In 1956 Nathaniel Montague walked into a used bookstore and stumbled upon a Paul Lawrence Dunbar first edition. It was a moment that changed his life. It also led to the creation of perhaps the greatest personal collection of African Americana ever assembled. For half a century Montague travelled around the world scouring used book stores, garage sales, and wherever else in search of artifacts. He also hung out with Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett. As the years went by, his methods became more organized and his searches more systematic. He was especially enthralled by the “museum libraries” he visited in Europe, where one could look at and touch the items. Montague is 84 now and recently declared bankruptcy. The collection is easily worth millions but it is not certain, perhaps even unlikely, that the collection will stay together in its entirety. The items are in an undisclosed location and await their fate.

To be continued