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.

August 2018

Book found in Olney Oxfam charity shop sold for £30k
A book of etchings by a famed Italian artist which was found in a charity shop has fetched £30,000 at auction. Despite being without its front cover, the book attracted the attention of Tim Street - who volunteers at the Oxfam shop in Olney, Buckinghamshire ... more  Add a comment

How 'The Bookshop' director found tons of rare vintage books
Tracking down a first-edition copy of Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 classic "Lolita" isn't too difficult. But for her latest film, "The Bookshop", set in 1959, director Isabel Coixet needed 250 of them ... more  Add a comment

Vast Theft of Antiquarian Books Sends a Shudder Through a Cloistered World of Dealers
A rare books dealer thought he had gotten lucky in 2013 when he managed to acquire a 1787 French first edition - inscribed by Thomas Jefferson when he was ambassador to France.
    "If someone else had seen it first, it would have been gone," said the dealer, John Thomson, who owns Bartleby’s Books, an online shop.
    He had no idea that his seeming good fortune was a byproduct of one of the most expansive rare book thefts in history. ... more  Add a comment

The travel guides that charted our world
Essentially travel guides, these old books and maps were used by sailors, academics and travellers in the 15th and the 16th Centuries to navigate and explore the world ... more  Add a comment

An ingenious way to hide a map
In World War II, clandestine maps were printed onto cloth handkerchiefs to be used by Allied servicemen in case of capture behind enemy lines ... more  Add a comment

Rare Beano book to go under the hammer
It is one of a number of comics and children's books to be auctioned at the two-day book sale at Keys, which takes place on Thursday 30 August and Friday 31 August ... more  Add a comment

Rare copy of Charles Darwin book auctions in Mexico City
A copy of the first edition of "The Origin of Species", the historic book by naturalist Charles Darwin published in 1859, has left a private collection to be auctioned in Mexico at a price between $52,000 and $62,500 USD ... more  Add a comment

Likely identity of Oscar Wilde’s American sweetheart ‘Hattie’ uncovered
Biographer pinpoints the woman who stole writer's heart on his 1882 US book tour ... more  Add a comment

Iraq arrests three for stealing ancient Christian religious manuscripts
Three suspects have confessed to stealing religious manuscripts belonging to the Museum of the Mar Thoma Church in Mosul, Iraq's judiciary announced on Sunday ... more  Add a comment

Egyptian papyrus reveals rare details of ancient medical practices
Experts working with the texts recently discovered that the papyrus scrolls included the oldest known medical discussion of the kidneys, as well as notes on treatments for eye diseases and a description of a pregnancy test, the science news site ScienceNordic reported ... more  Add a comment

Feminist bookshop to open in Soho
An arts journalist turned rare books dealer has created an online store devoted to women writers and plans to open a bookshop in Soho ... more  Add a comment

World's first film poster set to go up for auction at Sotheby's
A poster promoting the first public screenings of film, providing glimpses of late 19th-century Paris life, is coming up for auction ... more  Add a comment

The Book List: The fake titles Charles Dickens used to decorate his library
One of the 19th century fads among England’s literati was to decorate rooms with ornamental books instead of actual bookcases, often using humorous titles ... more  Add a comment

'Pie for a doubting husband': how to cook like a suffragette
The Suffrage Cook Book, first published in 1915 and now reissued, includes Jack London's favourite duck recipe and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'synthetic quince' ... more  Add a comment

Mill workers' poems about 1860s cotton famine rediscovered
The forgotten voices of Lancashire's poverty-stricken cotton workers during the US civil war have been heard for the first time in 150 years, after researchers at the University of Exeter unearthed a treasure trove of poetry ... more  Add a comment

Egypt retrieves ancient Islamic manuscript
Egypt's national library says it has retrieved a 500-year-old manuscript that was lost in 1970s. Hesham Azmi, the head of the National Library and Archives, told a press conference Monday the manuscript, titled "The Summary of the Science of History," is the first known Islamic study of historical theory.He says the national library reclaimed the manuscript on July 13 after it was spotted at an auction in London in April ... more  Add a comment

Rare Star Wars poster sells for world record £20,000 at auction
A rare Star Wars poster has sold for a world record £20,000 ($26,000) at auction. The 1980 concept poster for 'The Empire Strikes Back' is the most expensive movie poster from the legendary franchise to go under the hammer ... more  Add a comment

Brian May to launch book on Victorian photographer
Armed with a book instead of a guitar, Brian May, best known as the lead guitarist of the rock group Queen, is heading into unknown territory at the Edinburgh book festival to launch a lavishly illustrated biography of the Victorian Scottish photographer George Washington Wilson ... more  Add a comment

Cult classic The Moomins drawings expected to raise £3,000 at auction
A set of original sketches of children's cult cartoon characters The Moomins are going under the hammer. The five drawings of the most recognisable Moomin characters are expected to fetch £2,000-£3,000 in total ... more  Add a comment

Taking a fresh approach to rare book sales
Music producer Will de Burca embraces social media in the family book business; a tiny D4 bookshop has rare appeal ... more  Add a comment

Far-right protesters 'ransack socialist bookshop in London'
The owners of Britain's largest socialist bookshop, Bookmarks, have said the store was attacked by far-right protesters wearing masks who wrecked displays and ripped up books and magazines ... more  Add a comment

Rare medieval bible returned to shelf at Canterbury Cathedral
A 13th century bible, one of a handful of books which survived intact when the library of Canterbury Cathedral was broken up at the time of the Reformation, is back in the building after almost 500 years ... more  Add a comment

Mass spectrometry technique helps identify forged Robert Burns manuscripts
A team of researchers at the University of Glasgow has developed a mass spectrometry technique to identify forged manuscripts. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the group describes their technique and how well it worked when testing known forged Robert Burns manuscripts ... more  Add a comment

Unseen Monty Python sketches to go on display at British Library
A series of unseen Monty Python sketches have been discovered in Michael Palin's archives. The comedian gave the documents to the British Library back in 2017 and further examination has revealed them to contain unused script ideas ... more  Add a comment

The new book about Ferrari that costs as much as a car
Designed to be as exclusive as a car from Maranello, a new retrospective book on Ferrari by Taschen will be limited to only 1,947 copies -- celebrating Ferrari's foundation year of 1947 -- and cost up to $30,000 ... more  Add a comment

'Spectacular' ancient public library discovered in Germany
A 13th century bible, one of a handful of books which survived intact when the library of Canterbury Cathedral was broken up at the time of the Reformation, is back in the building after almost 500 years ... more  Add a comment