Thursday, November 12, 2015

Doheny books go home to No. 8

Ned Doheny's bookplate showing No. 8, the "Ranch"
in Beverly Hills, the oil well
Casiana and the family
yacht of the same name.
ESTELLE DOHENY WAS A WORLD-CLASS collector of rare books, something that may have rubbed off on her stepson, Edward L. “Ned” Doheny Jr. (1893-1929).

Ned left behind a run of collectibles printed by the Bibliophile Society that occupied a dozen feet of bookshelf in the Doheny Mansion, from the family’s first years there to Estelle Doheny’s death on October 30, 1958. In early 1959 they came to the Mount libraries’ Archives & Special Collections.

But now after months of planning they’re back in their original home of 100 years ago. To accommodate an influx of historic books in the Chalon Library, the decision was made to use Estelle’s glass-fronted bookshelves in her personal library at No. 8 Chester Place as a permanent place of honor for this collection of Doheniana.

The Boston-based Bibliophile Society was a sort of book-of-the-month club for well-to-do readers. Classics and new titles were issued in limited press runs of letterpress on handmade linen- or cotton-rag paper. The spines are almost all vellum with embossed gold, the various bindings made of leather, paper or cloth. Inside each cover is Ned’s personal bookplate, which depicts four of his five children and vignettes from the family’s history – including No. 8 itself, Edward Doheny Sr.’s first oil well and the Dohenys’ yacht, both called “Casiana.”

Estelle Doheny added her own bookplates opposite Ned's.
After Ned’s tragic death in 1929 the books remained with Estelle, who placed two of her own ex libris (from the library) plates opposite Ned’s. When the Mansion became a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet shortly after Estelle's death at the age of 83, the books were given to the Mount's Charles Willard Coe Memorial Library. And there they remained for the next 56 years.

The relocation project wouldn't have happened without our excellent library volunteers Dianne Plou Schautschick ’65, Emily Deutsch Keller ’66 and Vivian Santibáñez, who did all the packing up at Chalon and shelving at Doheny. H/T to Mary Uganskis for her numerous rounds of inventorying and to Samantha Silver and Terri Fresquez of the library staff for quickly re-cataloging 139 volumes. It’s gratifying to see Ned’s books restored to their historic home.

Emily and Vivian critiquing the final arrangement.
(iPhone 6 photo by Dianne Schautschick)

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