A collection of books and manuscripts on wine and winemaking assembled over decades by Sean Thackrey, a California winemaker with a background in art history, will be sold at a book fair later this month in New York for about $2 million. Dollars.
Comprised of some 740 titles, the collection includes books and manuscripts dating from the 6th century and almost all major works on the subject from the 15th to the late 19th century.
A selection of 50 of the collection’s most important books and manuscripts will be on display by California-based Ben Kinmont Bookseller during the 62nd New York International Antiquarian Book Fair, taking place at the Park Avenue Armory from April 21 to 24 in New York. York.
“The strength of the collection lies in the first books printed before the year 1700,” says Ben Kinmont, owner of the eponymous bookstore of wine and food books. This part of Thackrey’s collection (with 182 books) is more than twice the size of the research collection at the University of California, Davis, which has one of the largest institutional collections on wine and winemaking, he says.
Also, what’s unusual about the Thackrey collection is that “Sean can read seven languages, so he can collect texts from different time periods and different cultures,” he says. “Sean also used the manuscripts in his winemaking practice, focusing on buying books and manuscripts on how to make wine.”
Thackrey’s unconventional winemaking technique, which involves letting the grapes “rest” for at least 24 hours in the open air, has been used by a number of wineries around the world. The first wine vintage he produced was in 1981, a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend he called Aquila. His flagship, Orion, was produced between 1986 and 1990.
The oldest book in the collection is a sheet of papyrus from the 6th century with two lines of text and a small seal. In a comment made via the bookseller, Thackrey said: “Surely nothing could be more evanescent and its survival less likely than this little piece of papyrus, very touching to me, which is a receipt from a Christian monastery to a local grape grower. . , in Egypt before Islam.”
The collection also includes the first and only edition of humorous dialogue by Bartolomeo Taegio, printed in 1564. “It is a detailed general monograph of 162 pages devoted entirely to viticulture and wine; and, in fact, it is the first general monograph of its kind that I know of written in any language,” said Thackrey.
Other highlights include a handwritten manuscript on wine and its effects on the body from 15th-century Italy; Kellermaisterey, an influential German work on winemaking and cellar care published in 1542; and a good copy of the first edition of Agoston Haraszthy’s Grape cultivation, wines and winemakingpublished in New York in 1862.
The collection will be sold in its entirety, Kinmont says, “it’s very important that the collection be maintained as a whole.”
Thackrey was not immediately available for comment. According to Kinmont, he is selling because “the thrill of searching for lost pieces is gone and he wants other people to have access to the collection.”