The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 26, Number 31, July 30, 2023, Article 6


Whitman has published a new autobiography of dealer Kenneth W. Rendell, who started out as a coin dealer in the 1950s and 60s and later gravitated to the world of autographs and other historical artifacts. Here's the announcement. -Editor

Safeguarding-History_cover_flat Whitman Publishing announces the release of Safeguarding History, the autobiography of famed artifacts collector and dealer Kenneth W. Rendell. Subtitled Trailblazing Adventures Inside the Worlds of Collecting and Forging History, the 328-page memoir of the Indiana Jones of the art and collecting world will debut nationwide on October 3, 2023.

Rendell has spent decades adventuring around the globe to track down, buy, and sell some of the most significant, iconic historical artifacts from the ancient world to the Renaissance to the present day. He is known as a collector and dealer in rare manuscripts and historical artifacts and an expert in autographs—he debunked the Hitler Diaries in the 1980s, helped solve the Mormon Church White Salamander Letter murders, and exposed the so-called Jack the Ripper diary as a fraud. Rendell built the incredible collection of Bill and Melinda Gates's personal library, and has appraised, bought, and sold major archives including Richard Nixon's White House papers and Watergate tapes, Ronald Reagan's papers, Frederick Law Olmsted's papers, General George Patton's personal artifacts, 12 million uncataloged artifacts of the Northern Pacific Railroad, and many others.

Rendell is also known as the founder and creator of the International Museum of World War II and is an expert in that field, in particular on the Home Front, black ops and propaganda, spying, and the experiences of everyday soldiers and service members. His book World War II: Saving the Reality (Whitman Publishing, 2009) was called as magnificent and important as his museum by the OSS Society Journal.

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Safeguarding History explores Rendell's start as a prodigy coin dealer in his teens in the 1950s and early 1960s. His friendship with Q. David Bowers, Kenneth Bressett, Walter Breen, Grover Criswell, George Fuld, and other peers of that era led to the founding of the Rittenhouse Society and other collaborations. The first chapters of his memoir tell of Rendell's adventures hunting down coins in the Caribbean and Europe, and interacting with dealers, collectors, and researchers like Malcolm O.E. Chell-Frost, Doyle DeWitt, the Norwebs, Spink, Seaby, Abe Kosoff, Jim Ruddy, and many others.

Rendell shares personal stories about Malcolm Forbes, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, various Supreme Court justices, Patti Reagan, Otto Kerner, Bill Gates, John Eisenhower, Ted Kennedy, Harry Truman (whom he drove cross-country to meet at the age of 20), and many other characters and personalities in the worlds of American history, rare books, and collectibles.

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His memoir is also a personal reflection on what it takes to succeed in business and in life, and to overcome challenges. Doris Kearns Goodwin, in the book's foreword, calls Rendell a master storyteller. How lucky we are to share in Rendell's passion, she writes, to savor the moments he comes upon breathtaking documents and letters. We meet a cast of intriguing characters and are privy to an inside look at the complex world of collecting—a world filled with adventures, mysteries, sensational hoaxes, thefts, and even murders.

Balancing his life in antiquities, Rendell is also an impressive sportsman, and he describes how he's combined his unparalleled collecting career with extreme sporting—taking up ski racing in his 30s, extreme helicopter skiing in his 40s, Hawaiian windsurfing in his 50s, and continuing with snowboarding now into his 80s.

Historian Ken Burns calls Ken Rendell one of our greatest collectors of historical artifacts who humanizes and personalizes the scope and promise of human endeavor.

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About the Author
Kenneth W. Rendell, founder and director of the International Museum of World War II, has been a collector and dealer since the 1950s in rare coins, historical letters, documents, and other historical artifacts. His rare-manuscript business, with offices in Boston and a gallery in New York City, encompasses all areas including politics, the law, the military, art, literature, music, science, and others. He has authored the standard reference books in the field, including History Comes to Life.

For Rendell, the field of forgeries and journalistic hoaxes is another major interest. He debunked the infamous Hitler diaries on behalf of Newsweek Magazine in 1983, and then headed the investigation for Stern Magazine into how the hoax had been perpetrated. For Time Warner he proved the diary of Jack the Ripper was a hoax, and he has been involved in every major forgery case in recent decades. He is the author of Forging History, the standard reference work on the subject. As an expert witness, Rendell has appeared in criminal trials where his expertise and testimony would make a difference, including the trial of the Mormon White Salamander murders.

He received the Justice Department's Distinguished Service Award for his work leading to convictions for thefts from the National Archives and the Library of Congress. He also won the only two Tax Court cases deciding the value of archives without compromise: one for the Internal Revenue Service (the Otto Kerner Papers), the other for the taxpayer (the Northern Pacific Railroad). Another major interest of Rendell's is Western American history. His extensive collection in this field was the basis of his book The Western Pursuit of the American Dream, which the New York Times said succeeds in giving a sense of the struggle to tame the gorgeous wilderness that stretched beyond the tidy civilizations of the east. . . . It's worth spending time with.

Safeguarding History: Trailblazing Adventures Inside the Worlds of Collecting and Forging History
By Kenneth W. Rendell; foreword by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
328 pages, full color.
Hardcover with dustjacket.
ISBN 0794850499.
Retail $24.95.

Kenny E-Sylum ad01 eBay store

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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