Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Alfred Edward Newton, one of the most prominent book collectors in the Philadelphia region, was born in Philadelphia on August 26, 1864. His formal education was limited, but an interest in books inspired his first collecting efforts in the 1880s. His early working life was haphazard: he began working as a grocery stock boy when he was still in his early teens, spent a few years as a bookstore clerk, tried and disliked banking, and eventually joined the Cutter Electrical and Manufacturing Company in 1895. Five years later, he bought it and became president, and remained with the company until his retirement in 1932.
His interests, however, lay almost entirely in the realm of book collecting – he claimed nine-tenths of his energies were devoted to his library. He married Babette Edelheim, daughter of fellow collector Carl Edelheim, in 1890, and socially moved in a circle of fellow collectors, including Moncure Biddle, William Elkins, and Christopher Morley. His first book, The Amenities of Book-Collecting, was published by The Atlantic in 1918. It was an enormous success in the circle of bibliophiles throughout England and America, and led Newton to a successful writing and speaking career. Additional books by Newton include A Magnificent Farce and Other Diversions of a Book-Collector (1921), The Greatest Book in the World and Other Papers (1925), This Book-Collecting Game (1928), A Tourist in Spite of Himself (1930), End Papers (1933), Derby Day and Other Adventures (1934), and Bibliography and Pseudo-Bibliography (1936). He also wrote two plays, Doctor Johnson (1923) and Mr. Strahan's Dinner Party (1930), and many brochures privately printed for his friends.
He primarily collected British literature, and was particularly drawn to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and Samuel Johnson. Although he had regular dealings with booksellers in the US and England, many of his books came from his fellow Philadelphian, the antiquarian bookseller A. S. W. Rosenbach.
Newton and his family lived at their estate, "Oak Knoll," in Daylesford, Pennsylvania. After a lingering illness, Newton died in 1940, described by the Library of Congress as "the most famous and influential of American book collectors." His remarkable collection of rare books was auctioned off by Parke-Bernet in 1941, with his personal papers and his published writings being donated to the Free Library by his son, E. Swift Newton, in 1954.
Biographical note taken, almost in its entirety, from the finding aid for A. Edward Newton collection, 1808-1966 (bulk: 1892-1941) at the Free Library of Philadelphia.
This collection contains a corrected typescript draft and two printer's proofs for A. Edward Newton's 1936 book, Bibliography and Pseudo-Bibliography. In the printer's proof, Bibliography and Pseudo-Bibliography is described as an "engaging account of the personal pleasures of book collecting [which] is delightful and informative reading in its own right. It also serves as a stimulus to wider adventure in the many exciting fields of literature it explores." It appears that this book, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1936, may be a compilation of lectures given by Newton as part of the A.S.W. Rosenbach Fellowship in Bibliography.
The typescript draft is heavily annotated and corrected, both with additions or changes to the text, and also with a proofreader's suggestions for punctuation, spelling, and other grammatical improvements. There are two sets of printer's proofs which are also annotated and corrected. The first is dated August, 1936, and the second, which appears to be only a selection of pages, is dated September, 1936, and includes an affectionate handwritten note to Newton from Kit (Christopher) Morley (1890-1957), a Philadelphia journalist.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Kelin Baldridge
- Finding Aid Date
- 2017 April 18
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.