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.

August 2014

Roald Dahl draft spills Chocolate Factory secrets
Little-known characters and incidents that could have featured in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have been revealed by the Roald Dahl estate ... more  Add a comment

Bookless library opened by new US university
There are no dusty bookshelves or piles of textbooks in the library of Florida's newest university. Welcoming its first students this week, Florida Polytechnic University's new library houses not a single physical book ... more  Add a comment

Mary, Queen of Scots signed manuscript up for sale
Mary signed the document relating to part of an estate in France where one of the most notorious massacres in the country's history took place ... more  Add a comment

Vintage Superman comic book fetches record price
A nearly flawless 1938 copy of "Action Comics No 1," containing the first Superman adventure, has become the most expensive comic book ever. It fetched $3.2 million dollars in an online auction ... more  Add a comment

Torn page of the Koran valued at $60 sells for $74,000
'Sold!' for a whopping $74,000; a torn page of the Koran estimated at $40 to $60 was bought at an auction over the phone by a London dealer for $86,000 with the buyer's premium ... more  Add a comment

Dylan Thomas bust in centenary auction devoted to poet
A bust of Dylan Thomas said to be the only one sculpted while he was alive is among highlights of a centenary auction of artworks related to the poet ... more  Add a comment

Comic actor's brother sells book collection
A collection of rare cricket books owned by Tony Hancock's showbusiness agent brother Roger is expected to hit a six-figure sum when it is sold later this year ... more  Add a comment

Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds
A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were "significantly" worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience ... more  Add a comment

Judging a Book By Its Cover
My passion for books is not just for the content, but the experience of the physical object itself. What appeals most is the tactile and visual quality, and how the message is communicated through the medium of print. Bookbinding is a craft that responds to the inherent brief of the content; individually produced, copies are the ultimate in limited hand-made editions. It is hardly surprising that they are regarded by some as the holy grail of book collecting ... more  Add a comment

Printed wall coverings
Wallpapers typically do their job quietly, the repeating patterns providing a lively yet not always intellectually challenging backdrop to a room's contents. Scenic panoramics, however, such as Joseph Dufour et Cie's Les Rives du Bosphore (The Banks of the Bosphorus), tell tales and spark conversations. A pre-1812 edition of that famous design, comprising 25 handmade panels, arrived in Manhattan recently and is transforming a dining room into a virtual tour of Istanbul's romantic coastline as it was more than 200 years ago ... more  Add a comment

Cataloguing the Irish 'Big House'
Auction catalogues for house contents sales rise in value and are now collectable ... more  Add a comment

JD Salinger's former home up for sale
The late and famously private author's secluded sanctuary now open for public viewing by interested buyers ... more  Add a comment

Cracking the Voynich Manuscript
The Voynich Manuscript might have been dropped to Earth by aliens; it might be a medieval cipher whose mystery outlived anyone who had the key; it also might be a prank and moneymaking scheme by some haggard rare bookseller. But whatever the book actually is, Brazilian scientists are pretty certain that the manuscript's text - which is written in a language and alphabet only found in the Voynich itself -isn't just gibberish. There's meaning in there, and complex network modeling or other big data tools might crack the enigma that has thus far proven unbreakable ... more  Add a comment

eBay auction for first Superman comic tops 1m
Bidders on eBay are fiercely trying to get their hands on a copy of 'Action Comics #1' from 1938, which is considered to be the "Holy Grail" of comics because of its influence on the superhero genre. The book has been described as "the finest known copy of the most sought after comic book in the world" ... more  Add a comment

Book sculptor's new flight of fancy
A work donated by the 'Anonymous Book Sculptor' raised over £2,000 at auction in the Macmillan Art Exhibition and Sale earlier this week. Proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support ... more  Add a comment

Charles Dickens and George Eliot passing notes
Rare book dealer Peter Harrington has acquired the best Dickens presentation copy to have come to market in a generation: the author's most famous work, A Tale of Two Cities, inscribed to George Eliot. This piece of history - on show at the Dover Street bookshop in its original presentation binding and priced at 275,000GBP - is part of a wider correspondence between the two authors, one that saw Dickens intrigued enough to ask if he was in fact a she in a heartfelt letter ... more  Add a comment

What makes Gormenghast a masterpiece?
Mervyn Peake's gothic fantasy has never matched the success of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Maybe it's just too good ... more  Add a comment

Scores of valuable maps still missing
Scores of maps worth hundreds of thousands of pounds are still missing almost 15 years after they were stolen from the National Library of Wales ... more  Add a comment

UKBookworld to close
The UK-centric bookselling website UKBookworld is to close at the end of August, after failing to find extra investment. In an email owner John Phipps (who aquired the website from Michael Cole last year) states simply: "It is the end of our first year of operations and the financial losses for the year are so high that I cannot consider going on subsiding the site."  Add a comment

Save the Warburg Institute!
The Times Higher Education recently reported that the University of London has taken legal action to challenge its own deed of trust concerning the care and integrity of the Warburg Institute. Possible results of this action include the dispersal of the library, or its relocation abroad ... more  Add a comment

'I buy the best quality that I can afford'
According to Bristol-based Paul Fraser Collectibles, the most sought-after first edition fiction has risen on average by 140 per cent in the past decade. The most valuable is F?Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby ... more  Add a comment

Early Beatles' photograph up for auction
One of the earliest photos of The Beatles in Liverpool's Cavern Club is being auctioned later this month. The picture and other recently unearthed snaps, were taken to The Beatles Shop in Liverpool ... more  Add a comment

Unknown manuscripts shed light on author of Don Quixote
Investigators have discovered four unknown documents which shed light on the life of Miguel de Cervantes, the famed author of Don Quixote of La Mancha. The documents, one of them signed by Cervantes, were found in the archives of Seville and La Puebla de Cazalla, in southern Spain ... more  Add a comment

Ernest Shackleton books to be auctioned
One hundred years after Ernest Shackleton's ill-fated ship the Endurance set sail for the Antarctic, Sotheby's has announced the auction of a collection of Shackleton literary and historical treasures ... more  Add a comment

Meet the twins who eat candles and old books
Anita also opened up about her weird food craving: second hand books. "It's the smell, the musty smell. You can't [just smell them], then you have to taste them" ... more  Add a comment

International League of Antiquarian Booksellers protest
Since spring of 2012 the issue of the massive thefts in the Girolamini Library and other Italian libraries had kept busy both the Italian Justice as well as the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). ILAB understands fully that this is a complicated issue as the main suspected person, Marino Massimo de Caro, has carefully - and partly successfully - tried to cover up the traces of plundering he had left in the National Heritages. ILAB has, however, offered from April in 2012 onwards its help and cooperation to clear up this mess in many ways, an offer, which unfortunately had never been accepted and had not even been answered by Italian authorities. The latest developments in this case - the arrest of the Danish dealer Christian Westergaard and the confiscation of eleven books out of his stock - gives ILAB no other choice as to announce an official note of protest against the department of investigation ... more  Add a comment

Bronte enthusiasts hail 'fantastic discovery'
A film script used by the director of the first adaptation of Wuthering Heights has been bought for a five-figure sum by the Bronte Parsonage which hailed it as a "fantastic discovery" ... more  Add a comment

Abraham Lincoln's handwriting IS in library book
On the inside cover of a 'scientific' book justifying racism was a note believed to be penned by the US President who ended slavery, Abraham Lincoln ... more  Add a comment

Batman creator's personal copies to be auctioned
Batman creator Bob Kane's own copies of the Caped Crusader's earliest appearances are going up for auction. ComicConnect is selling Kane's file copies of Detective Comics Nos. 27 through 45 and Batman Nos. 1 through 3. The auction house declined to put an estimate on their value, saying such items rarely come up for sale ... more  Add a comment

Maps (and why we love them)
Informative, beautiful and relatable, it's hard to find somebody who doesn't find antiquarian maps interesting, but just in case you're not convinced, here's a list of some of our favourite map-facts ... more  Add a comment

The walking dead
And you thought zombie comics were a recent idea? Over the centuries, medieval artists applied their talents to illustrate a mysterious tale of animated corpses who tormented the living ... more  Add a comment