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.

December 2014

The Khalidi library: old City, old family, old texts
The Khalidi Library is a literary trove containing thousands of books and almost 2,000 manuscripts on Islamic theology, philosophy and more. Named after the Jerusalem family that established it in 1899 and has maintained it ever since, the library is housed in a building that dates back to the time of the Mamluk dynasty, which controlled what is now Egypt and Syria from 1250 to 1517 ... more  Add a comment

Leeds Print Festival
With exhibitions on book binding, risography, letterpress and screenprinting, a week of print workshops, and exclusive talks from speakers including Ken Garland (whose work we featured in our February 2013 issue, shown below) and Alec Dudson, the Leeds Print Festival is a great place to rekindle your love of all things print ... more  Add a comment

Wilfred Owen's Shrewsbury home granted Grade II listing
Unchanged redbrick house, where parents of famous first world war poet learned of his death in 1918, listed by English Heritage ... more  Add a comment

Photographers' petition to halt Library of Birmingham cuts
Some of the Midlands' most influential photographers, who gave their finest work to the Library of Birmingham, have launched a campaign to halt cuts which will see opening times slashed. The group has started a petition calling on Birmingham City Council to reverse its decision, claiming it will damage the city's global reputation ... more  Add a comment

Vandals decapitate Paddington Bear statue
A Paddington Bear statue placed on a busy street in Shoreditch was decapitated over the weekend by vandals before it was due to be auctioned off for charity ... more  Add a comment

E-books 'damage sleep and health,' doctors warn
If you curl up under the duvet with an e-book for a bedtime read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health, US doctors have warned ... more  Add a comment

JRR Tolkien's wartime narrow escape revealed
JRR Tolkien's war records show that trench fever "of unknown origin" meant the author was shipped home to Britain shortly before his battalion was hit by a "massive" bombardment ... more  Add a comment

Ireland's most expensive Christmas cards offerd
A set of early 20th-century Irish Christmas cards is among highlights in the latest catalogue from De Burca Rare Books ... more  Add a comment

RIP Eric Korn
A polymath whose work took in poetry, literary criticism, antiquarian bookselling and the 'Round Britain Quiz' ... more  Add a comment

CS Lewis letter sells for 4,600
An unpublished letter from writer and scholar CS Lewis has made £4,600 at auction in Gloucestershire, more than three times the original estimate ... more  Add a comment

Fifty Shades of Grey publisher buys erotic correspondence
The publisher who signed up Fifty Shades of Grey has acquired a cache of erotic letters written almost a century ago in France by a woman to her married lover, detailing the increasing lengths she will go to, and the taboos she will break, to keep his interest ... more  Add a comment

George III 'eccentric' drawing discovered
An eccentric architectural plan thought to have been drawn by George III during his period of "madness" has been discovered hidden inside a volume at the British Library ... more  Add a comment

Manuscript dealer suspected of running 'Ponzi pyramid'
The case is being dubbed the French Madoff affair. The comparison with the US financial scandal was inevitable: the astronomical sums involved an estimated €700m, according to a judge; the reliance on buyers who believed they were making a solid investment in some of Europe's greatest cultural treasures; and the personality of one man, Gerard Lheritier, one of the world's leading manuscript dealers ... more  Add a comment

Timbuktu manuscripts to go on view in Brussels
Sixteen original 15th and 16th century Malian manuscripts will go on display Friday at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, The Art Newspaper reported. The exhibition, titled Timbuktu Renaissance, has an exceptional backstory: the precious manuscripts were smuggled out of Timbuktu in the wake of the city's 2012 takeover at the hands of Islamist rebels ... more  Add a comment

Bright Young Collectors
Fine Books Young Collectors series continues today with Sophie Ridley of Shropshire, collector of books on crafts and school education ... more  Add a comment

Wellcome Library archives
Talk of Victorian asylums conjures up images of manacled and wretched patients suffering callous and ineffective treatments or being gawped at by a morbidly fascinated public like exhibits in a human zoo. However, a new project to digitise historical psychiatric records reveals an enormous range of care in the 18th and 19th centuries, including more genteel treatment for the upper and middle classes, as well as early developments in art therap ... more  Add a comment

Jerry Garcia's love letters expected to fetch $15,000
A former Vogue model has decided to sell two love letters sent to her by Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia in order to pay her medical bills. The eight handwritten pages, which include a detailed description of a performance by the band as well as drawings by the guitarist, will be put under the hammer by New Hampshire-based auction house RR Auction this January ... more  Add a comment

Cathedral's hunt for stolen Bible pages worth 1m
Winchester Cathedral wants to track down eight Medieval illuminations that are missing from the greatest surviving 12th-century English Bible. These may have been stolen in the past 150 years, so there is a reasonable chance that they survive, probably unrecognised in a private collection ... more  Add a comment

Duke University to return Byzantine manuscript to Greece
Its decision to return a 10th century manuscript of the Byzantine period to Greece, which was removed from Mount Athos' Dionysiou Monastery, announced the Duke University, as reported by Greek Travel Pages (GTP) website, based on a Culture Ministry announcement on Thursday ... more  Add a comment

Help save the Arthur Machen collection
The public library at Newport, Gwent, houses a splendid Arthur Machen collection, including rare items, some donated over the years by his admirers, friends and family. It is the best public collection of his work in the UK, and an argument can be made for its international significance. The library is now under threat of closure. The local council are considering a plan to replace it with much smaller local hubs ... more  Add a comment

Scholium Group PLC profits down
Rare antiquarian book dealer Scholium Group PLC saw its shares fall Monday after it posted a reduction in its gross profit and margins in the first half of its financial year ... more  Add a comment

Library usage falls significantly as services shrink
The number of branches still open in Britain has fallen 8% since 2009, with visits down 40m since 2010 ... more  Add a comment

Huge cuts at Birmingham's flagship central library
Plans include cutting 6,000 jobs and reducing opening hours at the new Library of Birmingham to make £300m savings ... more  Add a comment

Winnie the Pooh 'poohsticks' drawing sold for 314,500
A drawing of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh playing the game of "poohsticks" which has been hailed as the most famous book illustration of the 20th century has sold for a record £314,500 ... more  Add a comment

Long-lost Dylan Thomas notebook heads to Wales
A lost notebook containing drafts of some of Dylan Thomas's most challenging poems is to remain in the UK and more importantly, is heading to Wales after Swansea university successfully bid £85,000 for it at auction in London ... more  Add a comment

Massacre of Glencoe remembered in National Library
Written in absolute secrecy more than three centuries ago, it remains one of the most chilling documents in the history of Scotland. Now the order paper which triggered the Glencoe massacre has gone on public display in the National Library of Scotland - as part of a major exhibition marking 300 years since the start of the Jacobite Rising in 1715 ... more  Add a comment

Love letter to Marilyn Monroe sold for $78,125
Joe DiMaggio's love letter to Marilyn Monroe has sold for $78,125 at a Beverly Hills auction. Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills says the letter, written by the baseball great after Monroe announced she was divorcing him, was sold Saturday to an undisclosed buyer ... more  Add a comment

Prison book ban ruled unlawful
Mr Justice Collins today (5th December) declared the ban unlawful saying he could see "no good reason" for the rule, "in the light of the importance of books for prisoners" ... more  Add a comment

London After Midnight poster sets world's record price
The only known copy of the U.S. release one sheet from the 1927 lost cinema classic London After Midnight (MGM, 1927) sold Nov. 22 for $478,000 in Heritage Auctions' $2.35 million Vintage Movie Posters Signature Auction in Dallas, breaking the record for the most valuable movie poster ever sold at public auction. The buyer is a longtime horror movie poster collector who does not wish to be identified ... more  Add a comment

Paddington Bear book could make 9k
A copy of Paddington Bear's first adventures - complete with handwritten notes by its creator Michael Bond - is expected to fetch around £9,000 at auction on Monday ... more  Add a comment

PEN's annotated first edition auction
An evening at an auction house may not seem like the most exciting way to spend time in New York City, but then again, the PEN American Center First Editions, Second Thoughts sale at Christie's wasn't an ordinary auction. The 75 books featured were not only signed by the authors, but included annotations and even tucked-away objects or notes. The titles in the sale ranged from Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine, who modelled the colourful vines she drew on the beadwork of the Ojibwe tribe, to The Power Broker by Robert A Caro, who was in the audience and saw his book go for $26,000 ... more  Add a comment

Guinness book collector gets Guinness World Record
A Guinness Book of World Records fan has secured his own place in the tome by collecting 353 editions of the book from around the world ... more  Add a comment

Artists' Book Market at the Baltic Centre
If you saw the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham last year, you will have marvelled at the artistry involved in making such a beautiful book and at the fact that there was a time when a book could be unique. But the same holds true today. While high street shops stock mass-produced titles, this weekend's Artists' Book Market at Baltic will demonstrate that there is still an art to book-making that goes above and beyond the words and illustrations that books contain ... more  Add a comment

Travel posters seized by the nazis headed for auction
At the beginning of the 20th century, before tourism was an industry, the German island of Sylt plastered Berlin and Hamburg with travel posters. The ads featured steamship schedules superimposed on busy pictures of crowded beaches -n ot exactly enticing. So a local artist named Franz Korwan, who happened also to be an investor in Sylt's steamship company, dreamed up a better idea. He depicted Sylt mythically, as Queen of the North Sea. Nor was Korwan's queen any ordinary sovereign. She rose from the waters half-naked. "It's an early example of the shift toward allegorical advertisement," explains Nicholas Lowry, president of Swann Auction Galleries in New York. Korwan made Sylt's beachfront as alluring as a young woman ... more  Add a comment

George Orwell's jail time confirmed by court records
The balance between fact and fiction in George Orwell's investigations of poverty has been questioned ever since an anonymous reviewer of his 1933 memoir, Down and Out in Paris and London, wondered "if the author was really down and out". But now an academic has dug up court records which put one of Orwell's experiments on firmer ground: the author's arrest for being "drunk and incapable" in the East End of London while posing as a fish porter named Edward Burton ... more  Add a comment

Unpublished Raymond Chandler work discovered
An early, never-before-published work by crime novelist Raymond Chandler has been discovered in the Library of Congress in Washington. The 48-page libretto to the comic opera The Princess and the Pedlar, with music by Julian Pascal, has hidden in plain sight at the library since its copyright was first registered on 29 August 1917 ... more  Add a comment

Rare 17th century map of Manchester goes on show
The hand-drawn map, which shows towns and villages including Garton and Stopford, has been at the library for 35 years but staff didn't know quite how rare it was until now ... more  Add a comment

Aztec manuscript under the microscope
French researchers try to date the Codex Borbonicus, one of the most treasured Mesoamerican historical documents ... more  Add a comment

Lines in the Ice: Seeking the Northwest Passage
A new exhibition at the British Library looks back on some 400 years of fascination with the fabled Northwest Passage and why people are drawn to explore the Arctic ... more  Add a comment

Saving Timbuktu's ancient manuscripts
Timbuktu in northern Mali is renowned for its thousands of ancient manuscripts, some of which are 600 years old. United Nations cultural body Unesco will be hosting a conference in December on how to preserve the manuscripts, which address topics such as history, science, Islamic law, conflict resolution and medicine, and date back to when the city was an important academic centre ... more  Add a comment