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Library from New York Seminary set for sale at Freeman’s Auctioneers in Philadelphia
The historic campus at Mount St. Alphonsus was closed by the Redemptorists on Jan. 1, 2012, due to pressing pastoral needs and an aging membership.
PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Over 4,000 selected books, valued at over US$700,000, from the library of Mount St. Alphonsus, the former Redemptorist seminary and later retreat centre in New York State, will be sold at a series of auctions by Freeman’s Auctioneers in Philadelphia beginning on the 4th April 2013 and continuing into 2014.

David Bloom Book Specialist and Head of Department at Freemans’ said “ It is our privilege to offer this previously all-but hidden American collection of early European printed books and manuscripts so richly illuminating our 15th and 16th century heritage.”

Among the early printed books in the sale is a book on astronomy and astrology "On Judging the Stars", $2,500-4,000, dating from 1555. Kerry Jeffery Book Specialist at Freemans’ said “What I think makes it special are all the added marginal notes and diagrams by an early hand, an unidentified 16th century astronomer. I am hoping whoever purchases the book will be able to find out who the book originally belonged to.”

She continued “There is also a slightly disturbing lot called ‘The Hammer of Witches’, dated 1620, valued at $1,000-1,500. Essentially this was a 'how-to' book to identify witches, arguing that witches were mostly always women rather than men. So whoever originally owned this book would have been someone who ultimately could have led to the death of lots of innocent women!”

A rare book on mineralogy, De Mineralibus Libri Quinque, 1519 is valued at $12,000-18,000 and a copy of Ludolphus de Saxonia, Vita Christi [Life of Christ] from 1474. (1st ed.) There is also a copy of Hieronymus, dated 1497 valued at $10,000-15,000 which has a woodcut frontispiece by Albrecht Durer depicting St. Jerome dressed as a cardinal removing a thorn from a lion's paw. The woodcut for this work first appeared in a 1492 edition and was attributed to Durer after a woodcut block was discovered by Daniel Burckhardt at the Museum of Basel, with an inscription on the reverse in Durer's hand "Albrecht Durer von Normergk." Jefffery said “The woodcut depiction of Saint Jerome is Durer's first book illustration - executed when he was an apprentice in Basel.”

There is a bound volume of 5 titles by Erasmus, Desiderius: including the Familiarum Colloquiorum. Dated 1522 and valued at $3,000-5,000 the "Familiarum Colloquirum" was originally written to teach Latin grammar, however it evolved into a social commentary and eventually the book was banned from use in schools and placed on the list of prohibited books in 1564.

The historic campus at Mount St. Alphonsus was closed by the Redemptorists on Jan. 1, 2012, due to pressing pastoral needs and an aging membership and the Library was packed and moved to storage. Proceeds from the sale will go towards preserving the extensive archive and ‘The Redemptoristic Collection’ will be housed in a new building in Philadelphia at the National Shrine of St. John Neumann. Neumann was the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia, the first American male to be canonized and one of the first Redemptorists. The National Shrine of St. John Neumann and St. Peter's Church are under the care of the Redemptorists, and the new library will have the ability for public to use for research.

The order of priests and brothers known as the Redemptorists was founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori in Naples, Italy, in 1732 to serve the spiritual and material needs of the faithful, especially the poor. The order’s priests are known for their preaching.

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