Collectors: From the Red Pale

Though the garden-variety 19th century English baronet was normally content with a small, showcase library, Sir Thomas Phillipps was a certified bibliomaniac. Eventually his passion for manuscript collecting carried him to the point of buying the entire stock of London wastepaper merchants. He collected to the extent that his wife complained that they were "booked out of one wing and ratted out of the other."

When Phillipps died in 1872, his grandson went to work selling off the collection of nearly 60,000 manuscripts and 50,000 books. It was not until recently that...

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