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.

September 2015

Stephen Hawking signed book for sale
A US auction house is currently selling a book signed by the Cambridge physicist, which it expects to sell for almost £20,000 ... more  Add a comment

Citizen Kane scripts fetch over $102,000
Orson Welles' personal manuscripts for Citizen Kane have sold for over $102,000 (£67,187) at auction. Three screenplays which illustrate the evolution of the classic film were sold by the Profiles In History auction house in California, on Tuesday ... more  Add a comment

Shakespeare's dodgy dealing father 'helped to fund son's plays'
The story of how William Shakespeare's father slipped from wealth to bankruptcy, leaving his impoverished son to struggle to establish himself as a poet and actor before making his own wealth in the London theatre, has long been an established part of the mythology surrounding the playwright. But a new study of the family's business in the wool trade suggests this is far from an accurate account ... more  Add a comment

Confessions of a font obsessive
Fonts are part of our life whether we notice them or not. I happen to notice them a lot. In fact, being distracted by beautiful hand-painted signs is my biggest vulnerability when I'm cycling ... more  Add a comment

Is this the triumph of print?
Bricks-and-mortar booksellers have a "fantastic opportunity to seize the moment", with year-to-date print sales up for the first time in eight years. Figures from Nielsen Bookscan show sales of print books for the first 36 weeks of 2015 are up by 4.6 percent (worth £739.5 million) when compared to the same period in 2014, the first time the print market has seen year-on-year growth at this stage of the calendar since 2007 ... more  Add a comment

Harry Potter fans are leaving secret notes
Harry Potter fans have decided to tell the boy wizard what he meant to them in the only way they can - by leaving notes inside the books chronicling his magical adventures. Fan site MuggleNet have started an online craze using the hashtag #PotterItForward for people to pop notes into library or secondhand versions of the hallowed JK Rowling books - the messages may shock you ... more  Add a comment

Goodbye to a bookshop
Ripping Yarns was a second home to lots of actors and poets, who worked there or just sat around on piles of books to chat, but the arty North London leftist community has faded too ... more  Add a comment

Visceral anatomy cross-sections made out of old books
"These pieces are made of Japanese mulberry paper and the gilded edges of old books," artist Lisa Nilsson explains. "They are constructed by a technique of rolling and shaping narrow strips of paper called quilling or paper filigree"
... more  Add a comment

Rare Boccaccio manuscript at Florence Biennale
This year's new exhibitors include Dr Jorn Gunther, a specialist dealer in early books and manuscripts from Switzerland. Among the rare works he is taking to the fair is a rare 15th century French translation of Boccaccio's De Casibus, a moral commentary on overcoming misfortune by adhering to virtue that was originally published in 1355-60 ... more  Add a comment

Couple's comic collection sells for 10,000
The background to the collection was that the couple started to buy the comics some years ago, at a point when there was growing interest, but before prices went absolutely crazy. The result was that they amassed a hoard of over 1,000 individual comics, dating from 1961 to 1995, including some very rare issues ... more  Add a comment

Charles Darwin letter repudiating the Bible heads to auction
The Blunt note stating that he did not believe the Bible was 'divine revelation' nor that Jesus was the son of God could fetch $90,000: 'It is the ultimate piece' ... more  Add a comment

Orson Welles' manuscripts for Citizen Kane go to auction
One of three screenplays from the classic masterpiece includes Welles' handwritten notes and is signed by most of the film's stars ... more  Add a comment

Thwarting book thieves
In February 2014, Russell Graves walked into collectibles dealer Maritime International with a treasure to peddle: 75 Civil War era photographs and 50 original World War I and World War II era posters. It was a collection the owner normally would have been interested in buying, but the items seemed familiar ... more  Add a comment

4,000-year-old Egyptian manuscript found
A Belgium-based Egyptologist has rediscovered the oldest known Egyptian leather manuscript, dating back more than 4,000 years to late Old Kingdom and early Middle Kingdom (2300-2000 B.C.). The manuscript, which measures 8.2 feet long, had been locked up in storage at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo since shortly before the outbreak of World War II ... more  Add a comment

How James Bond books have soared in value ahead of Spectre
Collectors' demand for rare, first-edition Ian Fleming books has spiked in recent weeks ahead of the release of the 24th James Bond film, Spectre. New Bond films never fail to spark fresh interest in Fleming's books and James Bond memorabilia. And the value of some of the most sought-after pieces has risen steadily ... more  Add a comment

Cadbury collection has some tasty lots
A 1579 English atlas by Christopher Saxton is one of the items collected by WA Cadbury that is up for auction at Mellors & Kirk next week, reports Nigel Kirk ... more  Add a comment

Cadbury collection has some tasty lots
A 1579 English atlas is one of the items collected by WA Cadbury that is up for auction at Mellors & Kirk next week, reports Nigel Kirk ... more  Add a comment

Pierre Berge lifts curtain on private library of rare books
The former couture boss loves paperbacks, prefers to read on a Kindle when on vacation and devours contemporary novels galore - as he judges several literary prizes in France. Yet he is equally passionate about his collection of 1,600 rare books, manuscripts and musical scores that he is preparing to auction off, starting December 11 at Drouot in Paris and at six subsequent sales in 2016  ... more  Add a comment

Auction of Battle of Britain book signed by 600+ pilots
Chaucer Auctions announce their 18th September live online sale including rare Battle of Britain memorabilia, military and aviation including Capt Mike Bannisters Concorde collection. Space, RAF collections, sport and entertainment autographs ... more  Add a comment

Legal battle over manuscript kept under lock and key since 1836
Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand instructed his memoir draft be destroyed and gave it to lawyers for safe keeping, now the firm wants to sell it ... more  Add a comment

Tupac Shakur jail lyrics manuscript to go under the hammer
Lyrics written in jail by the late Tupac Shakur are due to go up for auction, with an estimated value of between £30,000-£50,000 ... more  Add a comment

Why Palladio is the world's favourite 16th-century architect
The Italian's stately ideas have shaped buildings for 400 years. A new show traces how Palladian design took over the world ... more  Add a comment

The bookshop where you pay what you want
A bookshop has opened on a street in China - with no staff and where customers can pay whatever they want for the books. The honesty bookshop, a venture from Popular Bookmall, opened in Nanjing's Gulou district in July to encourage local people to read more, CNN reported ... more  Add a comment

Wagner's Wedding March manuscript goes on sale
The original sheet music for the bridal chorus from Wagner's opera Lohengrin, commonly known as Here Comes the Bride, is listed at £2.3m ... more  Add a comment

Long-lost cast of Venerable Bede's skull found
A long-lost cast of the skull of one of Britain's greatest scholars has been discovered in a box in a storage cupboard at Cambridge University. The cast of what is believed to be the top of the head of the Venerable Bede, known as the 'Father of English History', was originally taken when his tomb at Durham Cathedral was opened in 1831 ... more  Add a comment

Titanic's last lunch menu goes up for auction
A piece of maritime history associated with the doomed Belfast-built Titanic could fetch up to £50,000 at auction. A lunch menu from the First Class restaurant on the liner was saved by a passenger ... more  Add a comment

Inside the abandoned City of Libraries
The desert city of Chinguetti, sinking ever-deeper under the sands of the Sahara, is the last place in the world you would expect to find a library. Yet this crumbling outpost in the west-African country of Mauritania is home to around 6,000 rare books and manuscripts, including some of the oldest Koranic texts in existence which date back to the 9th Century ... more  Add a comment

French 16th century book has 'earliest' pictures of tennis
Academics believe a 16th century French book contains the earliest printed images of a game similar to tennis. They are contained in a book by Guillaume de La Perriere, "Le theatre de bons engins", or the theatre of fine devices, published in Paris in 1540 ... more  Add a comment

Unseen Ezra Pound poem sold at auction
An unpublished poem by Ezra Pound, in which the American poet extols in an Elizabethan sonnet the "pools" that are the "dearest eyes" of his friend, the British painter Isabel Codrington, has been sold at auction for £7,500 ... more  Add a comment

Original 1890s Manuscript of "Happy Birthday" Found
Warner Music Group says they own the copyright to "Happy Birthday," a song whose value has been estimated at roughly $5 million.  That copyright claim is one of the reasons why you rarely hear "Happy Birthday" sung in a movie or television show, and why Warner is being actively litigated against for unfairly claiming ownership of a song in the public domain. Now, that battle is about to get a lot more complicated.  Deep in the vaults of the University of Louisville, a librarian has now discovered what appears to be the original manuscript of "Happy Birthday," or at least the earliest known version.  The sheet music dates back to the 1890s, and is for a song originally titled "Good Morning to All," which eventually morphed into the song, "Happy Birthday" ... more  Add a comment

The raiders of rare books
Why are we so fascinated by the bibliomania of biblioklepts (a person who steals books)? Are we drawn to bibliomania because they seem to say something about the nature of our relationship to books? That it is more intimate and more complex than we imagined? ... more  Add a comment

What it's like to top banned book lists
Dav Pilkey's bestselling Captain Underpants books have been pulled from the shelves and out of children's hands for being 'inappropriate' and 'anti-establishment'. Here's why that's so wrong ... more  Add a comment

Aristophil manuscript stock to be auctioned
Aristophil, the scandal-hit French company that amassed the world's largest private collection of manuscripts, has been liquidated and its stock will be put up for sale. The 5 August judgment in the Commercial Court, Paris, was based on its "complete insolvency" ... more  Add a comment

U-boats and octopuses collide in WW1 propaganda maps
While the soldiers of World War I fought on various fronts across Europe, artists and governmental departments on the home front engaged in their own propaganda battle via posters, postcards, and patriotic memorabilia. Antiquarian map dealer Rod Barron's collection of World War I propaganda maps provides a fascinating look at the range of persuasive images being produced by both the Allied and Central sides during the war ... more  Add a comment

First dodo drawing goes under the hammer
The first known depiction of the Dodo is up for auction tomorrow (Wednesday September 2) at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh. The engraving features in the Second Dutch Expedition of 1598 to Indonesia, written and illustrated by the commander of the voyage, Admiral Jacob Cornelisz van Neck ... more  Add a comment

Ancient copy of 'could rewrite history of Islam'
An ancient copy of the Koran found in a Birmingham library could rewrite the early history of Islam, experts believe. Some of the world's oldest fragments of the Muslim holy text were discovered by the University of Birmingham in July ... more  Add a comment