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Salmagundi library

ROBERT HARMER SMITH (1907-1980) AND
HERKET “HERBERT” LEWIS “LOUIS” SMITH (1911-1989)
LIBRARY OF THE SALMAGUNDI

 

THE COLLECTION

Since its inception in 1891, the Salmagundi Library has been a signature part of the Club experience.

For early artist members in the 19th-century, the library provided important visual references to produce illustrations for pre-photography magazines and newspapers.

During the 20th-century, the Salmagundi Library offered educational lectures, diners, auctions and other events that brought together membership and local community within an intimate space.

In the 21st-century, the library continues to build off the 20th-century events and provides a serene oasis from the hustle and bustle of the world. The library opens a window into the lives of the earliest artist members and attracts new membership to our Club.

The collection contains approximately 5,800 volumes. Most volumes are pre-1923 editions and are in the public domain. The bulk of our books from the 1880s-1910s are printed on acidic paper rending most of our books fragile.  But, you can find most of our volumes available free online via Google Books and other sites.  We have linked our records to readable online versions.

 

LIBRARY NAME & DEDICATION

Officially the library is named for past members, Robert Harmer Smith (1907-1980) and his brother Herket “Herbert” Lewis “Louis” Smith (1911-1989).  Both brothers were members of the Club and spent a large amount of time within our libraries hallowed walls.  On Herbert’s passing, he donated a generous endowment to the library on behalf of himself and his brother.

 

OUR CATALOGING SYSTEM

The Club’s membership created a unique cataloging and classification system for the organization. It is one of America’s only surviving pre-Dewey Decimal system libraries created by artist and illustrators.

The unusual system separates general topics within lettered bookcases, specifies the book shelf number, followed by the point at which the book is located on that shelf (for example, 1st position, 2nd position on the shelf, 3rd position on the shelf, and so on, resulting in spine labels of Z1-10 for example.)

The system, created before wide distribution of the newly formed Dewey Decimal system, highlights the artist’s concerns, provides a snapshot into the membership’s minds and is a reflection of the era.

The club still retains the original and updated hand-written card catalog that is part of this unique book organizing system.

 

J. SANDFORD SALTUS LOUIS VII COLLECTION & COSTUME BOOK COLLECTION

Philanthropist, former Club member and patron of the arts, J. Sandford Saltus traveled to France and Germany to obtain a collection of rare multi-volume costume books which now contain hand-colored plates by artist members.

Saltus donated a large portion of his personal library of which approximately 700 books remain within the Club collection. The books range in subject matter including: costumes, “gypsy lore”, religion, art, poetry and more. A large percent are foreign publications. A list of all the books that were part of the J. Sandford Saltus Louis VII Collection can be found on Google.

There are approximately 50 rare oversized folios that the library owns awaiting conservation.

ILLUSTRATION POSTER DOCUMENTATION

Contained within several large format folios were rare graphic design illustration posters. In the 1980s, the posters were removed, restored and framed. Many were used to raise money to benefit the Club. Some were sold at Swains auction and others within Club’s own auctions.
Important documentation recording the works have been organized and placed within three volumes of binders that is now part of the club collection.

 

BOUND MAGAZINE COLLECTIONS

The library has many bound volumes of collected magazines including: Harper’s, Century Magazine, Art Journal, The International Studio, American Art Annual, Die Kunst Fur Alle, The Theatre, Colophon and American Magazine of Art to name a few.

 

COLLECTION OF LARGE FOLIOS & PRINTS

The large folios include: maps, prints, etchings collections, books on artists, art in collections, large photographs of reference homes and locations, and decorations.

 

COLLECTION RECORDS, LIBRARY ACCESSION RECORDS & LIBRARY MEETING MINUTES

Salmagundi library accession records & collection lists: volume 1 – 1891 to 1912, bound book; volume 2 – 1901 to 1914, bound book; volume 3 – ca.1923; volume 4 – collection list 1943, binder; volume 5 – 1977 to 1999; volume 6 – collection list 2001; volume 7 – undated;

Salmagundi library meeting minutes: volume 1 – beginning 1891, bound book; volume 2 – 1901 to 1945, bound book; and volume 3 – 1954 to 1958, coil bound book.

 

AMERICAN ILLUSTRATION COMPILED BY ANTONIO CIRINO

Past member of the Club, Antonio Cirino compiled approximately a 50 volume set of English and American illustrators culled from Harper’s magazine. The collection bound Alphabetically contains the occasional original color illustration from Cirino.

Featured volume

Ancient stone crosses of England.
Ancient stone crosses of England.

LIBRARY MUG FUND COLLECTION

Beginning in 1899, Club member and head of the library William Henry Shelton (1840-1932) commissioned blank ceramic mugs to be painted by members and auctioned off to support the library fund (later called the library “Mug Fund.”)

Fellow artist member Charles Volkmar, who ran a ceramic factory, produced the mugs for the Salmagundi. Over the years, some of the mugs have been bought back by members and donated to the club to preserve their important history. The Club currently owns approximately 100 examples. Mugs were produced between 1899 and 1924, auctioning 24 per year. There are possibly 600 mugs that exist.

The library owns a research binder prepared by Bob Muller documenting every sale of the mugs by year.

 

CLUB MEMBER PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION

The library contains several prepared volumes of photographs of its members. Volume 1 from ca.1901 or ca.1909 contains 150 black and white portrait photographs of members. Volume 2 from 1911 contains 152 black and white portrait photographs of members. Volume 3 from ca.1920 to ca.1930 contains 103 black and white portrait photographs of members. Finally, Volume 4 are cabinet card (carte de visite) photographs that number approximately 15 images most artists in their studios.

The library owns a collection of black and white photos in a bound scrapbook documenting jungle decorations of an exhibition ca.1940s or 1950s.

 

HENRY “HENNO” MICHAEL O’CONNOR, 1891-1975 PAPERS

The club’s collection contains approximately 400 documents, contained within two large archival binders, from the estate of the late artist Club member.

Henry “Henno” Michael O’Connor (1891-1975) was an American portrait and cityscape painter, illustrator, engraver, boxer, Navy veteran and art educator. O’Connor trained at the Massachusetts Normal Art School, Boston, MA (1906-1910), Museum School of Art, Boston, MA (1915-1916), Academie Julian, Paris, France (1921-1922), Kingston School, London, England (1921), City College of New York, NY (1934-1935) and Fordham University, New York, NY (1934-1935). The artist assisted Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849-1921) in etching at his studio in Dublin, NH for two years (1919-1921). He belonged to many clubs, including the Salmagundi Club, New York, NY, artist member 1932-1975, where he served as president from 1947-1948.

 

WILLIAM JOHN WHITTEMORE, 1860-1955 PAPERS

The library owns several hundred documents from the late artist Club member, William John Whittemore, 1860-1955.

William John Whittemore (1860-1955) was an American impressionist painter, miniaturist and teacher with work spanning more than 65 years. Whittemore trained at the National Academy of Design under William Matthew Hart (1830-1908) and Lemuel Everett Wilmarth (1835-1918) (1882-1886), the Art Student’s League of New York under James Carroll Beckwith (1852-1917) (1885), Academie Julian, Paris, France under J. J. Benjamin Constant (1845-1902) and Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836-1911) (1888-1889). He was a member of many organizations including the Salmagundi Club, New York, NY.

 

DISPLAY OF THE ARTIST’S PALETTE COLLECTION

The artist’s palette collection is one of the largest private collections of American artist’s palettes in the world numbering approximately 120. 63% of the collection has been donated by the former artist member of the Club, Harry Wilson Watrous (1857-1940) in about 1917 or 1918.

The library has the great honor to display many of the most important palettes within the collection in the shared space.

 

ARTIST SCRAPBOOKS

Created by Club members and various committees, the scrapbooks gathered newspaper clippings, past exhibition catalogs and other ephemera documenting the Club’s activities.

The bound books and binders include: clipping book 1890 to 1927; scrapbook on artist sketches, bound, ca.1901; press clippings 1916 to 1922; clipping book 1916 to 1926; clipping book 1930 to 1944; scrapbook, mixed, 1941 to 1944; art & entertainment committee scrap book 1940 to 1951; large scrapbook ca.1960s; scrapbook binder 2003 to 2009; scrapbook on Old Lyme dated 1937; Salmagundi Oil Painting Exhibition, coil bound by Alex Katlan, ca.1980s; a binder of sculptor participant biographies, 1999; two large binders of works by Salmagundi artists in the Smithsonian.

In addition, the library has bound works on: the biography of Alphaeus P. Cole, a former member, 1985; biography binder on former member Harry Roseland, 2004; and a box of color photos recording the Christmas diner of 1997.

There is a procedural guide for the library bound from 1983.

Outside clubs activities are also recorded in several binders including: American Watercolor Club exhibitions records; 3 volume binders of the Audubon Society Artist Exhibition Records, 1942 to 1969, 1970 to 1995, 1996 to 2008.

The library owns a copy of the history and development of the Hawley Mansion, the location that the Club is current within.

 

ARTIST LETTERS

The library contains two binder volumes of letters prepared by the Club’s members in 1945 to honor its 75th Anniversary. Many of the original members of the club had begun to pass. Members were asked to create memorial letters honoring their fellow club members including biographical sketches and stories about the artists, many of which have never appeared in any biographies on the artists.