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Title: ‘The real rape of York’ - Dr. Rosenbach’s acquisition of books from York Minster Library: a reconsideration
Authors: Evenden, E
Keywords: York minister;The ‘rape of York’;National treasures;Sale negotiations
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: The Collector Limited
Citation: The Book Collector, (Spring 2016)
Abstract: In 1931 the British press expressed outrage at the sale, during the previous year, of rare books from York Minster Library to the American book dealer, Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach. The sale of ‘national treasures’ to an overseas agent was met with fury and indignation by the public, who considered the sale a breach of trust: the Minster should be preserving such books for posterity, not selling them off to foreigners. Much of the anger was directed towards Rosenbach; his dealings with the cash-strapped diocese were seen as predatory: he took advantage of them and, so the press claimed, essentially committed a ‘rape’ of the magnificent Library. This article considers evidence for the sale negotiations alongside hitherto undisclosed ‘private and confidential’ files kept by the Dean and Chapter. It assesses why books held in trust by the Library came to be sold in such dubious circumstances and argues that blame, if any is to be apportioned, should lie with the custodians of those texts, rather than with the businessman from Philadelphia. The ‘rape of York’ still resonates today, in a climate of unease and public outrage at recent attempts to sell off and disperse yet more of Britain’s national treasures.
ISSN: 0006-7237
Appears in Collections:Dept of Arts and Humanities Research Papers

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