Rare book sells for $110K at New York auction
Proceeds to fund Chenoweth student book loans program
Centralia College’s newly established student book loan program is off to a great start. A 200-year-old book sitting on a shelf unused for years in the college library was auctioned at Christie’s Auction House in New York today (Friday, June 22) going for $110,500.
The amount the college will net from the auction is uncertain at this time.
The Pomona Britannica, A Collection of The Most Esteemed Fruits, is an annotated compilation of etchings of fruits that were grown primarily in England’s Royal Gardens at Hampton Court. It contains 90 pages that depict fruit still in rich, mouthwatering colors. This edition still has Centralia College library tags on it. A similar book, without library tags, sold at auction for nearly double what the Centralia College book sold for.
“This is simply amazing,” Dr. Jim Walton, college president said. “A book that we were going to give away will now fund a program that will provide a great benefit to our students. All because it wouldn’t fit in the box.”
The box refers to the package of books that was being taken to the University of Washington for its use. Because the book didn’t fit, it was left wrapped in cloth on a shelf in the Centralia College library for later shipment to the UW.
Proceeds from the book’s sale will endow the Mary Chenoweth Student Loan Fund, accessible to students who need to borrow money to purchase textbooks. The loan fund was named in honor of the book’s donor.
Chenoweth, who died in 1975, purchased the book in 1907 for a little over 12 British pounds while attending Oxford. Her husband Arthur was a Rhodes Scholar who later served as president of the Miss America Pageant. The family later moved to the Silver Creek area.
Chenoweth donated Pomona, along with others in her collection, to the college in 1964. The collection mostly collected dust for over 40 years before the library staff decided to give the books to UW, which is set up to handle old and rare books.
For the original story on the rare book and photos of its artwork, see the news release Rare book to be auctioned, student book loan established.