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.

October 2011

Joseph Heller Catch-22 letters up for auction
Auction house Nate D. Sanders has two letters from author Joseph Heller up for bid. In the letters, Heller discusses his Catch-22. Each letter is estimated to sell between $2,000 and $5,000. Bidding is open from now until Tuesday November 8th, the 50th anniversary of book ... more  Add a comment

Fine Books and Manuscripts to be Auctioned by Skinner
Of particular local interest is a letter written by Abraham Lincoln dated April 4, 1863 to Massachusetts Governor John Albion Andrew. In it, Lincoln offers the Governor his opinion on naval warfare, specifically an idea regarding the defense of Boston Harbor. This interesting letter is estimated to sell between $30,000 and $50,000 ... more  Add a comment

The $65,000 binding, bound to be great
The great Thomas J. Cobden-Sanderson bound this lavishly gilt apple green morocco masterpiece of art, craft, taste and restrained splendor with his own hands. A key work in the history of bookbinding - this is a superstar binding in all ways - it is being offered for $65,000 ... more  Add a comment

Books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s auction
Sotheby’s in Paris will organise a whole day auction of books and manuscripts, which will be held on 9 November 2011. The auction will be divided in two sessions; the first session will start with a collection of seventy emblematic books related to the history of science and ideas. Also to be displayed at the auction are rare and classic editions, such as Descartes and Pavlov, as well as pieces with financial, along with historical value, notably a Napoleonic Civil Code print in vellum (estimated at €100,000-150,000) ... more  Add a comment

World Book Night titles unveiled
Pride and Prejudice and The Alchemist are among the 25 titles that will be given away on World Book Night in 2012 ... more  Add a comment

Rick Gekoski on Outside of a Dog
The bookseller explains how he came to write a 'bibliomemoir' about the formative effects of reading ... more  Add a comment

How translation software helped crack 'unbreakable' code
The Copiale cipher is an 105-page coded document found in an East German archive, and dated to 1866 - but the code used to shield its mysteries has remained unbroken, until now
... more  Add a comment

Titanic auction nets $100,570
A collection of more than 100 items of Titanic memorabilia, including a rare letter written on the ship's stationery the day it sailed on its first and last voyage, sold in New York for $100,570 Friday night ... more  Add a comment

The Lost Art Of Bookplates
Ex Libris: The Art of Bookplates, is a new book by Martin Hopkinson and published by Yale University Press. This slim little volume, complete with 100 color reproductions of vintage bookplates, traces the history of the bookplate — the decorative label pasted inside a book’s cover to convey ownership ... more  Add a comment

Bookbinding in the Digital Age
Michael Greer is a Bookbinder. Avi Solomon interviewed him to find out more about his unusual profession and his recent creation, the binary Genesis ... more  Add a comment

German project returns to Jews books stolen by Nazis
A team in the German city of Leipzig has scoured the local university library, going through endless obscure records to return books stolen by the Nazis to their rightful heirs ... more  Add a comment

Notebook offers cryptic clues to Dracula
The private notebook of Bram Stoker has been discovered in an attic on the Isle of Wight, offering cryptic clues into the origins of the author's most famous work, Dracula ... more  Add a comment

Finding Archimedes in the shadows
“The Archimedes Palimpsest” could well be the title of a Robert Ludlum thriller, though its plot’s esoteric arcana might also be useful for Dan Brown in his next variation on “The Da Vinci Code.” It features a third-century B.C. Greek mathematician (Archimedes) known for his playful brilliance; his lost writings, discovered more than a hundred years ago in an Istanbul convent; and various episodes involving plunder, pilferage and puzzling forgeries. The saga includes a monastery in the Judaean desert, a Jewish book dealer trying to flee Paris as the Nazis closed in, a French freedom fighter and an anonymous billionaire collector ... more  Add a comment

The Morgan’s dazzling Islamic manuscript paintings
Those who have visited it know that the resplendent New York library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan is less a museum than a walkable trove of artistic and cultural riches. Among those riches is a valuable collection of Islamic manuscript paintings, which has never been exhibited in its entirety — until now ... more  Add a comment

When a man must bid goodbye to his books
Faced with being overrun by antiquarian books, David Twiston Davies put his prized collection up for auction ... more  Add a comment

Public bookshelves spread across Germany
Take a book, leave a book. In the birthplace of the printing press, public bookshelves are popping up across the nation on street corners, city squares and suburban supermarkets ... more  Add a comment

Asterix to invade Britain
Europe is bracing itself for an invasion of indomitable Gauls next year after it was announced that the world of Asterix and friends would be brought to life as part of a new European tour ... more  Add a comment

The Library of an English bibliophile
Southeby's second New York sale of highlights from the Library of an English Bibliophile features first editions of some of the greatest works of English and American Literature, often in exceptionally fine condition. An exhibition of books in the sale begins Friday, 14 October and is on view through Wednesday, 19 October. The auction is on Thursday, 20 October ... more  Add a comment

Forgery or history?
The philosophy of book dealing has changed radically since the days when dealers stripped every trace of prior ownership from books before reselling them, going so far as to wash medieval marginalia from the pages of manuscripts. Today, both dealers and collectors have a firmer grounding in the history of books and understand that vestiges of ownership not only give a book character, but can be valuable historical and cultural artefacts. Our practice at Peter Harrington is to preserve as much as possible about a book, including bookplates, ownership inscriptions and even the ephemeral items that we find nestled in the pages. But what do you do when those traces of the past are fraudulent? ... more  Add a comment

Einstein letter sells for $14,000
The typed letter, signed A. Einstein and on his personal embossed stationery, was put up for sale by a West Los Angeles auction house. The letter sold to an anonymous buyer for nearly $14,000, double what it was expected to go for. “We [Jews] have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity and our knowledge that the cause for which we are suffering is a momentous and sacred cause,” Einstein wrote to Hyman Zinn on June 10, 1939, praising Zinn for his efforts to aid Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria ... more  Add a comment

Books defaced by playwright Joe Orton go on show
Orton and his boyfriend, Kenneth Halliwell, went to jail for adding surreal gags to dustjackets in guerrilla protest ... more  Add a comment

Reading beneath the lines
Palimpsests—recycled handwritten books from the Middle Ages—aren't a particularly big deal. "They're around," says Will Noel, curator of manuscripts and rare books at the Walters Art Museum here. "What's rare is finding one that's interesting" ... more  Add a comment

Action Comics #1 about to become the first $2,000,000 comic?
The vintage comics scene has been buzzing for the past several days about word that a very high grade copy of Action Comic #1 — stolen from Nicolas Cage‘s home in 2000 and recovered by Los Angeles police this April from a San Fernando Valley storage locker — would soon come up for auction from well-known high-end vintage comics venue Comic Connect ... more  Add a comment

The Picasso of dust jacket design
He brought poster, advertising, and dust jacket design out of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, integrating the aesthetic and forms of modern art into his work. It was welcomed in England. It was rejected in the United States. He was, ultimately, the most significant graphic designer in the English-speaking world ... more  Add a comment

A Mild Case of Bibliomania
Raymond Russell tells the story of his bibliomania, how his book collection has grown and changed over the years, and how it led to the founding of the Tartarus Press, which has published rare work by some of the writers he collects.  Add a comment

Charles Dickens goes global
Celebrations will honour novelist born in 1812 with film, debates, drama and exhibitions around the world ... more  Add a comment

Author inscribed Dracula for sale
Just in time for Halloween, Bauman Rare Books, the USA’s premier rare and antiquarian bookseller, announces its acquisition and offering of a first edition, scarce first issue, author-inscribed edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula ... more  Add a comment

Five great 20th century bindings
Five exquisite bindings recently jumped out of a rare book dealer's catalog, grabbed my eyes and wouldn't let go. Now I'm blind-stamped and bowled-over by them but can't complain; "it is beauty that captures your attention" (Oscar Wilde). It'll capture yours, too ... more  Add a comment

Unseen Harry Potter sketch goes under the hammer
An unseen sketch of Harry Potter meeting the mythical Hippogriff has been discovered 10 years after being drawn is set to sell for more than £10,000 ... more  Add a comment

The art on the bookshelf
Where others see an empty bookcase, Thatcher Wine sees a blank canvas. Wine, who runs Juniper Books in Boulder, Colorado, creates custom-designed book jackets. These jackets transform a shelf of mixed colors and bindings into a piece of unified artwork ... more  Add a comment

Wikileaks eBay auctions
Have you ever wanted to own one of those Top Secret cables that Wikileaks publishes? Well, now you can. It seems that the whistle blowing organization has fallen upon hard times and is selling “memorabilia items” on eBay ... more  Add a comment

Hans Christian Andersen statue to be 'buried' in harbour
Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot to submerge monument in city harbour, with plans to raise it again to mark author's birthday ... more  Add a comment

Keep Calm and Carry On poster is causing a storm
The bookshop that owns an original print of the iconic Second World War poster have been banned by the European Union from selling copies of it. Why? ... more  Add a comment

Dr Rosenbach and Mr Lilly
Few accounts of antiquarian book selling and collecting are as absorbing as Joel Silver's Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly. Fewer are even as finely focused, narrating a story of the book transactions between one impassioned collector and one renowned antiquarian dealer set against the backdrop of modern book collecting in its golden age ... more  Add a comment

Liz Taylor will dazzle L.A. one last time
Christie's auction of more than 2,000 pieces of the late actress' memorabilia is set for mid-December in New York, but first the items will be displayed Oct. 13-16 at MOCA's Pacific Design Center ... more  Add a comment

Wareham Friends’ book sale includes surprises
From a first-edition copy of John Steinbeck's "The Red Pony," to a rare cookbook by the actor Vincent Price, the Wareham Free Library is auctioning off some gems ... more  Add a comment

Embellished Mozart manuscript uncovered
A manuscript of Mozart's Piano Concerto No 23 with an explosion of unfamiliar extra notes has suggested to a researcher that the piece was written for and performed by one of the composer's favourite pupils ... more  Add a comment