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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A World Leading Expert in the field of Rare Books: Kate Hunter

Ms. Kate Hunter
Director of the Book Department at Arader Galleries

Kate Hunter was born in Perth, Western Australia where she grew up surrounded by the field that would later become the object of her passion. Her father, John L. Bannister, worked as the Director of the Western Australian Museum while her mother, Penny Bannister, owned a successful rare book store (formerly Magpie Rare Books) that she still manages today. Amongst such a thriving literary environment, it seems only natural that Kate would evolve into the voracious reader and collector of books that she is today.

After leaving school in Perth, Kate studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University, in the United Kingdom. While there, Kate studied with the help, guidance, and tutelage of some of the finest and most experienced professors in the field. Oxford also provided Kate with the unique opportunity to study first-hand some of the earliest and most precious documents and rare books housed by the university’s many distinguished libraries. These included the Bodleian, the Radcliffe Camera, the medieval chained library of Duke Humphreys, as well as the faculty libraries of the English School and the library of St. Anne’s College.

After gaining her degree at Oxford, Kate began her cataloguing and bookselling career with the London-based American bookseller Barbara Grigor-Taylor at Cavendish Rare Books where she worked from 1986 to 1988. In 1988, she began work for the distinguished firm of Maggs Bros., Ltd, then and now one of the most influential booksellers in the world. Kate played an important role in the firm where she worked for several years under Edward Maggs, in the “Modern” department. In this capacity, Kate catalogued inventory and sold books to a number of important private clients and institutions.

In 1994, Kate started her own small business: K.P. Hunter, Bookseller. She exhibited her books at regular book fairs in Cambridge and annually in London. And also worked on an occasional free-lance basis, for her old friends and colleagues, particularly for Jarndyce in London for whom she collated and catalogued their large “The Dickens Catalogue” CXIII.

In September 2007, Kate joined the Books and Manuscripts department at Christie’s as an Associate Specialist. In her time there, she catalogued a significant portion of “The William E. Self Family Collection… The Kenyon Starling Library of Charles Dickens” (April 2008), followed by the “Important Scientific Books: The Richard Green Library” (June 2008). Other significant contributions she made during her time at Christie’s include: “Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana,” notably the family copies of the works of James Fenimore Cooper (December 2007); “Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana,” notably the works of Samuel Beckett (June 2008).

Kate was introduced to W. Graham Arader III in January of 2009 by Chris Coover, Senior Specialist in Americana and Manuscripts at Christie’s in New York. Mr. Arader was looking to hire an experienced and respected curator for his valuable and extensive library of rare and historically significant documents and books. At the time, Mr. Arader’s collection consisted of medieval manuscripts (dating from the early 15th-century), the earliest printed atlases (dating from 1482), the earliest accounts of the explorations of the Dutch and English navigators (including a significant collection dating from the 16th-century), and other early European and American travel books.

Since joining Arader Galleries in January of 2009, Kate’s responsibilities as Director of the Book Department have included the cataloguing and valuation of Mr. Arader’s library of approximately 5,000 extremely rare original documents and books, advising Mr. Arader on acquisitions for his library, and apprising Mr. Arader’s distinguished private and institutional clients worldwide on purchases for their equally important collections. Kate’s intellect in regards to rare book organization and investigation is outstanding and integral to the gallery’s growing and noteworthy library of rare books. Under her direction, Arader Galleries has furthered its already impressive collection of books spanning five centuries of American and European history. Needless to say, Kate is an integral member of the staff at Arader Galleries.

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