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.

December 2012

Seasons Greetings
Seasons Greetings and thanks to all our readers for helping make tbg such a success in 2012. We will be back on January 2nd.  Add a comment

Signature forger Allan Formhals sentanced
An antiques dealer who sold fake signatures on eBay of famous figures including Winston Churchill and Pablo Picasso has been jailed for 10 months ... more  Add a comment

The antiquarian book market on the web
Digital marketplaces such as Amazon have disrupted -- some might say ruined -- the traditional publishing industry. And following a flurry of launches in the last year, e-readers look set to appear in Christmas stockings everywhere. But what does all of this mean for the trade in antiquarian books? ... more  Add a comment

One in seven children has never visited bookshop
One out of every seven young people has never been to a bookshop, according to new research by the National Literacy Trust compiled in the report Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People's Reading ... more  Add a comment

'Boycott Amazon' campaign launched
The Ethical Consumer magazine and campaign group has launched a campaign to persuade customers to choose high street alternatives to Amazon for their Christmas shopping, following revelations of the company's tax avoidance ... more  Add a comment

Cash-mob generosity is rich reward for Wood Green bookshop
It's the grown-up version of the flash mob - where a seemingly spontaneous crowd of people gather suddenly to perform a silly public act. Cash mobs have more purpose. Instead of making a public spectacle, participants use social media to pledge to spend £10 at a pre-determined place, and then they show up and do just that. Now the phenomenon is sweeping through north London ... more  Add a comment

Grimm brothers' celebration
The 200th anniversary on Thursday of the first publication of the Grimm brothers' Die Kinder und Hausmarchen (children's and household tales), a collection of 86 stories which became worldwide classics, is triggering a year of feverish celebrations in Germany to mark the birth of one of the most frequently read books in the world ... more  Add a comment

Rare "Metropolis" poster fetches high price
A film memorabilia collector paid $1.2 million (744,600 pounds) for nine rare and early film posters, including the world's highest-valued poster of the 1927 film "Metropolis," in a bankruptcy auction in Los Angeles on Thursday, the trustee in the bankruptcy case said ... more  Add a comment

The Book of Kells - in pictures
Described in the Annals of Ulster in 1007 as 'the most precious object in the western world', the cultural and historical value of the Book of Kells has only increased in the millennium since. Bernard Meehan delves into its rich ornamentation and explores its dense symbolism in a selection of pages from the manuscript ... more  Add a comment

Read all about it
First glimpse inside British Library's new home for its UK national newspaper collection ... more  Add a comment

Inspector Morse manuscript fails to sell at auction
Sotheby's auctioneers expected bids of £30,000 to £50,000, but it failed to reach the private owner's reserve price in the London sale ... more  Add a comment

Welcome to my rare and antiquarian eBook shop
Why, hello there! - I was just appraising some rare PDFs in the back room when I heard you come in. Feel free to peruse our inventory, and if you have any questions, please allow me - one of the world's foremost authorities on and purveyors of fine electronic books - to act as your steward through the wonderfully esoteric world of antique eBook collecting ... more  Add a comment

Hans Christian Andersen's first fairytale found
The Tallow Candle, thought to have been written by schoolboy Andersen, discovered in private archives by Danish historian ... more  Add a comment

Raymond Briggs: 'The Snowman is about death, not Christmas'
For three decades, it has been a heart-melting festive favourite. But now Raymond Briggs, creator of 'The Snowman', has revealed his frustration at how his story was hijacked by Christmas sentimentalists - saying it was meant to be about death ... more  Add a comment

Life and death of Dylan Thomas
His death aged just 39, after a life blighted by drink and poverty, deprived the literary world of one of its most beautiful and original voices. Now the BBC and screenwriter Andrew Davies are to tackle Dylan Thomas's last days in a TV biopic to mark the centenary of his birth ... more  Add a comment

Fox Talbot archive under threat
Bodleian Library launches £2.2m bid to stop Fox Talbot archive going overseas ... more  Add a comment

The birth of Inspector Morse
The scraps of paper on which the very first Inspector Morse novel was penned are tipped to sell for £50,000 ... more  Add a comment

Town buys $35,000 Dickens A Christmas Carol by public subscription
The rare edition was purchased not by a heritage committee or a millionaire collector, but by the people of Malton. Everyone chipped in to raise the cash to buy it - schoolchildren, butchers, bakers, local grandees - in just two weeks ... more  Add a comment

Keeping it local this Christmas
A small share in a local pub, independent bookshop or green energy project could be the perfect Christmas present ... more  Add a comment

Preserving or looting Palestinian books in Jerusalem
The National Library in Jerusalem houses more than 8,000 volumes in Arabic which once belonged to Palestinians who fled the country or were forced out in 1948. Were these books collected for the purpose of preservation - or looted? ... more  Add a comment

Suffragette autograph album illuminates movement's struggles
"Bravely and willingly we bear our share of the world's burdens. Why then deny us the right to vote which would dignify our labour and increase our power of service?" writes suffragette and feminist icon Sylvia Pankhurst in a rare autograph album collecting the thoughts of dozens of her fellow suffragettes, which is set to go up for auction next week ... more  Add a comment

Raphael sketch fetches record $48 million at Sotheby's
One of the greatest drawings by Renaissance master Raphael still in private hands sold for £29.7 million ($47.9 million), an auction record for the artist in sterling terms and double pre-sale expectations ... more  Add a comment

Getty pays $6.2 million for rare Flemish manuscript
Timothy Potts has made his first major purchase as the new Getty Museum director: He bought Lieven van Lathem's illuminated manuscript Roman de Gillion de Trazegnies for $6.2 million at Sotheby's Wednesday night in London ... more  Add a comment

Rare "Metropolis" film poster to be auctioned
Several bidders are jockeying to buy the world's highest-valued film poster - a rare copy of the groundbreaking 1927 science-fiction film "Metropolis" - in a bankruptcy auction, an attorney handling the sale said on Tuesday ... more  Add a comment

America's first book set to be sold amid holy row
Church votes to sell Bay Psalm book, printed in 1640, despite protests from some congregants ... more  Add a comment

Charles Dickens museum reopens after 3m restoration
Heritage Lottery-backed project has transformed Dickens's only surviving London home, 'cleansing' layers of later alterations ... more  Add a comment

Artist carves landscapes from old books
Contemporary artist Guy Laramee has a talent for transforming the pages of thick books into beautiful natural landscapes and historical scenescarved books ... more  Add a comment

The floating brothel
The Kent Jail Delivery Book contains schedules of prisoners who set sail on the Lady Juliana, labelled the 'floating brothel', which arrived in New South Wales on June 6, 1790. The jail book will be auctioned by Sotheby's on December 12th and is expected to fetch £7,000 ... more  Add a comment

Tony Hancock rare radio scripts up for sale
The "extraordinary and rather moving" collection has been catalogued by actor and rare books dealer Neil Pearson. It includes seven or eight scripts for episodes of the radio series Hancock's Half Hour, the recordings of which have been lost ... more  Add a comment

Collecting original comic art
As an obsessive comic book fan, I've spent years collecting doodles, commissioned artwork and the occasional original page from literally hundreds of comic book artists -- pieces I've posted in my personal collection at Comic Art Fans, a free site where collectors can share their favorite pieces and check out others' collections as well ... more  Add a comment

Napoleon's coded letter sells for $243K
A secret code letter sent by French emperor Napoleon boasting that his multinational forces would blow up Moscow's Kremlin sold at auction Sunday for $243,500 - 10 times its estimated pre-sale price ... more  Add a comment

Why secondhand bookshops are just my type
As bookshops are displaced by the internet, the author of a new work on serendipity describes the joys of delving in dusty shelves ... more  Add a comment

Western manuscripts & miniatures
See two lavishly illuminated Books of Hours on display at Sotheby's December 1st - 6th ... more  Add a comment

Napoleon: coded document up for auction
A document containing Napoleon's coded secret order to blow up the Kremlin is going up for auction in France. The document, which is accompanied by a second decoded sheet, is estimated to sell for up to £12,200 ... more  Add a comment

Founding father's mystery code cracked after 250 years
A mysterious book written in code by one of the founding fathers of the United States has finally been deciphered after 250-years of trying. A crack team of Brown University students decoded the writings of Rhode Island founder Roger Williams after developing a statistical tool that allowed them to translate the curious characters ... more  Add a comment

Mystery book sculptor returns for Book Week Scotland
Scotland's mystery book sculptor has been up to her old tricks again this week, leaving a series of literary-themed sculptures in secret locations ... more  Add a comment

First editions: A rare present
We treasure our books, not just the words themselves that in this increasingly digital age can be downloaded to a Kindle or iPad, but physical books that have heft and such sensorial pleasures as pages to eagerly turn or compelling dust jackets that fire the imagination and stoke the anticipation of reading. But it is the personal connection readers have with books that make them such a meaningful and enduring gift, no matter the season ... more  Add a comment

Debate over rare book sale divides Boston church
The proposed sale of Colonial-era silver and one of the church's two copies of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book ever published in North America, has sparked controversy among some members ... more  Add a comment

The secret history of secondhand books
Ten years ago, book collector and Time Out reviewer Wayne Gooderham realised that countless hours raiding the city's secondhand bookshops had left him with a fascinating collection of sub-stories -- handwritten notes scrawled on to title pages from gifter to giftee ... more  Add a comment