Special Collections recently acquired The Dawn of Sensuality, Lutetia, 1900 [Limited edition copy 82 of 200; Bound by W. Launder]. Inside the front cover is an American University Library bookplate. We know very little about the provenance of this book other than it was officially accessioned into the American University Library at one time. Intrigued by this puzzle,we began exploring our records relating to the Artemas Martin Collection to which this book originally belonged.
Here is what we have discovered so far: Artemas Martin agreed to donate his personal library to American University in 1918. None of the contemporary descriptions of the donation specify the total number of volumes in the library just that it was stored in a separate residence. As of 1952, the collection consisted of 5,000 volumes which were housed in the Math Department’s Library and the main library. We found several letters in the Library’s files which discuss the possibility of selling duplicates and transferring some of the more technical works to the Naval Observatory Library. Unfortunately, we were unable to confirm whether any volumes were given away or sold at that time. There are over 4500 Martin volumes listed in American University’s library catalog so it is possible that some items were deaccessioned or sold. We just don’t have enough information at present to determine what happened to The Dawn of Sensuality but we will keep looking.