October 9, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Tatler-Burgess Collection Takes Viewers To Another Time, Another Place

VALDOSTA — A chance meeting and a conversation led to Valdosta State University acquiring an eclectic collection of rare antique books, maps, art, Chinese ceramics, medieval illuminated manuscripts, and more.

Nearly three dozen items are on display on the second floor of the Odum Library, in the hub gallery area. Another 30-plus items can be found on the fourth floor of the library, in Archives and Special Collections.

“The Tatler-Burgess Collection is the fruit of many years of work,” a brochure about the collection notes. “This exciting library of pieces, some of which date back to the middle of the 15th century, includes woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer and others offering glimpses of the artistic taste of the late medieval/early renaissance period.

“The collection boasts rarities of unsurpassed quality, such as a leaf from the Saxon Chronicles and leaves from Sebastian Brandt’s Ship of Fools, a very popular allegorical work in its day depicting frowned-upon vices and sins. Those interested in printing history will enjoy incunabula; leaves from various important bibles and other works; woodcuts, copperplate, and steel engravings, as well as lithographs.”

For example, a piece titled “Book of Matthew” can be found in Archives and Special Collections. The leaf dates back to 1680, is from a Martin Luther bible, and features text with non-contemporary color and a woodcut illustration of John the Baptist and Jesus. Next to that are lithographs by Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse.

Having the Tatler-Burgess Collection on campus allows scholars “to compare works spanning hundreds of years and covering diverse topics and … the opportunity to handle work not normally found outside of museums or major collections.”

There are maps by Giles and Didier Robert de Vaugondy, a father-and-son team of map publishers, engravers, and cartographers active in Paris during the mid-18th century; Rigobert Bonne, who had a more detail-oriented and practical approach to mapmaking during the late 18th century; and Willem Blaeuw, a Dutch cartographer, geographer, astronomer, and mathematician from during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. There is also artwork by Pablo Picasso, Virgil Solis, Pierre Bonnard, Hans Springklee, Aristide Maillol, and others, as well as blue and white porcelain from the Ming Dynasty. 

Andrew Tatler-Burgess began collecting antiques several years ago when he spotted an antique map and purchased it. At that point, he said, “I was hooked.” He enjoyed being able to hold something in his hands that had been produced by people from a different time, a different place. It made him feel more connected to worlds he had only read about in books.

“We are just a moment in time,” he said. “There’s something special about holding an item that is 500 years old, knowing that it was held by so many people over those years, that it was treasured by them, and is still treasured today.”

Along with his wife, Kathy, Andrew Tatler-Burgess has owned and operated several galleries over the years, in various locations, including Florida and Virginia. The duo placed their collection of antiquities in storage when the decision was made to close the business.

“That saddened me,” he said.

In the fall of 2010, Andrew Tatler-Burgess, 55, began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in general studies at Valdosta State University. Approximately two years later, he met Deborah S. Davis, certified archivist, director of the university’s Archives and Special Collections, and chairwoman of the Library Art Committee. That chance meeting led to VSU being loaned the collection — which is just a fraction of what he and his wife have put together over the years.

Davis and her staff are creating an online database with images and descriptions of each item in the collection, allowing scholars all around the world the opportunity to study the Tatler-Burgess Collection.

Andrew Tatler-Burgess anticipates graduating from the university in the spring of 2014. Afterward, he hopes to open a new gallery.

Contact Deborah Davis at (229) 259-7756 or dsdavis@valdosta.edu or Andrew Tatler-Burgess at aftatlerburgess@valdosta.edu to learn more.

SPECIAL EVENT: At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, Archives and Special Collections, along with Andrew Tatler-Burgess, will host “A Guide to Collecting, Authenticating, and Exhibiting Antique Printed Artifacts” in the University Center Theater. This event is free and open to the public and will offer more information about the Tatler-Burgess Collection.