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.

November 2014

Bard's first folio fetches 2.8m
A rare complete copy of the First Folio of William Shakespeare's plays has sold for £2.8m at a Sotheby's auction. The book, one of about 40 complete copies known to exist, was bought by an anonymous London book dealer ... more  Add a comment

Is e-reading making the book more beautiful?
It is an odd and beautiful thing - a thing more than a book, whose design doesn't just adorn but penetrates the story ... more  Add a comment

Empty displays in library protest against copyright law
"Don't sorrow for me ... I shall have died happily," wrote Lieutenant Colonel Robert Dunlop Smith. "One can't die better than in doing one's duty. You may be sure that I shall be thinking of you all at the last ..." But the display case at the National Library of Scotland which should contain Dunlop Smith's letter is empty. The Lieutenant Colonel was killed in action in 1917, but the letter he wrote to his father to be opened on the occasion of his death was never published, and remains restricted under copyright until 2039 ... more  Add a comment

Harold Pinter letters acquired by British Library
The British Library has acquired a collection of more than 100 letters by celebrated playwright Harold Pinter. The letters were written by Pinter to a pair of childhood friends, Henry Woolf and Mick Goldstein, when the writer was in his twenties ... more  Add a comment

1,300-year-old book of Egyptian magic deciphered
Researchers have decoded an ancient Egyptian book of spells they are calling an "Egyptian Handbook of Ritual Power." It contains incantations for everything from attaining success in a business venture, to love spells, to curing disease. The 20 page illustrated codex is thought to date from the 7th or 8th century, some 1,300 years ago, which seems to have been a pivotal time for the history of mysticism in that area of the world ... more  Add a comment

Anti-Hitler strip from wartime 'Beano' up for auction
An original 1943 comic strip from The Beano making fun of Adolf Hitler will go up for auction later this month after being rescued from a dumpster in the 1960s ... more  Add a comment

Thousands sign petition to save London Book Barge
More than 2,500 protesters have signed a petition to save London's only floating bookshop from being pushed out by a property company ... more  Add a comment

Shakespeare First Folio discovered in French library
A Shakespeare First Folio has been discovered in a library in a small French town where it lay undiscovered for two centuries. It is only the second known copy in France of a publication that is seen as one of the most valuable books in the English language and which can sell for millions on the rare occasions a copy comes up for auction ... more  Add a comment

Jacobean Travelling Library to go on Display
Among the many rare books and manuscript treasures in the Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds, its Jacobean Travelling Library has be one of the most curious and intriguing.  Designed to appear, when closed, as a large folio volume, it's bound in brown turkey leather and contains three shelves housing some 40-odd miniature books bound in limp vellum with coloured fabric ties ... more  Add a comment

Letter that inspired Kerouac novel up for sale
A long-lost letter that inspired Jack Kerouac to completely rewrite On The Road will go up for sale at auction next month. The 16,000 word letter, written by his friend Neal Cassady in 1950, was thought to have been lost for more than 60 years ... more  Add a comment

Help save London's only book barge
It's any book-lover's, boat-lover's, dammit London-lover's dream: a 100 year-old Dutch barge converted into a floating library, moored on Regent's Canal in leafy, tranquil west London. We're talking about Word on the Water, London's only floating bookshop. As well as selling second-hand paperbacks at two for a fiver and kids' books for a quid (take that, Amazon!), for the last four years book barge man Chris Screech and his crew (including his cat) have been serving up acoustic sets, poetry readings and general good vibes like they've never even heard of Jeff Bezos ... more  Add a comment

500 Million Ponzi Scheme Suspected at Paris Museum
The cosily niche books and manuscripts market may be about to be hit by one its biggest scandals in recent years. And Paris's Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits, as well as its sister organization the Institut des Lettres et Manuscrits, is in the eye of the storm ... more  Add a comment

World's biggest film poster auction expected to top $8m
Collector Morris Everett Jr claims to have memorabilia from almost every American film made since the early 1900s, plus many other classics ... more  Add a comment

The self-publicist whose medical text books caused a stir
Published nearly 500 years ago, Andreas Vesalius's medical text books occupy an important place in scientific history. Intricate art, unlike anything that had been seen before, sits alongside detailed text that sought to change the way bodies were dissected post mortem ... more  Add a comment

Old books can teach us new tricks
My profession means that I require an extensive library of books and periodicals, some being very ancient. Despite the marvels of the internet and its amazing capacity for rapid answers to research queries, I continue to find gems in older volumes. They are sound reminders of times past but also amazing examples of the sheer quality of book production several centuries ago ... more  Add a comment

Rare Marilyn Monroe photos could fetch 80,000
One of the largest private collections of Marilyn Monroe photographs including never seen before images from her first and final photoshoots could fetch a staggering £80,000 at auction in Shropshire ... more  Add a comment

Bright young collectors
Fine Books & Collections 'Bright Young Collectors' series continues today with Hazel Wilkinson of Cambridge and London ... more  Add a comment

Lost Dylan Thomas notebook
A previously unknown Dylan Thomas notebook containing drafts and revisions of some of his most challenging poems has emerged more than 70 years after the poet's mother-in-law asked for it to be burned in the kitchen boiler ... more  Add a comment

Finally, an App for Transcribing Medieval Manuscripts
A new app allows medievalists, aspiring medievalists, or medievally minded scriveners to try their hand at transcribing 26 manuscripts on their smartphones. "I've been looking for an awesome medieval app like this for ages!," says one Google Android reviewer, and we can't help but agree ... more  Add a comment

Henry VIII divorce letter up for auction
A letter from Henry VIII's first wife Catherine of Aragon begging the Pope to block their divorce is expected to fetch up to £35,000 at auction ... more  Add a comment

Former climber sells his 1000-volume book collection
He hoped his children would take up his passion on but to no avail. With no-one to cherish 50-years of his work in collecting the books, he's decided to let them go under the hammer ... more  Add a comment

What's the Antiquarian Book Fair like in Toronto?
This past weekend the Toronto International Antiquarian Book Fair opened its second year at the Art Gallery of Ontario, a step up from former digs at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. While the fair's organizers now have to shell out more book hoarding - er, I mean collecting - money on the more prestigious space, the move has been a welcome upgrade for book dealers, who came from across Canada, and as far as the UK, to show their (remarkably un-dusty) tomes ... more  Add a comment

The spies in a suburban bungalow
The house was a bungalow. But it would have seemed big enough for the middle-aged Canadian couple with no children. Initially, Peter Kroger ran an antiquarian bookshop on the Strand in the centre of London. Eventually, however, he worked from home, dispatching parcels around the world ... more  Add a comment

It's Noddy and big earners
Sixty-five years after Enid Blyton created Noddy, a collection of memorabilia featuring the cheerful children's book character is expected to fetch £50,000 at auction ... more  Add a comment

Winnie the Pooh illustration could fetch 100,000
One of the most famous images of Winnie the Pooh - as the bear plays "Poohsticks" with Piglet and Christopher Robin - is expected to fetch more than £100,000 at auction ... more  Add a comment

Imperial War Museum library petition gathers strength
The number of signatures to a petition to stop the closure of the Imperial War Museum library doubled over Remembrance weekend ... more  Add a comment

Museum sues Sendak estate over rare books
The Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia has sued the estate of Maurice Sendak, who died in 2012, claiming that the estate is withholding a collection of rare books that Sendak promised to the library in his will ... more  Add a comment

Imperial War Museum staff fight library closure
funding cut has left the museum facing the closure of its unique library and the loss of 80 jobs, just months after the fanfare of IWM London's reopening following a £40m refurbishment ... more  Add a comment

Exeter Cathedral treasure found in Oxfam bookshop
An unusual email to library staff at Exeter Cathedral has led to the unearthing of a 16th-century copy of the New Testament in a Surrey charity shop ... more  Add a comment

Chawton House launches urgent book preservation appeal
A women's rare literature library in Hampshire with works by Jane Austen and Mary Shelley has launched a book conservation appeal  ... more  Add a comment

The finest letter ever written from the frontline?
One of the joys of researching a new book based on my collection of gallantry decorations is poring over the memorabilia that often accompanies them: letters, diaries, London Gazette medal citations and even unpublished books ... more  Add a comment

Rare Oor Wullie annual sells for 5400
The first edition Oor Wullie annual, which was found in the loft of an Edinburgh home eight years ago, sold for £ 5,400 at McTear's Auctioneers in Glasgow ... more  Add a comment

A history of the 20th century in 100 maps
From the opium trade routes of the 1900s to CND's operations in the 1980s, maps reveal the political leylines of history - except when it comes to the holiday islands of San Serriffe, as a new British Library book reveals ... more  Add a comment

Original Apple computer expected to fetch $500,000
A fully operational Apple computer that co-founder Steve Jobs sold from his parents' garage in 1976 for $600 will hit the auction block next month, where it is expected to fetch more than half a million dollars, Christie's has said ... more  Add a comment

First edition Oor Wullie to be auctioned
A rare first edition Oor Wullie annual found in a loft could fetch up to £5,000 at auction. The 74-year-old book was discovered in a pile of books when the current owners were clearing out the attic at the Edinburgh home of a late relative ... more  Add a comment

Sherlock Holmes copyright appeal refused
The case of the disputed Sherlock Holmes copyright has ended after the US supreme court on Monday left intact a ruling that said 50 works featuring the famed fictional detective are in the public domain ... more  Add a comment

Student book-collecting prizes
Anthony Davis, the sponsor of prizes at Oxford and the University of London, explains why this form of bibliophilia must be encouraged ... more  Add a comment

Gorgeous parades of late-medieval Germany
These images of late-medieval and early-modern parade entrants come from the city of Nuremberg, in Bavaria (present-day Germany). The manuscript, created in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century and available online through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's digital collections, contains illustrations of parade participants, jousting contestants, and pageant sleighs. It's a historical work, recording memories of events held in Nuremberg from the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries ... more  Add a comment