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 2013

Russian Avant-garde trumps Chekhov
A rare signed copy of Anton Chekhov's "Stories and Tales" failed to find a buyer at the Russian Literature and Works on Paper auction at Bonhams in New York City Wednesday ... more  Add a comment

An old man in a new world
How does someone becomes a book collector?  In this recounting I retrace my career with old books from the moment of my first awareness through to the present, the traditional world of books and book collecting for me a receding memory, the electronic world of dealer catalogues and offers, eBay and auctions now every day emerging ... more  Add a comment

Dyslexia is not a disability - it's a gift
As a fellow dyslexic, this article by Sally Gardner certainly rang true, and her call for more publicly dyslexic role models is one I can only echo ... more  Add a comment

Original Winnie-the-Pooh drawings up for auction
The ink sketches, that have been gathered from private collections around the world, are estimated to fetch more than £600,000 at auction. The collection includes a picture of Christopher Robin asleep with his teddy bear lying on his quilt, which accompanied Pooh author A.A. Milne's poem 'Vespers' ... more  Add a comment

25 things I'm learning from closing a bookstore
A while back I wrote "25 Things I Learned From Opening a Bookstore." This is the other bookend ... more  Add a comment

Mysterious Voynich manuscript has 'genuine message'
The message inside "the world's most mysterious medieval manuscript" has eluded cryptographers, mathematicians and linguists for over a century. And for many, the so-called Voynich book is assumed to be a hoax. But a new study, published in the journal Plos One, suggests the manuscript may, after all, hold a genuine message ... more  Add a comment

Caring for your rare and antiquarian maps
Rare book collectors often encounter maps, which present special challenges because they've usually been folded (and unfolded and refolded again) as part of their original use ... more  Add a comment

Nepali manuscripts on the Memory of the World Register
Two Nepali manuscripts have been listed on the Memory of the World Register of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on June 18. According to a press statement issued by UNESCO Nepal on June 19, Nisvasattatvasamhita, the earliest tantric manuscript, and the Susrutasamhita (Sahottartantra), the oldest document on Ayurveda medicine, have been added to the prestigious list, confirming their outstanding value ... more  Add a comment

Eat this book
Polish graphic designer and photographer Pawel Piotrowski satisfies our book hunger with his Sandwich Book, a delectable selection of yummy designs carved and colored to perfection! ... more  Add a comment

Academics will need the physical library for years to come
Research no longer starts with a visit to the library building, say Rachel Bruce and Mike Mertens, but it still plays a crucial role ... more  Add a comment

New acquisitions in manuscript and print
On 5 June 2013, the British Library bought four lots in the Mendham Sale at Sotheby's, London. The Library's view was that the sale was regrettable, and Roly Keating (our Chief Executive) expressed his reservations as joint-signatory in a letter published in The Times on 11 May. However, once it became clear that the sale would go ahead, a decision was made to try to purchase certain lots, in order to preserve some of the Mendham books for the national collection and to maintain public access to them ... more  Add a comment

David Bowie's Jean Genie lyrics to be auctioned in London
A signed set of David Bowie's handwritten lyrics to The Jean Genie are scheduled to be auctioned next monthand are expected to sell for between £12,000 and £15,000 ... more  Add a comment

Living with his 35,000 books
Tom Johnson, 83, lives in the museum that is his home. In his own non-digital way, he curates his family's legacy, the estimated 35,000 books and manuscripts that share his 113-year-old meandering and musty house on the Osage River ... more  Add a comment

Ernest Hemingway's typewriter up for auction
One of the most important literary relics of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway's fully documented typewriter, on which he typed his last book, is being offered by auctioneer Profiles In History in its Rare Books & Manuscripts sale, Wednesday, July 10, 2013.  It is estimated to sell for $60,000 - $80,000 ... more  Add a comment

How to invest in rare books
"There is no friend as loyal as a book." I'd imagine writer Ernest Hemingway wasn't talking investments when he said that, but if the past month is anything to go by, the quote certainly applies to diversifying with rare books ... more  Add a comment

The orgy of literary treasures bought at Sotheby's auction
Sotheby's held an auction of literary items in New York on Tuesday, and it was a wild success. Items by David Foster Wallace and 16th century French writer Michel de Montaigne both sold for more than $100,000 more than their estimated prices. Here are some of the notable, breathtaking sales of the day ... more  Add a comment

An exacting art, delighting in every petal and pistil
"Gardening by the Book: Celebrating 100 Years of the Garden Club of America" runs through July 27 at the Grolier Club, 47 East 60th Street, Manhattan ... more  Add a comment

Fore-edge paintings
Books with a hidden surprise beneath their gilt edges: a painting done on the fanned-out fore edge of the text block  Add a comment

Superman comic from 1938 fetches $175,000
A comic containing the first pictures of Superman has been sold for $175,000 (£111,000) at auction in the US. The rare copy, found being used as insulation in a wall at a home in Minnesota, was discovered by a building contractor. In mint condition, the comic could have fetched $3m but the back cover was accidentally torn ... more  Add a comment

Dambusters hero Guy Gibson letter sells for 6,600
Dambusters hero Guy Gibson wrote a prophetic letter in which he suggested the title 'The Boys Die Young' for his autobiography just six weeks before his own death, it was revealed today ... more  Add a comment

A brief history of broadsides
"Broadsides are the most legitimate representatives of the most ephemeral literature, the least likely to escape destruction, and yet they are the most vivid exhibitors of the manners, arts, and daily life, of communities and nations" ... more  Add a comment

The first book of fashion
How did a 16th Century accountant end up creating one of the most unique documents in the history of fashion - the world's first fashion book? ... more  Add a comment

10,000 book binding prize
British designer Dominic Riley has won the top award of £10,000 at the second Sir Paul Getty Bodleian Bookbinding Prize 2013 ceremony ... more  Add a comment

A feast of fine bindings
We've pulled out the white linen tablecloth, set the table with sterling dinnerware,  crystal champagne flutes, and platinum serving tray spread with fine bindings. Bon appetit! ... more  Add a comment

The Pope's Bookbinder
David Mason launches his autobiography, The Pope's Bookbinder, as he foresees his rare bookstore's time in Toronto coming to a close ... more  Add a comment

Downside Abbey library opens to the public
The doors of the largest monastic library in the UK and the admired but leaking modernist building which holds it will open to the public for the first time after a major grant to Downside Abbey from the Heritage Lottery fund ... more  Add a comment

Seattle library's longest book domino chain
An amazing video has captured the moment the Seattle Public Library toppled the world record for the longest book domino chain. Nearly 30 volunteers at the library spent more than seven hours setting up 2,131 books and watching them fall to beat a previous record set in 2011 in the United Kingdom ... more  Add a comment

Sale of Koranic manuscript scrapped
A French auction house has scrapped the sale of a Koranic manuscript Napoleon swiped from a famous mosque in Cairo during his Egyptian campaign, after strong objections from Cairo ... more  Add a comment

Notes on ... London's secondhand bookshops
After seeing the Dalai Lama receive an award at St Paul's Cathedral, I thought I'd look in at some secondhand bookshops around the British Museum on my walk home. They had all gone ... more  Add a comment

No news today ...
I'm off on holiday until June 12th but on my return I will attempt a round-up of the most interesting news items you may have missed.  Add a comment