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.

January 2013

Italy fears for 'vanishing' heritage
The director of the Vatican Museums has warned that Italy's cultural heritage is "vanishing" after prosecutors in Naples said two more people had been arrested on suspicion of taking part in a "premeditated, organised and brutal" sacking of the city's 16th century Girolamini library ... more  Add a comment

Barry Humphries appointed Patron of ILAB
Barry Humphries, AO, CBE, the Australian comedian, satirist, artist, and author has been appointed a Patron of Honour by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB).  The appointment recognises his major contribution to the antiquarian book trade ... more  Add a comment

OJ Simpson's infamous memoir on eBay for $250k
One of the last remaining copies of OJ Simpson's hypothetical memoir about the notorious double murder of which he was acquitted was put up for sale for $250,000 ... more  Add a comment

Man arrested over Italian rare book thefts
Police in Italy have arrested a book-binder after the discovery that hundreds of precious books were missing from a famous library in Naples ... more  Add a comment

Signed Good Friday Agreement proposal sold
A copy of the original Good Friday Agreement proposal, which was signed by the participants, has sold at auction in Dublin for 9000 euros ... more  Add a comment

How do I become ... an illustrator
Technique, self-belief and a targeted approach are all vital to achieving success, says Harry Potter illustrator Cliff Wright - but a degree is less important ... more  Add a comment

The mysterious tower that inspired JRR Tolkien
Charity needs £1m to turn Perrott's Folly, said to have inspired author, into centre for Birmingham community ... more  Add a comment

Has the Great Library of Timbuktu been lost?
Jean-Michel Djian, a French writer who specializes in West African culture, and is author of a recent book, "The Manuscripts of Timbuktu," confirmed by phone last night that parts of the various collections were safe. "The great majority of the manuscripts, about fifty thousand, are actually housed in the thirty-two family libraries of the 'City of 333 Saints,'" he said. "Those are to this day protected." Djian also revealed that Abdel Kader Haidara, the owner of his family's "Mamma Haidara" library, had transported, two months ago, more than fifteen thousand of its manuscripts to the capital city in order to protect them. Djian said that the same was true of the several thousand manuscripts of the Kati Foundation in Timbuktu. "The rest," he added with a crack in his voice, "is unknown." ... more  Add a comment

Fate of Timbuktu library currently unknown
According to reports from Mali, many private owners have sought to save their own collections from destruction by hiding or removing their manuscripts, in some cases even burying them in the desert ... more  Add a comment

Mali rebels torched library of ancient manuscripts
Fleeing Islamist insurgents burnt two buildings containing priceless books as French-led troops approached, says mayor ... more  Add a comment

'Rocket Cat' depicted In 16th century German manuscript
A page from a 16th century German manuscript depicts what appears to be a "rocket cat." The illustrated feline is reportedly accompanied by the caption, "To ignite a castle with a cat" ... more  Add a comment

Murder in the library
Jake Kerridge discovers an imaginative exhibition full of thrills at the British Library ... more  Add a comment

Book owned by Sir Isaac Newton found in Welsh university
Rare book cataloguer Ken Gibb discovered the book, Thomas Browne's "Myographia Nova" or "A graphical description of all the muscles in the humane body", at the Rare Books Collection at Cardiff University Library. He traced it back to the famous physicist's library by tracking down the owners of several bookplates left inside ... more  Add a comment

Cornish language manuscripts to be preserved
A grant from the The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust will restore the documents, by antiquarians William Scawen and William Borlase ... more  Add a comment

Library turns to pole dancing to entice new readers
Midlothian council staging free dance fitness class and 'booky table tennis' to encourage people to borrow more books ... more  Add a comment

Beatrix Potter: The Mark Ottignon Collection
Bloomsbury Auctions have launched a microsite for The Mark Ottignon Beatrix Potter Collection, featuring books, manuscripts, photographs, and collectables, which will be sold on Feburary 27th.  Add a comment

Hundreds of lost William Blake etchings discovered
Researchers at the University of Manchester's John Rylands Library have stumbled upon a treasure trove of works by poet and artist William Blake ... more  Add a comment

Studio 54 memorabilia goes for big bucks at auction
The record albums may have been vinyl and the photos Polaroid, but the prices at Saturday's auction of memorabilia from the storied 1970s New York disco Studio 54 were strictly the stuff of naughty-oughty hedge funds and real-estate bubbles, as Sal DeFalco learned to his sorrow ... more  Add a comment

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Burroughs triptych to be sold
Work by US artist, who died aged 27 in 1988, is tribute to his favourite writer and is valued at between £4.25m and £6.25m ... more  Add a comment

It's a sadistic story, and France wants it
"The 120 Days of Sodom," by the Marquis de Sade, is one of the most perverse works of 18th-century literature. Even Bruno Racine, director of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, the National Library, calls it "depraved." But that hasn't stopped him from negotiating long and hard to buy Sade's manuscript ... more  Add a comment

George Orwell uncovered
Was British literature's greatest dystopian vision based on George Orwell's walk to the office? When annotating a new edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four, DJ Taylor followed the clues ... more  Add a comment

The best of the worst
One-star reviews of books from Time's list of the 100 best novels from 1923 to the present. A compilation of the best of the worst… about the best (Thanks to Shaun Kenaelly for the link.) ... more  Add a comment

Book of radical plans for Edinburgh circa 1949 discovered
A startling series of snapshots of Edinburgh as imagined by city planners in 1949 have emerged featuring a motorway running through the city centre - and a school built on Portobello Park ... more  Add a comment

The battle against 'sexist' sci-fi and fantasy book covers
Science fiction and fantasy novels routinely portray scantily clad woman on their covers - a device that draws the heterosexual male eye but may turn away women readers. Lynsea Garrison finds one fantasy author aiming to zap gender stereotypes ... more  Add a comment

The writing's on the wall
Yes, graffiti - Aboriginal remote community graffiti - a maze-like assemblage of letters and interlocking words and symbols, a kaleidoscope of collective creativity: a frontier form of art-making, ephemeral, unappreciated, vanishing ... more  Add a comment

Jane Austen and her Scottish contemporaries
Most of us will be familiar with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, published 200 years ago, but few will have read similar novels by two Scottish contemporaries. Perhaps, writes Stuart Kelly, it is time to bring them to light ... more  Add a comment

The algorithms that automatically date medieval manuscripts
Around a million medieval documents have no date making their historical significance difficult to quantify. But automated computer techniques look set to revolutionise the work for historians ... more  Add a comment

Judge finds Russia in contempt over books seized by Nazis
A federal judge on Wednesday held the Russian government in contempt, ordering it to pay a $50,000-a-day fine until it complies with a court order to return to a Jewish group historical books and artifacts stolen by the Nazis ... more  Add a comment

Masterworks on paper
A paradise for book lovers: The 52nd Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair will be held from 25th to 27th January 2013 in the elegant rooms of the Wurttemberg Art Museum, opposite to the Palace, next to the Palace Garden and directly in the city centre of Stuttgart. Around 80 rare book dealers from Europe and abroad will showcase bibliophile treasures from the middle ages to avant-garde to contemporary artists' books ... more  Add a comment

'Last copy' of Mein Kampf signed by Hitler to be auctioned
A copy of Adolf Hitler's autobiography 'Mein Kampf'--believed to be the last one signed by the Nazi dictator--is expected to fetch 5,000 pounds at an auction in London ... more  Add a comment

World-renowned manuscript expert admits sexual addiction
An expert in ancient manuscripts at the Victoria and Albert Museum, who installed a secret camera in a toilet and kept a collection of women's clothes, wigs and make-up under his desk, was placed on twelve months supervision ... more  Add a comment

20 ways to be really annoying in the library
The library is a vital place for students. It is the sanctuary where our most innovative thinking is produced and our most significant work completed, and it is a haven from the distractions of the outside world. Well that may all be exaggerating slightly, but it is a place you go to when an important deadline is looming and you really need to concentrate ... more  Add a comment

The first Kindle? The amazing mechanical book reader from 1935
It won't slip into your pocket, but a drawing from a science magazine published almost 80 years ago under the caption 'the book reader of the future', shows a design for a remarkably similar - although armchair based - device ... more  Add a comment

First 'bookless' library opens in US
The 100% digital centre will open in Autumn 2013 in Baxar County after its county judge Nelson Wolff was inspired to create a digitally native library while reading the Steve Jobs autobiography by Walter Isaccson ... more  Add a comment

Research uncovers seven lost Burns manuscripts
A Scottish researcher has unearthed seven long lost manuscripts, including correspondence between Robert Burns and his close friends, which throw significant new light on the life and work of the poet ... more  Add a comment

'Lolita' author Nabokov's museum attacked
Russian ultraconservatives have struck again in St. Petersburg, where a museum of famous writer Vladimir Nabokov was attacked over "paedophilia" ... more  Add a comment

Ipswich Town archives to be auctioned
Books detailing the day-to-day activities at Ipswich Town from 1880-1957 are among a rare collection being sold at auction. Collector Roger Ambrose said he was selling "five trunks" of records which used to belong to John Eastwood, author of the club's official history ... more  Add a comment

'Bleak' 2013 predicted as 300 libraries could be lost
Library campaigners are forecasting a grim 2013, predicting that 300 libraries could close or be lost from local authority control in the next 12 months ... more  Add a comment

Sir Quentin Blake's imagination runs riot in Norfolk
Newly knighted illustrator Sir Quentin Blake - the man who brought to life so many Roald Dahl books - has just turned 80 and has moved to Norfolk. Celebrations include two new exhibitions in the region ... more  Add a comment

Beatles colour photos from 1964 up for auction
Unpublished images were taken during visit to US at a time when most photos of the band were in black and white ... more  Add a comment

Turning page on library's hidden treasure
Paper dolls, parlour games and paperbacks from as long ago as 1800 have been rediscovered in Cambridge University Library as part of a special project to reveal its secrets ... more  Add a comment

William Henry Fox Talbot collection
A research library needs to raise £2.2m by the end of February for the archive of the "founder of photography" ... more  Add a comment

Keats' last-known handwritten poem for sale
The last known handwritten poem by John Keats in private hands is one of the star items in the sale of the Roy Davids Collection III: Poetry: Poetical Manuscripts and Portraits of Poets which will be held in two parts on 10th April and 8 May 2013 at Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street ... more  Add a comment

Early sex manual up for auction
An early manual on sex and pregnancy, banned from sale in the UK for more than 200 years, will go under the hammer later this month ... more  Add a comment

Fascinated by private book collectors
Collecting is a hobby shared by people of every age, race, religion, nationality and financial standing. In the first of a series of articles, Rosie Manins talks to University of Otago Special Collections librarian Donald Kerr about the public good of collecting and how it has influenced his own professional and personal life ... more  Add a comment

Britain's first centre for book arts
Centre for art form that combines crafts of papermaking, typesetting and bookbinding inspired by founder's US road trip ... more  Add a comment