Numismatic literature dealer Douglas Saville submitted this remembrance of Ted Buttrey. Thank you! -Editor
A few thoughts about Ted……... Ted was a good friend of mine. We knew one another for many years - especially during his lengthy time at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In his quest to make the
library of the Coin Room at the Fitzwilliam into something that was a truly great and remarkable place, he went to considerable efforts.
A few years ago I purchased a really major British library, including a virtually unique collection of 55 important early sales catalogues. All were held in mid-18th century London. These sales
were held by the leading auctioneers of the day: Cock, Baker, Langford, and Gerard, (1742-1788); almost all were neatly hand priced and named. All were bound in half calf, backs gilt and, frankly,
unique on the market.
I gave Ted the first offer of buying them……… He responded to my email, by return, to say “Yes, we must have them, please”, but he went on to say, …..”but we are broke………how can you help us,
Duggie?” - by that he meant he was broke - since so often in the past he had funded purchases that he knew the Fitzwilliam had to have…… and they almost always were broke…. I had priced them as low
as possible in order to make them attractive for Ted…. But. So, I set about working on ideas…. and eventually, after a few weeks, I found a friendly customer who was prepared to pay for them and
donate them to the Fitzwilliam…. Ted was delighted - to say the least, and the day I delivered them to Ted in Cambridge will be etched on my mind for a long time – when we unpacked them, he smiled
from ear to ear (literally) - and the next day he sent me such a great email in appreciation of the gift.
The donor I had found had recalled a wonderful day he and I had spent in the Fitzwilliam a few years before, when Ted had spent the whole day showing us around the Museum and the great collection
of coins that were housed in the Museum…………
Another thing……. Some seven years ago I purchased what was the largest library I had ever handled - some eight tons of books and sales catalogues… yes eight tons…. Packed and shipped to me from
the Continent of Europe on 8 or 9 large pallets…… and extremely strong in auction sales catalogues from all over the world… 10,000 or more…….…. A massive exercise….. and, I told Ted about it….. his
first and immediate reaction was – “when can I see the catalogues?”…….. Ted loved catalogues. Anything the FW did not have, he not only needed, Ted had to have………It was an unwritten rule.
By, sort of, chance I had the library shipped to a warehouse halfway between Cambridge and Reading where my offices were… as I could never have handled the unpacking in my offices….and, when I
told him that, he immediately suggested we meet at the warehouse, and “sort through” the boxes……I thought he was crazy…… not an altogether poor assumption…(!) We met up and spent a long day unpacking
-and repacking some 180 large boxes of sales catalogues for him to check if they had them or not- if not then they “needed them” (= had to have them)……. The result was about ten boxes of catalogues
they “had to have”.
Ted was a remarkable person and someone with the energy of a man possessed - with a huge vision for the future. Ted will not be forgotten by anyone who ever had any dealings with him.
To read the earlier E-Sylum articles, see:
THEODORE V. BUTTREY (1929-2018) (http://www.coinbooks.org/v21/esylum_v21n02a05.html)
IN MEMORIAM: THEODORE V. BUTTREY, JR. (http://www.coinbooks.org/v21/esylum_v21n04a14.html)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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