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.

July 2015

Cantillons first-edition Essai makes 40,000
A first edition copy of Kerryman Richard Cantillon’s 18th-century book on economics has sold for a record price of £40,000 (about €57,000) at Christie’s in London. The auction house described Essai Sur la Nature du Commerce en Général (Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General) as “one of the most influential works in the literature of economics” ... more  Add a comment

The Origin Of Immersive Design?
Reading a Medieval manuscript was a thoroughly immersive experience, the richness of which cannot be electronically emulated. We tend to ignore the tactile qualities of manuscripts given how seldom the fragile old tomes are handled. A fascinating new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum provides an important corrective ... more  Add a comment

Enid Blyton's cottage goes on sale
Old Thatch, the Buckinghamshire home of the children's author and her characters, enters the housing market at £1.85m ... more  Add a comment

'Oldest' Koran fragments found in Birmingham University
What may be the world's oldest fragments of the Koran have been found by the University of Birmingham. Radiocarbon dating found the manuscript to be at least 1,370 years old, making it among the earliest in existence ... more  Add a comment

The Chinese book that scholars are banned from opening
Some of the earliest surviving examples of Chinese writing and a book of prints so delicate scholars have been banned from studying it can be viewed by the public. Estimated to be worth millions of pounds, the "extremely rare" 17th century book called Manual of Calligraphy and Painting it had never been opened in case it falls apart ... more  Add a comment

ore on Charles Dickens' revealing notes
With its notes in the spidery hand of Charles Dickens revealing the identity of hundreds of contributors to his magazine, the annotated collection of All the Year Round unveiled this week has been acclaimed as of "immense" scholarly value. But while aficionados of Victorian literature are salivating at the prospect of poring over dozens of previously unattributed works by writers including Wilkie Collins, Mrs Gaskell and Lewis Carroll, the delicate question is also beginning to be asked of just what the 20-volume collection, spread over 12,000 pages, is worth and where it might eventually end up ... more  Add a comment

Rare Hebrides photos by Paul Strand go on display
A rare collection of vintage photographs of South Uist by celebrated US photographer Paul Strand has gone on display at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The elegiac images of everyday life in the Outer Hebrides in the 1950s are regarded as among Strand's best work. ... more  Add a comment

Dickens's marginalia revelations
Bound volumes of All the Year Round, the author's popular magazine, show that Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell were among the names behind anonymous pieces ... more  Add a comment

The world's most unusual and beautiful maps
In The Curious Map Book, co-published this year by the British Library and The University of Chicago Press, London-based map dealer and researcher Ashley Baynton-Williams presents a treasure trove of such cartographical wonders. Largely culled from the British Library's vast collection, there are maps shaped like winged horses and lions; maps on teacups and blankets. Far from merely relics, Baynton-Williams includes examples from the present day ... more  Add a comment

Sherlock author's bitter letters to police go on display
An extraordinary collection of unpublished letters has gone on display revealing how Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turned detective to overturn a conviction ... more  Add a comment

50-year obsession still a thrill for book collector
In 50 years of collecting the works of celebrated 18th-century writer Samuel Johnson, John Byrne has always thrived off the thrill of new finds. Like the time he stumbled on a rare fourth edition, dating from 1773, of Johnson's masterpiece, A Dictionary of the English Language ... more  Add a comment

German police confiscate Kafka and Brod manuscripts
Police in Germany recently seized handwritten manuscripts of Max Brod, who was Franz Kafka's friend and literary executor, suspecting they were smuggled out of Israel. They are investigating suspicions that these documents are part of the literary estate of Brod and Kafka, which Tel Aviv District Court ruled two weeks ago must be handed over to Jerusalem's Israel National Library. The papers have been in the possession of Eva Hoffe ... more  Add a comment

Look inside the rare Leonardo da Vinci notebook
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is known to be an avid reader, and his home library is filled with rare books selected by a professional book dealer. In 1994, he purchased Leonardo da Vinci's "Codex Leicester," a manuscript that dates back to the 16th century. He paid $30.8 million for the journal at auction, a price that made it the most expensive book ever sold ... more  Add a comment

Books For Free charity fraud investigation
The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the environmental charity Healthy Planet after it lost £345,000 through an alleged fraud. A statement from the commission said its inquiry, which was opened on 18 June, would examine issues including the circumstances leading to the loss of funds from the alleged criminal activity and trustees' decision-making when "entering the charity into rates-relief schemes and circumstances leading to the significant financial loss as a result of legal action taken by a local authority". It did not give any further details about the legal action ... more  Add a comment

Joseph Goebbels' family win royalties battle
Descendents of Joseph Goebbels, Adolph Hitler's propaganda minister, are to be paid royalties for extracts from his diaries published in a new biography, following a bitter legal battle. The publishers of the biography, Random House Germany, had resisted demands to pay Goebbels' estate, arguing that copyright laws should be overturned on moral grounds ... more  Add a comment

building up private libraries - book by rare book
Where do the impeccably selected libraries that appear in society pages and design magazines come from? Many are the work of private library curators - who scour the world to find the books that will both look pleasing on the shelf and reflect the interests of the library's owner ... more  Add a comment

Robert Hooke's 350 year old science book on display
A 350-year-old book believed to be the world's first scientific best-seller will go on display as part of a new exhibition at the National Library of Wales. Written by Robert Hooke in the 17th Century, Micrographia is an illustrated book of objects viewed through the then cutting-edge technology of microscopes ... more  Add a comment

Not fade away
How robots are preserving our old newspapers ... more  Add a comment

Alice in Wonderland at 150
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's children's book. But is it just an innocent tale of a child's dream-like adventure, or is there more to it than at first meets the eye? Since its Victorian genesis, subsequent generations have been eager to pick out hidden meanings and messages. Is it really about drugs? Was the author perhaps less benign than he seemed? ... more  Add a comment

Rare rabbinical manuscripts command sky-high prices
Buyers from around the globe bid furiously for the chance to acquire rare Hebrew Manuscripts at Kestenbaum & Company's Fine Judaica auction held on June 25th. Tremendous interest and competitive bidding drove hammer prices exponentially beyond their catalogue estimates. The stellar sale results were confidently expected considering the unique quality of the material on offer and the fact that almost one-third of these medieval and pre-modern Hebraic manuscripts remain unpublished ... more  Add a comment

Why we love the Ladybird books
The Ladybird logo was created 100 years ago. Anna Moore meets some of the artists and models who featured in the first books to look at the world solely through a child's eyes. Plus, a gallery selection of vintage covers ... more  Add a comment

Foiling the thiefs
The theft of rare books and manuscripts from libraries is not new. Medieval abbots used to attach precious volumes with chains to stop touring scholars from leaving the monastery with them. And today, valuable books appear increasingly at risk: spectacular recent heists from European libraries have exposed something rotten at the heart of the international rare book trade ... more  Add a comment

If you want to have collectors . . .
Bruce E. McKinney's piece on the future for book collecting in July's Rare Book Monthly will resinate with many on his side of the pond ... more  Add a comment

Harper Lee manuscript 'first found in 2011'
Claims have been made that the manuscript for Harper Lee’s forthcoming Go Set a Watchman(William Heinemann) was originally discovered more than three years ago, and not last autumn as previously said ... more  Add a comment

Scholium cuts dividend
Scholium Group PLC Thursday reported a widened pretax loss in its recently-ended financial year and cut its full-year dividend by half as its Shapero Rare Books business continues to face a volatile market ... more  Add a comment

How to fix a 545-year-old book
In her subterranean lab at McMaster University in Hamilton, Audrie Schell opens an old book to reveal a hand-lettered page illustrated with a delicate image of the Annunciation. The Virgin's robe is a startlingly fresh blue and the touches of gold on the miniature shine brightly, but sections of the pinky-brown background have flaked off, leaving that area patchy ... more  Add a comment

Rare Alice in Wonderland first edition on show
A first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has gone on display in Oxford to mark the book's 150th anniversary. The edition forms part of the Printing Alice exhibition at the Weston Library in Broad Street, Oxford ... more  Add a comment

Golf rule book expected to fetch up to 50,000
The Eden Club at Pittormie Castle, near Dairsie, will be the setting for an exclusiive auction of golfing memorabilia during The Open Championship. The auction will have just 37 lots, ranging from a rare copy of one of the earliest formal rules of golf, title Rules of the Thistle Golf Club by James Cundell, which is valued about £30,000-£50,000 ... more  Add a comment

Franz Kafka's manuscripts belong in National Library
 A protracted and acrimonious legal battle over the rights to the manuscripts of Franz Kafka ended Tuesday after the Tel Aviv District Court announced that the nearly 100-year-old collection must be transferred from a private collection to the National Library in Jerusalem ... more  Add a comment