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.

January 2015

Book cover refuses to open for judgmental readers
Ever judged a book by its cover? Amsterdam creative studio Moore has reversed the well-known idiom - designing a sleeve that scans your face and won't open unless approached without prejudice ... more  Add a comment

Ex-electrician stands trial for Codex Calixtinus theft
It was first thought the disappearance of one of Spain's most valuable cultural treasures was the 'heist of the century'. But it turned out to be an inside job by the electrician with a grudge against the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia ... more  Add a comment

Saved Mali manuscripts face damage in new home
After being spirited away from under the noses of rampaging Islamic extremists, thousands of ancient manuscripts from the fabled city of Timbuktu now face another threat: weather and poor storage conditions in their new location that scholars say could cause permanent damage ... more  Add a comment

Surprise best-seller
Voltaire's 250-year-old book on tolerance climbs French best-seller lists after terror attacks ... more  Add a comment

Casket find could lead to remains of Don Quixote author
Researchers looking for the remains of Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes have found part of a casket at a Madrid convent bearing the initials of the Don Quixote author. The team made the find over the weekend inside an alcove in the crypt at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians during excavations aimed at solving the mystery of the writer's final resting place ... more  Add a comment

Rare wartime Magic comics fetch 15,000
A rare collection of a wartime comic launched by the publishers of the Beano and the Dandy has sold for more than £15,000 at auction ... more  Add a comment

The real mystery is how it got published
Benjamin B. Olshin's The Mysteries of the Marco Polo Maps is an unconvincing speculation - but a reminder of a great story does not convince our reviewer ... more  Add a comment

Why you'll never make a fortune out of e-books
The internet has revolutionised publishing, but as rare book dealer Christian White tells Sarah Freeman you can't sign an ebook and even the most popular will never rival a first edition ... more  Add a comment

Alan Turing's Enigma notebook expected to fetch 600,000
A notebook revealing Alan Turing's mind-boggling calculations as he battled to crack the Enigma code during World War II is expected to fetch £600,000 at auction. The book - which has never been seen in public before - dates from 1942 when he was working at Bletchley Park - the forerunner the GCHQ in Cheltenham - to break the Nazi code ... more  Add a comment

Mystery book sculptor answers questions
An anonymous artist has been leaving delicate paper sculptures made from old books at locations in Edinburgh and around Scotland for more than three years. The identity of the woman has remained secret despite the international attention that the book sculptures have received. BBC Scotland's arts correspondent Pauline McLean conducted an interview with her - via email to maintain her anonymity ... more  Add a comment

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' personal notes and photos sold
A collection of personal photos and handwritten notes from former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to the designers who made her clothes has sold for a staggering $28,400 at auction ... more  Add a comment

Celebrating 100 years of Ladybird books
Ladybird books is marking 100 years since first going to print.The children's books have been read by millions of people learning to read over the decades. However, changes to the classic books over that time have an interesting story of their own, as the BBC's Tim Muffett reports ... more  Add a comment

'Ripping Yarns' and the Tale of the Forgotten Author
An exhibition charting the life and works of the Portsmouth born children's adventure writer, Percy F. Westerman.  Voted Britain's most popular children's author during the 1930s ... more  Add a comment

Controversial Titanic letter to be sold at auction
A controversial letter written by Titanic survivor Lady Duff-Gordon is to be sold at auction. The letter contradicts speculation that her husband Cosmo Duff Gordon, the fifth baronet of Halkin, paid the crew to save him and his wife while others in the disaster were left to die. This was never found to be true, but was repeated the 1997 film and in the 2012 ITV mini-series both called Titanic ... more  Add a comment

54th Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair
The German Antiquarian Booksellers' Association would like to invite you on a bibliophilic time voyage on the occasion of the 54th Stuttgart Antiquarian Book Fair from 23rd to 25th January 2015. About 80 leading antiquarian booksellers from Germany, Italy, Great Britain, the USA, Switzerland and the Netherlands will present rare and precious manuscripts, books, autographs and prints from five centuries of book printing and book art. Beautifully illustrated manuscripts, scientific milestones, avant-garde book art, autographs and manuscripts of important scientists and artists, rare first editions of world literature, children's books, artists' books, maps, views, decorative prints and book objects: The fair fascinates by its diversity, from unique little objects to books worth millions, from the Middle Ages to the 21st century ... more  Add a comment

Celebrating Black Books' best episodes
Originating in an unaired pilot created by Dylan Moran in 1998, Black Books ran for three series on Channel 4 between 2000 and 2004. Co-written in its first series by Father Ted creator Graham Linehan, it shared that show's magnificent silliness while injecting a darker note of melancholy to the otherwise hilarious proceedings. With the bantering relationship between Bernard and Fran and its protagonists' unerring knack for making a bad situation worse, it's surely also a distant British cousin of Seinfeld. Like its American relative, it managed not to outstay its welcome, never losing its comic momentum or diluting its distinctive atmosphere over the course of its eighteen episodes ... more  Add a comment

Going to any length
Part of the festivities celebrating the bicentenary of the death of Marquis de Sade is an exhibit at the L’ Institut des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris featuring the original manuscript of The 120 Days of Sodom.  ... more  Add a comment

Bright Young Booksellers: Laura Massey (Revisited)
Today we are checking back in with Laura Massey, who was featured in the Fine Books & Collections series over two years ago when she was employed by Peter Harrington in London. Massey has since gone on to open up her own antiquarian bookshop in London called Alembic Rare Books ... more  Add a comment

Did Oscar Wilde's wife die of MS?
The grandson of Oscar Wilde believes he has solved the mystery of how his grandmother met her end aged just 40 over a century ago ... more  Add a comment

People of the (stolen) book
An new book casts a shadow on the way Israel's National Library acquired some of its most treasured items, such as Torah scrolls from Yemen and books belonging to Palestinians and Holocaust survivors ... more  Add a comment

16th century French fashion catalogue
These pages are from a small 23-page book of costumes, Figures et fleures peintes, published in France around 1500. The whole book - which is text-free, featuring only illustrations - is available in digital form through Harvard University ... more  Add a comment

Binning books may may see rare titles pulped
Charities and book experts have expressed concern that books can now be put into blue recycling bins in West Suffolk. The fear is that it could hit charity shop profits and may result in rare and valuable books being pulped ... more  Add a comment