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.

January 2012

Possibly the greatest comics auction ever
"While a relatively small collection of little more than 300 comic books," said Lon Allen, Managing Director of Comics Auctions at Heritage. " The Billy Wright Collection represents not only five of the top six comics in the business, but also 45 of the top 100 comics overall, all unrestored" ... more  Add a comment

Bronte museum faces closure
One of the major shrines to the Bronte family is facing closure and sale because of budget cuts and recession - a combination that almost did for its wealthy owner in the days of Charlotte, Emily and Anne ... more  Add a comment

Catalogue of Azerbaijani manuscripts to be created
Despite there being ancient manuscripts and books from Azerbaijan in the Vatican, there is no catalogue. Therefore, a catalogue is necessary to classify and publish them, but the first stage is to find them in the Vatican archives ... more  Add a comment

The life and times of Andrew Lang
By the time of his death 100 years ago, Andrew Lang's name could be found on 249 individual books and his collected journalism ran into thousands of articles. Yet today, the Selkirk author is largely forgotten ... more  Add a comment

Designer Bookbinders exhibition
As the delivery of information becomes quicker, slicker and more prone to instant disposal, a timely exhibition at Newcastle City Library focuses on the painstaking art of creating truly beautiful books ... more  Add a comment

Is Oxfam the Amazon of the High Street?
When I read an article in the Telegraph recently, which pointed out that Oxfam is the third biggest retailer of books in the UK, I got a shock similar to when I learnt, last year, that The Bookseller had named Sainsbury's chain bookseller of the year ... more  Add a comment

Rare Rupert the Bear find
Alan and Heather Shorten, of Oulton Broad, are the proud owners of The Adventures of Rupert the Little Lost Bear - a rare first edition of the first ever story featuring the check-trousered character and his friends ... more  Add a comment

Lady Faulkner of Downpatrick, who has died aged 86
Chris Harte writes: 'I have just noticed in today's (25.01.12.) Daily Telegraph an obituary of Lady Lucy Faulkner, widow of the former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
    I don't know whether you know but she traded from home. Alas, I cannot remember her business title. She bought and sold books on country life, hunting, racing and anything resembling rural matters. She had a huge stock and issued catalogues on a regular basis. I had dealings with her over a twenty year period and quite often we would book-dealer gossip over the phone.'  Add a comment

Thousands rush to buy Victorian guidebook
Bradshaw's Handbook was first published in 1863 but has now been catapulted into the top ten UK Amazon sales list after being featured on Great British Railway Journeys, currently being screened on BBC2. The book - an exact facsimile of the original - has already sold more than 8,000 copies and a second print run could be in the offing ... more  Add a comment

Bonington's papers rescued from shed
Chris Bonington's lifetime mountaineering correspondence and personal papers have been saved from 'a shed at the bottom of his garden' by the Mountain Heritage Trust and are now catalogued and available to the public ... more  Add a comment

Artist carves vintage books
With the increasing popularity of electronic readers and e-books, the future use of hard-bound books also comes under question. While designers have responded with the likes of lighting, accessories and even fashion made entirely out of old books, French Canadian artist Guy Laramee tackles it from a decidedly philosophical -- and creative -- perspective, carving intricate, three-dimensional landscapes that look amazingly real up close ... more  Add a comment

Four centuries of collectors
Last Monday Cambridge University Library opened an exhibition dedicated to individual book collectors. Shelf Lives: Four Centuries of Collectors and their Books presents ten such collectors, whose lives span the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries ... more  Add a comment

Rare Bond book at Oxford Book Fair
A rare James Bond novel will go on sale at the Oxford Book Fair on Saturday ... more  Add a comment

Sketch of Bell invention sells for more than $90,000
A handwritten, 134-year-old letter in which Canadian telephone pioneer Alexander Graham Bell sketches a "one-of-a-kind" picture of his invention has sold for more than $90,000 at a U.S. auction ... more  Add a comment

Apple: iBooks 2 will 'reinvent textbooks'
Apple has unveiled a glimpse of the classroom of the future, launching a new version of its iBooks software that will allow publishers to create interactive textbooks for iPad-owning students ... more  Add a comment

Where have all the book illustrators gone?
Charles Dickens enjoyed close collaborative relationships with the illustrators of his novels, but now it's rare to find a picture outside the world of children's books. Is drawing a lost art, or could we be on the brink of a new golden age? ... more  Add a comment

Has the bookworm turned?
In less than a hundred years a new and highly competitive collectors' market has appeared - modern first editions. Many prized items come from the 1920s and 30s, although values are also increasing for much more recent editions ... more  Add a comment

'Poe Toaster' again a no-show
Poe House and Museum Curator Jeff Jerome said early Thursday that die-hard fans waited inside Westminster Hall for hours past when the tribute bearer normally arrives. But the 'Poe Toaster' was a no-show for a third year in a row. After the visitor failed to appear in 2010 and last year, Poe fans said they would hold one last vigil before calling an end to the tradition ... more  Add a comment

Signed Conan Doyle book donated
The 109-year-old limited edition of White Company was among a pile of books donated to the Oxfam Bookshop in Thame ... more  Add a comment

Scott's lost Antarctica photographs a acquired
The last photographs taken by Captain Robert Scott, lost for most of the 20th century, have been bought for the nation in time for the centenary of his doomed expedition to reach the south pole on 17 January 1912 ... more  Add a comment

Medieval Jewish manuscripts discovered in Afghanistan
This much is known: rare, medieval Jewish manuscripts have been discovered along the fabled Silk Road in Afghanistan and are for sale. Are they authentic? Scholars who have examined them say they are ... more  Add a comment

World's largest Qur'an unveiled
A calligrapher worked for five years to create the world's biggest Qur'an in a bid to show the world that Afghanistan's rich cultural heritage and traditions have been damaged but not destroyed by 30 years of war, it has been revealed ... more  Add a comment

Lincoln manuscript found
President Abraham Lincoln's Second Annual Message to Congress dated Dec. 1, 1862, contains some of his most memorable quotations about the reason for continuing to fight the Civil War. Now, as the 150th anniversary of that message approaches, the first of two previously missing pages of the document and a complete second copy signed by Lincoln have been found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. ... more  Add a comment

Party like the Dickens
Charles Dickens' 200th birthday is coming up soon and already, in England, they're a bit sick of him and all the fuss, says Janine Pollock, head of the Rare Book Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia. But that didn't stop a British museum curator from asking her if they could borrow Dickens's wood desk for their own exhibit ... more  Add a comment

A rare bookdealer collective
From each according to their inventory, to each according to their needs, The Collective, a group of seven ABAA members, has just issued its first catalog. While it is not unusual for two dealers to team-up, it is extraordinary for a group to do so ... more  Add a comment

Selfridges to open in-store library
Department store to launch 15,000-book pop-up library in Oxford Street, London, as part of Words Words Words event ... more  Add a comment

'Jack the Ripper' manuscript to be published
The document was unearthed at the Montacute TV and Radio museum, Somerset, in October 2009 among the possessions of children's author SG Hulme Beaman. It is thought to have been written in the 1920s and is entitled The Autobiography of James Carnac ... more  Add a comment

Brahms piano work found in visitors' book
An unknown work by the composer Johannes Brahms has come to light after almost 160 years following its chance discovery in a visitor's book, and will be played for the first time next week ... more  Add a comment

War Horse author in row over free books
Michael Morpurgo, the best-selling children's author, is at the centre of a row over plans to give away millions of his books with McDonald's Happy Meals ... more  Add a comment

Roald Dahl Stamps issued
The 30th anniversary of The BFG is marked by a special sheet of four stamps, which feature scenes from this legendary tale ... more  Add a comment

John McWhinnie, rare book dealer, dies
McWhinnie, who was 43 years old, drowned during a snorkeling accident while on vacation in the British Virgin Islands with his wife Maria Beaulieu, a jewelry designer, said an aide to his business partner, Glenn Horowitz. Beaulieu survived ... more  Add a comment

Bronte portrait under the hammer
An oil painting believed to be of author Emily Bronte will be the latest item relating to one of the literary sisters to go under the hammer, in Northamptonshire ... more  Add a comment

Oxfam takes over the high street
Anoosh Chakelian investigates how Oxfam is challenging the bookselling giants - and which unwanted authors we are dumping after Christmas ... more  Add a comment

Celebrating Ronald Searle's wicked world of book collecting
Ronald Searle was a great friend of rare books and the collecting world. We mourn his passing this week at age 91 ... more  Add a comment

German mould-warriors
A musty odor reaches up from the basement of Maha Chulalongkorn University in Ayutthaya, an ancient capital north of Bangkok that was submerged for weeks during recent floods. Manfred Anders from the Centre for Book Preservation (ZfB) in Leipzig, Germany, starts by throwing the windows open. 'We need air in here, otherwise it will be a breeding ground for mould,' he says ... more  Add a comment

The Henry VIII's handwritten love notes revealed
Amazing hand-written love notes in the margin of a prayer book between a lovesick Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, as he wooed her, are to be revealed in a new BBC television series ... more  Add a comment

Rare poem discovered
Scholars have made a significant discovery in the Rare Books Room at the West Virginia University library. They found a poem written nearly 500 years ago ... more  Add a comment

The World of Picasso, from Gayle
First off: a thankyou for all the enthusiastic responses to the inaugural secret histories of secondhand books post. It's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one with a fascination for discovering personal dedications found inside discarded books ... more  Add a comment

Awful squiggle but it rings a Bell
A letter from the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, to his parents, in which he includes a rare picture of the device and gives them some safety tips on using it, is up for auction. ... more  Add a comment

NASA questions Apollo 13 commander's right to sell
NASA is questioning whether Apollo 13 commander James Lovell has the right to sell a 70-page checklist from the flight that includes his handwritten calculations crucial in guiding the damaged spacecraft back to Earth.The document was sold by Heritage Auctions in November for more than $388,000, some 15 times its initial list price. The checklist gained great fame as part of a key dramatic scene in the 1995 film "Apollo 13" in which actor Tom Hanks plays Lovell making the calculations ... more  Add a comment

An end to bad heir days
On the last day of 2011, the 70th anniversary year of his death, James Joyce's work finally passed out of copyright. It was the dawn of a new age for Joyce scholars, publishers and biographers who are now free to quote or publish him without the permission of the ferociously prohibitive Joyce estate ... more  Add a comment

Strange case of a fake Ibsen play
Literary experts embarrassed after 'lost fragments' of work by Norway's famous playwright are alleged to have been forged ... more  Add a comment

St Trinian's cartoonist Ronald Searle dies
British cartoonist Ronald Searle, best known for his spiky drawings of the tearaway pupils of the fictional girls school St Trinian's, has died in southern France aged 91 ... more  Add a comment

Lucian Freud print collection goes up for auction
A collection of 45 works that the late Lucian Freud created over a 25-year period, said to be the most complete array of his prints ever to be auctioned, is to be sold next month ... more  Add a comment

Bodleian Library gets an upgrade
Another chapter has been completed in the Bodleian Library's multi-million-pound plans to upgrade its Oxford facilities ... more  Add a comment

Audubon may soar to record price in 2012
On January 20, 2012, bidders will again have a chance to acquire a double elephant folio edition of Audubon's Birds of America. Considered an American masterpiece, there are known to be 107 intact copies in institutions, and 13 in private hands. The copy to be sold by Christie's this month in New York is said to have once belonged to William Henry Cavdendish, the Fourth Duke of Portland. To fetch a world record, the lot will need to exceed the pre-sale high estimate of $10 million ... more  Add a comment