The Henry Polissack Library, Part I

On March 20, 2003, the Swann Galleries auction house in New York will be selling the Henry Polissack library, a fine collection of rare gems and jewelry books.

Swann notes several highlights of the collection, including: Camillus Leonardus’s Speculum lapidum, second edition, Venice, 1516; Anselmus Boethius de Bood’s Gemmarum et lapidum historia, first edition, Hanau, 1609; and Pierre de Rosnel’s Le Mercure Indien, second edition, Paris, 1672.

Of course, always one to go right for the more obvious, I’ve noted a few highlights of my own, including: Sir Richard Burton’s Explorations of the Highlands of Brazil, with a Full Account of the Gold and Diamond Mines, first edition, London, 1869; A Photographic Souvenir in and Around Johannesburg and the Mines, 87 photographic plates with 203 views, no text; a monumental work on Russian gemstones, by Fersman, titled Dragotsennye I Tsvetnye Kamni Rossii [Precious and Colored Stones of Russia], two volumes, first edition, Leningrad, 1925. [Although there is no indication anywhere, this copy is reported to have once belonged to Fersman’s pupil Shafianovskii]; The Lock of Hair; Its History, with the Art of Working in Hair, by Speight, including numerous advertisements in the back of the book, London, 1871; History of the Gems Found in North Carolina, first edition, by George Kunz, Raleigh, 1907; another Kunz work, Book of the Pearl, New York, 1908, a presentation copy of the first edition inscribed and signed by Kunz to Louis Comfort Tiffany, with Tiffany’s bookplate and a serrated round paper label on the lower spine bearing his library catalogue number; Catalogue of the Collection of Jewels and Precious Works of Art, the Property of J. Pierpont Morgan, by Williamson, 94 mounted heliogravure plates with lettered tissue guards, London, 1910, one of 150 numbered copies; and last but not least, Tolkowsky’s Diamond Design. A Study of the Reflection and Refraction of Light in a Diamond, London and New York, 1919.

For more information on the entire collection, log onto, or call Swann Galleries in New York at (212) 254-4710.