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.

April 2013

Museums jointly buy Hebrew manuscript
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem have jointly acquired a 15th-century illuminated Hebrew manuscript, they announced Monday. The Mishneh Torah is a rare manuscript with text by the Middle Ages Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. It is a synthesis of Jewish law and the second of a two-volume manuscript featuring six large illustrations plus 32 smaller images and marginal decorations. The first volume is housed in the Vatican ... more  Add a comment

The curious tale of the stolen books
London's Lambeth Palace, home to the Archbishop of Canterbury, also has a leading historic book collection. The palace's library was the scene of a major crime that stayed undiscovered for decades ... more  Add a comment

Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" manuscript up for auction
The iconic literary masterpiece is estimated to sell for $250,000 and shows the authors ultimate edit, the leading lady's name change from Connie Gustafson to Holly Golightly ... more  Add a comment

A ghost story: James Joyce's lost poem
When he was nine, the young writer composed and printed a poem about Charles Stewart Parnell of which only a fragment is recorded. For a rare-book dealer, it's thrilling to think a copy might be waiting to be discovered. Could it be hidden somewhere in Ireland? ... more  Add a comment

Titanic bandmaster letter at auction
A letter written by the bandmaster of the Titanic who played as the doomed ship sank is to be sold at auction ... more  Add a comment

Rare Bible manuscript goes on show at Lacock
A rare manuscript that has been kept hidden from view for more than 700 years has gone on public display for the very first time ... more  Add a comment

How to spot a fake
Some books can be worth a fortune. However, they are among the easiest collectibles to fake. So what do you look for when you're buying a book? Treasure Detective Curtis Dowling shares some tips on how to determine if a book is really as old as it looks ... more  Add a comment

Starting today, Covered: Beauty and Art in Contemporary Bookbinding is an exhibition of new work by Fellows and Licentiates of Designer Bookbinders - plus a few invited binders. The exhibition will take place in the  St Bride Foundation's newly refurbished Layton Room, runs until May 10th, and all the work is for sale ... more  Add a comment

Portrait of a mistress
Rarely seen photographs of the beautiful actress who famously had an affair with King Edward VII have been unearthed. The album of portraits of the woman behind the royal affair is to be sold at auction with an estimate of £7,000 ... more  Add a comment

Ragged Trousered Philanthropists author honoured
Today the eye's of the world fell on London and the funeral of Margaret Thatcher. However, while many will watched the divisive former prime minister laid to rest in a lavish funeral, some on the left have been celebrating the life of one of the father's of the British Labour movement whose life was shaped in Hastings and whose body lies in a pauper's grave in the North West ... more  Add a comment

Rescue or Theft?
Did Zosa Szajkowski save precious documents from the Nazis, or did he steal the cultural patrimony of French Jews? ... more  Add a comment

My hunt for the white whale
By the fourth day of the New York Antiquarian Book Fair, I still had not found a copy of "Moby-Dick" ... more  Add a comment

The professionalisation of library theft
The indication that an ordinary string of rare book thefts has evolved into a terrifying string of rare book thefts often comes down to this: the presence of a man whose sole job it is to get rid of library ownership marks. No other single trait indicates as certainly that a theft ring has moved from the amateur to the professional ranks ... more  Add a comment

Photographer's unique collection sells for 105,000
A unique collection of work by a celebrated photographer including shots of The Beatles and Audrey Hepburn was sold for £105,000 at auction in Bury St Edmunds ... more  Add a comment

George Orwell's birthplace is to become Gandhi memorial
The long-neglected birthplace of British novelist George Orwell in eastern India is to be developed into a memorial - just not one dedicated to the writer. Instead, the land attached to Orwell's house in Bihar's Motihari city will be developed in memory of independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, said local officials who laid a foundation stone at the site over the weekend ... more  Add a comment

Medieval recipes to be tasted once again
A selection of recently uncovered 800-year-old recipes, believed to be the oldest ever found, will be served up at a special event next week ... more  Add a comment

Rare John Keats portrait comes to auction
A rare portrait of John Keats, unusually showing the poet meeting the artist's eye rather than gazing melancholically into space, has come to light in the hands of an American owner ... more  Add a comment

Hymnal that dates to 1640 could fetch $30M at auction
A tiny hymnal from 1640 believed to be the first book ever printed in what is now the United States is going up for auction, and it could sell for as much as $30 million ... more  Add a comment

The Bible of cricket turns 150
Inside the library at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, the game's spiritual home, a century and a half of cricket history takes up about 20 feet of nondescript shelving hidden behind a desk ... more  Add a comment

Manuscript shows 'enlightened' attitude to women
DH Lawrence was famously denounced as a sexist by Kate Millett in the 1970s, but a newly-discovered manuscript shows a different side to the author of Lady Chatterley's Lover, as he urges a misogynist to think of "even the most 'beautiful' woman ... as a being instead of as a piece of lurid meat" ... more  Add a comment

How the priceless manuscripts in Timbuktu were saved
Abba al-Hadi could not read any of the priceless manuscripts he gingerly placed into empty rice sacks each evening last August before spiriting them through Timbuktu's darkening streets. The wiry septuagenarian had never learned to read or write but, having spent four decades working as a guard at the Ahmed Baba Institute, a state-run body responsible for the restoration and preservation of much of this storied town's written heritage, he was all too aware of the value of the brittle pages bound in leather cases ... more  Add a comment

Jim Morrison archive at New York Antiquarian Book Fair
This year's New York Antiquarian Book Fair which opens at The Park Avenue Armory on Thursday will feature an archive of photos, notebooks, lyrics and poems of and by The Doors legendary frontman Jim Morrison. It can be found at the booth of the U.K's Lucius Booksellers ... more  Add a comment

Manuscript prevented from leaving Britain
A valuable 15th century Flemish manuscript acquired by the J.Paul Getty Museum late last year has been placed under an export embargo by British authorities, who hope to keep the object in the United Kingdom ... more  Add a comment

Vancouver comic collection up for auction
A collection of more than 60,000 rare comic books, gathered from hundreds of conventions across North America over four decades, is hitting the auction circuit this weekend in Vancouver ... more  Add a comment

Propaganda: Power and Persuasion
From safe sex to dictatorships, from the iconic to the everyday, from the spectacular to the sinister, from the informing to the surprising, this exhibition covers the world and two centuries. This British Library exhibition shows you the myriad ways that states attempt to influence you, the People ... more  Add a comment

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
According to Furmedge, who sells between 150 and 200 Wisdens every month, rare early editions can sell for as much as £35,000, while a complete set of originals needs to be insured for about £350,000 ... more  Add a comment

Richard III letter fetches 35,000
A rare letter signed by Richard III has sold for almost £35,000 at auction in Los Angeles. The document, thought to date back to between 1473 and 1477, was written when Richard was the Duke of Gloucester. It had been valued at up to £80,000 ... more  Add a comment

The Hobbit ring that may have inspired Tolkien on show
Lord of the Rings author was researching the story of the curse of a Roman ring for two years before starting Bilbo Baggins tale ... more  Add a comment

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' manuscript up for auction
Truman Capote's 1958 typed manuscript of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is rife with the author's handwritten edits - most notably changing the femme fatale's name from Connie Gustafson to the now-iconic Holly Golightly. The manuscript is being offered for sale by a New Hampshire auction house and is expected to net at least $250,000 later this month ... more  Add a comment

Signed Sgt Pepper album goes for ten times its estimate
If they had known that, as a result, this signed copy of their Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album would one day sell for almost £200,000, The Beatles might have made their signatures a little more legible ... more  Add a comment

Rare Billy the Kid book domated
The 1892 book, donated by the William A. Keleher Family, was written by Pat Garrett, the Lincoln County Sheriff who shot and killed the famous outlaw. The book is signed by Garrett and will become part of the Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections at University Libraries ... more  Add a comment

Breathing life into old books
There are huge challenges in rethinking the roles of an institution such as the British Library, but also many opportunities. The digital age is full of creative potential - people can find what they want quickly, which frees up energies to go even deeper with their research. The library is one of those very old words that is turning out to have valuable new meanings. Creative curatorial library skills, such as indexing, cataloguing, giving access and helping people find the material they need at the right time, turn out to be exactly the disciplines that are driving the global information economy ... more  Add a comment