale. Anyway you
don't have a dog and bark yourself - Hollis is
being paid to sort all this. And sort
it soonest because RAD wants the money
and the longer it all goes on the more
chance of the whole sorry story

Hollis for his part does what the client
asks. He also appreciates the
sensitivity of a UK
sale of the complete collection and
while acting professionally in no way
goes out of his way to
pursue UK opportunities at that time.
It's a happy coincidence that the
British Library have never bought from
him and therefore he can discount them
from the running at first. Once the
decision to break-up the collection is
made then perhaps more strenuous efforts
can be made to sell in the UK....

Some things that fall out of this

It's easy to say that bequests should
not be sold, but times change and in
this case the Richardson Collection
effectively went from being something of
an asset (or be it a little known and
little used one) to a potentially large

RAD appear to see the collection as
given to them and them only. In the
terms of the Richardson will that is
probably correct, but we will never know if it
is what he really intended ,
though it is clear that many people in the UK
see such collections as part of a
national heritage and not something to be
lightly disposed of.

It's not clear if RAD sensibly checked if
grants were available to look after the
collection or if the collection could be
housed elsewhere. If they did check, and
these possibilities were real than it is
hard to understand their subsequent
actions. If they were not aware of such
possibilities than RAD was seriously
failed by somebody.

It has probably been in RAD's financial
interest for the collection to be sold

There are other questions, but more
facts would be preferable!

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02-09-99, 04:16 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: Richardson Collection Sale - thread II"
In response to message #10
   Well, that certainly is interesting speculation, but unless you were in the board meetings, it's just speculation. Much makes sense.

One question I have though, is how do we know the terms of the bequest "were onerous"? I'd have to see that one to believe it. If it is true, it would have been made within the ethic of the gentleman's agreement, where I say, "Here are the most valuable dance books in the world, you will take care of them and make sure they're safe, won't you?" and you say, "Of course," and I believe you. Perhaps in 1999 doing something like this would be patently absurd, but prenuptual agreements and other legal niceties that are now necessities weren't in vogue when Richardson made his will. You trusted people -- especially, if I can say this without being stoned -- in the circle in which Richardson moved.

I have to say (and this is purely personal) that the notion of knowing what a dead person would have wanted has always annoyed me. "Mother would have wanted us to play tennis instead of doing our homework and studying for finals. She wanted us to be happy" -- that kind of thing. It's always seemed to me to be seeking to enoble an action we know in our hearts mother wouldn't want us to do at all.

I just read the letter of Peter Barrett of the Laban Center. It's in the very back of Dance Now. (He protests the sale in the strongest possible terms, as he said.) This really does deserve an airing.


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06-09-99, 06:25 AM (GMT)
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12. "RE: ?terms of the bequest"
In response to message #11

forgive me if i'm wrong because so much has been written on this matter, that i have only skimmed some of it. but the item above your last posting seems to me to say that the terms of the bequest were NOT onerous..... (not that they WERE).

however, i agree with you as to speculating about a dead person's wishes, and about much else.


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Bruce Madmin

10-09-99, 10:46 AM (GMT)
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13. "RE: ?terms of the bequest"
In response to message #12
   Perhaps onerous or not onerous are the wrong terms - I suppose they are not precise and are open to interpretation. I guess the core issue is what did the Richardson will actually say (answer - we don't fully know) and did RAD break the terms of that will in any legal sense. Personally I'd be really gomsmaked if they did - organisations of any size look for ways around problems, but by and large don't knowingly break the law. But of course that is not the only criterion on which RAD, or anybody else for that matter, is judged - there are moral and ethical dimension to life.

I guess if anything this sad tale is about different views on what is right. On one side there is RAD and those associated with the organisation and sale, and on the other, one is tempted to say, 'everybody else'. Of course there is no proof that 'everybody else' feels that the wrong thing has happed and inevitably there will be supporters of RAD around. But judged on the basis of those who have posted and written here and elsewhere, the majority view would seem to be clear. Certainly I would encourage any supporters of the Richardson sale to post their thoughts.

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10-09-99, 07:11 PM (GMT)
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15. "RE: ?terms of the bequest"
In response to message #13
   Just a quick comment on institutions and the law. I agree, Bruce, that one expects institutions to toe the line legally if for no other reason than they're afraid of being sued, but it's not an iron clad rule. I used the same logic in my investigations a few years ago of an incident in the Danish Ballet and eventually found that actions were taken quite deliberately under the (correct) assumption that the individual involved would never sue nor bring any charges against the Royal Theatre. If Richardson has no heirs or anyone to speak up for him (someone who knows the terms of the will) they can just huff their chests out and say, "How preposterous that anyone would think such an illustrious institutions as the RAD would ever do anything underhanded."


p.s. Thanks for posting the Barrett letter, below. I found it quite touching, and I like knowing that there still are some people in institutions who understand what the right thing is. He's leaving, though, I think.

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11-09-99, 09:46 PM (GMT)
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16. "RE: ?terms of the bequest"
In response to message #15
   I have a copy of Richardson's will before me (it's freely available to anyone who wishes to consult it). The sections relating to the RAD bequest read as follows:

"To THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF DANCING my books and manuscripts dealing with Dancing Music Theatre and the old Pleasure Gardens of London. It is my express wish that the Royal Academy of Dancing will give permission to the Editor of "The Dancing Times" or to anyone duly authorised by him or her to use such books or to remove them temporarily on such terms and conditions as The Royal Academy of Dancing may think fit such terms to include the right of reproduction making extracts and for other similar purposes.

Also to THE ROYAL ACADEMY OF DANCING my other books it being my hope that they may find use for these in their Students' Library."

This section of the will ends, rather poignantly in present circumstances:

"Many of the above mentioned books and manuscripts are regarded by me as the result of a lifetime of interest in the matters dealt with by them as of National and of unusual Historical and Artistic interest."

It's hard to understand how the RAD have managed to translate this as reading:

"The RAD are welcome to flog them off to America when they get bored with looking after them."

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11-09-99, 10:07 PM (GMT)
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17. "RE: ?terms of the bequest"
In response to message #16
   Bless you, Michael, whoever you are.


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Bruce Madmin

11-09-99, 10:39 PM (GMT)
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18. "RE: ?terms of the bequest"
In response to message #16
   Thank you for posting details of the will - it's really appreciated.

It would seem to confirm that RAD have not actually broken the law in selling the books. Of course that does not necessarily mean its 'right'. And as you point out Richardson's view on the worth (not monetary) of the collection was quite clearly stated in the will. So it comes down to the values people put on the collection vs the other things that RAD have stated they will do with the money. And of course there remains the issue about the way the books have been sold and the difference of view about how hard or not a UK sale was tried for.

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Bruce Madmin

10-09-99, 10:48 AM (GMT)
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14. "Bassett letter to Dance Now"
In response to message #0
   Alexandra mentioned that a letter from Peter Bassett in the Summer 99 Issue of Dance Now added some useful views on the Richardson tale and in view of all the other letters and statements we have I though we would add it for completes. Bassett is the vice chair of the Society of Dance Research and the issue of Dance Now it appeared in had the Moira Goff piece in that RAD have criticised.

As ever assume any typos are mine.

Letter to Dance Now, Summer 1999 Issue

Dear Sirs,

I am writing on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Society for Dance Research to express our concern over the sale by the Royal Academy of Dancing of the collection of rare and valuable books on dance donated to them by Philip J.S. Richardson in 1963, which is to be offered for sale by an American bookseller on behalf of RAD to raise money for its scholarship fund. These books, some of which date from the early sixteenth century, form a unique resource for dance and music scholars; many are very rare, and are not available either in the British Library or other similar institutions in the UK.

We deplore that there was limited consultation between the RAD and dance scholars in this country and that there was little consultation with the library community before the decision was taken. The sale will disperse an important heritage collection; it is likely that the books will disappear into private collections in the USA and elsewhere, depriving the scholarly community in general of resources needed for their studies. We would like to point out that this sale demonstrates only too vividly the desperate financial state and lowly status of library and archive collections relating to dance in the UK.

We are further concerned that this sale will affect the donation of similar materials to other institutions in this country, as donors may well hesitate to take action if the future of their donations is insecure. In these financially stringent times such a sale may well lead to pressure on other librarians, archivists and curators to raise funds by selling off significant parts of their collections.

As an Executive Committee of the leading organisation representing dance researchers in the UK, we wish to protest in the strongest possible terms about the disposal of this collection and its loss to students of dance in this country

Peter Bassett,
FLA, Vice Chair, SDR

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