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Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: MS Am 2541
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Wessen, Ernest James, 1887-1974.
Title: Ernest James Wessen correspondence with Jacob Blanck,
Quantity: 1 collection (1.5 linear feet (2 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Abstract: Correspondence between bibliophiles Ernest James Wessen and Jacob Blanck, with some additional items.
An additional collection of Wessen's letters are at the Archives and Special Collections of Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. Published as: Ernest James Wessen. Rare book lore: selections from the letters of Ernest J. Wessen, edited by Jack Matthews. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1992.See also Houghton copies of Midland notes, 65-213F.
Ernest "Ernie" James Wessen (1887-1974) was a bibliographer and an antiquarian book dealer, proprietor of the Midland Rare Book Co. (Mansfield, Ohio). His particular interest lay in Americana and the company's series of dealer catalogs was known as Midland Notes. He was married to Yetta Wessen and their daughter was Ruth Wessen Bunting (Mrs. John Bunting).Jacob Nathaniel Blanck (1906-1974) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Selig and Mildred Rosenberg (Friedman) Blanck. He was married to Stella Ursula Balicer Blanck. He was the rare book editor of Publishers Weekly and Antiquarian Bookman (1936-1952), bibliographer in Americana at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (1939-1941), consultant on bibliography at the Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis (1942), and editor of the Bibliography of American Literature (BAL, 1943-1974). He also edited the third and fourth volumes of Merle Johnson's American First Editions (1936, 1942) and published four books, including two children's books. Blanck was a friend and colleague of Ernie Wessen.
Arranged into the following series:
- I. Correspondence
- II. Other material
This bulk of this collection is correspondence between bibliophiles Blanck and Wessen, documenting a thiry-year personal friendship and professional relationship. During most of this time (1950-1974), Blanck's BAL project was housed at Harvard University in the Houghton Library. The letters are chatty, frank, quite personal, and full of detailed information and comments on the antiquarian book trade, both business and people. Some of the additional letters included here were sent to Blanck by Wessen, detailing what Wessen thought were his amusing, though often controversial, interactions with buyers and other dealers. Blanck's letters address Wessen as "Oinie", while Wessen addresses Blanck as "Jake." Some of the Wessen letters were also sent to Stella Blanck. There are also some letters documenting the medical condition of the Wessens in their elder years.Other materials included are clippings, photographs, radio scripts, and essays about Wessen, as well as issue no. 89 of Wessen's rare materials catalog, Midland Notes, a few of Blanck's typescript essays, and microopaque card samples of Midland Notes.
This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.