Librarian of Congress collection goes on the block in Old Town


Historical documents and decorative arts objects from the collection of Daniel J. Boorstin, the Librarian of Congress from 1975 to 1987, will be featured in The Potomack Companys June Catalogue Auction Saturday, June 30 at its Old Town Alexandria gallery.

Dr. Boorstin was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, historian and lawyer who served as director of the National Museum of History and Technology at the Smithsonian Institution and led a 10-year effort to return the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress to its original 1897 appearance. Dr. Boorstin personified the studious author and historian with his trademark bow ties, and the auction will include more than 250 of his colorful bow tie inventory.

A group of letters from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Dr. Boorstin is among the highlighted documents in the sale. Also featured is his appointment of as a member of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission in 1967 signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Signed photographs of Ronald and Nancy Reagan and Gerald Ford are also included in the sale.

In addition to being a literary figure, Dr. Boorstin was also an art enthusiast, and The Potomack Company is pleased to offer notable works from his collection.  Among these is a cast iron folk statue of George Washington that was produced by the Mott Iron Works in Brooklyn, New York, in the latter half of the nineteenth century. This statue was also owned by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr.) and Colonial Williamsburg before being acquired by Dr. Boorstin, and it was included in the momentous 1932 exhibition of Mrs. Rockefellers folk art collection at the Museum of Modern Art. The statues original use was as an ornamental radiator atop a stove.

Dr. Boorstin also owned several kinetic murals by Frank J. Malina (1912-1981) that will be offered for sale. Malina was a scientist and artist who founded Leonardo, a magazine of the contemporary arts.  In 1944 he co-founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.  Combining his scientific knowledge and appreciation for esthetics, Malina created kinetic murals that use electric light to create colored light patterns in continuous motion.  Malinas kinetic art creations are represented in major collections and museums worldwide.

A self-portrait sculpture by Rube Goldberg dedicated to Dr. Boorstin and his wife in 1970 for their assistance in producing his exhibit at The Smithsonian Institution entitled Do It The Hard Way is among several Goldberg items in the auction. An assortment of modern Danish and European mid-century furniture will also be auctioned together with other designer modern pieces from furniture makers such as Arne Jacobson, Charles and Ray Eames and Haywood Wakefield.

The Potomack Company is located at 526 North Fayette Street in Alexandria. Items from this sale will be available for viewing on the companys website at  one week before the auction. The gallery will accept consignments for the June Catalogue Sale through June 8. For additional information, please visit their website or call 703-684-4550.