AE Monthly

Articles - November - 2005 Issue

Freeman's Begins Third Century with Celebration

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An exceptional sammelband


In 1920 Addison B. Freeman acquired the name and goodwill of J. E. Conant Co. of Lowell, Massachusetts and become the aggressive auction liquidator of New England shoe factories and the company towns associated with them. It would prove a prescient decision as the shoe business and garment industries fell to regional competition in the 1920s and the lingering survivors to the depression in the 1930s. Through it all Freeman's met its payroll.

With the end of World War II came a flood of estate liquidations. In 1947, in a sign of renewed focus on the upscale market, Freeman's sold the literary collection of Frederick Stanhope Peck including a First Folio of Shakespeare and in 1962 a desk reputed to be Benjamin Franklin's. In 1967 they hammered down an important collection of impressionist paintings and in 1969 a now famous copy of the Declaration of Independence for $404,000.

In these later years a remarkable book dealer turned auction-polymath; Joseph Molloy joined the firm and began cataloging a succession of improving book catalogues that in time attracted David Bloom who today runs this department with the help of an assistant. It is from the late 1960s that the book department that is recognizable today first emerged.

In 2005 the firm is local and international at the same time. It has ties to Lyon & Turnbull of Edinburgh and conducts sales online. Its book, manuscript and ephemera business account for about $1.25 million, up more than 10 fold over the past twenty years, accounting for 8% of the firm's now $16.5 million in annual sales. Today, with the advent of the internet the company is once again reaching beyond Philadelphia's Main Line and, if history is any guide, Freeman's will find its way forward though the path may prove uncertain.

Befitting the occasion the firm has labored hard to provide an important selection of material to reward its long faithful audience as well as attract, if not in person then at least via internet connection, the larger audience that pursues printed material, paintings, antiques and ceramics wherever they are found.

For the occasion a significant cross section of important and collectible materials has been assembled. Here are a few of the important printed materials that will be of interest to collectors. These and all other printed items are entered in the AED (Americana Exchange Bibliographic Database) for quick searching by keyword and phrase. The auctions are of course also available on Freeman's website: www.freemansacution.com

In the next three pages we highlight some of the very interesting items.

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