Sunday, February 11, 2018

Links & Reviews

- New from Johanna Drucker and colleagues at UCLA, History of the Book, which looks like it will be a tremendously useful resource.

- Simon Beattie offers a "Beginner's Guide" to decorated book papers on the ABAA blog.

- Lorraine Berry writes for the Guardian about our fascination with lost books.

- A full article has now been published in Review of English Studies on the recent identification of a Donne manuscript in the collections of Westminster Abbey.

- At American Book Collecting, "Samuel Hand and the First American Edition of De Bury's Philobiblon."

- Erin Schreiner's in Atlas Obscura with a piece looking at the New York Society Library's circulation records over time.

- Alison Flood reports for the Guardian about a potential new source for some of Shakespeare's plays, identified using plagiarism-detection software. See also Michael Blanding's piece in the NYTimes.

- The Huntington Library has acquired an interesting Darwin family photo album.

- Keith Houston has a Miscellany post on French language rules and naming regulations.

- Ed Simon offers a 350th-anniversary Paradise Lost reading list at The Millions.

- The BL's Medieval Manuscripts blog highlights Æthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, and another post examines the carpet pages in the Lindisfarne Gospels.

- Alexander Zawacki writes for Atlas Obscura about a book of arsenic-filled wallpaper samples and how various libraries have dealt with it.

- Pradeep Sebastian has a Q&A with the Heavenly Monkey blog about his The Bookhunters of Katpadi.

- The Friends of Dard Hunter and APHA have issued a call for proposals for their joint conference, to be held in October in Iowa City: "Matrices: The Social Life of Paper, Print, and Art."

- Another call for papers to note, this one for a January 2019 conference in Nijmegen, "Private libraries and private library inventories, 1665–1830: Locating, studying and understanding sources, in Europe and beyond."

- Business Insider visits a Venice bookshop with a somewhat unconventional method keeping its books dry.

- Over on the Clements Library blog, "The Ins and Outs of Cataloguing Atlases."


- Jon Stubbs' Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel; review by PD Smith in the Guardian.

- Serinity Young's Women Who Fly; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

Upcoming Auctions

- Unreserved Printed Books including books from The Alan & Joan Tucker Collection at Dominic Winter Auctioneers on 14 February.

- Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs at Lyon & Turnbull on 14 February.

- Collection d'un Bibliophile: Livres & Manuscrits Précieux, 1478–1977 at Binoche et Giquello on 14 February.

- Libri, Manoscritti e Autografi at Pandolfini on 14 February.

- Icons & Images: Photographs & Photobooks at Swann Galleries on 15 February.

- Political Memorabilia including the Daniel Schofield Collection at Eldreds on 16 February.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Links & Reviews

- The BPL has launched a crowdsourced transcription project for their collection of anti-slavery manuscripts.

- Two cultural thefts to report: the ARCA blog notes that CCTV footage was enough for authorities to quickly apprehend the man responsible for vandalism and theft at the Route 66 Museum, but more than 1,500 items remain missing after they were stolen from the Canterbury Archaeological Trust's storage facility.

- Aaron Pratt talks to Sarah Werner about early digital facsimiles for the Ransom Center's magazine in advance of Sarah's Pforzheimer lecture at the HRC later this month.

- David Pearson will deliver the Lyell Lectures in April, on Book Ownership in Stuart England. Sign up here for free tickets.

- New blog to watch: Sammelband: A Book History Pedagogy Blog, from Cait Coker and Kate Ozment.

- Alison Flood writes for the Guardian about the Tremulous Hand, highlighting the BL's newly released Discovering Literature: Medieval site. See the BL's announcement post, too.

- From Justin Tonra at RTÉ, "A short story about bookshelves."

- The ABAA has posted an "In Memoriam" page for bookseller William Dailey, who died suddenly last month.

- Michael Thompson and Boreas Fine Art are featured in Evanston Magazine.

- Smithsonian highlights a book bound in lab-grown jellyfish leather ...

- The Trinity College Dublin blog features their Gutenberg Bible fragment.

- An American bidder won a 13th-century illuminated Bible sold at auction in New Zealand this week.


- Charles C. Mann's The Wizard and the Prophet; review by Fred Pearce in the WaPo.

- Mark Purcell's The Country House Library; review by Adrian Higgins in the WaPo.

- Several recent Jane Eyre studies; review by Kathryn Hughes in the TLS.

- Pradeep Sebastian's The Book Hunters of Katpadi; review by Ashwin Ahmad in DNAIndia.

Upcoming Auctions

- Travel & Exploration at Bonhams London on 7 February.

- The Collection of Avis & Eugene Robinson at Skinner, Inc. on 9 February.

- Rare Books & Manuscripts at PBA Galleries on 11 February (in Pasadena).

- Fine Books at Manuscripts at Bonhams on 11 February (in Pasadena).

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Links & Reviews

Just back from a trip to New York for the last couple days of Bibliography Week. Missed the booksellers' showcase on Thursday, which was a bummer, but it was very pleasant to see so many friends at the various events. I haven't been on Twitter much the last few days, so forgive me if this is a bit shorter than some weeks.

- The great Ursula K. Le Guin died this week. The roundup on Slate of writers reacting to the news is worth a look, I urge you to watch her speech at the 2014 National Book Awards ceremony (and Neil Gaiman's introduction). Her appearances on "TTBOOK" are also recommended. The Guardian has a full obituary.

- Oak Knoll Fest 2018 is a go: mark your calendars for 5–7 October 2018.

- Maev Kennedy writes for the Guardian about an upcoming sale of Sylvia Plath books and possessions to be sold at Bonhams in March.

- The odd volume from George Washington's library sold for $115,000 yesterday.

- The first-round deadline for admission to spring/summer Rare Book School courses is 19 February. Submission of your application(s) by then is encouraged.

- Rebecca Romney writes for Mental Floss about Poe's great "balloon hoax."

- Jerry Morris highlights some of his sources for keeping up to date on rare book news over at My Sentimental Library. Thanks to him for including this blog!

- Over on the Past is Present podcast, an interview with Gregory Nobles.

- The folks working on the Declaration Resources Project have identified an early broadside printing of the Declaration (unique copy at the BPL) as coming from the press of Thomas and Samuel Green in New Haven.

- Another month, another reported "solution" to the Voynich Manuscript.


- Catherine Kerrison's Jefferson's Daughters; review by Mary Beth Norton in the NYTimes.

- Three recent books on birding; review by Richard O. Prum in the NYTimes.

- The new Library of American edition of John Quincy Adams' diaries; review by Diana Schaub at Law and Liberty.

- Henry Wessells' A Conversation Larger than the Universe; review by Michael Dirda for the WaPo.

Upcoming Auctions

- Printed Books & Manuscripts at Chiswick Auctions on 31 January.

- Printed Books, Maps & Documents at Dominic Winter Auctioneers on 31 January.

- Modern Books and Works on Paper at Forum Auctions on 31 January.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Links & Reviews

- Over on the Smithsonian's Unbound blog, a really excellent post about the marginalia in a 1491 copy of Pliny's Naturalis Historia.

- Police have released some CCTV footage and appealed for information relating to the theft of rare books from a Norfolk bookshop's warehouse on 9 January. More.

- For "The Biblio File," Nigel Beale talked to David Esslemont about the Gregynog and Solmentes presses.

- Laura Wasowicz writes for Past is Present about her "Thirty Years Adventure with the McLoughlin Brothers" (see also the current Grolier Club exhibition, which I'm looking forward to viewing later this week).

- At The Collation, Abbie Weinberg looks at early book reviews in the Philosophical Transactions.

- A 1523 Hebrew-Latin grammar was returned to the Jewish Museum in Prague after its most recent owner agreed to withdraw it from auction. The volume had belonged to Prague's Jewish community prior to World War II. The anonymous owner, identified as a scholar in Jerusalem, said was returning the book because not to do so would be "an active continuity of those terrible thefts committed against Jewish property and cultural treasures perpetrated by the German Nazis."

- The first volume of George Washington's copy of the Massachusetts Magazine (1789) will be offered for sale on 27 January.

- Henry Bradshaw is the topic over at Medieval Manuscripts Provenance.

- Rare Stephen King books and typescripts were damaged from flooding from a water main break in Bangor, Maine. Updates after initial recovery efforts revealed that a few of the rarer items were undamaged, which is very good news indeed.

- The Seattle Times has an obituary for bookseller Louis Collins.

- Hobby Lobby have returned more looted artifacts to federal authorities.


- The new Penguin Classics edition of the 1818 text of Frankenstein; review by Genevieve Valentine for NPR.

- Robin Sloan's Sourdough; review by Suzy Feay for the Guardian.

- Martin Puchner's The Written World; review by Daisy Dunn in the TLS.

Upcoming Auctions

- Americana - Travel & Exploration - Cartography at PBA Galleries on 25 January.

- Fine Books and Works on Paper at Forum Auctions on 25 January.

- Historic Winter Fine Art and Antiques at Case Antiques, Inc. on 27 January (see the Washington book noted above).

- Fine Books & Manuscripts at Potter & Potter on 27 January.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Links & Reviews

- From the "special place in hell" department: a 33-year-old researcher, Antonin DeHays, entered a guilty plea on Thursday to theft of government property, admitting that he stole at least 291 military dog tags and "at least 134 other records" (including "identification cards, personal letters, photographs, a bible, and pieces of downed U.S. aircraft") from the National Archives' public reading room in College Park, Maryland. The thefts occurred over five years, and DeHays sold some of the stolen material on eBay and elsewhere, while retaining some and reportedly giving some as gifts (or, in one instance, trading a Tuskegee Airman's dogtag to a museum for the opportunity to sit inside a Spitfire airplane). DeHays will be sentenced on 4 April; according to the DOJ press release, he faces up to ten years in prison. David Ferriero told the AP "While I am pleased that we are one step closer to justice in this case, I remain shocked and angered that a historian would show such disregard for records and artifacts. As a veteran, I am disgusted that anyone would steal records and artifacts documenting those captured or killed in the service of their nation." He said that reading room policies have been changed in the wake of these thefts.

- American Libraries has an update on some of the catastrophic damage sustained by Caribbean libraries during and in the aftermath of this year's hurricanes.

- The CERL Heritage of the Printed Book Database (HPB) is now freely available for use. See this page for background, technical notes, &c.

- Hyperspectral imaging at the Library of Congress has revealed fourteen lines from a 1780 Alexander Hamilton letter to Elizabeth Schuyler (written prior to their marriage) presumably censored by their son prior to the letter's original publication.

- Atlas Obscura features the tiny "book village" of Hobart, New York - I've got to get over there and visit one of these days!

- A public forum in Salem about the status of the Phillips Library collections got a little heated, as might have been expected. See reports from the Salem News and the Boston Globe.

- You know you want a deep dive into those Jedi texts from the new Star Wars movie [here be spoilers].

- While I very much doubt that the map is actually kept in a "shoe box," a new Minneapolis Star-Tribune piece about the Waldseemüller map auction mentioned last month is worth a read. [Update: John Overholt notes that the piece seems to be describing the library as a shoe box - fair enough!]

- From the Hartford Courant, "University of Texas Wins Tussle with Yale Over Arthur Miller's Papers." Jennifer Schuessler has more on this in the NYTimes.

- I have some questions about this one, but pass it along anyway: Smithsonian reports on some new techniques of "protein analysis" being used on old paper. See also the research paper on which this report is based.

- UVA undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the BSUVA Book Collecting Contest - the deadline for submission is 12 February.

- The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has extended the $10 million reward for information leading to return of the stolen artwork indefinitely (it was due to expire at the end of 2017).

- Another nice provenance chase over at Medieval Manuscripts Provenance this week.


- Edward Brooke-Hitchings' The Phantom Atlas; review by James Keller for the Sante Fe New Mexican.

- Edward Ayers' The Thin Light of Freedom; review by Ronald White in the NYTimes.

- Marion Rankine's Brolliology; review by Shahidha Bari in the TLS.

Upcoming Auctions

- Books, Maps & Manuscripts at Freeman's on 17 January.

- Of Royal and Noble Descent at Sotheby's London on 17 January.

- Fine Printed and Manuscript Americana, including Cartography at Sotheby's New York on 17 January.

- Important Americana at Sotheby's New York from 18–21 January.

- Books and Ephemera at National Book Auctions on 20 January.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Links & Reviews

- Paper fragments found inside a cannon recovered from the wreck of the Queen Anne's Revenge (Blackbeard's ship) have been identified as coming from a copy of Edward Cooke's Voyage to the South Sea (1712).

- Michael Winship's keynote from this fall's APHA conference, "Good, But Not So Fast or Cheap," is now available on the APHA blog.

- January Rare Book Monthly articles include Michael Stillman's overview of the top 500 auction prices for 2017, and Bruce McKinney on buying an obscure Munsell imprint.

- Registration for the Scientific Illustration Renaissance to the Digital Age Symposium on 15 March at the Library of Congress is now open. This looks like a great program.

- Rebecca Rego Barry notes at the Fine Books Blog the deaths of three booksellers this week: the Strand's Fred Bass, Charlie Cox, and Louis Collins. They will be much missed. More about Louis from the Seattle Review of Books; I had the great pleasure of meeting him at the Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair in 2016, and I'm very glad that I did.

- More on Fred Bass from Tom Vanderbilt on the NYRB blog and Tom Verlaine in the NYTimes.

- For the New Yorker, Paul Collins takes a look at a 1968 conference and associated book which looked ahead to 2018.

- Three major CLIR-Mellon Hidden Collection grants will allow the Penn Libraries to digitize Islamic manuscripts, the Marian Anderson archive, and records of early Philadelphia religious congregations.

- WBUR aired a remembrance of Harvard Law Library curator David Ferris this week.

- The University of British Columbia has acquired a copy (in fact, the only known copy) of the first edition of The Vancouver Weekly Herald and North Pacific News, believed to be the first item printed in the city of Vancouver.

- Urvashi Chakravarty surveys apprenticeship indentures at the Folger for The Collation.

- I missed this in December, but the BBC reports on recent work using digital tools to read Sonderkommando evidence buried at Auschwitz and discovered in the 1980s during excavations there.

- In the Harvard alumni magazine, a profile of Columba Stewart, executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library.

- Another one I missed in December (sorry!): Russell Maret on his weeks as the inaugural printer-in-residence at the Bodleian Libraries.

- The Association of European Printing Museums has launched a new map of printing museums, which looks to be quite handy. [via the Princeton Graphic Arts blog]

- Aaron Pratt writes for the HRC magazine about interactive designs (volvelles, &c.) in early printed books.

- Over at Making Manuscripts in the Medieval and Early Modern World, "Revealing the Secrets of an Early Coptic Manuscript." More on this project from Nicholas Wade in the NYTimes.

- Another good one in the Guardian books podcast: Stephen Fry on Saki's excellent "Sredni Vashtar."


- Fiona Simpson's In Search of Mary Shelley; review by Rachel Cooke in the Guardian.

- Pradeep Sebastian's The Book Hunters of Katpadi; review by Rajdeep Bains in the Tribune. I'm looking forward to this one.

- Brenda Maddox's Reading the Rocks; review by Timothy R. Smith in the WaPo.

- Noah Feldman's The Three Lives of James Madison; review by Pamela Newkirk in the WaPo.

- Helen Smith's An Uncommon Reader; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

Upcoming Auctions

- Fine Literature & Fine Books - Poetry from the Collection of Larry Rafferty - Miniature Books at PBA Galleries on 11 January.

- Rare, Out-of-Print and Used Books at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society on 12 January.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Links & Reviews

I hope you've all had a delightful holiday season, and here comes 2018, ready or not.

- A bit more on the Philips Library from the Salem News, and the petition mentioned in my last post continues to garner signatures, with 2,988 as of this morning.

- From Past is Present, a post by Kathleen Major about her work on attempting to identify the authors of anonymous diaries in the AAS collections.

- The Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased a 14th-century illuminated Hebrew Bible prior to its scheduled sale at Sotheby's.

- The Library of Congress highlights some of the maps scanned and made available this year.

- The National Library of Scotland has announced the availability of the Peter Sharratt Collection.

- Caleb Crain's "Notes, 2017" is a fascinating commonplace book of the year.

- The Guardian is running a fun end-of-year short stories podcast series; the first features Penelope Lively introducing M.R. James' wonderfully creepy "Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad," accompanied by Simon Callow's reading of the story.

- Police in Norwich are seeking information about the theft of several books from a delivery van.

- Amelia Hugill-Fontanel's "Mind Your Thorns & Eths," about a visit to bookshops and letterpress outfits in Iceland, has given me a few more things to add to my list of places to go when I'm there in March!

- At NPR, Victoria Schwab says "Just Trust Me: In Praise of Strange Books."

- Try your hand at the Guardian Christmas quiz and their big books quiz of the year.

- The Library of Congress has updated their policy on the Twitter archive. Dan Cohen has a post on "The Significance of the Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress."

- Hoaxter Clifford Irving of Autobiography of Howard Hughes fame died, aged 87. See the NYTimes obit.

- Katherine Skiba profiles Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden for the Chicago Tribune.

- In Signature, Lorraine Berry on "The Sensational Allure of Lost Books in Fiction and Nonfiction."

- Ian Cobain reports for the Guardian on the thousands of documents reported removed from public access at the National Archives (mostly by civil servants, it seems) and not returned.

- Mike Hanlon summarizes some of the end-of-year auction action at New Atlas.

- The Bodleian Library has announced that several previously unseen J.R.R. Tolkien "Father Christmas" letters to his children will be part of a major exhibition opening in May.


- A.N. Wilson's Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker; review by Jerry Coyne in the WaPo. Wowsers. This and several other Darwin-related books are reviewed by Claire Pettit in the TLS.

- Christopher de Hamel's Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts; review by Helen Castor in the NYTimes.

- Robert Irwin's Wonders Will Never Cease; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Martin Salisbury's The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920–1970; reviews by Ernest Hilbert in the WaPo and Agatha French in the LATimes.

- Anders Rydell's The Book Thieves; review by Ashley Valanzola in the LARB.

Upcoming Auction

- Books and Ephemera at National Book Auctions on 6 January.

Year-End Reading Report 2017

I think it's somewhat fair to say that 2017 will be another year I won't be sad to see the back of, but I have high hopes for 2018.

I read 174 books this year, and here are my favorites (excluding re-reads). I went with ten each this year, for no real reason at all other than I wanted to. These are the books that made me think, or laugh, and/or cry this year.


Kristin Lavransdottir by Sigrid Undset

Tales by H.P. Lovecraft (the Library of America edition)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

When the English Fall by David Williams

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell


An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan

March by John Lewis (with graphics by Nate Powell)

The Early Life of James McBey: An Autobiography (edited by Nicolas Barker)

H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald

Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Watching the English by Kate Fox

Printer's Error by Rebecca and J.P. Romney

A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and Memoirs of the Author of the 'Rights of Woman' by Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin

The Victory with No Name by Colin Calloway

Happy New Year to you all, and good reading!

Previous year's reports: 20162015201420132012201120102009200820072006.