Shelf:Life - Links to what's new in the world of old, rare, and collectable books, insights into book collecting, the news stories that matter, and occasional comments by TheBookGuide.  Archived Stories.

September 2011

Man jailed for theft of manuscripts
A university graduate who stole £36,000 of manuscripts by famous figures including Sir Winston Churchill, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and TS Eliot has been jailed for 30 months. Tyrone Somers was working as a handyman for bookseller Rick Gekoski, who specialises in rare manuscripts and documents. ... more  Add a comment

The glory of bad SF and fantasy cover art
The Good Show, Sir website showcases many examples of book jackets that boldly go beyond awful ... more  Add a comment

Collector of jazz photos dies at 81
Frank Driggs, a writer, historian and record producer who amassed what is considered the finest collection of jazz photographs in the world, was found dead on Tuesday at his home in Manhattan. He was 81. ... more  Add a comment

Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair on Sunday October 16th
The Ottawa Antiquarian Book Fair is recognized as one of the finest book fairs in the country. Forty dealers from across Canada and the United States will be displaying and selling over 40,000 books, dating from the 15th century to the present day ... more  Add a comment

Bodleian Library shows off treasures
A spectacular exhibition of the greatest treasures of one of the most famous libraries in the world features a monument to past folly: a large battered leather volume the Bodleian Library in Oxford sold off as surplus to requirements in 1664 and had to raise a fortune to buy back almost 250 years later. ... more  Add a comment

Frankenstein's hour of creation
Texas astronomers have used the light of the moon to highlight the hour of creation for Victor Frankenstein and his notorious monster – and defend the memory of their teenage creator, Mary Shelley ... more  Add a comment

A portrait of the author as a cranky old man
Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of the classic Where the Wild Things Are, is one of the most important figures in 20th-century children’s literature, having helped to liberate the genre from its do-gooding shackles with tales of gleefully misbehaving children who never go punished ... more  Add a comment

Early Monroe photos to sell at auction
A bankruptcy judge in Florida ruled earlier this week that photos taken in 1946 of Norma Jeane Dougherty — who went on to become the iconic Monroe — will be sold at auction to settle the debts of the photographer ... more  Add a comment

Vintage 'Iron Man' Comic Book Collects $72k, a website tracking rare items sold on eBay, is reporting a rare vintage 'Iron Man' Comic Book has sold for $72,100 in a seven day auction which ended September 21st
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The Museum of Modern Art presents Print/Out, a major survey of prints, books, multiples, and ephemera that examines the evolution of artistic practices related to the print medium over the last two decades ... more  Add a comment

Mark Twain story formally 'unbanned' in US
The return to library shelves of two controversially banned novels – Mark Twain's Eve's Diary and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five – marks the start of America's annual celebration of prohibited literature, Banned Books Week, on Saturday ... more  Add a comment

A special love for inscribed books
An inscription can turn a book from a mere product into a love letter, a lucky charm, a personalized souvenir. If the inscription is by the book's author, the book may become more valuable (or, if unsolicited, it may feel like the writer's way of coercing you to read it) ... more  Add a comment

How to run a secondhand bookstore
The first essential is to have good stock. The better the books, the more people will come. We were fortunate that when we started this business in 1971, we came into the secondhand book trade just as a lot of ancient families were dying out and selling grandpa’s books, so we were able to get a respectable stock very cheaply ... more  Add a comment

The $175,000 dust jacket comes to auction
The incredibly rare and desirable dust jacket to the first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is coming to auction via Sotheby's-New York Library of an English Bibliophile Sale Part II on October 20, 2011. It is estimated to sell for $150,000-$180,000. An excellent copy of the first edition, first printing of The Great Gatsby, a book that in near-fine/fine condition sells for $7,000-$10,000, is included with the dust jacket. ... more  Add a comment

Wigtown Book Festival hires resident hermit
Being a literary hermit is not a job widely advertised – but it has its perks. Wigtown Book Festival in south-west Scotland has hired Robert Twigger as its resident hermit for the duration of the 10-day festival next week. He will set up home in a purpose-built grotto, constructed from reclaimed timber, found on Wigtown beach, in the garden of Wigtown's largest bookshop, with a hose to the nearest standpipe in order for him to take a shower ... more  Add a comment

Roald Dahl's family labelled 'stingy'
It may have been a little optimistic of Roald Dahl's relatives to expect an outbreak of public philanthropy when they launched an appeal on Tuesday to raise £500,000 to renovate the contents of the author's dilapidated Buckinghamshire garden shed, when the books he wrote there continue to sell at the rate of 12 a minute every day of the year ... more  Add a comment

New book maps Norfolk’s past
A book of more than 100 maps of Norfolk dating from the 16th century to the 19th century has been presented to the county’s library service ... more  Add a comment

The book auction
For some unknown reason, I have only ever attended two book auctions and did not bid at either, so when an important customer asked me over a fortnight ago to attend one in Kells and to bid on his behalf I felt as though I was going out on my first date. The prospect was as fascinating as it was terrifying ... more  Add a comment

To Kill a Mockingbird voted UK's best-loved book
Harper Lee's novel edges out previous favourites Pride and Prejudice and The Lord of the Rings ... more  Add a comment

Plans for Confederate flying machine are up for sale
While Rebel and Union soldiers still fought it out with bayonets and cannons, a Confederate designer had the foresight to imagine flying machines attacking Northern armies. He couldn't implement his vision during the war, and the plans disappeared into history, until resurfacing at a rare book dealer's shop 150 years later ... more  Add a comment

The future of libraries
The future of libraries, says Tim Martin, lies in their past, as they learn how to exploit their enormous resources digitally ... more  Add a comment

Medieval manuscripts shine a light on royal family
These beautifully decorated works were collected by the kings and queens of England between the ninth and 16th centuries. The vibrant colours have been preserved despite the passing of time and "will debunk the myth that these were 'the Dark Ages'," according to the exhibition's curator, Dr Scot McKendrick ... more  Add a comment

Great digital expectations
To see how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves. Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read ... more  Add a comment

Amelia Earhart memorabilia fetches $30,000 at auction
Goggles worn by Amelia Earhart and photographs of the famed aviatrix have fetched more than $US31,000 ($29,339) at an auction in the United States ... more  Add a comment

Image in Tristram Shandy inspires fundraising auction
Perplexing page of the classic novel prompts 169 leading artists to donate work in aid of the Laurence Sterne Trust ... more  Add a comment

Manuscript aims to unlock accent origins
Experts at the University of Birmingham are using a 600-year-old medieval manuscript to try to unlock the origins of the West Midlands accent ... more  Add a comment

Turn on tune in
'We worked hard and played hard. We were young’, says Nigel Waymouth, one half of Hapshash & the Coloured Coat, the British design duo that fundamentally shaped today’s view of the 1960s psychedelic, free-spirited aesthetic. Next month will see the opening of a major exhibition of Waymouth’s sixties work, including artworks from Hapshash & the Coloured Coat and seminal clothing boutique Granny Takes a Trip alongside assorted photographs and other 1960s ephemera ... more  Add a comment

Kent ‘has most bookworms’ in the UK
The Garden of England is the only county to have three towns – Sevenoaks (third), Rochester (fourth) and Canterbury (seventh) – in a top 10 list of towns and cities where the most books are purchased from online retailer Amazon ... more  Add a comment

No news today ...
I'm out of the office next week, so no news or updates until September 12th.  Add a comment