Published: October 17, 2006
Elizabeth Kling Trace, known to friends and colleagues as Betsy, died at her home on October 2. She was 91.
Born November 12, 1914, in New York to a physician and his wife, a writer and poet, Betsy Trace was one of four children.
She was especially close to her older sister, costumes and textiles authority Cora Kling Ginsburg, wife of Ginsburg & Levy partner Benjamin Ginsburg. The sisters, both of whom loved to cook and took turns hosting family gatherings, frequently traveled together and often attended openings as a pair. Cora Ginsburg, who lived in Tarrytown, N.Y., died at 92 in 2002.
The Kling children grew up surrounded by art and artists.
“Betsy, like Cora, had a very diverse intellect. She was broadly educated and articulate. Like Cora, Betsy had a memory for and love of beautiful things,” said Titi Halle, owner of Cora Ginsburg LLC in Manhattan.
Educated at Hunter College, Betsy Kling married antiquarian bookseller Timothy Trace. The couple’s twin sons are Joel Trace of Ossining, N.Y., and Jonathan Trace, the Rifton, N.Y., specialist in American silver, furniture and related accessories, as well as Seventeenth to early Nineteenth Century English and Continental silver.
In 1947, the Traces moved to Red Mill Road in Cortlandt Manor in northern Westchester County, Betsy’s home for 59 years
Visiting the Traces in 1977, New York Times columnist Rita Reif described “book-lined rooms” “filled with both rarities and recently published volumes in the specialty areas of the decorative arts, architectural history and design.”
“If we’re home, we’re open from 10 am to 9 pm,” Timothy Trace told Reif. “But if browsing is what a person intends to do, it is best to phone ahead for an appointment.”
The Traces, Reif said, “count hundreds of American and British antiques collectors and dealers among their clients, many of whom order by the Traces’ catalog, which is available upon request.” The dealers’ stock often included “early editions of the handbooks by Chippendale, Hepplewhite or Sheraton.” Prices at the time ranged from $900 to $1,600.
“My parents loved rare, scholarly books. They were antiquarian booksellers first and antiques dealers a distant second,” Jonathan Trace recalled.
Timothy Trace Bookseller exhibited at the White Plains Antiques Show, the Philadelphia Antiques Show and the Delaware Antiques Show, among others.
The firm first participated in the Winter Antiques Show in New York in 1957, two years after the fair debuted. Later joined by her son Jonathan, Betsy Trace continued exhibiting until 2003, when ill health forced her to resign. Among current Winter Show exhibitors, only Pennsylvania dealer Elinor Gordon is more senior than the Traces.
Judy Cohen, an antiquarian bookseller in New Paltz, N.Y., sometimes helped in the Trace booth and partnered with Betsy on books and collections.
“Betsy was a mentor to me, a great teacher and a very good friend,” said Cohen. “She loved finding little-known editions, she loved beautiful books on design of all kinds and she loved bargains.”
In addition to her sons, Betsy Trace is survived by her grandchildren, Kathy, Nancy, Laura and David; and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was scheduled to take place October 18.
Donations in Betsy Trace’s memory may be made to East Side House Settlement, 337 Alexander Avenue, Bronx NY 10454.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm