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.

April 2016

Curiouser and curiouser: Rare Lewis Carroll collection goes on sale
A classic in his own lifetime, Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland continue to inspire imaginations young and old. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first publication, the UK's largest rare bookseller, Peter Harrington, is holding a fascinating exhibition of 69 rare books, entitled The Works of Lewis Carroll from the library of an English bibliophile ... more  Add a comment

Antoine de Saint-Exupréy's Little Prince illustration up for auction
An original watercolour illustration of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's child hero The Little Prince, which shows the much-loved character standing in desert sand dunes with his scarf blowing in the wind, is due to be exhibited for the first time. It will be exhibited in New York by French auction house Artcurial from 3 to 9 May and auctioned on 31 May in Paris, with a guide price of £38-46,000 ... more  Add a comment

Original 'Laws of Base Ball' fetch record $3.2m at auction
A trove of historical documents that shed fresh light on the origins of baseball sold at auction on Sunday for more than $3.2m, a record auction price for papers related to the sport that became America's "national pastime" ... more  Add a comment

Seychelles 'sex' banknote sells for £620 at auction
A banknote featuring the Queen with the word 'sex' spelled out in palm trees has been sold at auction for 250 times its face value. The 50 rupee note, equivalent to around £2.50, was issued by the government of the Seychelles between 1968 and 1973 ... more  Add a comment

Family claims Nazis stole famed Jewish manuscript from them
The family of a Jewish German lawmaker say the famed Birds' Head Haggadah, a 14th-century copy of the text read at Jewish dinner tables on Passover, was stolen from their family during the Nazi era and sold without their consent 70 years ago to the predecessor of Jerusalem's Israel Museum in what they call a "longstanding illegal and moral injustice" ... more  Add a comment

'Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu'
Joshua Hammer's "The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu" tells the story of how dedicated librarians in northern Mali and Timbuktu risked their lives to smuggle hundreds of thousands of manuscripts to safety ... more  Add a comment

Salvador Dalí diary up for sale in auction of surrealist artefacts
An unpublished diary of Salvador Dalí, its pages swarming with images of contorted nude figures and naked women being carried off by galloping horses - and columns of expenses calculations - covering the period when he fell in love with, seduced and eventually married the wife of one of his best friends and fellow artists, is to be auctioned as part of a vast private collection covering the intertwined lives of some of the most famous dada and surrealist artists ... more  Add a comment

Freddie Mercury's lyric-filled notebook to go on sale
A notebook used by Freddie Mercury for nearly three years and which contains lyrics for some of his final songs is to be auctioned in the UK. Bonhams is offering the Queen frontman's personal pad, which he carried around between 1988 and 1990 ... more  Add a comment

The antiquarian and the murderer
In an excerpt from Chanan Tigay's new'The Lost Book of Moses,' a historical detective tracks down what could be the original Book of Deuteronomy ... more  Add a comment

Rare religious chant is found hidden in the binding
Lightly sketched in the margin, it looks much like any doodle drawn during an idle moment in a boring meeting. But this caricature is believed to have been drawn by a bored medieval scribe as he studied the rare plainsong discovered on the parchment it was doodled on. The exquisitely preserved document was discovered hidden inside the binding of a religious book where it had lain forgotten for centuries following the Reformation ... more  Add a comment

Wayne Martin comic book collection exceeds expectations
The highlight of the comic collection was a very fine copy the rare 35-cent variant of Marvel's Star Wars #1 from 1977, which sold for a record-breaking $7,200. This comic is considered to be one of the most valuable and sought-after comic books of the Bronze Age (1970-1985) ... more  Add a comment

Medieval manuscripts by female authors on display
Medieval manuscripts by two of the earliest women writers in English, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, are being displayed together for the first time in a new exhibition ... more  Add a comment

Amazon's new Kindle won't put me out of business
This may come as a shock to the people I meet at parties and relatives I rarely see, but as a professional bookbinder, I don't devote a lot of thought to e-readers. Frankly, I wish everyone would stop asking me about them. No, I don't own one. No, nobody has ever wanted me to make one for them. It would be pretty great, too, if people would stop telling me that what I do is "a dying art". I mean, I'm still doing it, and I'm pretty young ... more  Add a comment

Man charged after author and book dealer stabbed to death
The body of Adrian Greenwood, 42, was discovered by his cleaner in his four-storey home last Thursday afternoon. Michael Danaher, of Hadrians Court, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was charged on Tuesday evening ... more  Add a comment

'The Lost Gospel'
According to the document that we uncovered, sometime during this period he became engaged, got married, had sexual relations, and produced children. Before anyone gets his/her theological back up, keep in mind that we are not attacking anyone's theology. We are reporting on a text. Theology must follow historical fact and not the other way around. Having said this, for the moment, we are not asserting that our text is historical fact. So far, we are merely stating that the Christian Bible tells us nothing about Jesus' early years, and that we have discovered a text that claims that he was married and fathered children ... more  Add a comment

Bright Young Booksellers
Fine Books & Collections Bright Young Booksellers series continues today with Clare Trimming, proprietor of Beaux Books in Hampshire, England ... more  Add a comment

William Shakespeare 400th anniversary: How is the UK celebrating?
This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death; an event which has brought an appreciation to all edges of the cultural sphere. From television to film, theatre to classic music; the simple breadth and variety of the events being held in his honour speak to magnitiude of his influence ... more  Add a comment

Scientist makes Darwin's Origin of Species with bacteria
Molecular biologist Dr Simon Park has made a very unusual edition of the classic text, using bacteria to create the cover ... more  Add a comment

From gay conspiracy to queer chic
For years gay people were tolerated in the arts - and were then accused of taking over. Gregory Woods traces the networks of writers, artists, intellectuals and film stars who transformed 20th-century culture ... more  Add a comment

Original Valley of the Dolls manuscript heads to auction
In April 1966, when New York Times book reviewer Martin Levin called Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls "a collector's delight", he probably never imagined himself a prophet. Fifty years on, the original, hand-corrected, typed manuscript for the bestselling novel is headed to auction in California, where it is estimated to sell for between $25,000 and $50,000 ... more  Add a comment

Shakespeare First Folio Discovered on Isle of Bute
The book, owned by the seventh Marquess of Bute, Johnny Dumfries, had been shelved in the library at Mount Stuart House, an enormous Gothic revival pile and tourist attraction on the Isle of Bute, in the Firth of Clyde, about 60 miles west of Glasgow ... more  Add a comment

Harry Potter author's chair sells for $394,000
The humble chair J.K. Rowling sat on while writing the first two books of the Harry Potter series was auctioned in New York City on Wednesday for $394,000 ... more  Add a comment

Peter Pan statue fetches £60,000 at Edinburgh auction
It is a smaller version of a statue commissioned by JM Barrie, the Scottish author of Peter Pan, to stand in a London park. ... more  Add a comment

Sotheby's Paris to auction rare and original comic book art
In October 2015, Sotheby's set a new world auction record  of 1.6 million Euros for an original double-page spread by Hergé the creator of Tin Tin, during the Jean-Arnold Schoofs collection sale in Paris. Following the success of the Jean-Arnold Schoofs collection, Sotheby's has announced its next Comic Book Art sale in Paris on May 14. ... more  Add a comment

Stunning Jain manuscripts from the 13th century go online
Works in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Hindi, Gujarati and Rajasthani have been digitised by the British Library ... more  Add a comment

Houdini manuscript 'Cancer of Superstition' divides opinion
As part of its Houdiniana auction April 9, Chicago auction house Potter & Potter will be auctioning off an unfinished manuscript of "The Cancer of Superstition," a book project commissioned by Houdini that was canceled when the magician died in 1926 ... more  Add a comment

NY Preview: Oscar Wilde criminal trial scrapbook
The New York Antiquarian Book Fair opens on Thursday, and today we're highlighting one fantastic item that will be offered there, courtesy of British bookseller Simon Beattie. This unique collection of press cuttings and other printed ephemera dated 1885-1914 relates to Oscar Wilde, primarily to his 1895 criminal trial for gross indecency ... more  Add a comment

The amazing adventures of Sue in Tibet and her creator
Girls did not often star in the adventure stories of the early 20th Century, but the chance discovery of a little-known book by the daughter of an American missionary who lived in a Tibetan border town led researcher Tricia Kehoe to uncover an extraordinary life story, one marred by tragedy ... more  Add a comment

Mysterious stacks of books in NYC
Shaheryar Malik has left stacks of books from his own library at popular destinations all over New York City. He doesn't stick around to see if anyone takes one of his books, nor does he re-visit his stacks. Instead he leaves a bookmark with his email address printed on it inside each book, in the hopes that he'll hear back from whomever decided to pick that book up ... more  Add a comment

Library tours launch at Lichfield Cathedral
The tours, entitled From Manuscript to the Printed Word will offer visitors an exclusive opportunity to see some of the Cathedral's earliest manuscripts, and a selection of their earliest printed books ... more  Add a comment

Competitive book collecting is a thing
There are readers, and then there are book collectors. You know the ones: Their shelves groan beneath the weight of their printed treasures, and they always have a fascinating find to show off. But bibliophiles are made, not born - and an annual competition exists specifically to feed the book-accumulating habits of young collectors ... more  Add a comment

Sherlock Holmes manuscript expected to fetch up to £300,000
The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter is one of the 56 short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the detective Sherlock Holmes. The story is best known for the first appearance of Holmes's older brother, Mycroft ... more  Add a comment

Bound with love
In an age of Kindles and e-books, a small workshop in south London is sticking to tradition by binding books the old fashioned way ... more  Add a comment

Tracking down an elusive diary from Hitler’s inner circle
For almost six decades, it was missing, all 400-plus revealing, handwritten pages. The diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a Nazi theorist whose views on race are thought to have helped incite Hitler’s persecution of Jews, vanished after its author was convicted of war crimes and hanged at Nuremberg in 1946 ... more  Add a comment