Swann, the New York auctioneers, are holding the first of three scheduled sales of material from the collection of Eric Caren, the life-long bibliophile. The title of the sale is “How History Unfolds on Paper, Part I.“ Mr. Caren is a collector of epic proportions who invented ways to collect that permitted and justified his purchase of material across the entire spectrum of printed historical material. His criteria: if it’s printed, relates to history and is important I’m interested. This has meant that any subject and period was fair game and Eric has spent most of life in pursuit.
Collections at their best can be a mirror on the mind, evidence of the way a collector focuses, defines and selects. More often than not the picture isn’t pretty because it is difficult to collect effectively, efficiently and regularly. Distractions are a constant and most collectors do not restrain themselves.
And then there is Eric. He has collected both broadly and with precision and has done so by pursuing evidence of how history unfolds. He has created a collecting perspective that lets him range far and wide while maintaining very high standards for inclusion.
Evidence of this approach is on display in his upcoming single owner sale at Swann on September 15th and it’s impressive. The online electronic presentation is superb but the printed catalogue, for anyone considering the Caren approach, will prove important. My advice: search online but order a copy of the catalogue. It is a fresh take on collecting.
The material will be of interest to collectors of almost every persuasion because it’s a collection of history as opposed to a collection of books, so photographs, newspapers and broadsides are plentiful. It is fact an extraordinary display of imagination.