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Monday, November 16, 2015

How the College of Charleston kept their great collection of Natural History books from the Dick collection


Regarding the Alllestone Libary of C of C, you might be interested to know that I was the reason that this amazing collection of natural history books ended up at C of Charleston.  Over 25 years ago Peter Manigault (owner of the Miles Brewton house and the Post and Courier Newspaper) called me up for my opinion on the disposition of the Dick collection.  He was the trustee in charge of making the decision as to where the collection would go.  He said that the advent of air conditioning was the reason the books were in such amazing condition but wondered if they should be sold or kept at the Library.  In the end we all decided that they should stay where they were as part of the college of charleston foundation and NOT part of the College of Charleston.  

This story gets all the most interesting because Lee Higdon, the President, tried to sell the collection but I was able stop him buy giving a lecture about the collection to the 400 members of the College of foundation about 12 years ago.  I put a reproduction of a catesby engraving into over the volumes and started my lecture by pretending to pull with my bare hands the page out of the book.  The audience gasped in horror.  then I dropped the page to the floor and in trying to pick it up, put my foot on part of the page and tore it in half while trying to retrieve it.  Now the audience was horrified.  I then said that it was no big deal and could be repaired with scotch tape. 

By now there were 400 enraged members of the audience ready to tar and feather me and ride me out of town on a rail.

Of course everyone had a huge laugh when the truth was told.  BUT the point was made.  400 people loved that Catesby and their reaction was absolute proof that the books should never be sold.  Lee Higdon starred at me in hate for the rest of the lecture.  The books would never be sold and he would quit a few months later.

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