The Louis H. Silver Sale
The purchase of the Louis H. Silver Collection, which brought hundreds of important rare books to the Newberry, stands as an important episode in Wells’s Newberry career. Silver was a Newberry trustee and a great collector of British and Continental literary first editions. After his death in 1963, the family agreed to sell the collection to the University of Texas. Wells got wind of the plan and convinced then-Newberry President Lawrence W. Towner and the trustees to bid successfully for it. Part of the financing was to come from the sale of duplicates. Many of the duplicate treasures were offered in an auction sale at Sotheby’s on November 8 and 9, 1965 -- everything from a Shakespeare First Folio to a manuscript play by George Bernard Shaw. Jim had been charged with determining if a given book should be sold or retained. His old London pal, Anthony Hobson, was at the auctioneer’s podium while lot after lot set record prices. The Silver sale is said to have touched off the first wave of book-price inflation.