Special Collections Department

Forging a Collection:
The Frank W. Tober Collection
on Literary Forgery

An Exhibition

curated by Timothy D. Murray

August 19, 1999 - December 15, 1999

Frank W. Tober

General Material on Forgery

The Forgeries

Checklist of Thomas J. Wise Letters in the Frank W. Tober Collection

Forging a Collection is drawn entirely from the collection Dr. Frank W. Tober bequeathed to the University of Delaware Library following his death on June 24, 1995. The Frank W. Tober Collection is comprised of nearly four thousand books and periodicals, hundreds of manuscripts and papers, and a variety of other materials, including artwork and ephemera. Dr. Tober maintained a wide range of book collecting interests including the history of printing and publishing, the history of papermaking and the manufacture of paper, the era of Napoleon and the French Revolution, and contemporary fine printing and the book arts. But the cornerstone of Dr. Tober's personal library was his collection on literary forgery. Frank Tober assembled a fascinating collection of examples of forgeries from all periods as well as secondary works about them. This collection includes material relating to virtually every major forgery from those of antiquity to the cases involving contemporary figures such as Clifford Irving, who attempted to publish a forged autobiography of Howard Hughes, and Mark Hofmann, whose crimes also included murder.

Dr. Tober developed a particular interest in the forgeries associated with the nineteenth century British forgers Thomas J. Wise and H. Buxton Forman and amassed one of the most important extant private collections on this topic. Dr. Tober also built strong collections relating to other notable forgers such as the eighteenth century British poets Thomas Chatterton and James Macpherson; the Shakespeare forgers John Payne Collier and William Henry Ireland; and the twentieth century American novelist Frederic Prokosch. In addition, he assembled a strong collection of secondary historical, critical, and reference material on forgery from all periods. Dr. Tober also pursued such related topics as literary hoaxes, imaginary voyages, counterfeiting, forensics, and the technology of forgery detection. All of these topics are represented in the exhibition Forging a Collection.

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Last modified: 11/18/03