Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2021 Issue

The Kenneth W. Rendell Collection on the Detection of Forged Handwriting Donated to the Grolier Club

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The Grolier Club Library is pleased to announce the receipt of a major gift, the Collection on the Detection of Forged Handwriting, which is the most important and comprehensive collection on the subject known to exist anywhere.  The Gift is from club members Kenneth W. Rendell and Shirley McNerney.

 

Rendell, a leading dealer in historical letters and documents, has exposed numerous famous forgeries such as the Hitler Diaries fraud, Mussolini’s diaries, the Mormon forgeries and murders [with forger Mark Hofmann], and Jack the Ripper’s forged diary.  This collection was formed over a 60-year period and consists of thousands of forgeries, facsimiles of handwriting, reference books, and archival files concerning major cases in which Rendell has been involved.

 

The collection is wide-ranging, encompassing historical letters and manuscripts from the early 17th century to the modern day.  Classic forgeries of Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Schiller, Washington, Lincoln, Franklin, Berlioz, Wagner, Poe and numerous others are included.  Rendell made every effort over his long and distinguished career to acquire original examples of past forgers from many sources, including the files of dealers such as Charles Hamilton, Mary Benjamin and Goodspeeds.

 

The gathering together of so many “original” forgeries – often destroyed and notoriously difficult to collect – alongside genuine examples of handwriting and a specialized reference library, gives the collection unparalleled value for study.  Thanks to the generosity of Rendell and McNerney, these materials will be made widely available to researchers, scholars, librarians, Grolier Club members, dealers, and the public for the first time.

 

The collection consists of:

 

10,000 facsimiles of the handwriting of prominent persons from the 17th to the 20th centuries

 

160 forgeries created to deceive, usually for profit

 

400 “authorized forgeries” intended to deceive people into thinking they are genuinely signed, usually by an authority figure (e.g., members of royalty, American presidents)

 

75 “mistaken identities,” in which two different people with the same name living in the same place and time are confused with each other (e.g., two people named John Adams”)

 

29 facsimiles frequently mistaken as genuine (Longfellow, Twain, etc.)

 

140 reference books on forgery detection

 

8 linear feet of archival files relating to major forgery cases in which Mr. Rendell was involved, including the Hitler diaries, the Mussolini diary, the Jack the  Ripper diary, the Mormon forgeries, the John F. Kennedy/Cusak fraud, and the Elvis Presley musical manuscript forgeries

 

Research files and photographs compiled by Rendell for his book, Forging History:  The Detection of Forged Historical Manuscripts (University of Oklahoma Press, 1994)

 

The gift of the Collection on the Detection of Forged Handwriting also includes a monetary gift to enhance accessibility to the collection through professional cataloguing.  Through their donation to the Grolier Club, Rendell and McNerney have ensured the preservation of this material is a publicly accessible institution, where it can be studied by anyone with an interest in the history, analysis, and detection of forged documents.  We are grateful to them for their foresight and extraordinary generosity.

 

For more information, contact

 

Meghan R. Constantinou, M.A., M.L.I.S. Librarian

The Grolier Club

47 East 60th Street

 

New York, N.Y. 10022

Phone:  212-838-6690 ext. 5

Fax:  212-838-2445

e-mail:  mconstantinou@grolierclub.org website:  www.grolierclub.org


Posted On: 2021-04-01 20:53
User Name: mairin

Forgery! One of the craftiest of white-collar crimes.
Excellent information here, many thanks for assembling the piece and for supplying a useful subject list & gift description.
And pleased to see Meghan Constantinou's contact information (Grolier Club); she's
a reliable resource & conduit (I say this from first-hand experience).
Especially pleased that the Rendell McNerney Collection donation to Grolier includes the late NYC handwriting expert, Charles Hamilton ("The Hitler Diaries: Fakes That Fooled The World"). He interviewed me in the '80s / early '90s when he needed an assistant; I accepted a higher-paying position elsewhere (grants writer, Brooklyn Arts Council / Brooklyn Museum). Perhaps a plum opportunity lost -- it would have been a real education (of sorts).
Shall order a copy of Rendell's book on the master craft of forgery. Sure to be a fine read!
- Maureen E. Mulvihill, Collector / RBH Guest Writer.
___


Rare Book Monthly

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    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
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  • <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 54. Fanciful engraving of earth's interior with magma core and errupting volcanoes (1682). $1500 to $1800.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 165. Rare state of Jefferys' influential map of New England in contemporary color (1755). $8000 to $9500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 177. Mouzon's foundation map of the Carolinas (1775). $10000 to $13000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 183. Very rare first state of De Fer's map of the Lower Mississippi Valley (1715). $20000 to $25000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 253. Scarce Scottish edition based on Ellicott's plan of Washington, D.C. (1796). $2400 to $3000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 313. Stunning view of Philadelphia by John Bachmann (1850). $3250 to $4250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 338. Rare Civil War map based on Bucholtz map of Virginia (1862). $9500 to $12000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 667. First map to accurately show Luzon in Philippines (1590). $6000 to $7500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 682. Rare map of Shanghai International Settlement published just after WWI (1918). $7000 to $9000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 738. Coronelli's superb map of the Pacific showing the Island of California (1697) Est. $2400 - $3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 743. A cornerstone piece in the mapping of Australia and New Zealand (1726) Est. $6000 - $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 781. An uncommon signature during Jefferson's Governorship of Virginia (1779) Est. $9500 - $11000

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