"Burning of the Bancroft Building." Photograph, 1886.

As Bancroft neared the completion of his Works, he began to consider the disposition of his library. Then a fire, on April 30, 1886, destroyed the Bancroft Building on Market Street where, among other business activities, the Works were being printed and bound. Facing over half a million dollars in uninsured loss, Bancroft still was determined to reestablish his business and felt compelled to complete the promised volumes of the Works (which had been sold on subscription). The library, however, began to appear more and more as a luxury.

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