Chess Book Collectors and Dealers
by Bill Wall
George Allen (1808-1876) was a professor of Greek languages and literature at the University of Pennsylvania. He collected over 1,000 chess books, 250 autograph letters, and 50 engravings and photographs of chess celebrities. A catalogue of his chess books was created in 1878 after his death. His chess collection was acquired by the Ridgeway Branch of the Library Company of Philadelphia for $2,500.
Magnus Victor Anderson (1884-1966) of Australia started collecting chess books in 1918. When he died, his chess library went to the State Library of Victoria. There are over 10,000 chess books in this collection. Anderson was Australia’s first chess philanthropist.
James J. Barrett had a large collection of chess books that went up for auction in Buffalo after his death.
Bruno Bassi (1901-1957) was a great historian of chess and had a large chess library in Stockholm. He wrote Dictionary of Chess History and Biography in 1950, but it remains unpublished.
Alan Benson (1947- ) of Berkeley, California has a number of rare chess books and memorabilia for sale.
Christiaan M. Bijl worked at the Royal Library at The Hague and has collected over 1,000 chess books on his own. In 1976, he wrote a book on bobby Fischer’s games.
Robert Blass ( -1975) of Zurich, Switzerland, had a collection of early chess books that was sold at Christies in May, 1992.
Ludwig Bledow ( 1795-1846 ) was a chess book collector, When he died, he had over 800 volumes of chess books. His chess library became part of the Royal (King’s) Library in Berlin.
Dale Brandreth (1931- ) is a chess historian, collector, and chess book publisher. He runs the Caissa Editions bookstore out of Yorklyn, Delaware. He has the finest chess collection held by a dealer. He has about 20,000 chess items in stock.
Albrecht Buschke (1904-1986) started collecting chess books and autographs in 1920. Soon, he had letters from Howard Staunton and Capablanca, manuscripts from Greco and Damiano and the first printing of Benjamin Franklin’s essay “Morals of Chess.” He was a lawyer and assistant to the director and specialist in foreign currency with the Municipal Gas Company in Berlin, Germany. He also held a license with the Berlin Court of Appeals. All this ended in 1933 with the rise of Hitler and the removal of Jews in business and government. In May 1938, he immigrated to the United States with over 3,000 chess books and 1,500 pieces of manuscript material. He established himself on Staten Island, then moved to Manhattan on Eleventh Street. One of his most important customers was the Cleveland Public Library, which houses the world’s largest collection of chess books in the John G. White Collection. Other libraries that ordered chess books from him were Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the New York Public Library.
Eugene Beauharnais Cook (1813-1915) of Hoboken, New Jersey had the third largest chess book collection in the world. When he died, the chess library of over 2,500 volumes was presented to the Princeton University Library. The Princeton University Library is the second largest in the U.S. for chess book collection. The White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library is the largest.
Edgar George R Cordingley (1905-1962) of England had a collection of over 2,000 chess books. He began dealing in chess books in 1934. He moved to the premises of John Lewis, on Oxford Street, where the National Chess Centre was also located. But on September 18, 1940 German bombs hit the site and completely destroyed all of Cordingley’s chess books. After Cordingley died, Ken Whyld acquired his chess library.
David DeLucia of Darien, Connecticut, has a chess library of 7,000 chess books. He is the author of Bobby Fischer Uncensored. He purchased the Reginald George Hennessy collection in the 1980s, and the Sam Ennis collection in the 1990s. DeLucia’s chess library contains over 7,000 chess books.
Bob Dudley started Chess Enterprises with over 200 chess book titles. He has collected thousands of chess books and magazines.
Alex Dunne has been collecting chess book since 1955. He had over 1,100 volumes in 2003, when a fired burned his house down and his wife and grandson were killed in the fire. He started over and built up his chess library.
The Max Euwe Centrum in Amsterdam holds over 10,000 chess books.
Daniel Willard Fiske (1831-1904) was an American librarian and scholar. He willed his chess library of about 1,200 items to the National Library of Iceland.
George Brunton Fraser (1831-1905) was at one time Scottish chess champion. He had a chess library of over 500 chess books.
James E. Gates collected over 15,000 chess books with a value of over $210,000. He later sold his collection in 1981.
Geurt Gijssen, an International Arbiter, has collected over 4,000 chess books.
Charles A. Gilberg (1835 -1898) collected a good library of over 2,000 chess books. When he died, his chess library was sold for $1,100 to a New York book dealer. In 1930, his collection of chess books came into possession of Silas W. Howland of New York. Howland’s enlarged collection was later presented to the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Harry Golombek (1911-1995) had a chess library of over 5,000 volumes, one of the best in Britain. He donated his collection to the British Chess Federation.
Tim Harding (1948- ) has a large collection of modern and correspondence chess books. He has authored over 30 chess books and has written hundreds of chess articles.
Hermann Helms (1870-1963) had a large chess library. He was a chess reporter for the New York Times for over 50 years. He published the American Chess Bulletin from 1904 until his death in 1963. He wrote chess columns for over 60 years.
Silas W. Howland (1849-1938) collected over 2,800 chess items. After his death, his collection went to Harvard.
Willy Iclicki has a large collection of chess books and chess items.
Carl Jaenisch (1813-1872) once had the finest chess library in the world. It was acquired for the Helsinki Public Library in Finland.
Robert Jamieson of Australia has a large private collection with over 3,000 chess books.
Lubomir Kavalek (1943- ) has a chess library of over 9.000 chess books.
Ed Labate is a chess book reseller who used to run Labate’s Chess International in Anaheim. He purchased much of the Chess Digest books stock a few years ago. He has one of the most extensive stocks of older and out-of-print titles of any chess book dealer.
Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (1818-1899) had over 3,000 chess books. In 1935, the collection was put up for sale by Munich antiquarian book dealers van Karl und Faber. His library is still intact at Kornik Castle near Poznan, Poland.
Max Lange (1832-1899) had an extensive chess library, which was sold by auction through Gustav Fock in 1900.
Heinz Loeffler (1907-1981) was an antiquarian chess book dealer from Bad Nauheim, Germany.
Bob Long started Chessco in 1967 and started publishing chess books through his Thinkers’ Press in 1973.
Michael MacDonald-Ross (1939- ) had a chess library of over 3,000 volumes, which was sold at auction in 1987.
Tony Mantia of Dayton, Ohio, has a very large chess book collection of about 5,000 volumes and 15,000 chess magazines. He got half my chess library in 1985 (sometimes I wish I had them back). Mantia and Vernon Dale Burk were both avid chess book collectors.
Frank Marshall (1877-1944) had around 7,000 chess books which he later donated to the New York Public Library.
Bob Meadley (1940- ) of Australia has been collecting chess books for years. He has over 1,200 bound chess books, over 140 bound volumes of chess magazines, and over 80 unbound volumes of chess magazines.
Jean Mennerat (1917-2007) of France had over 27,000 volumes in 44 languages and had the largest chess book collection in France. He donated his collection to the City of Belfort.
Harold Murray His chess book collection in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Werner Nicolay ( -1991) of Germany had over 4,000 chess books.
Meindert Niemeijer (1902-1987) was a Dutch chess historian. He served as dealer for the Royal Dutch Hague Library (Koninklijke Bibliotheek), buying and selling chess books over a period of 40 years. He gave his own chess collection of over 7,000 volumes to the Royal Library in 1948. The Hague Library calls their chess library the Der Linde/Niemeijer collection and has around 30,000 items.
Kevin O’Connell (1949- ) had a large chess library and put it up for auction in 2000.
Gustavus Pfeiffer (1837-1933) was an American businessman and philanthropist who was a serious chess collector. He donated his entire collection of chessmen to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and hundreds of rare chess books to the New York Public Library, which became part of the Frank J. Marshall Collection of Chess books.
Albert Pinkus (1903-1984) had an extensive chess library.
Cecil Purdy (1906-1979) had a chess shop and a large collection of chess books.
Kurt Rattman (1906- ) was a famous book dealer in Hamburg, Germany.
Leonard Reitstein (1928- ) of South Africa has a chess book collection of over 2,100 books. He has a written a history of South Africa.
James Wilson Rimington-Wilson (1822-1877) of London had a large chess library of over 2,300 books. It was once considered the best in Europe.
Hanon Russell is a chess book store operator out of Milford, Connecticut. He runs the ChessCafe website and chess shop. He has the largest collection of chess letters, correspondence, and autograph documentation in the world, with over 14,000 items. It is known as the Russell Collection. He sold his collection to David DeLucia.
Lothar Schmid (1928- ) of Bamburg, Germany, is the owner of the largest known private chess library, over 30,000 chess books.
Ken Smith (1930-1999) was a chess book dealer and owner of Chess Digest, which he began in 1962. He was a major chess book publisher and supplier with over 2,000 different chess titles. His own library consisted of 20,000 chess books.
William Spackman compiled a major chess library and left his chess collection of over 500 chess books to Princeton in 1955.
Jurgen Stigter of Amsterdam has collected about 20,000 volumes of chess books.
Peter Toepfer (1857-1915) of Milwaukee had over 1,000 chess books. When he died, it was presented to the University of Wisconsin.
Lawrence Totaro (1982- ) of Las Vegas has a large collection of chess items. He maintains a web site called Ultimate Chess Collecting and has written a chess book on chess player forgeries.
Antonius van der Linde (1833-1897) was one of the greatest chess historians of all time. In 1876, he sold his library of 800 volumes to the Royal Hague Library for 3,000 Dutch guilders ($2,000) or $40,000 in today’s currency). He sold his library because he was leaving the Netherlands to become appointed librarian of the Koenigliche Landesbibliotheek in Wiesbaden by the German emperor.
Robert G.P. Verhoeven of The Hague, Netherlands, was formerly a librarian in the chess department of the Royal Dutch Library and has collected a large chess library himself.
George Walker (1803-1879) sold his fine chess library of 314 books through auction by Sotheby in 1874. The majority of his books were purchased by Rimington-Wilson.
Alain White (1880-1951), the chess problemist, collected about 2,000 chess books and had over 200 large scrapbooks of chess columns.
John Griswold White (1845-1928) was a Cleveland attorney and chess bibliophile. He was considered the greatest chess book collector of his day. Over a period of 60 years, he collected over 12,000 chess and checkers books. White donated his collection to the Cleveland Public Library to form the John G. White Collection of Folklore, Orientalia, and Chess. The chess collection now contains over 32,000 volumes of chess books and over 6,000 volumes of bound periodicals.
Ken Whyld (1926-2003) had a fine library of thousands of chess books. He was one of the great scholars of the history of chess. His library was sold to the Musee Suisse du Jeu in 2004. The museum is located on lake Geneva in Switzerland.
Fred Wilson has a chess book shop at the St. Denis in New York City has a large collection of out of print books. He took over the office space of Albrecht Buschke. He has in inventory of over 3,000 chess books.
Edward Winter is considered by many as the world’s most renowned chess historian. He is author of numerous books and began Chess Notes in 1982.
Baruch Harold Wood (1909-1989) was the editor of ‘CHESS’ magazine from 1935 until 1987 when he sold it to Pergamon. He had over 5,000 volumes in his chess library.
Yakov Zusmanovich of Pleasanton, California, is an avid chess book collector and has collected over 1,250 chess biographies.
My own chess library contains over 7,000 chess books and magazines, which I have been collecting since 1969. I have signed autograph chess books from Frank Brady, Arnold Denker, John Donaldson, Eduard Gufeld, Lars Bo Hansen, Anatoly Karpov, Isaac Kashdan, Paul Keres, George Koltanowski, Viktor Korchnoi, Ken Smith, and others. Maurice Ashley, you still owe me an autographed copy.