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One of the World’s Best Collections of Wine Books Is Going on Sale for $2 Million Later This Month

The Thackrey Library paints a remarkably complete picture of the development of wine culture in the West.

A closeup of a 14th-century manuscript leaf depicting winemakingBen Kinmont Bookseller Ben Kinmont Bookseller

New York-based wine and rare book lovers both have something special to look forward to this month.

Oenophiles will want to make a point of swinging by Ben Kinmont Bookseller’s table at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair (NYIABF) later in April. That’s because the exhibitor will be selling the Thackrey Library, which is generally considered to be the greatest privately-owned collection of wine books in the United States.

The collection was put together by wine maker Sean Thackrey and consists of more than 700 books and manuscripts about vino, according to a press release. The monographs, which were primarily written between the 15th century and the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century, include all of the important works of oenology and viticulture—like Arnaldus de Villanova’s De vinis (1530) and Jacobus Praefectus’s De diversorum vini generum natura liber (1564)—along with plenty of other lesser known titles. Together the books paint a remarkably complete picture of the development and evolution of wine culture in the West. At the festival, Kinmot will be showcasing 46 highlights from the collection, which is being sold en bloc for $2 million.

A plate from Arnaldus de Villanova’s "De vinis" (1530)

A plate from Arnaldus de Villanova’s “De vinis” (1530)  Ben Kinmont Bookseller

“The object of this library is to present an anthology of early texts on the making and understanding of wine, with many, many others just thrown in because I think they’re pleasures,” Thackrey wrote of the collection on his website. “These texts span the entire spectrum from obscure to more so. Some are known, although actually read only under academic duress; some are unknown altogether. The fact is, inexplicable though it may (and to me does) seem, that apparently no such anthology has ever previously been published, in print, on the internet, or anywhere else.”

Incredibly, Thackrey has made the transcribed text of much of his collection available to read online through that same website. But to really get the full experience, you want to view the truly beautiful books and illustrations for yourself at the 62nd annual NYIABF, which will be held from April 21 to 24 at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood.

A closeup of a A 15th-century manuscript on winemaking and its effects on the body.

A closeup of a A 15th-century manuscript on winemaking and its effects on the body.  Ben Kinmont Bookseller

Tickets for the annual event are available now through the festival’s website. A ticket for the opening night preview, which include an additional daily admission, is available for $60, while general admission tickets for those 16 and older can be had for $30, and student tickets for $10. If you find it hard to believe one day will be enough, a “Run of Show” package, which allows you to visit multiple times, is available for $45.

If you can’t make it to the fair later this month, but have been inspired to add a wine-related tome to your library, our most recent oenophile gift guide has a couple of options you might want to check out.

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