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.

November 2012

Van Gogh, John Lennon letters coming to NY auction
An upcoming auction of over 300 historical documents includes rare letters written by Vincent van Gogh, John Lennon and other iconic figures ... more  Add a comment

Rare Harry Potter proof up for grabs at Aylsham auction
A rare uncorrected publisher's proof copy of the first Harry Potter book is among 1,661 lots going under the hammer at Aylsham-based Keys Fine Art Auctioneers ... more  Add a comment

Edward Lear: not just a pretty poet
When the newly founded Zoological Society of London needed a painter to depict rare birds, they called on the future poet Edward Lear, says David Attenborough ... more  Add a comment

Battle of Culloden report sold at auction
An account of the 1746 Battle of Culloden printed just days after has been sold for £800 at an auction of historic papers in Ludow, Shropshire ... more  Add a comment

Is this the iceberg that sank Titanic?
A photograph of an iceberg claimed to be the one which sunk Titanic is being sold at auction for $10,000. The black and white picture of the iceberg was taken two days before the sinking of the Titanic by the Captain of the S. S. Etonian on April 12, 1912 ... more  Add a comment

From sad 'nothing' town to Book Town
Antiquarian book dealer John Donaldson is laying a trail of 2,000 books in the shape of a worm on the pavement outside part of his 22-roomed Richmond Books and Prints. They are there for the taking. It's his contribution to BoekBedonnerd (Book Crazy), the Booktown Richmond literary festival. It is held at the end of each year in the dusty Karoo town halfway between Joburg and Cape Town ... more  Add a comment

Bad sex awards 2012 shortlist
The two authors heavily tipped to take this year's most coveted and dreaded literary prize have failed to make the shortlist. Neither JK Rowling, for her first adult novel, nor EL James for her Fifty Shades trilogy, will be adding the bad sex trophy to their mantelpieces ... more  Add a comment

Last surviving first edition copy of Jane Austen's Emma set to fetch 200,000
Dr Philip Errington, a specialist in English literature at auctioneers Sotheby's, said: 'Jane Austen contacted her publishers and asked for 12 copies of her new novel to go to various people. 'These people were either royalty, members of her family and friends ... more  Add a comment

Wormholes in old books preserve a history of insects
Absence can speak volumes. The lack of sediment in a flat piece of ground-a track-can testify to the footstep of a dinosaur that once walked on it. The lack of minerals in a solid shell-a hole-can reveal the presence of parasite that was once trapped in it. The world's museums are full of such "trace fossils", but so are many of the world's art galleries ... more  Add a comment

Rare Sherlock Holmes book on display
A Study in Scarlet is part of a private collection of Conan Doyle memorabilia bequeathed to Hampshire by collector and writer Richard Lancelyn Green, following his death in 2004 ... more  Add a comment

Scott's Antarctic explorers read Alice In Wonderland
Britain's toughest explorers, who took part in Scott's gruelling three-year journey to discover the Antarctic, whiled away the freezing dark nights by reading children's story Alice in Wonderland, it has emerged. The 1889 story Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and 1901's Through the Looking Glass are now known to have nestled among the more serious scientific and navigational tomes on the mess deck. The books, which will be sold in the Polar II sale at Bonhams, Knightsbridge on December 4 have an estimate of £2,000 to £4,000 ... more  Add a comment

Ancient Persian manuscript discovered in Germany
An ancient Persian manuscript datable to Safavid dynasty, has been discovered in a library in Wiesbaden, a city in southwest Germany ... more  Add a comment

Gershwin ain't got rhythm at auction
Pantheon lyricist Ira Gershwin got rhythm, he got music, he got his gal, and when an important archive of his letters was offered at PBA Galleries on November 15, 2012 who could ask for anything more? He could. Estimated at $80,000-$120,000 the archive did not sell ... more  Add a comment

A vending machine for random rare and antiquarian books (with satisfying clunk)  Add a comment

The Tolkien 'curse'
Author's grandson claims Lord of the Rings films were 'like a juggernaut that tore my family apart' ... more  Add a comment

When was the first cookery book for children published?
Early cookbooks for children, such as Lucy Crump's Three Little Cooks, from 1906, were about story-telling rather than recipes ... more  Add a comment

To die for
A show titled Death: A Self-Portrait might sound morbid. But the colourful, inventive and playful artworks make for an approachable, even life-affirming, exhibition. Over the last dozen years, Richard Harris, a Chicago print dealer and book collector, has amassed some 2,000 artefacts, paintings, memorabilia and ephemera devoted to the subject, of which some 300 are on display here ... more  Add a comment

A man found $20,000 in a secondhand book
We all know reading is a profitable pastime, but few of us can say we've found $20,000 tucked inside an old book -- can we? ... more  Add a comment

Author claims Robert Louis Stevenson died from syphilis
A new biography of Robert Louis Stevenson claims that the writer died at just 44 after catching syphilis from an Edinburgh prostitute ... more  Add a comment

Marilyn Monroe photos sell for 470,000
Hundreds of photographs of Marilyn Monroe that languished for years in New York have sold for $750,000 (£470,000). Bidders and spectators packed the Desa Unicum house in Warsaw, where 238 pictures by the late American fashion and celebrity photographer Milton H. Greene were up for sale. Only one remained unsold, among some 500 bidders ... more  Add a comment

Andrei Tarkovsky archive to go up for auction
An extensive archive of letters, book drafts, audio tapes and photographs relating to the film director Andrei Tarkovsky is to appear at auction in London ... more  Add a comment

Turning the page at Shakespeare and Company
English-language bookshop Shakespeare and Company is the most famous bookshop in Paris, and maybe the entire world -- but it's going through some changes. Telegraph Expat meets owner Sylvia Beach Whitman ... more  Add a comment

Hawick medieval monk music manuscript gig scheduled
A 12th Century music manuscript for monks during Holy Week is to be used in a performance for what is thought to be the first time in 450 years ... more  Add a comment

Mughal exhibition shows rare details about court life
The British Library has an outstanding and world-renowned collection of Mughal manuscripts, album paintings and documents. The forthcoming exhibition Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire (9 November - 2 April 2013) will celebrate one of the most powerful and splendid of all the world's great dynasties and reveal details about court life which are often overlooked ... more  Add a comment

FW Harvey's manuscripts discovered in Gloucestershire
Letters, papers and manuscripts detailing the life of a heroic first world war poet have been discovered in a house in Gloucestershire ... more  Add a comment

Authentic 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' chess board discovered
In summer 2011, an Alice-themed chess board was bought by rare books dealer Jake Fior, who, upon closer inspection, discovered that it had been illustrated by Tenniel himself and was one-of-a-kind ... more  Add a comment

From here to there
Spencer Michels speaks with map collector David Rumsey in his map room about the differences and similarities between old paper maps and new digital maps  Add a comment

Damning documents relating to Titanic up for auction
Evidence that the owners of the doomed ocean liner Titanic pressured the Board of Trade into allowing them fewer lifeboats on the ship than was thought safe is to come under the hammer at a Devizes auction later this month ... more  Add a comment

The Art and History of The Dandy exhibition
The Art and History of The Dandy is a new exhibition from National Library of Scotland devoted to the history Britain's longest running comic. The exhibition runs from 21 November 2012 to 3 February 2013 and tells the story behind the creation of The Dandy, launched in 1937 ... more  Add a comment

Original Beatrix Potter illustration to be auctioned
The Potter illustration is titled "Gentleman rabbit with letter" and was believed to be designed for a greetings card. The rabbit is not the famed Peter Rabbit that Potter is most recognized for, but an unnamed rabbit wearing a tail-coat, waistcoat, staff, and hat. While this was unpublished at the time it was created, the Beatrix Potter Society did reproduce it at a later date. The fine ink and watercolor drawing is quite small, measuring 70 x 52mm and is estimated at £30,000 - £50,000 ... more  Add a comment

An Israeli ending to Kafka's trial
On rare occasions, courts get an opportunity to dive into the depths of history, which reveals itself bit by bit, one shred of evidence at a time. Behind the personal story of the battle for the valuable manuscripts of Frank Kafka and Max Brod lie many mysteries ... more  Add a comment

Librarian finds hidden gun inside donated book
A little more than knowledge was found inside an Indiana public library book this week when an employee cracked open a donated hardback and discovered a gun inside ... more  Add a comment

Bram Stoker's restored "Dracula" desk up for auction
The desk where Bram Stoker wrote his famed 1897 book "Dracula" is going up for auction next month after having been restored and turned into a work of art, auction company Profiles in History said on Wednesday ... more  Add a comment

Rare Lorca book goes on sale in London
The first edition copy, published in 1918, will go on sale at Bonhams on November 13 and is estimated to fetch between €7,500 and €9,500. ... more  Add a comment

Cat at centre of bitter children's book scrap
Dispute over right to tell story based on real-life 'Tobermory cat' turns bitter ... more  Add a comment

Rare witch hunting manual unveiled
A rare medieval manuscript on how to recognize, question, torture and burn witches is being resurrected at the University of Alberta. It's one of only four copies in the world, with the other three housed in libraries in France, Brussels, and Oxford ... more  Add a comment