BIOGRAPHY

Thomas Lecky

EXPERIENCE

  • Certified Member of the Appraisers Association of America
  • Former Head of Printed Books and Manuscripts Department, Christie’s North America (2007–2016)
  • Senior Specialist, Books & Manuscripts, Christie’s (1999–2007)
  • Owner, Riverrun Books & Manuscripts, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
  • Over 23 years at the highest level of the field
  • Broad knowledge in Books & Manuscripts ranging from Homer to Harry Potter.
  • Extensive experience in all fields, from early printing to modern science & technology, travel & exploration, illustrated books, historical Americana, and Continential, English & American literature
  • Has appraised, advised, and evaluated the most valuable private collections in the United States, as well as numerous important institutional collections

EDUCATION

  • Stanford University (MA American Literature)
  • Columbia College, Columbia University (BA English Literature)
  • Choate Rosemary Hall

MEMBERSHIPS

Appraisers Association of America, Certified Member

The Grolier Club, member since 1999

The Bibliographical Society of America

The Manuscript Society

Specialist appraiser for over ten years on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow.

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Tom Lecky has over 23 years of experience appraising, advising, and selling books and manuscripts at all levels of the market. Tom is the former Head of Christie’s New York Books & Manuscripts Department. He joined Christie’s as Vice President and Specialist in Printed Books in 1999. In 2006, Tom was named Head Department in New York and was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2014. In 2016, Tom purchased Riverrun Books & Manuscripts in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY, a forty-year old firm handling fine and rare books and manuscripts. He also serves as an independent advisor and appraiser and is a Certified Member of the Appraisers Association of America.

Tom has extensive experience in all fields of books and manuscripts, with particular strengths in the fields of science and technology, travel, exploration and historical Americana, as well as English and American literature, the field in which he holds an advanced degree. Tom has worked on some of the most significant collections to come on the market in recent years. Prime among them were the Kenneth Nebenzahl and Frank S. Streeter libraries of important Americana navigation and voyages and the Richard Green Library of Important Scientific Books. Tom has appraised the papers of four Nobel Prize winners, the two most valuable private libraries in the United States, and material at the most prestigious research institutions in the U.S.

Tom catalogued the publisher’s copy of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica sold at Christie’s New York in December 2016 for $3.7 million, a world record for a scientific book. This beat the previous record, which Tom also catalogued: the Richard Green copy of Nicolaus Copernicus’s De revolutionibus (1543) that sold for $2.2 million dollars, a world auction record for any sixteenth-century book at auction. Another career highlight was the cataloguing of Abel Buell’s 1783 map of the United States that sold for $2.1 million, a world auction record for any printed map. In the field of manuscript Americana, Tom worked on the landmark series of sales of the celebrated collection of Malcolm S. Forbes, still the highest total of any collection sold at auction in the United States.

Other important sales include those of the Helmut N. Friedlaender Library (early printed books, science and literature); The Library of Abel E. Berland (English literature, early printed books); the Estelle Doheny Collection from St. Mary’s of the Barrens, Perryville, Missouri (early printed books, Bibles, American literature); Masterpieces of Modern Literature: The Library of Roger Rechler; The Estate of Mary, Viscountess Eccles (English literature including Shakespeare) and The History of the Book: The Cornelius J. Hauck Collection (important historical texts, miniature books and bindings). Tom catalogued the groundbreaking sale The Origins of Cyberspace, the first auction exclusively devoted to the history of the computer. Tom was an auctioneer at Christie’s, and frequently appears as an appraiser on WGBH’s Antiques Roadshow. Tom’s skills extend beyond the fields of printed books and manuscripts: he was the specialist in charge of the sale of Bob Dylan’s Fender Stratocaster that was used when he went electric at Newport, 1964: at $964,000, a world record for a guitar.

Prior to joining Christie’s, Tom served as Director of the Books & Prints Departments at William Doyle Galleries in New York, and was also one of the firm’s principal auctioneers.

Experience with Institutions: Tom has appraised property for and provided collections management services for a multitude of institutions, including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, Yale University, The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution, Mount Vernon, The Ford Foundation, Credit Suisse, The Free Library of Philadelphia, The Rosenbach Library & Museum, The Massachusetts Historical Society, The Francis A. Countway Library at Harvard University, The Cincinnati Museum Center, The Western Reserve Historical Society, The Morgan Library & Museums, The Holden Arboretum, and The Redwood Library & Athenaeum.