January 21, 2022

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s Personal Library: Up For Auction

This is something that won’t come around again: Bonhams announced that it is running a “single owner” online auction for items from the personal library of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, which runs until Thursday, January 27th. Here’s the full catalogue. Highlights include:

• Ginsburg’s personal copy of the 1957-58 Harvard Law Review, the year that she was a member, heavily annotated by her. Estimate: $2,500 – 3,500.

• Ginsburg’s personal copies of the Reports on the 1978 Equal Rights Amendment Extension Hearings before the House and Senate subcommittees. Estimate: $600 – 900.

• Offprints of Ginsburg’s own articles, including “Women in the Federal Judiciary” (1995), inscribed by Ginsburg to Senator Nancy Kassebaum. Estimate: $800 – 1200. A Sandra Day O’Connor legal article “They Often Are Half Obscure: The Rights of the Individual and the Legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes” (1992), a presentation copy from the Justice to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, just days before her nomination, and subsequently quoted from in her nomination acceptance speech. Estimate: $800 – 1200.

• Toni Morrison’s Beloved inscribed by the author to Ruth and Martin Ginsburg. Estimate: $300 – 500.

• Books relating to important cases adjudicated by Ginsburg, including Citizens United (Estimate: $200 -300), Bush v. Gore (Estimate: $400 – 600), and Lilly Ledbetter’s fair pay lawsuit (Estimate: $250 – 350), all inscribed to Ginsburg. A deluxe copy of Antonin Scalia’s Reading Law, warmly inscribed to Ginsburg. Estimate: $600 – 900.

• Ginsburg’s copy of her book, My Own Words, with her personal bookplate. Estimate: $1000 – 2000.

Here’s another write-up about the auction from “The Art Newspaper” that includes a pic of the inside cover page of the first edition of Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, inscribed “To Dearest Ruth” and signed by Steinem. The pic is the closest I’ll ever get to seeing that inscription, but it could be yours for the right price. Hat-tip to Cooley’s Cydney Posner (self-declared “auction junkie”) for alerting us all to this very unique opportunity!

Liz Dunshee