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.

March 2012

'Cooking With Poo' wins oddest title book award
"Cooking With Poo" by Saiyuud Diwong beat other shortlisted titles including "The Great Singapore Penis Panic: And the Future of American Mass Hysteria" and "Estonian Sock Patterns All Around the World" ... more  Add a comment

Library to show Waterhouse works
The archive of Billy Liar author Keith Waterhouse is to be exhibited at the British Library. Manuscripts of his novels and short stories - some of them unpublished - have been donated to the library by the Waterhouse family ... more  Add a comment

Desperate Dan beats Dennis the Menace
Desperate Dan proved too strong for comic rival Dennis the Menace in an auction battle yesterday. The characters feature on two big promotional posters which went under the hammer. And the picture of Dandy's cow pie-eating hero fetched £1500, while the shot of Beano bad boy Dennis and his faithful dog Gnasher made £1000 ... more  Add a comment

Hemingway shows soft side in newly public letters
Ernest Hemingway shows a tenderness that wasn't part of his usual macho persona in 12 letters that were released on Wednesday in a collection of the author's papers at the Kennedy presidential library ... more  Add a comment

A new chapter for rare book collecting
Book dealing was once, as Graham Greene told me, a 'treasure hunt'. But the internet has made it all about pots of gold ... more  Add a comment

"Lorax" statue stolen from home of Dr. Suess
A 300-pound bronze statue of the Lorax, a character from the Dr. Seuss book and hit movie of the same name, has been stolen from the late author's San Diego estate ... more  Add a comment

Damien Hirst sketch makes £4,500
Hirst completed the outline in around 30 seconds while sitting in the back of a car - before giving it to his driver as a tip. ... more  Add a comment

Titanic hero's letter is star feature of auction
A letter written by heroic Titanic violinist Wallace Hartley just days before the sinking is set to fetch up to $200,000 at auction next month. The letter, which is on White Star-headed notepaper and was posted during one of Titanic's two stops, is going under the hammer at an online auction in America to mark the 100th anniversary of the disaster ... more  Add a comment

Rare movie posters fetch $500,000
An incredibly rare poster for 1931's Dracula sold for $143,000 (£89,00) - only four copies are known to exist, while a poster for 1931 western Cimarron was expected to sell for $12,000 (£7,500), but ended up fetching $101,000 (£63,000) ... more  Add a comment

Rare Charles Darwin books at auction
Rare first edition books co-authored by Charles Darwin are expected to sell for £15,000-£20,000 at an auction in Aylsham on March 29th ... more  Add a comment

Thomas de Wesselow' book unveils secret of the Shroud
In The Sign, de Wesselow argues that it was the Turin Shroud, the cloths Jesus was wrapped in after his reurrection, which his followers saw, seeing the imprint of Jesus in the cloth and taking it as a sign of resurrection. Though the shroud has been assumed to be a fake created in medieval times, de Wesselow provides what the publisher describes as "conclusive evidence" that the shroud is authentic, based on the fact that the imprint of Jesus' body is a negative image ... more  Add a comment

Rare ticket to Titanic launch up for auction
A rare and possibly unique ticket for the launch of Titanic in Belfast on May 31, 1911, is set to fetch between 50,000 and 70,000 dollars (£31,000 to £44,000) at an auction in America next month ... more  Add a comment

Cindy Sherman’s ‘Orange Sweater’ goes to auction
Cindy Sherman's iconic photograph, "Untitled #96," also called "Orange Sweater," will be auctioned May 8 by Christie's, which expects the work to set a record price for the artist ... more  Add a comment

Autumnal idealist or trenchant social commentator?
The bucolic calm of John Keats's "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" hides a searing criticism of contemporary landowners, according to a group of Aberystwyth academics ... more  Add a comment

Nazi memorabilia auctioneer donates to Holocaust charity
The auction house which made thousands of pounds selling Hitler's 50th birthday present is to change its policy on selling Holocaust items and make a donation to the Holocaust Education Trust ... more  Add a comment

Smelly children's books hit the market
Autumn Publishing is to inject fun into the reading experience with books that smell of bubblegum, berry flavours - and farts ... more  Add a comment

Christie's to offer the library of Kenneth Nebenzahl
On April 10, Christie's New York will auction the private library of Kenneth Nebenzahl, renowned dealer, cartographic scholar and author from Chicago. Formed over the past fifty years, the collection includes some of the greatest rarities in the fields of cartography, exploration and Americana ... more  Add a comment

James Murdoch leaving board of Sotheby's
News Corp executive James Murdoch, under pressure over his role in Britain's tabloid phone hacking scandal, is stepping down from the board of Sotheby's, the auction house has said ... more  Add a comment

Rare Marilyn photos up for auction
A collection of never-before-seen photos of Marilyn Monroe - and their accompanying copyrights - are going up for auction ... more  Add a comment

Digital cloud devours our books
So does that signal the death of materialism, of possessing, of collecting? The answer is as complicated as the technology ... more  Add a comment

Ban on sale of Nazi memorabilia
MPs are calling on the government to ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia after items belonging to Holocaust victims were sold at a public auction ... more  Add a comment

Shakespeare folio dealer found dead in cell
An eccentric antiques dealer who kept a rare, stolen First Folio of Shakespeare's plays in his home for a decade has been found dead in prison two years into an eight-year sentence ... more  Add a comment

The unusual life of the writer John Aubrey
What an adorable old dilettante was John Aubrey (1626-1697); and how wonderful that he has managed to achieve lasting fame despite having only published one short (bad) book in his life ... more  Add a comment

Scribe of sixties London
Rub Out the Words, the second volume of William Burroughs's letters, is a triumph of judgment and judicious selection. It offers a vivid picture of the writer at work during the 1960s: his pleasures, foibles and, above all, his capacity for terse put-downs and fascination for what remained outside his waspish class and culture - whether it was homosexual blue films in 1970s London or marijuana in Tangier. ... more  Add a comment

Rylands Haggadah: Rare Jewish book in New York
A 14th Century Jewish religious book, preserved by experts from the University of Manchester's John Rylands Library, is to go on show in New York ... more  Add a comment

Gad's Hill Place opens
The last home of Charles Dickens, Gad's Hill Place in Kent, a private property that his passionate fans besieged in his lifetime and ever since, will open to the general public for the first time this summer ... more  Add a comment

Attic to auction block for rare movie posters
Nearly three dozen movie theatre posters from the Golden Age of Hollywood found in a Pennsylvania attic are expected to fetch $250,000 at auction in Texas this month. They were stuck together with wallpaper glue when they were purchased for around $30,000 at a country auction last fall in Berwick, near Wilkes-Barre in northeastern Pennsylvania ... more  Add a comment

In search of the Nazi memorabilia collectors
The trade in artefacts linked to Hitler is booming in Britain. Matthew Bell uncovers an astonishing auction, where a tray listed at £600 sells for £28,000 ... more  Add a comment

Bad news for the poster boys
Gilbert and George's crime-themed London Pictures uses material from the streets near their home, but Adrian Hamilton wonders if the artists have reached a dead end ... more  Add a comment

The beautiful afterlife of dead books
A few weeks ago, I spent several afternoons at a book morgue, otherwise known as The Monkey's Paw secondhand bookshop in Toronto. It was a refuge of sorts. I had been feeling slightly down about writing and wanted to linger in a place of pure bibliophilia. Like many novelists, I tend to experience an existential crisis every time I finish a book. Why bother? Why engage in such an intangible and self-involved vocation when I could be doing something more tangibly and socially useful? (i.e., stopping a pipeline, regrouting the bathroom.) Why write longform narrative in a world that prefers to live swiftly and episodically? ... more  Add a comment

How Henry VII branded the Tudors
What has gone down in history as 'the wars of the roses' was really nothing of the kind. Doctored manuscripts show how a wily Henry VII dusted off a royal emblem after the event ... more  Add a comment

Civil War poster snapped up for £33,000
A businessman has paid £33,000 at an auction in Shropshire for a wanted poster issued by Oliver Cromwell offering a reward for Charles II's capture 360 years ago ... more  Add a comment

The Snow Goose by Sir Peter Scott up for auction
Cheffins have announced that the portrait of Sir Peter Scott's novelist wife Elizabeth Jane Howard, modelling as Fritha from the iconic book The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, will be going under the hammer at the Fine Art Sale on Mach 21st and 22nd ... more  Add a comment

World's oldest Charles Dickens film discovered
An archivist at the British Film Institute has stumbled across a 1901 movie just one minute long which turns out to be the earliest surviving film featuring a character from the works of Charles Dickens ... more  Add a comment

The genetics of book price design
CNN had an interesting report yesterday on a respected but understandably obscure biology volume by Peter Lawrence called The Making of a Fly: The Genetics of Animal Design that had an asking price of $23,698,655.93 on Amazon (plus shipping). So perhaps the usually prescient Herman Melville was wrong when he wrote in Moby-Dick, "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it." Was the seller crazy? And was Amazon crazy for letting the seller put that price on any book, let alone a book about a fly (not a flea, but close enough)? Not exactly. ... more  Add a comment

Five hundred new fairytales discovered in Germany
A whole new world of magic animals, brave young princes and evil witches has come to light with the discovery of 500 new fairytales, which were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for over 150 years. The tales are part of a collection of myths, legends and fairytales, gathered by the local historian Franz Xaver von Schonwerth (1810-1886) in the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz at about the same time as the Grimm brothers were collecting the fairytales that have since charmed adults and children around the world ... more  Add a comment

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Thanks to Lux Mentis for the link.  Add a comment

First edition of War Horse sells for £650
A "very scarce" first edition copy of War Horse by award-winning St Albans-born author, Michael Morpurgo, which cost just £4.95 new, has been sold for £650 at an auction ... more  Add a comment

Student acquires rare book
Alistair Overy benefited from a library clear out last week, picking up a 4th edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. When the Lincoln student looked up his find on the internet he was shocked to find similar editions being sold for between £2500 and £4500.  ... more  Add a comment

Writing Britain exhibition to feature literary treasures
Handwritten manuscripts of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Cider With Rosie and The Wind in the Willlows are to go on display together for the first time in an exhibition exploring the links between Britain's landscapes and literary classics ... more  Add a comment

Never been a better time
The impulse is strong, but the well-worn paths to book collecting, thinned by increasing rarity and higher prices, have effectively closed off the building of significant book collections for the 99% who love books but lack the unlimited resources needed to pursue the best material.  For them other ways to build interesting collections are required and the evolving market is providing opportunities ... more  Add a comment

Black memorabilia book
Among the estimated 50,000 collectors of Black Memorabilia, the phenomenon of gathering and sharing these items has been described as a "movement" by such historians as Malinda F. Saunders and Jeannette Carson. They focus on the depictions of Black people in America and how those images became collectors' items in their book, The History of the Black Memorabilia Movement ... more  Add a comment

Swann Galleries African Americana auction
Wyatt Houston Day, a collector and appraiser of antiquities, is the curator of Swann Galleries' annual auction of African Americana, historical artifacts relevant to the black experience in America, which he first brought to the gallery 17 years ago. By all accounts, this is the Super Bowl of African Americana. Experts in the field said no other auction in the country offers such an expansive collection of rare African-American material ... more  Add a comment

Sotheby's shares fall
Sotheby's shares fell as much as 12 percent after auction revenue declined in the fourth quarter amid European economic turmoil. Sotheby's Chief Financial Officer William Sheridan said uncertainty inspired by the European economy -- Greece is negotiating the biggest-ever debt restructuring -- spooked some potential sellers ... more  Add a comment