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.

March 2015

America's most generous con artist
For decades, Mark Landis donated art to museums and galleries across the US. He was feted as a wealthy collector but the pictures were fakes that he had created himself. He was never prosecuted though - he didn't take payment so hadn't broken any law ... more  Add a comment

Charles Dickens' desk saved for nation
It was the desk at which some of the most celebrated novels in English-literature were written and has been hidden away for more than 150 years. But the desk where Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations is to go on public display permanently after it was saved with a £780,000 grant ... more  Add a comment

Paper, books and the art of collecting
The category of "books about books" may seem a perversely specialized one, but many serious readers and almost all passionate collectors eventually want to learn more about the potent rectangular objects that deliver so much pleasure to our lives ... more  Add a comment

Stolen kisses and naked girls
Reviewing Robert Douglas-Fairhurst's The Story of Alice, A.S. Byatt enters the dodgy world of Charles Dodgson ... more  Add a comment

Fossilized books make beautiful sculptures
Hawaii-based artist Jacqueline Rush Lee reshapes books into laberythintine, scholarly sculptures. Her explorations into the physical beauty of bookbinding and the endless possibilities of printmaking are the perfect visual accompaniment to today's World Book Day. Over the years, Lee has immersed textbooks in their own ink, whorl-book-bombed hollow trees, and, in her seminal series Ex Libris, engulfed encyclopedias in extreme heat ... more  Add a comment

William Smith: Seminal geology map rediscovered
A first edition copy of one of the most significant maps in the history of science has been rediscovered in time for an important anniversary. William Smith's 1815 depiction of the geology of England, Wales and part of Scotland is a seminal piece of work. The first map of its kind produced anywhere in the world, only about 70 copies are thought to exist today ... more  Add a comment

Elizabethan tapestry map to be displayed
A 400-year-old tapestry map that depicts a mysterious event that happened among the villages, streams and windmills of Elizabethan Worcestershire is to go on public display for the first time in centuries at Oxford's Bodleian library ... more  Add a comment

Five of the world's largest religious manuscripts
Marcel Proust may have written a novel over 4,000 pages long, but there are other books out there of goliath proportions not in their length, but their size. Religious texts in particular have gotten the gargantuan book treatment, where often the spectacular labor of creating the tome is a spiritual act ... more  Add a comment

Oxford University's Weston Library re-opens
Oxford University's Weston Library has re-opened to the public after an £80m transformation. The grade II-listed building in Broad Street has been restored and renovated over three years ... more  Add a comment

John Aubrey captured
Ruth Scurr's biography of the draughtsman, archeologist and diarist is a moving, delicate record of a man - and an era ... more  Add a comment

John Ruskin photographs discovered
Photographs discovered in a Cumbrian auction house in 2006 have been confirmed as once belonging to, and mostly taken by, John Ruskin ... more  Add a comment

Medieval manuscript returns to Dublin
The manuscript, which was produced at St Mary's Abbey in Dublin, has not been in Ireland since the 16th century and was acquired by Trinity College Library last year. ... more  Add a comment

Don Quixote author Cervantes remains 'found'
Investigators in Spain believe they have found the remains of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of the classic Spanish novel Don Quixote de la Mancha ... more  Add a comment

Bright Young Collectors
Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Madison Rootenberg of Durham, North Carolina, who collects unicorn books ... more  Add a comment

Sotheby's auctions to be streamed live on eBay
Auctions at Sotheby's New York are to be streamed live on eBay, it has been announced. The first auction on the new platform will have a New York theme, with Yankee Stadium memorabilia on sale ... more  Add a comment

Now you can smell like an old book
I've always loved the smell of old books - and now, strangely enough, there's a new perfume that will help me smell them all the time. J.T. Siems, the founder of Sweet Tea Apothecary, has developed a new scent, Dead Writers, inspired by her many trips to the library. It's a rich and smoky unisex fragrance. ... more  Add a comment

New York Rare Book Week - 7-15 April 2015
'Throughout the year, there are book fairs, auctions, and events around the globe, but you simply cannot find anywhere in the world the confluence of antiquarian book events found in New York during the first week of April' ... more  Add a comment

Mackintosh Library to be rebuilt to the original design
Professor Tom Inns, director of the art school (GSA), has ended any debate over the future of the library, saying it will be rebuilt as Mackintosh intended, albeit with 21st technology included in its facilities ... more  Add a comment

Isis burns 1,500 ancient manuscripts
The Islamic State (Isis) has burned a total of 1,500 ancient manuscripts in Iraq and looted Assyrian sculptures then sold them on the black market, the country's undersecretary of the minister of tourism Qais Hussein Rashid reported ... more  Add a comment

Surreal Roots: From William Blake to Andre Breton
Rare books by William Blake, Lewis Carroll and the Marquis de Sade will go on show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art this spring as part of a new display exploring the roots of the Surrealists ... more  Add a comment

Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy
On the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, a rich and authoritative new exhibition at the British Library explores how the original treaty came to be written and its enormous political legacy. Bringing together two original manuscripts from 1215, plus an early draft and later iterations, the show is a feast for anyone with an interest in medieval history or how the freedoms we cherish were devised and defended ... more  Add a comment

Handel manuscript emerges at Berlin auction
Only one other major George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) manuscript has come up for auction in the last 40 years, so Stargardt in Berlin can be assured of an international audience for the extensive autograph work they will offer on March 24-25 ... more  Add a comment

Glasgow School of Art fire
Archaeologists find some treasures inside the fire-torn Mackintosh Library but estimate 8000 books and journals have been lost ... more  Add a comment

Ode to Generosity: Keats tome given to art school
A rare edition of the poems of Keats has been given to the library of the Glasgow School of Art. The cover design of John Keats - His Poems, gilt-tooled in Glasgow School style, was created by GSA teacher and designer, Ann Macbeth ... more  Add a comment

France's 'king of manuscripts' held
When Gerard Lheritier was taken into police custody in Paris last week and placed under formal investigation for fraud, the genteel world of rare books and delicate manuscripts was left seriously shaken. French media wondered whether the well-dressed, 66-year-old history buff and 'king of manuscripts' could turn out to be a French Bernie Madoff of the arts world, hoodwinking investors with large-scale fraud - a charge vehemently denied to the Guardian by Lheritier's lawyer ... more  Add a comment

Rare Marilyn Monroe photographs to sell for 50,000
They include a set of six original prints from the last professional photographs of tragic Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe, taken weeks before her death ... more  Add a comment

York Antiquarian Book Seminar
After the resounding success of last year's inaugural York Antiquarian Book Seminar the faculty went back temporarily to what they do best; selling books, composing prize winning catalogues and attending book fairs with meticulously chosen stocks of wondrous rarities. For a few of them however it's been a short breathing space between the last seminar, and thinking about what can be done to surpass it for the 2015 event. The Registration page will be officially opening to potential students on the 5th of March 2015 to coincide with World Book Day ... more  Add a comment

Rare copy of Alice in Wonderland on show
A copy of the rarest edition of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland is to go on display on World Book Day. Only 22 copies of the 1865 first edition are thought to exist, one of which is owned by the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh ... more  Add a comment

Cult of the Spankers
US authorities tried to ban them, but a gang of artists, models and writers made a living from dirty books sold under-the-counter in 1950s New York. Enter a world of Raw Dames and superheroes ... more  Add a comment

Victorian survey for train line in Burma discovered
A Victorian book detailing plans to build a railway in Burma that was found in the personal library of Eric Lomax, the Scots army officer who became known as the Railway Man, is being sold along with photographs of West Africa's Gold Coast Railway being constructed ... more  Add a comment

Tintin items up for auction in Paris
Hundreds of storyboards, drawings and books by Tintin creator Georges Remi - better known as Herge - are to go under the hammer in Paris this weekend ... more  Add a comment

Calfskin royal family tree up for auction
An incredibly rare historic document written on calf skin which charts the genealogy of British royalty is set to be auctioned in the West tomorrow - and is estimated to fetch nearly £50,000 ... more  Add a comment

Have men fallen out of love with books?
Whatever happened to lads' lit? Why don't men read books by women? And how do we change the fact that many men haven't picked up a book since school, asks Chris Moss ... more  Add a comment

Reassembling William Morris' Library
Two scholars are digitally recreating the book collection of the Kelmscott Press founder ... more  Add a comment