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.

May 2012

Michael Jackson's sleepless note pulled from auction
A note written by Michael Jackson in which he complains of being unable to sleep has been withdrawn from auction at the request of the late singer's ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, the auction house said on Wednesday ... more  Add a comment

Conan Doyle home is saved
The mansion designed and built by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been saved from being converted into an eight-house development. The Grade II-listed property, called Undershaw, in Hindhead, Surrey, was where the author wrote many of his Sherlock Holmes stories, including The Hound Of The Baskervilles ... more  Add a comment

Steve Jobs 1974 Atari memo up for auction
More Steve Jobs memorabilia is up for auction, and this time it's a hand-written note from the late Apple co-founder's days at Atari. Sotheby's has listed a four-page, handwritten manuscript from Jobs that he wrote in 1974 for his then-supervisor Stephen Bristow. The auction house expects that it could bring in between $10,000-$15,000 ... more  Add a comment

An antiquarian obsession
Book collectors are a curious lot. They are often pale and prone to reverential flipping of old pages, yet greedy, covetous, sharp-elbowed when required. Nicholas Basbanes's "gentle madness" has seized mankind since before the codex. At Berlin's book fair, it is said, fleet youths are hired to dart ahead to secure the most important prizes. In London, where the bibliophiles are now descending, the connoisseurs are more orderly, and start to queue two hours before. The London International Antiquarian Book Fair, a three-day event which runs until tomorrow, provides many sightings of the genus bibliomane -- erroneously thought by new technologists to be extinct. It is a spirited rebuttal to the idea that the printed book is dead ... more  Add a comment

Shakespeare's Dark Lady and Fair Youth identified?
For generations, the identities of the "Dark Lady" and the "Fair Youth" from the great bard's sonnets have provoked intense speculation and academic debate. But in her new book, Shakespeare's Friends Revealed, Rhondda-born Beryl Hughes claims the were two real life 16th Century characters caught up in a web of love and betrayal ... more  Add a comment

A Marvel X-Man has comics' first gay wedding
Northstar proposes in the latest issue of Astonishing X-Men, and fans are wondering if Batman or Robin is about to come out ... more  Add a comment

Queen Victoria's private journals published online
First monarch to celebrate diamond jubilee tells of meetings with prime ministers, childbirth and love for Albert over 43,000 pages ... more  Add a comment

Brontes watercolour up for auction
A painting previously withdrawn from auction will finally go under the hammer after experts confirmed they believe it is linked to the Bronte sisters ... more  Add a comment

Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts at risk
UNESCO Assistant Director-General Francesco Bandarin said that when the coup began in late March the rebels did not loot the collections. But in mid-April, the situation worsened and some manuscripts were stolen from the Islamic research center in Timbuktu ... more  Add a comment

Review: Mind The Map @ London Transport Museum
The glorious London Tube map of Harry Beck is the first thing one thinks of when the words 'map' and 'transport' are wielded. The evolution of Beck's map gets some coverage at London Transport Museum's latest exhibition, but the show is stolen by a number of lesser known stars ... more  Add a comment

Tracey Emin's tube map draws a natural connection
Her touching design, featuring just five stations, follows in the fine tradition of useless yet thought-provoking maps ... more  Add a comment

Photograph of Charles Dickens' wife sold at auction
An early photograph of Catherine, the wife of Charles Dickens, thought to be the only one of its type, has been sold at auction for £8,750. According to auctioneers Bonhams this is the only daguerreotype portrait of Catherine known to exist ... more  Add a comment

War photographer Anton Hammerl remembered at auction
Photos by some of the world's best-known photojournalists - including a classic image made on D-Day by Robert Capa - were donated to the auction, held at Christies in New York ... more  Add a comment

Restored 17th century Japanese scrolls go on display
A new exhibition featuring exquisite Japanese hand scrolls has opened at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle. The 17th century scrolls, which recount one of the most important stories in Japanese classical literature, have recently undergone extensive restoration, generously funded by the Sumitomo Foundation, Tokyo ... more  Add a comment

Bright Young Things: Ed Nassau Lake
Fine Books & Collections series profiling the next generation of antiquarian booksellers continues today with Ed Lake of Jaryndyce Booksellers in London.  Ed's father, Brian, is the proprietor of Jarndyce Booksellers, which was founded in 1969 ... more  Add a comment

Miniature books are big collector items
While miniature books are by their very definition smaller than other books, they are every bit as collectible as their larger counterparts. In fact, collecting miniature books has become so popular that enthusiasts have even formed a Miniature Book Society ... more  Add a comment

The scandalous history of Judaism's most precious book
Theft, espionage, corruption and a cover-up lasting decades - a new book by a Times of Israel reporter exposes the extraordinary saga of the uniquely revered, 1,100-year-old Aleppo Codex ... more  Add a comment

Former queen's love letters on display in Winchcombe
Love letters from the Tudor period have been unveiled for the first time at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe. Rare books written by Henry VIII's last wife Katherine Parr are now on display along with her love letters from and to Sir Thomas Seymour ... more  Add a comment

Maurice Sendak, who let children be just what they wanted
Maurice Sendak, who died on Tuesday, was one of the few - and rare - writers who truly wrote for children. Not to entertain their parents, or to improve their social skills - he told the stories that children live themselves, wobbling on the uncomfortable brink between dreams, imagination and reality, where truth is whatever can be remembered, whether it really happened or not ... more  Add a comment

Nonsense! The Wonderful World of Edward Lear
The Jumblies, the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo, The Dong with the Luminous Nose and of course The Owl and The Pussycat, are just a few of the fabulous nonsense poems of the remarkable Edward Lear, who was born 200 years ago. Join wonderfully entertaining poets Michael Rosen and Roger McGough, plus special guests, for this glorious celebration at the British Library on Sunday May 13th ... more  Add a comment

The PBFA supports Listening Books
The PBFA has decided to support the Listening Books Charity which provides a fantastic selection of high-quality audiobooks too ver 17000 people across the UK who find it difficult or impossible to read due to illness or disability. The Listening Books owl symbol will be appearing on the PBFA posters and there will be literature, leaflets and collecting boxes at their premier fairs.  Add a comment

The curious case of the stolen Hemingway letters
Taken from a Toronto shop in 1993, book dealer believes they are still out there ... more  Add a comment

Maurice Sendak dead at age 83
Maurice Sendak, the children's author and illustrator best known for the 1963 classic  -Where the Wild Things Are, - is dead at age 83, the New York Times reports ... more  Add a comment

Author claims Jack the Ripper was a woman
Former solicitor John Morris, 62, has named Welsh-born Lizzie Williams as the Whitechapel monster  - and claims she killed her victims because she could not have children ... more  Add a comment

Voynich Manuscript Celebrates 100 years
This friday May 11th, a celebration commemorating the 100th anniversary of the re-discovery of the Voynich manuscript will occur in Rome. Forensic research, historical presentations and recent interpretations of the language and drawings will be examined and presented during the event ... more  Add a comment

Timbuktu: SA's uncertainty as rebels move in
As Timbuktu reels under rebel control, South Africa's investment in the preservation and protection of ancient manuscripts has been significantly imperilled. A good few million rands were poured into the Timbuktu project, but it's not the financial loss that will be felt most acutely ... more  Add a comment

Beatles printing plates up for auction
Unique pieces of Beatles memorabilia will go on sale with the original printing plates for John Lennon's first book later this month. The metal plates were used to print words and illustrations by the Beatle in the 1964 book John Lennon, In His Own Write ... more  Add a comment

Higham's biographies made vast claims
Charles Higham, a prolific celebrity biographer whose books drew vast attention for their memorably vast claims - Errol Flynn was a Nazi spy, Howard Hughes played a central role in Watergate - died April 21 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 81 ... more  Add a comment

'These Are Your Kids On Books' goes viral
Bloggers and Pinterest users are going crazy over this poster, created by artist Mike Andereck for the volunteer-driven Colorado organization Burning Through Pages

... more  Add a comment

Is it erotica, curiosa,or pornography?
I was looking through a rare book catalog from the early 1980s. The dealer subtitled his business, Erotica, Curiosa, and Sexology. What's curiosa? What's the difference between erotica and curiosa? And what's the difference among erotica, curiosa, and pornography? ... more  Add a comment

The importance of dust jackets
Dust jackets have worried the pundits since the 1920s. Book buyers are divided over whether to retain or discard them. Librarians, who always discarded, are rebuked for destroying book history. Book historians dispute whether the jacket is even part of the book ... more  Add a comment

Jerusalem men charged with stealing rare books
Yisrael Pinto, 26, and Yekutiel Barkman, 23, used false documents to steal 18th century books, according to the indictment submitted to Jerusalem Magistrate's Court about two weeks ago. The thefts took place in May 2009 ... more  Add a comment

First edition of Robert Burns' poetry fetches 40,000
It is one of only 12 copies still owned by private collectors and will be staying in the Edinburgh offices of the company which has bought it. They will go public at a later date and will allow members of the public to view the book ... more  Add a comment

Book owner cross as sale dips into fiction
The owner of a rare book found in a Nelson garage sale says he is now $70 out of pocket from a failed auction, rather than up to $1000 richer as he hoped ... more  Add a comment

Rare books and counterculture collectibles
Enigmatic New York publisher and private bookshop Fulton Ryder - founded by artist Richard Prince - has been captivating us with their Tumblr snapshots of rare and fascinating cultural fragments. We wanted to take a closer look at their collection of books, manuscripts, and counterculture collectibles, and they were kind enough to allow us a peek ... more  Add a comment

Cash mob descends on Adams Morgan bookstore
Small business coalition Think Local First D.C. organized the second in a series of "cash mobs," where crowds of customers head into mom-and-pop shops to gin up sales. Dozens of shoppers flocked to Idle Time Books, a 31-year-old company that sells used, rare and antiquarian books in Adams Morgan  Add a comment

Golf's "most important" memorabilia auction
In a high quality field of early golfing literature, a first edition of Thomas Mathison's The Goff. An Heroi-Comical Poem stands out. Published in Edinburgh in 1743, it is the first separately printed book devoted entirely to golf (£30,000 - £50,000) ... more  Add a comment

Enid Blyton book $1510 sale falls through
A backpacker who thought he'd made $1510 off a first edition Enid Blyton book has been left in the lurch ... more  Add a comment

Snyder Book Collecting Contest winners honored
In the graduate division, Laci Gerhart of Hutchinson took first place with "The Evolution of Scientific Knowledge: Vintage and Antique Textbooks of the Natural and Physical Sciences." Peter A. Williams of Lawrence received second place for "Beauty is a Rare Thing: A Collection of Works by, about, and Inspired by Ornette Coleman," and Jeffrey Bergfalk of Kansas City earned an honorable mention for his collection, "By Brakhage" ... more  Add a comment

Book dealers court the press at their peril
When it comes to selling a rare item, seeking media attention certainly has its pitfalls ... more  Add a comment

Tragic End to the life of Shakespearean book thief
It was a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare... along with a comedy of errors. The life of perhaps the most entertaining of book thieves came to a sad conclusion in March. When the jokes came to an end, and the reality of a surprisingly long prison sentence set in, Raymond Scott took his own life. Scott provided his native England with a year full of humor as he awaited trial for theft of a Shakespeare First Folio. It was a truly entertaining performance, worthy of the man whose book he purloined. Unfortunately, what lay behind his celebrity was theft, common theft except for the million dollar price tag on the item he stole. When the performance ended, and Scott was left with the isolation and bleakness of his punishment, it proved to be more than he could endure. Scott was not an evil man, just someone who needed to be born with a fortune. Unfortunately, like most of us, he missed out on having rich parents, so he attempted to make up for it in the wrong way ... more  Add a comment

Old book shop keeps faith
With the paper book said to be in its death throes, now might seem an unusual time to buy a second-hand bookshop. But Mike Gray and Ross Colley say different. Last December the pair bought eclectic Hobart CBD store the Imperial Bookshop, and they say it has so far proved a very worthwhile venture ... more  Add a comment

Stolen manuscripts recovered in Portland
The day an agent from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stuck her foot in the doorway of his home and insisted she was coming in, Phillip Pirages knew the news wasn't good ... more  Add a comment

Second life‎
A 16th century manuscript, packed with fables and illustrations, had almost faded into history. An ongoing restoration effort has turned back the clock ... more  Add a comment

French 15th-century manuscript sells for two million euros
A 15th-century French manuscript with intricate miniature paintings sold at a Paris auction on Friday for two million euros, the Drouot auction house said. ... more  Add a comment

Noted antiquarian bookseller dies
Diana Parikian who has died aged 85, was one of the first female antiquarian booksellers in a male dominated trade. She made her name if not a fortune ("I'm not a good businesswoman") by dint of book-hunting in the byways of continental renaissance and baroque literature ... more  Add a comment