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.

July 2013

Tiny tomes
The world's most beautiful miniature books ... more  Add a comment

US to return stolen Swedish books
The books, which have an estimated combined value of $100,000, were among at least 56 stolen from the library between 1995 and 2004 by the former head of its manuscript department Anders Burius, who committed suicide shortly after confessing to the thefts in 2004 ... more  Add a comment

Winnie the Pooh exhibition at Mottisfont
Christopher Robin, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood are being celebrated at the idyllic setting of National Trust property Mottisfont. There will be 36 hand-painted illustrations by E.H. Shepard on show, created for the books Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner ... more  Add a comment

Barnardo's archive 'up for grabs' or destruction
One of the oldest, extant, dedicated photographic archives in the world, the Barnardo's photographic archive, currently housed in Barkingside, East London is under significant threat of destruction following its digitisation ... more  Add a comment

Unknown portrait of Robert Burns discovered at auction
A previously unknown portrait of Scotland's bard, Robert Burns, by one of the nation's leading painters has been discovered in England and is now on the market for £2 million ... more  Add a comment

Biopic of Wind in the Willows author
Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody is attached to star in Banking on Mr Toad, a biopic that looks at The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame's relationship with his wife, his autistic son, and his writing ... more  Add a comment

The Noble Game of Cricket
Lawrence Worms visits The Noble Game of Cricket: A Celebration of Cricket and the Ashes. An amazing display of material covering the entire history of the game at Jonathan Potter Ltd  Add a comment

Actual Schindler's List being auctioned on eBay
Schindler's list - the document, not the movie - is being auctioned on eBay with a hefty starting price of $3 million ... more  Add a comment

Stolen manuscripts worth 4 mn euros recovered in Italy
Italian police said on Friday they had recovered 36 manuscripts by novelist Giovanni Verga worth some four millions euros (USD 5.25 million). The manuscripts were stolen in the 1930s ... more  Add a comment

Allen Ginsberg collection captures a generation
Bill Morgan, the personal archivist to the acclaimed Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, says that Ginsberg's legacy is as much about what he left behind as it is about his life and work. Everything from childhood diaries and personal correspondence to first editions of Ginsberg's works and all manner of printed ephemera make up the nearly 1,300 linear feet of material in Stanford's Allen Ginsberg Papers collection ... more  Add a comment

JK Rowling's new book selling for 3,000
Signed first editions of The Cuckoo's Calling are the subject of frenzied bidding from dealers and collectors ... more  Add a comment

British Library row over reading room rules
A fierce debate on the British Library's policy of admitting undergraduates is playing out on the pages of the London Review of Books. But should librarians throw out the 'intruders'? ... more  Add a comment

New building for ancient desert library
One of the world's earliest libraries - well over a millennium old - finally has its first dedicated building. The Coptic monastery of Deir al-Surian (the monastery of the Syrians), in the Egyptian desert, was established in the sixth century and some of its manuscripts were collected by its abbot during a trip to Baghdad in AD927 ... more  Add a comment

Mystery book sculptor strikes again
The anonymous artist responsible for a remarkable series of complex book sculptures has struck again in Edinburgh. The latest work of art was sent through the post to the Edinburgh Unesco City of Literature Trust  ... more  Add a comment

William Blake's cottage up for sale
The west Sussex cottage that William Blake lived in from 1800 to 1803, when he began work on Milton: A Poem, has come up for sale for the first time since 1928 ... more  Add a comment

Calfs head hash, and other recipes
A librarian at Westminster Council's Archives Centre has discovered a 300 year old book of recipes which she believes has not been opened for more than 100 years ... more  Add a comment

Glyndwr University opens Leonard Goldstein library
A book collection from an American academic forced to flee to East Germany in the 1960s has become a new reference library in Wrexham ... more  Add a comment

Glyndwr University opens Leonard Goldstein library
A book collection from an American academic forced to flee to East Germany in the 1960s has become a new reference library in Wrexham ... more  Add a comment

Four surviving Magnas Carta to be brought together
The four surviving original copies of Magna Carta will be brought together for the first time in history in 2015, the year of the 800th anniversary of the issue of the Charter by King John in 1215. The unification, which will be held at the British Library in collaboration with Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral and supported by the law firm Linklaters, will take place over 3 days in early 2015 and will kick off a year of celebrations across the UK and the world ... more  Add a comment

A bookseller recalls life among the shelves
One occupational hazard of drug dealing is that it's easy to become addicted to your product. While you can make good money selling hash or cocaine, all too many dealers have smoked or snorted away their profits. The antiquarian book trade suffers the same problem. Almost all booksellers are also book lovers which means antiquarian dealers are nearly inevitably divided souls, torn between the competing desire to collect what they love and the financial necessity to sell their wares ... more  Add a comment

Novels remain the best interactive media
There's a pervasive arrogance in the approach of technologists to books. Every new wave of technology arrives with its techno-prophets, assuring us we'll no longer have to deal with those fusty old book things and their tiresome words. In the future all novels will be interactive multimedia experiences ... more  Add a comment

China discovers primitive 5,000-year-old script
Archaeologists say they have discovered a new form of primitive writing in markings on stoneware excavated from a relic site in eastern China dating about 5,000 years back. Some scholars, however, have responded more cautiously to the findings. Unearthed at the Zhuangqiaofen archaeological site in the eastern province of Zhejiang, the inscriptions are about 1,400 years older than the oldest known written Chinese language and around the same age as the oldest writing in the world ... more  Add a comment

Worth a thousand words
One way for the traditional print book to compete with the e-book is to play up its own virtues. ''Printed books will have to become more beautiful, more durable and more tactile,'' Melbourne author and artist Antoni Jach says ... more  Add a comment

Library Campaign warns of library 'slaughter'
The Library Campaign has urged the Government to stop the "secret slaughter" of libraries, which the body claims could see a quarter of the UK's libraries closed ... more  Add a comment

Rare manuscript by Italian master found
A University of Manchester academic has discovered an important and previously unknown manuscript by one of the medieval period's greatest thinkers, who was born 700 years ago this year ... more  Add a comment

Nazi officer's grandson returns stolen books
Four books stamped with his name, the only tangible keepsake that Moshe Hofstadter has of his father Abraham, who was murdered by the Nazis, were returned to him in a moving ceremony at Yad Vashem on Wednesday ... more  Add a comment

Samuel Beckett manuscript sells for 962,500 at auction
The University of Reading, which bought the manuscript to add to its collection of more than 500 manuscripts and drafts, said it was "thrilled" ... more  Add a comment

Ufford phone box becomes 'smallest library'
A village phone box which has sat unloved for more than 10 years has been converted into a book exchange ... more  Add a comment

John Constable sketches fetch 100,000 at auction
Five lots, owned by the late Michigan collector Jasper Moores, were put up for sale at Bonhams. The highest price was for a drawing of Coleorton Hall in Leicestershire, which fetched £67,250, a study of a castle went for £17,500 while one of Salisbury Cathedral reached £16,250 ... more  Add a comment

London Rare Books School - 2013
A couple of appearances for me on the maps course last week, but a full-time commitment to the Modern First Editions course this week.  Booksellers generally love talking, of course - especially about books (and even more about themselves) - so it's been an excellent week ... more  Add a comment

Shakespeare identity debate reignited
The perennial dispute over Shakespeare's true identity has been reignited after Alexander Waugh threw down a challenge for Shakespeare scholars to appear in a televised debate. "The academics are cornered, they have no evidence at all," said Waugh. "Our declaration of reasonable doubt has forced their hand. They have been idle, and swept other theories under the carpet, dismissing us as fragmented lunatics" ... more  Add a comment

Rare manuscript in brain exhibition
A rare medieval manuscript with one of the world's oldest known depictions of the human brain is set to go on display ... more  Add a comment

Ben Jonson's chair
Fat and often drunk, Ben Jonson would tumble home to his study where he wrote until the end. Charles Nicholl imagines how it looked and pieces together new evidence to provide a remarkable picture of the writer at work ... more  Add a comment

Travel books are a worldwide hit with collectors
Summer is primetime for journeys to far-away lands by way of one’s imagination and by actually making the decision to travel! A collection of travel books is a great way to sample life in other countries and learn about their culture and history whether or not one makes the necessary arrangements to turn their dream into a reality ... more  Add a comment

Throwing the book at 'Thieves of Book Row'
It is hard to imagine a more gentlemanly trade than the buying and selling of old books. The very word "antiquarian" evokes tweedy, bespectacled fellows moving between dusty shelves to pull down some esoteric intellectual treasure. But as Travis McDade shows in "Thieves of Book Row," book dealing in the early 20th century was rife with scoundrels and rogues ... more  Add a comment