Joy embraces a natural-born bookman on discovering that this vale of soul-making and that vale of catalogue-making so intimately intertwine. Few human endeavors so assure that one’s daily and inevitable professional misjudgments and misapprehensions, one’s sacred ignorance in short, will be continually put to work in the service of knowledge, both human and sublime. The work speaks for itself, just as his missteps speak for the man.
Imagine, dear reader, a small, hot and dusty room, a dank and dark library room, in fact, uncomfortably housing a now derelict collection of once lovingly assembled rare books. I charge you also to imagine a once venerable institute unwilling to preserve and maintain its bibliographic legacy in climate-controlled good order. And now, please, imagine your near-neophyte cataloguer charged with liquidating these treasures in preemptory haste.
The sorrows of a still then-young bookman, indeed. How cruel the biblio gods to offer to his attention such rarities and riches, original edition of works important in the history of science, in the discovery and exploration of the Americas (then that new found land), sumptuous color plate books, the personally hand-annotated presidential copies of scientific and technological tomes. And all these to be hurriedly presented and sold at auction without due bibliographical care in full view of those most knowledgeable and discriminating persons who constitute the antiquarian book trade.
Reader, I sold them.
David Bloom is the Senior Specialist for Books, Maps & Manuscripts, serving the department in the role of active emeritus. He specializes in rare books, manuscripts, maps, ephemera, and antiquarian documents.
Mr. Bloom joined Freeman's in 1983 after a fateful visit to the company's loading dock one afternoon on errand for a previous employer. Since then he has been head of the Books, Manuscripts & Prints Department for nearly twenty years, overseeing more than 120 sales of antiquarian books, manuscripts and a host of other printed artifacts. Mr. Bloom has overseen the sales of collections such as the sale of Historic Muhlenberg Property and The Mount Saint Alphonsus Seminary Library. Under his guidance, the Books, Maps & Manuscripts department has seen outstanding successes such as the auctioning of a rare first publication of the U.S. Constitution printed by Dunlap & Claypoole in the Sept. 19, 1787, Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser, which more than doubled pre-auction estimates selling for $207,225.
Mr. Bloom's wealth of knowledge and mercurial sense of humor has gained him a loyal following among collectors and connoisseurs of vintage books and ephemera. He has more than maintained the reputation Freeman's first established over two hundred years ago as a venerable source of Books, Maps & Manuscripts though his unique personal style and highly regarded expertise. His fondness for the printed word extends far beyond the doors of Freeman's. Mr. Bloom boasts a tremendous personal collection of books, highly esteemed for their value both professional and personal.