The Importance of the Collection

The Posner Collection holds 25 percent of the titles cited in Dibner's Heralds of Science. Mr. Posner did not collect incunabula (books printed before 1500) for their own sake but would purchase one if the title was on his desiderata list or if something about a volume intrigued him, such as its provenance, binding or scarcity. The Posner Collection holds 11 complete incunabula and two incunable leaf-books.

The Posner Collection includes many great books important in the history of man's intellectual, scientific and artistic development. A 1913 facsimile printed on vellum of the Gutenberg Bible, a 1478 Koberger Biblia Latina, a fine copy of the Aldine Press's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Descartes' Discours de la methode pour bien conduire sa raison, & chercher la verite dans les sciences and important Einstein offprints are all noteworthy.

For Mr. Posner, the primary value of the collection was having carefully built a library of excellent books for his family to read and a heritage that represented the best in ideas, sciences and the arts. In 1966, there was an interesting exchange of letters between H. Marley of Dawson's Pall Mall and Mr. Posner. Mr. Posner was reflecting upon declining values and a general economic slump. Marley used the moment to suggest that he would be interested in buying the Posner Collection. Mr. Posner thought about this and then responded on April 12, 1966:

"I have been thinking about this offer of yours to come to Pittsburgh and make an offer on my library. I believe I should put your mind at rest. My library is not for sale. I am not buying books because I think they would appreciate in value and it is some kind of hedge against inflation. I am not giving this any thought whatsoever. I buy the books because I am interested, and I have every reason to believe that they will remain in the family. I have a son who is interested and four grandsons. P.S. Of course, should you come to the United States, I would be delighted to have you as my guest in Pittsburgh, and let you take a squint at the only copy of the Bill of Rights outside of the Library of Congress."

Special Collections

Carnegie Mellon University Libraries