[OASIS] Harvard University Library
OASIS: Online Archival Search Information System
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL.Hough:hou01876View HOLLIS Record   Frames Version
Questions or Comments   Copyright Statement
MS Am 2541

Wessen, Ernest James, 1887-1974. Ernest James Wessen correspondence with Jacob Blanck, 1944-1973: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Location: b
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,
Date(s): 1944-1973.
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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

70M-13. Gift of Jacob Blanck, 19 Reservoir Road, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02167; received: 1970 October 2.
74M-36. Gift of Jacob Blanck; received: 1974.
76M-50. Bequest of Jacob Blanck; received: 1977 March.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection formerly restricted from use by Blanck; restriction removed 2007 March 23.
This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

Ernest James Wessen Correspondence with Jacob Blanck, 1944-1973 (MS Am 2541). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

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.

Biographical / Historical

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:

Scope and Contents

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.

Container List