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.

June 2012

No news today ...
I'm out of the office until Wednesday July 4th, so no news until my return.  Add a comment

Rare Hebrew manuscripts hidden in book bindings
Some say this European treasure house rivals the Cairo Geniza - the most important trove of Jewish documents ever found ... more  Add a comment

Authors and poets call halt to book pulping
The poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, and a host of other literary names have joined calls to halt the destruction of hundreds of thousands of books at one of the UK's greatest municipal libraries. They have written to the head of libraries for Manchester, demanding that the book pulping stop immediately ... more  Add a comment

Fahrenheit 451
A new status code to reflect internet censorship could be named after Ray Bradbury's most famous novel, Fahrenheit 451 ... more  Add a comment

Ronnie Barker's Edward Lear book fetches 3,600
A collection of Edward Lear poems edited by comedian Ronnie Barker smashed its guide price at auction in the county today ... more  Add a comment

Book fairs get a new lease of life
While secondhand bookshops are struggling, book fairs are thriving. Why should this be? ... more  Add a comment

Duffy backs Manchester library protest
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has signed a petition calling on Manchester City Council to halt plans to pulp some 300,000 books in its £150m refurbishment of Manchester’s Central Library  Add a comment

Cigarette case given by Agatha Christie could fetch 10,000
A cigarette case presented by the world’s most famous crime novelist Agatha Christie to the saxophonist who found her after she disappeared in 1926 is expected to fetch £10,000 at auction ... more  Add a comment

No sexy outfits nuns told in 1,300-year-old ’rule’ book
Nuns in Essex were warned to avoid garments that would ’nourish the fires of sexual anticipation’ in a 1,300-year-old book of advice now up for auction ... more  Add a comment

Where is Kate Nickleby, missing since Dickens died?
Nicholas Nickleby’s sister was immortalised in oils by William Powell Frith, but his painting hasn’t been seen since an auction held in the wake of the writer’s death ... more  Add a comment

The Laws of Hywel Dda up for auction
One of the first medieval manuscripts to be written in Welsh is going under the hammer in London, valued at between £500,000 and £700,000 ... more  Add a comment

Bloomsday fans celebrate
From a musical version of Finnegans Wake to the release of a tranche of manuscripts online by the National Library of Ireland, the expiration of copyright in James Joyce’s works this year means the annual celebration of all things Joycean -- Bloomsday -- will be wider-reaching than ever. But, behind the scenes, scholars continue to scrap over the legacy of the great man ... more  Add a comment

Books sold by weight in Spain
A bookshop that prices secondhand books according to their weight has been opened by a group of friends in Madrid ... more  Add a comment

Council rejects archive clearout claims
Manchester Central Library is accused of throwing away valuable parts of its archive because of a shortage of space during £170m restoration ... more  Add a comment

The most beautiful covers of Fahrenheit 451
Since 1953, Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 has sold more than 10 million copies. While the science-fiction story is set in a dystopic world without books, the author’s most famous work has never gone out of print. Herewith, a look at some of the most striking covers of Fahrenheit 451 over the years ... more  Add a comment

Bach cantata manuscript sells for 337,250
A manuscript of one of Bach’s late cantatas has sold for a season-record price of £337,250 at Christie’s in London ... more  Add a comment

George Washington’s U.S. Constitution up for auction
A gold-embossed piece of U.S. history will go up for sale this month, when Christie’s auctions off George Washington’s personal copy of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights ... more  Add a comment

The dirtiest manuscript doodles of the Middle Ages?
We’ve previously discussed how medieval manuscript writers used the margins of documents to gripe and sketch. And indeed, artists sometimes used the margins to add bawdy levity to the text ... more  Add a comment

Books as transitory visual art
I’m looking at -- most people would say, "I’m holding in my hands," but I’m just looking at -- a tiny book published in 2011 by Central Texas-based Little Red Leaves: a single poem written by San Antonio-native Trey Moody called "A Weather." And I am actually afraid to touch it. The fragile square seems to be onion skin over an old tourist map of Florida, and thank god the print is readable from a distance ... more  Add a comment

Eager readers hunt the rare at biggest book fair
At the Brisbane Convention Centre, happy customers struggle down the stairs weighed down with plastic bags bursting with books. Lifeline’s Bookfest is the biggest book fair in the southern hemisphere and it attracts hordes of book lovers - young and old - to forage for wordy treasure ... more  Add a comment

Letters about Mahatma Gandhi to be auctioned in UK
Thousands of letters, papers and photographs relating to Mahatma Gandhi, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in England next month. The archive belonged to Hermann Kallenbach, the Jewish bodybuilder, who became a close friend of Gandhi when he lived in South Africa ... more  Add a comment

Stolen Book of Mormon Found in Washington D.C.
Federal authorities have arrested a man in Washington D.C. for stealing a rare, first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon from an Arizona bookstore ... more  Add a comment

Vintage angling books prove real hot property
Some old books on angling, especially first editions, are very rare and collectable and can fetch a very good price at auction but there were gasps of amazement at a recent book sale at Bonhams Auction House when all records were smashed out of sight ... more  Add a comment

Paris’ Village Voice is closing
A beloved Paris institution, the Village Voice Bookshop, will go out of business at the end of July. The Voice has been one of the best English-language bookstores not just in Paris, but in all of Europe ... more  Add a comment

PBA Galleries to sell rare 15th century manuscript
PBA Galleries will offer one of the rarest and most significant pieces it has ever brought to auction, a manuscript on vellum in "Grand Format" of the Fasciculus Temporum by the 15th century monk and historian Werner Rolewink, produced circa 1471. ... more  Add a comment

Napoleons English homework sells for 263,000
A one-page letter penned by Napoleon in English during his captivity in Saint Helena sold for €325,0000 ($405,000) at an auction Sunday in Paris. The historic document shows the French emperor struggling to learn the language of his jailors ... more  Add a comment

Graphic penguin sex manuscript uncovered
A 100-year-old paper graphically describing the bizarre sexual practices of Adelie penguins in Antarctica has been uncovered by the Natural History Museum ... more  Add a comment

Candid Marilyn Monroe photographs found
Recovered after over 60 years in storage, the photos show a radiant Monroe candidly captured during a rehearsal and live performance of Edgar Bergen’s radio show October 26th, 1952 ... more  Add a comment

Exploding Ephemera
"Lay on Ground, Light Fuse, Retire Quickly" and "Do Not Hold in Hand After Lighting" are the recurring warnings on 3,000 vintage firecracker packages for sale on June 22 and 23 in Denver ... more  Add a comment

Enhanced ebooks are bad for children
Unlike print versions or basic ebooks, enhanced ebooks distract children from the story and stop them remembering narrative details according to new research ... more  Add a comment

A man who won't forget Ray Bradbury
Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman remembers his friend Ray Bradbury who has died at the age of 91 ... more  Add a comment

$25,000 for a signed 1st of Where the Wild Things Are
It was really no surprise when a signed first edition of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are sold for $25,000 on AbeBooks - just 17 days after Sendak had died at the age of 83. It was a record price for a copy of this book ... more  Add a comment

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury -- author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and many more literary classics -- died this morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91 ... more  Add a comment

Letter written by Napoleon in English may fetch 80,000
One of only three surviving letters written in English by Napoleon while exiled on the island of Saint Helena will be auctioned this weekend. The note, written in March 1816 as an exercise for his companion and secret English teacher, Emmanuel de Las Cases, is scarcely intelligible ... more  Add a comment

Priceless heritage at risk from extremists
Rebel group in control of Timbuktu desecrates venerated tomb and seeks to obliterate thousands of ancient manuscripts ... more  Add a comment

Israel suspected of seeking to steal ancient Iraqi manuscripts
The Iraqi minister of culture has said that the United States is delaying the return of original copies of ancient manuscripts that were illegally smuggled out of Iraq and reportedly sold to Israel ... more  Add a comment

'Tintin' breaks comic book art record
The art, featured on the cover of Herge’s book Tintin in America, fetched Euro1.3m (£1m/$1.6m) at a Paris auction on Saturday (June 2), according to The Hollywood Reporter ... more  Add a comment

Massive thefts at the Girolamini Library in Naples
Shortly after the reopening of the Girolamini Library in Naples in April of 2012 the Director, Marino Massimo de Caro, announced that 1500 books were missing (April 17). On April 20 the Library was closed by the Naples Public Prosecutor. Marino Massimo de Caro has been suspended and was investigated for embezzlement. On May 18, 1000 books, 240 of which have ownership stamps from the Girolamini Library were found in storage in Massimo Marino de Caro’s home city of Verona, and on May 24 Mr. de Caro was arrested on the charge of embezzlement along with four others; a search warrant is out for a fifth. In the meantime Massimo Marino de Caro has confessed to the theft of thousands of books from the library and is cooperating with police in tracing them ... more  Add a comment

The art of travel
It may have started as a hobby, but one superhero fanatic is set to become a millionaire when he auctions off his prized collection of Marvel comics.  ... more  Add a comment

Comic book fanatic's collection to fetch $3million
It may have started as a hobby, but one superhero fanatic is set to become a millionaire when he auctions off his prized collection of Marvel comics. Doug Schmell is selling all 682 of his comics hoard, which is thought to be the world’s most complete collection and are predicted to fetch a staggering $3million. ... more  Add a comment

Reference stock destroyed at refurbished Manchester library
A letter, claimed to be from a source within the library, has been sent to local press and to individuals with a concern for literature, including author Melvin Burgess, warning of what it calls "cultural vandalism on an industrial scale" at the library ... more  Add a comment

Kill the Kindle!
In home of the Hay Festival, bookshop boss goes to war on gadget that 'turns readers into robots'. Derek Addyman, who runs three secondhand bookshops in the Welsh border town, branded the devices, which cost around £99, as an ‘enemy’ to be driven out. ... more  Add a comment