OUT OF THE DARK/INTO THE WATER
The Oliver Robert Batsel Collection
Oliver Robert Batsel (1919—2004) was an American collector of artifacts and ephemera related to the Empyreal Trading Company, an English mercantile enterprise active from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Over Batsel’s nearly seven decades of collecting, he amassed thousands of books, garments, documents, jewelry, and other objects – the most extensive Empyreal Trading Company collection in the world.
In September of 2004, Hurricane Ivan levelled Batsel’s beachside Florida home, taking his life and sweeping his collection out to sea. While some materials were recovered directly after the storm, many fragments of the house and its contents have rested under inches of sand for over a decade. Over the past few years, the collection has been exhumed, restored, and exhibited by Batsel’s granddaughter, Hannah Batsel.
Here, Batsel’s personal effects and correspondence join the artifacts he treasured to illuminate the legacy of both the Empyreal Trading Company and of Batsel himself.