Sadly we must bid a fond farewell to Patrick E. Martin, the person most instrumental in securing the lost half of this Library’s Twain manuscript

[The following is excerpted from the Buffalo News,May 22, 2019, obituary “Patrick E. Martin, 70, arranged to bring lost Mark Twain manuscript back to Buffalo” By Dale Anderson]



March 23, 1949 – May 12, 2019

Patrick E. Martin, the attorney who put together the complex arrangement that brought a lost Mark Twain manuscript back to the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, died May 12 in Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center after a brief illness. He was 70.

As general counsel for the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, he obtained a State Supreme Court ruling that changed the laws governing libraries across the state, taking the power over library budgets away from municipalities and giving it to library trustees.

For the Library Foundation, he also negotiated the return of the handwritten first half of the manuscript of Twain’s novel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” which had been missing for more than a century.

Twain donated the 605-page[half of the 1361-page] manuscript to the library in 1885. The library trustee who received it from Twain died before he could have it bound and it was discovered by the trustee’s granddaughters in a steamer trunk in an attic in Los Angeles in 1991.

Mr. Martin also negotiated the sale of publishing rights to Random House.

He also oversaw arrangements for digital versions of the Twain manuscript and for the publication of another long-lost Twain story, “A Murder, a Mystery and a Marriage.”

“That was his dream,” his daughter, Caitlin Martin, said. “Combining his law career with his love of English literature.”

Mr. Martin helped organize a Mark Twain Writing Competition and arranged for judging by authors such as area natives Joyce Carol Oates, Lauren Belfer and Connie Porter, along with humorists Roy Blount Jr. and Garrison Keillor.

“Pat Martin’s passion for literature is putting Buffalo on the map of places Twain enthusiasts and scholars will recognize and access as a reference,” Kathleen Rooney, who publicized the writing contest, told Buffalo News reporter Louise Continelli in 2001. “He’s a lawyer more interested in a book than a buck and a great example of how following your dreams can lead to success.”

In 2010, he co-edited “Mark Twain in Buffalo” with Robert H. Hirst, director of the Mark Twain Project at University of California Berkeley, a collection of letters Twain wrote while he lived and worked here from 1869 to 1871. Proceeds benefited the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.

Mr. Martin also strengthened Buffalo’s connection to Irish author James Joyce, whose archive and personal effects are housed in the Poetry Collection at UB.

[for more please see ]

NOTE: The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn manuscript can be seen in its entirety–thanks in large part to Pat Martin–at


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The Latest Rare Book Exhibit is Telling the Story: Enslavement of African People in the United States 

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As Frederick Douglass so aptly put it, “Slavery is the great test question of our age and nation.” In many ways it still is, as our country is still dealing with the repercussions of the systematic and institutional enslavement of Africans. This Rare Book Room exhibit seeks to highlight its History of Slavery Collection and, perhaps more ambitiously, to provoke constructive dialog about our country’s history of enslavement and its continuing aftermath.

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We All Pause to Honor the Passing of the Good and Great Wayne D. Wisbaum


We pause today to honor Wayne D. Wisbaum, long-time friend and benefactor of the Rare Book Room, the Buffalo & Erie County Library and so many other cultural organizations in Buffalo. Please see . If a life well-lived is measured by the friends one has kept, Mr. Wisbaum lived exceedingly well. Thank you, Mr. Wisbaum, for all of your dedication to this Library, its Rare Book Room and to greater Buffalo. You shall be missed.

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Graphic Works by Richard Kersting in the Rare Book Room

Buffalo artist and printmaker Richard F. Kersting ( was once a librarian in the Language, Literature and Fine Arts Department of the Central Library in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  Specializing in realism, surrealism and symbolism in miniature formats, Mr. Kersting is a member of the Fine Arts League of Buffalo and the Buffalo Society of Artists, and is currently represented by the Meibohm Fine Arts Gallery (

In 1989, he generously donated a collection of graphic works to the Rare Book Room, consisting of over 40 etchings and 1 drawing of particular interest to those of us who have witnessed the ever-changing appearance of the downtown Central library.  The drawing, dated 1964, depicts a portion of the newly constructed library building and shows the modern furniture which has since been updated to a more contemporary design.


Kersting – Untitled [Central Library] 1964

Mr. Kersting’s works are held by numerous individual collectors, as well as the Burchfield Penney Art Center (, and the Rare Book Room is proud to have his works represented among such other local artists as J. J. Lankes and William Schwanekamp.


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Five more of Mr. Kersting’s engravings were recently discovered here in the library and among them was a linocut portrait of him created by former Library Director Paul M. Rooney (1975-1983) for an exhibit of Kersting’s works here in the library.

Young man with press

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Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát, known by some as the “Ruby Yacht”

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Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát is a translation that once compared with the Bible for its popularity and familiarity. It was the most popular poem in the English language. Edward FitzGerald’s first edition translation of the Rubáiyát by Omar Khayyám was published anonymously in 1859. Although published the same year as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the small print run of the Persian poem did not sell for two years. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, other Pre-Raphaelites and, eventually, John Ruskin, all read Edward FitzGerald’s translation of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát and it fit their artistic aesthetic philosophy perfectly. A cult-like following for Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát blossomed and lasted through World War I and beyond. Fueled by reader demand several hundred editions and reprints of this Persian poem were produced. There were collectible fine press editions, beautifully illustrated editions and many lesser editions—some mass-produced and some for soldiers to take with them into World War I battle. Omar Khayyám clubs and societies sprang up and consumer products were named for the poet and his work. There were Omar brand cigarettes, cigars, a tooth powder and perfumes that marketed the romantic themes of Khayyám’s Rubáiyát—it was so familiar and deeply rooted in the Western culture that “Omar” and a line from his poem could sell the product.

For a less-than-serious take on this serious and famous poem, you might have fun with the punny Rocky & Bullwinkle “Ruby Yacht.”

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The Anthony J. Sisti Papers, circa 1925-1982

Sisti, n.d.

Anthony Sisti (1901-1983)


Tony Sisti was a boxer turned painter, art collector and teacher who spent most of his life in Buffalo.  Born in Greenwich Village in 1901, Sisti relocated to Buffalo in 1911 where he attended art classes at the Albright Art School.  He began boxing at the local gym at 17, and after winning a New York State bantamweight title, became a professional boxer with 76 victories in 101 fights.  He traveled to Italy and studied painting under Felice Carena, receiving his Doctor of Arts degree in 1929. He continued both his boxing career and his art studies, later teaching at the Art Institute of Buffalo before opening his own gallery at 469 Franklin. Active from the 1920’s until his death in 1983, Sisti was best known for his oil paintings and murals but also painted formal portraits of notables such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New York Governor Alfred E. Smith, among others. His works have been exhibited in major museums around the country, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Burchfield-Penney Art Center in Buffalo, which has many of his paintings in its permanent collection.


Sisti in the classroom, n.d., s.l.

Sisti in the classroom


Donated in 2012 by art curator and writer David F. Martin of Seattle (originally from Niagara Falls, NY), this particular collection of Sisti papers consists primarily of personal and professional photographs, news clippings, correspondence and programs from numerous artist shows at the Sisti Gallery in Buffalo.


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Alice in Wonderland in Rare Book Land

Saturday, January 27th, marked the 186th anniversary of the birth of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll (born January 27, 1832).  In celebration of the man and the phenomenon that is Alice in Wonderland, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library would like to highlight some of our many editions of the book, as well as other materials, held in our Rare Book Room, including a first American edition from 1866.

Following the great commercial success of the first Alice book, illustrated by John Tenniel, numerous editions and juvenile versions of the book appeared and continue to inspire artists in various genres. The Rare Book Room collection includes a facsimile of the  manuscript that Dodgson presented to the inspiration for Alice, Alice Liddell, in November 1864.

Other materials in our collection include prints from the 1920’s and ’30’s, children’s board and pop-up books, a “painting” book with some of the images colored by a previous owner, and artistic versions by illustrators such as Barry Moser.


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