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New Posner Building Houses Rare Book Collection
The Posner Memorial Collection of rare books and art is moving to its permanent home in the Posner Building, located between the College of Fine Arts and Posner Hall. The collection of 622 volumes includes landmark titles of the history of western science, beautifully produced books on decorative arts and fine sets of literature.
The collection, established at Carnegie Mellon University in 1978, had been displayed in the Fine and Rare Book Room of the Hunt Library. The collection was assembled from 1923 to 1974 by Henry Posner, Sr. and his wife Ida.
The Posner Collection includes many great books and documents important in the history of manís intellectual, scientific and artistic development. Included among them is the only copy of the Bill of Rights outside of the Library of Congress, a 1913 facsimile printed on vellum of the Gutenberg Bible, a 1478 Koberger Biblia Latina, a fine copy of the Aldine Pressís Hypneratomachia Poliphili, Descartesí Discourse Pour la Methode de Bien Conduire la Veritť dans les Sciences and important Einstein offprints.
His finely bound books, with joyfully exuberant bindings, also include Grayís Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard with diamonds on the cover; Washington Irvingís 1849 Sketchbook; FitzGeraldís translation of Omar KhayyŠmís RubŠiyŠt with snakeskin and rubies; Limited Editions Club issues of The Travels of Baron Munchhausen, 1929; Robert Louis Stevensonís Treasure Island, 1941; Jules Verneís Around the World in Eighty Days, 1962; and Swiftís Gulliverís Travels.
There are also accounts of famous travels such as the 1494 printing of Christopher Columbusí famous letter about his first trip to the New World. Other voyages represented are Captain William Blighís 1790 Narrative of the Mutiny on Board the Bounty and his long Voyage to the South Sea, 1792; Fitzroyís Narrative of the Surveying Voyages of the Beagle, 1839; and three handsome folios containing Vancouverís Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific, 1798.
For Mr. Posner, the primary value of the collection was having carefully built a library of excellent books for his family to read and a heritage that represented the best in ideas, sciences and the arts. A native of Warsaw, Poland, he arrived in Boston about 1905. In 1912, he attended Carnegie Tech but left before graduation to start his own business, the Alpha Claude Neon Corporation, which later became Pittsburgh Outdoor Advertising.