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.

February 2012

Oddest Book Title shortlist revealed
A guide to Estonian socks, an examination of the role of the fungus in Christian art, and a celebration of the humble office chair are among the books in contention for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year - the prestigious literary award run by The Bookseller since 1978 ... more  Add a comment

Beautiful bookshops? No thanks!
At best, the attractiveness of a bookshop is beside the point. At worst it's a positively bad sign ... more  Add a comment

Ticehurst bookshop owner dies from cancer
Paul Minet, 74, was forced to close his High Street bookshop in May after 15 years due to ill health. He died on February 6, finally succumbing after an eight-year battle with the disease ... more  Add a comment

Mole and Rat meet the horned god Pan
Wind in the Willows - and forgotten chapter The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - in Cultural Olympiad exploration of landscape ... more  Add a comment

Fragments of Mark's Gospel may date to 1st century
The jury is out on this for a while, but a recent archaeological discovery could represent the oldest surviving copy of the Gospels. According to Bible scholar Daniel B. Wallace of the Dallas Theological Seminary, fragments from the Gospel of Mark may date to as early as the late first century ... more  Add a comment

Dr. Livingstone's lost diary, I presume?
A field diary partially written with berry juice on old newsprint, paper scraps, and book margins in the last years of the life of British explorer David Livingstone is legible for the first time in 141 years with the help of modern spectral-imaging technology and the old-fashioned sleuthing of a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania ... more  Add a comment

Baghdad's frozen past revealed by ancient manuscripts
Temperatures in Baghdad range from around 2C in winter to 45C in the summer - but ancient Arabic writings have revealed that the city experienced a dramatic frozen period around 1,000 years ago ... more  Add a comment

Springing to life
From intricate twirling wheels for calculating planetary movement to colorful paper sculptures that blossom forth from the page, more than 50 movable and pop-up books are on display in the University of Rochester's exhibit Springing to Life: Movable Books and Mechanical Devices ... more  Add a comment

Excellent sales at Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair
Beautiful, rare and unusual books are in steady demand in an economically unsteady world. After three busy days the Stuttgart Book Fair closed with excellent results. Almost all the 80 exhibitors from Europe and the USA reported five or even six-digit sales ... more  Add a comment

Comic book collection fetches 2.2m
The bulk of a man's childhood comic book collection that included many of the most prized issues ever published has sold at auction for about 3.5 million US dollars (£2.2 million). A copy of Detective Comics No. 27, which sold for 10 cents (6p) in 1939 and features the debut of Batman, got the top bid at the New York City auction ... more  Add a comment

Rare books auction nets Heritage Auctions $736K
Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Salvador Dali, Willa Cather, and Maurice Sendak led the way among top performers whose pieces sold well at Heritage Auctions' Rare Books Event in Beverly Hills, California, earlier this month ... more  Add a comment

PG Wodehouse refused immunity from UK prosecution
Newly declassified papers show the authorities continued to say, into 60s, that author might face action over wartime German broadcasts ... more  Add a comment

1500 year-old 'Syriac' Bible found in Ankara
The relic was 'rediscovered' in the depositum of Ankaran Justice Palace, the ancient version of bible is believed to be written in Syriac, a dialect of the native language of Jesus ... more  Add a comment

Reimagining British high streets
Is Mary Portas's vision of making high streets stand up to big malls and supermarkets and offer more than just shopping realistic? Oliver Balch takes a look at Hay-on-Wye ... more  Add a comment

Rudimentum Novitiorum Sells For $1,150,000
A scarce copy of Rudimentum Novitiorum, the first printed history of the world, published in 1475, and the first printed book to feature maps, sold for $1,150,000 at the 45th California International Antiquarian Book Fair this past weekend in Pasadena, CA, as did "The World's Worst Copy of Gatsby," a first edition, first printing train wreck  with a significant remnant of the $175,000 dust jacket pasted within, for $500. Some thought it was worth twice that, a true silk purse stitched from a sow's ear ... more  Add a comment

Inscribed copy of Hemingway's first book brings $68,000+
A rare edition of Ernest Hemingway's first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems [Paris]: Contact Publishing Co., 1923, one of just 300 copies printed brought $68,500 on Feb. 8 to lead Heritage Auctions' $736,000+ Rare Books Signature(r) Auction, which took place at the company's Beverly Hills salerooms ... more  Add a comment

Tintern bookshop thriving online
A family-run bookshop in Tintern is bucking the trend in the current economic climate and celebrating 20 years in the village ... more  Add a comment

Sales strong at San Francisco Antiquarian Book Fair
The general consensus was that both ends of the market were selling well. An illustrated science book from 1750 went for $1,100. People this year seemed not to agonize over spending $10 to $20 on decoratively bound books of otherwise no great distinction ... more  Add a comment

Diana letters pulled from auction
Countess Raine Spencer has stopped a Northamptonshire auction house from selling private letters written to her by Princess Diana more than 30 years ago ... more  Add a comment

Hollywood's rare book collectors
One would think that Hollywood bibliophiles would be flashy collectors, using the purchase receipts of valuable books to demonstrate some intellectual inner life that the tabloids usually strip them of. Indeed for some stars it might well be, but it seems that for many of Hollywood's biggest movers and shakers book collecting is a far more sincere pastime ... more  Add a comment

Edward Elgar manuscript found
An Edward Elgar manuscript dating back nearly 90 years has been discovered in a council building in Leicestershire. Staff found the musical score while clearing out a storage room at Charnwood Borough Council's headquarters in Loughborough ... more  Add a comment

Charles Dickens takes pride of place
The 45th Annual California International Antiquarian Book Fair in Pasadena marks the author's 200th birthday with a rare first edition of 'David Copperfield' ... more  Add a comment

Godfather screenplay fetches $US12,000 at auction
The script -- which was bound in red leather and signed by "Al" -- was discovered by a sorter who was going through book donations at a warehouse run by the Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reported ... more  Add a comment

Comic book collectors book dream
Comic-crazy Mike Morley has turned his hobby into a essential guide for others who share his interests. Mike, who has been collecting comics for 60 years, has one of the largest collections of British comics from the 1950s, with about 500 of them ... more  Add a comment

110-year-old Sudan bookshop struggles on
It's as if the dust-caked volumes have been sitting on the shelves of Sudan Bookshop for the past half century since some of them were published. Three weeks might pass without a single book being sold, said the shop's general manager, El Tayeb Mohammed Abdel Rahman, who has been associated with the business for decades ... more  Add a comment

James Joyce children's book sparks feud
A children's story by James Joyce has been published for the first time by a small press in Dublin. However the Zurich James Joyce Foundation has called its publication an "outrage", saying it had not granted permission for the book's release ... more  Add a comment

Czechs reclaim Mendel paper from Germany
The Czech Republic has regained a manuscript of Versuche ueber Pflanzen-Hybriden (Experiments with plant hybridisation) by Johann Gregor Mendel, founder of genetics, from 1865, after a 25-year effort, the Czech Foreign Ministry told CTK yesterday ... more  Add a comment

Ban on same-sex stories
Romance Writers Ink's 'More than Magic' contest accepts vampires and werewolves but not gay and lesbian tales ... more  Add a comment

A booksellers video game lament
I play Skyrim obsessively, like lots of people. I'm also a full-time antiquarian book dealer and during my glorious attempts to become a leather-clad death machine in The Elder Scrolls V, I'm always tempted to make some in-game coin on the side collecting and selling the hundreds of available antiquarian titles. Books such as Advances in Lock-picking or Dwemer Inquiries Vol. III offer both arcane and practical lore to the reader as well as deep context for the game's developed history, technology and culture ... more  Add a comment

Rare works from Serendipity Books to be auctioned
The collection the late Peter Howard amassed for Serendipity Books was so vast that it will take Bonhams six different auctions to sell it off. Once stuffed into an old winery on University Avenue, the collection, estimated at one million volumes, has now been sorted - and resorted and resorted - for sale ... more  Add a comment

Every pupil should read Dickens
The Schools minister Nick Gibb has great expectations of Britain's 11-year-olds, singling out Charles Dickens' classic as one of the books all children should read before they leave primary school. But on the eve of Dickens' 200th birthday, his biographer has warned that young readers do not have the attention-span to appreciate his work ... more  Add a comment

First appearance of Thor makes $222,200
Thor might not be as well-known or popular as Superman but, with a hit movie under his belt and a stint in the upcoming Avengers movie, the God of Thunder is indeed popular at the moment. A few days ago, a 9.4 CGC rated copy of 'Journey into Mystery' #83 sold at auction through Pedigree Comics for a whopping $222,200! This issue, released in August 1962, featured a story titled 'The Stone Men from Saturn' that introduced Thor into the ever-expanding Marvel Universe ... more  Add a comment

Samuel Youd aka John Christopher dies aged 89
Brian Aldiss leads tributes to a prolific author of The Tripods and more than 50 other novels - who 'beat description' ... more  Add a comment

Charlotte Bronte's manuscript at Ellis Library
Among the books stored in a back room on the third floor is a tiny, original manuscript by Charlotte Bronte, who is most famous for her book "Jane Eyre." The 179-year-old manuscript, which contains two short stories, has been miraculously preserved through diligent care ... more  Add a comment

'Jewish Indiana Jones' admits Torah fraud
A self-described "Jewish Indiana Jones" who claimed to have travelled the world to rescue holy Torah scrolls has pleaded guilty to fraud ... more  Add a comment

Dorothea Tanning dies aged 101
Tanning was the last living member of the surrealist movement, wife of Max Ernst and published her first novel at the age of 94 ... more  Add a comment

A mastery of arts
The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, a rich repository of the earliest manuscripts and art objects of the Islamic world, leaves even Muslim visitors in awe ... more  Add a comment

Real-life Charles Dickens characters traced
Bill Sikes and Scrooge are among the most well-known characters in English literature but rather than being figments of Charles Dickens's imagination, their names were derived from real people - and new research has pinpointed the writer's sources of inspiration ... more  Add a comment

Rare maps in Miami
Daniel Crouch Rare Books, leading specialist in rare maps and atlases, will be exhibiting two fine and rare cartographic works at the Miami International Map Fair; by Ptolemy, and Jesuit monk Ferdinand Verbiest ... more  Add a comment

The power of paper in a digital era
As more and more archives are digitised, with many benefits, it's worth being reminded of the value of traditional records ... more  Add a comment

A new antiquarian and collectables bookshop in Toronto
'If we'd listened to everyone who said we shouldn't do this, we'd have a different story to tell,' says Sellers (who is the father of Torontoist writer Daniel Sellers). 'But we believe that it's possible to succeed at anything. Even at the height of the Great Depression businesses continued to hire' ... more  Add a comment