Sunday, December 14, 2014

Links & Reviews

- Yale has received a $3 million grant from the Goizueta Foundation to fund a digital humanities laboratory at Sterling Memorial Library.

- Researcher Jessica Linker has identified one of the printing blocks used by Benjamin Franklin to make "leaf prints" as an anti-counterfeiting measure. The block is in the collections of the Delaware County Institute of Science, but will soon be on display at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

- Paul Dingman recaps the first Transcribathon, held at Penn and sponsored by the Folger as part of their Early Modern Manuscripts Online project. I'm looking forward to the planned one at UVA this spring.

- Winchester Cathedral has put out a public call in an attempt to find eight illuminations missing from the Winchester Bible.

- Still waiting for more information about this, but type designer Robert Green, in association with a salvage team from the Port of London Authority, has reportedly recovered a "small quantity" of the type used by the Doves Press (and later dumped over Hammersmith Bridge by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson).

- The Harry Ransom Center refused to release the purchase price for the Gabriel Garcia Marquez archive after an AP request.

- Eric Rasmussen writes about the recent identification of a new First Folio, and about several long-missing copies which he'd like to find.

- The MHS has launched a new digital collection of material related to the Boston Massacre.

- The Torquay Museum plans to sell an unpublished Jane Austen letter to her sister Cassandra.

- The sale of a Neal Cassady letter to Jack Kerouac has been canceled (well, "indefinitely suspended," anyway) after the estates of both Cassady and Kerouac claimed ownership of the letter.

- Paul Romaine summarizes what looks to have been an excellent APHA panel on Early Renaissance Paper, featuring Angela Campbell and Tim Barrett.

- The DPLA announced the winners of its first "GIF IT UP" competition.

- New research at the University of York and Trinity College Dublin is exploring parchment genetics, with implications for agricultural history as well as bibliography.

- NARA launched a new online catalog, which includes transcription functionality. They've also added a public read-write API.

- A bit more has emerged on the five books from Oscar Wilde's library identified at the KB.

- Atlas Obscura covers the launch of a new series of videos highlighting the collections of the American Museum of Natural History.

- At The Collation, Erin Blake takes a close look at mezzotints.

- A new interim issue of Common-place is out.

- Simon Beattie highlights Edmund Harold's imitations of Ossian poems, published in English and German editions at Dusseldorf in 1787.

- Lauren Collins writes for the New Yorker about the Oxford University Marginalia Facebook group.

- More on "marginalia's moment" from Laura Miller at Salon.

- Over at the ABAA blog, Simon Beattie explores deckle-fetishism.

- Just a year after its grand opening, the Library of Birmingham is set to slash hours by nearly half and see some 100 layoffs due to budget cuts.

- Gerald Cloud has been appointed Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Curator of Early Modern Books and Manuscripts at the Harry Ransom Center. Congratulations to Gerald!

- John Schulman of Caliban Books has posted a guide to buying rare books as gifts, over at the ABAA blog.


- Patricia Jane Roylance's Eclipse of Empires; review by Lindsay DiCuirci at Common-place.

- A.N. Wilson's Victoria: A Life; review by Leah Price in the NYTimes.

- John Merriman's Massacre; review by Wendy Smith in the LATimes.

- Kristina Milnor's Graffiti and the Literary Landscape in Roman Pompeii; review by Emily Gowers in the TLS.

- Jules Witcover's The American Vice Presidency; review by Ellen Fitzpatrick in the WaPo.

- Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy's The Men Who Lost America; review by Eric Hinderaker at Common-place.

- David Nokes' Samuel Johnson: A Life; review by Jonathan Bate in the Telegraph.

- Meredith Neuman's Jeremiah's Scribes; review by Wendy Roberts at Common-place.

- Alex Christie's Gutenberg's Apprentice; review by Bruce Holsinger in the WaPo.

- Marilyn Johnson's Lives in Ruins; review by Wendy Smith in the WaPo.

- Jill Lepore's The Secret History of Wonder Woman; review by Carla Kaplan in the NYTimes.

- Thomas Foster's Sex and the Founding Fathers; review by Kelly Ryan at Common-place.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Links & Reviews

- The Center for Media and Social Impact has issued a "Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Orphan Works for Libraries & Archives."

- French scientists are working to date the Aztec manuscript known as the Codex Borbonicus.

- Jill Lepore writes on the theft of Justice Felix Frankfurter's papers from the Library of Congress, broadening that to discuss the state of the papers of all Supreme Court justices.

- Longtime friend of the blog Laura Massey has opened her own rare book business, Alembic Rare Books.

- The New York City Bar Association sale at Doyle New York on 24 November saw a very high total of $2,369,231, with all lots selling. I'll have more on this sale in the next FB&C.

- The NYTimes covers the ongoing dispute over the estate of Maurice Sendak, featuring the first interview with Sendak executor Lynn Caponera. There's more coverage and analysis of this case in the Connecticut Law Tribune.

- Molly Hardy discusses the NAIP and its possible uses in bibliometric analysis.

- From Atlas Obscura, "Lost Museums of New York."

- The Antikythera Mechanism has been determined to date from around 205 B.C., earlier than previously thought.

- Rachel Nuwer reports for Smithsonian on the digital reconstruction of Livingstone's diary.

- Terry Belanger's summary of the "Acknowledging the Past, Forging the Future" symposium, along with a PDF version of his full report, has been posted on the ABAA blog.

- A collector left a 13th-century Chinese scroll worth more than $1m on a Paris-to-Geneva train; the scroll remains missing.

- Jennifer Schuessler covered the "First Editions, Second Thoughts" auction at Christie's this week for the NYTimes. More coverage from The Guardian.

- The literary archive of Gabriel García Márquez will go to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

- The NYTimes reported on the launch of Digital Einstein, a digital repository of some 80,000 Einstein-related documents. Walter Isaacon wrote about the launch in a WSJ essay (which contains some misguided notions about what digitization means for scholars and viewing original documents).

- Andrea Cawelti posted on the Houghton Library blog about circulating libraries during Jane Austen's time.

- Johanna Drucker has published a new essay, "Distributed and Conditional Documents: Conceptualizing Bibliographical Alterities."

- Philip Pullman writes on William Blake in The Guardian.

- Jennifer Howard covers the "Failure in the Archives" conference for The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

- Newly-recognized unpublished Oscar Wilde materials, including a notebook from around 1880, a corrected typescript of Salome, and a partial draft of "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," will be displayed at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia beginning in late January.

- A letter thought to have inspired Kerouac's On the Road, long thought lost, has been found and will be sold by the auction house Profiles in History on 17 December.

- An unpublished libretto by Raymond Chandler has been identified at the Library of Congress.

- A UK court has declared that a ban on sending books to prisoners was not lawful.

- Adventures in Book Collecting highlights collector Estelle Doheney.

- Five books from Oscar Wilde's library have been identified at the National Library of the Netherlands (KB).

- A manuscript of George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation (which I had the good fortune to see displayed at the Boston Book Fair last month) has sold to a private collector for $8.4 million.

- The BPL has launched a special collections blog, Collections of Distinction.

- Candida Moss reports for The Daily Beast on the online trade in early manuscripts.

- Sotheby's London will sell The Felix Dennis Collection, including works by Eric Gill, on 9 December. A Dylan Thomas manuscript and E.H. Shepard illustrations are expected to sell well.

- The Library History Round Table has issued its annual call for papers for the Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award. Submissions are due by 31 January 2015.

- Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about reading with a pen in your hand.

- An 18th-century manuscript map of New Mexico has been acquired by the New Mexico History Museum.

- A Shakespeare First Folio has been discovered in the public library of the French town of Saint-Omer. More coverage from the NYTimes, Fine Books Blog, OUP Blog. Eric Rasmussen talked to USA Today about identifying the book.

- Daniel Akst connects today's e-book subscription services with the membership libraries begun in the 18th century.

- Eric Kwakkel writes on the uses of shelfmarks, catalogs, &c. in the medieval library.


- Kate Williams' Ambition and Desire; review by Caroline Weber in the NYTimes.

- Margery Heffron's The Other Mrs. Adams; review by Muriel Dobbin in the Washington Times.

- Andrew Roberts' Napoleon Bonaparte; review by Michael F. Bishop in the WaPo.

- Kirstin Downey's Isabella: The Warrior Queen; review by Kathryn Harrison in the NYTimes.

- Cary Elwes' As You Wish; review by Neil Genzlinger in the NYTimes.

- Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography; reviews by Bich Minh Nguyen in the LATimes and Jennifer Maloney in the WSJ.

- Fredrik Sjoberg's The Fly Trap; review by Jennie Erin Smith in the TLS.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Links & Reviews

Another excellent Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair was held last weekend; it was great to see so many good friends there and in Providence! Apologies if I've missed anything big in this roundup; I confess I was unable to pay quite as much attention to Twitter and other news during the fair.

- Rebecca Rego Barry has a good Fair rundown.

- Princeton alumnus William Scheide died on 14 November at the age of 100. See the Princeton obituary for a full run-down of Scheide's important philanthropy to his alma mater and elsewhere.

- The Museé des Lettres et Manuscrits in Paris, along with an associated institute and Aristophil, a company run by the museum's founder, Gérard Lhéritier, were reportedly raided by anti-fraud police on 18 November. It seems the company, which raised funds for the purchase of rare books and manuscripts, may have been involved in a massive Ponzi scheme. More on come on this front, I'm sure!

- The New York City Bar Association is set to auction off its rare books in a series of three auctions at Doyle New York. The first sale will be held tomorrow. The New York Law Journal also ran a piece on the upcoming sales, featuring some pretty shocking comments from Association staff and criticism from members.

- Bookseller Rick Gekoski's Guardian column "I quit: why I won't be finishing my history of the book" made the rounds this week. He's either completely missed the boat or is simply running in the wrong circles if he really believes his own statement: "I know of almost no creative writer or passionate reader who has the slightest interest in the history of the book." And as a bookseller, how on earth could he be "not particularly interested in the book as object"? Clearly he wasn't the right author for this book in the first place, and frankly I'm glad he's let it go.

- There's a story at Quartz by Daniel Hernandez about a Mark Twain-related plagiarism contretemps. See Kevin Mac Donnell's original review of the book in question. A co-author and editor of the book have issued a quite unsatisfying response.

- From Atlas Obscura, Secret Libraries of Paris.

- Scribner's is relaunching an e-magazine, Scribner Magazine.

- Amazon and Hachette have resolved their contract dispute, apparently leaving nobody very happy.

- A post from the Chicago SCRC blog highlights the Argos Lectionary, known as the "Gangster Bible" because Al Capone's gang reportedly swore their oaths over the book.

- Publisher David Godine is profiled in the Boston Globe.

- Over at AbeBooks, Beth Carswell has a feature article on Vesalius' Fabrica.

- The University of Michigan has claimed exemption from state public records laws, arguing that its employees do not have to keep official correspondence.

- Barbara Basbanes Richter has a short synopsis of the new Folger exhibit, "Decoding the Renaissance: 500 Years of Codes and Ciphers."

- James Atlas comments on the massive biography, and having received several 500+-page biographical tomes this month alone, I certainly get what he's saying!

- The winners of the 2014 National Book Awards were announced this week.

- A previously unknown Dylan Thomas notebook will be offered at Sotheby's London on 9 December.

- Amazon beat out Bowker and others for the rights to administer the .book domain name.

- Modern Notions has a short piece (with lots of good pictures) on Eric Kwakkel and his work on medieval doodles.


- Ezra Greenspan's William Wells Brown; review by Nell Irvin Painter in the NYTimes.

- Kirstin Downey's Isabella: The Warrior Queen; review by Richard L. Kagan in the WaPo.

- Pamela Smith Hill's Pioneer Girl; review by Lane Brown in the CSM.

- James McPherson's Embattled Rebel; review by Steven Hahn in the NYTimes.

- Mike Pitts' Digging for Richard III; review by Nick Romeo in the CSM.

- Jenny Uglow's In These Times; review by Peter Stothard in the TLS.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Links & Reviews

- On my way to Boston this week for the 38th Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair (look for me at the Rare Book School table) I'll be stopping off in Providence to give a talk, "Ownership Marks in Early American Books: Outliers & Oddities" as part of the Rhode Island Center for the Book's 2014 program, "Mine! Ownership Marks from Curses to Bookplates." See the full schedule of events and exhibits here.

- Speaking of Boston, the ABAA blog has been running a great series of posts on the Boston Book Fair and the Boston book scene writ large. Rusty Mott offers up "Recollections of the Boston Book Fair, by a Lifer," Peter Stern covers "Characters in the [Boston] Rare Book Trade," and Joyce Kosofsky writes about changes to the Boston rare books scene since the Boston Book Fair began.

- Many congratulations to Steve Ferguson, who has been named the Acting Associate University Librarian for Rare Books & Special Collections at Princeton.

- Thought this might be coming: the Rosenbach Library has filed a lawsuit against the executors of Maurice Sendak's will, charging that they are failing to comply with his wishes in various respects. There are some real howlers here, like the executors refusing to turn over rare Beatrix Potter books because they are "children's books, not rare books," or works by William Blake.

- Phil Collins has donated his collection of artifacts related to the Alamo and the Texas Revolution to the state of Texas.

- Both the Warburg Institute and the University of London claimed success after a judge handed down a decision in the dispute between the two sides. More from the Warburg Institute here.

- Some excellent news from New York: next year the Manhattan Vintage Book & Ephemera Fair ("The Shadow Show") will take place on Friday 10 April at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, 869 Lexington Avenue at 66th St, New York (right across the street from the Armory show).

- The University of Chicago has received a $250,000 gift from Roger and Julie Baskes to enhance online catalog records.

- The Getty Research Institute has acquired a number of unpublished Joseph Cornell letters.

- Staff at the Imperial War Museum are pushing back against the planned closure of the museum's library.

- The Boston Athenaeum is digitizing its collection of Boston city directories from 1789 through 1900.

- The Ashmolean Museum is planning to reconstruct William Blake's studio as part of an upcoming exhibit on the artist.

- Richard Adams talked to the Telegraph about his writing, to mark the publication of a new edition of Watership Down.

- Over at Printeresting, a look at the Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication in Lyon.

- Bruce Holsinger writes for Humanities about the writing of historical fiction.

- The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the Conan Doyle estate, with the effect that Sherlock Holmes stories published before 1923 are determined to be in the public domain in the United States.

- Heritage Auctions is selling the archive of American Heritage Publishing.

- David Whitesell has compiled a few highlights from the new acquisitions to the McGregor Library this year.


- Bradford Morrow's The Forgers and Charlie Lovett's First Impressions; review by Rebecca Rego Barry at Fine Books Blog. The Forgers is also reviewed by Colin Dwyer for WSHU.

- Richard Norton Smith's On His Own Terms; review by David Nasaw in the WaPo.

- Jenny Uglow's In These Times; review by Nicholas Shakespeare in the Telegraph.

- Robert Darnton's Censors at Work; review by Alberto Manguel in the NYTimes.

- C.D. Rose's The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- E.O. Wilson's The Meaning of Human Existence; review by Danny Heitman in the CSM.

- E.O. Wilson's A Window on Eternity; review by Jonathan Weiner in the NYTimes.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Links & Reviews

- Sarah Werner and Matthew Kirschenbaum have written a piece for this year's edition of Book History: "Digital Scholarship and Digital Studies: The State of the Discipline."

- The AAS has acquired two photos of 19th-century printers posing with their tools.

- Nick Basbanes' piece on Rare Book School for the NEH's magazine, Humanities, is now online.

- Sotheby's has been sued by a consignor for an attribution: the seller argues that if the auction house had attributed the painting to Caravaggio rather than to a follower, the auction price would have been far higher.

- A fragmentary typescript of an unpublished memoir written by Simon & Schuster co-founder Richard Simon is currently listed in a bookseller's catalog for $5,000.

- UVA Today takes a look at the Book Traces project.

- Over at the Provenance Online Project, a few nifty GIF animations from old books.

- Eric Kwakkel found a fantastic example of a scribe putting some defects in his parchment to good use. And he writes about how, in certain cases, the destruction of medieval books actually served to lead to their survival.

- I'm not a big fan of the trend of historical institutions "updating their brands" by changing their names, but there's a report on the phenomenon in the NYTimes.

- The Fine Books Blog collects the links to Terry Belanger's recaps of the Case Western special collections symposium.

- Douglas Greenberg's essay on Michael Kammen in the LARB is highly recommended.


- Edward J. Larson's The Return of George Washington, 1783-1789; review by David Waldstreicher in the NYTimes.

- Francois Furstenberg's When the United States Spoke French; review by Hank H. Cox in the WaPo.

- Harold Holzer's Lincoln and the Power of the Press; review by David S. Reynolds in the NYTimes.

- Andrew McConnell Stott's The Poet and the Vampyre; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Armand Marie Leroi's The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science; review by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein in the NYTimes.

Book Reviews: "Gutenberg's Apprentice" and "First Impressions"

A couple new biblio-novels have made appearances recently:

Alix Christie's Gutenberg's Apprentice (HarperCollins) is a fictionalized account of the Gutenberg workshop in Mainz during the production of the 42-line Bible. The story is told from the perspective of the eponymous apprentice, Peter Schoeffer, and Christie has at least to a significant degree tried to get the details right. She hasn't always succeeded, alas, and the actual plot of the novel is pretty lackluster, but Christie's writing is lovely and makes this historical reconstruction entirely worth a read. The contextualization of Gutenberg's (and Fust and Schoeffer's) work within the political and religious upheaval of 1450s Mainz alone would recommend it to anyone interested in the period.

Charlie Lovett has followed his The Bookman's Tale with First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen (Viking). Aside from the primal screams I must force myself to swallow every time an otherwise-sympathetic character in one of these novels steals a rare book or manuscript (surely, dear authors, there must be other ways to accomplish these things!) I quite liked this book as a biblio-mystery: it's got good characters, a quasi-believable plot, and a reasonable mystery with a healthy number of red herrings swimming around for good measure, even if the whole thing does follow a fairly obvious formula. I'm sure there's lots more fan service to Janeites in here than I caught, but the biblio-bits are quite nicely handled.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Links & Reviews

- There's a new Harvard Library policy governing access to digital reproductions of public domain works, and it's a good 'un. In part: "Harvard Library asserts no copyright over digital reproductions of works in its collections which are in the public domain, where those digital reproductions are made openly available on Harvard Library websites."

- Terry Belanger is doing the book world a great service by posting a series of dispatches from last week's National Colloquium on Library Special Collections ("Acknowledging the Past, Forging the Future") on ExLibris. See Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V (so far; more to come).

- ILAB has released a list of books believed stolen from the Cappuccini Library in Florence.

- The AAS has announced a conference and workshop, The Digital Antiquarian, to be held at the end of May and first week in June, 2015.

- The Thoreau Institute has purchased the Thoreau collection of bookseller Kevin Mac Donnell.

- Nate Pedersen talked to author Christine Jackson about her 2013 book John James LaForest Audubon: An English Perspective for the FB&C blog.

- A notebook from the 1910–1913 Scott expedition, containing notes by scientist George Murray Levick about photographs taken in 1911, was found last summer at the site of Scott's Terra Nova base camp.

- Over at I Love Typography, "The First Female Typographer."

- The New Haven Register profiles the team working on preserving and digitizing Yale's collection of papyri.

- The Soldiers National Museum in Gettysburg will close in November, and its collection of Civil War artifacts and other materials will be sold at auction.

- Eric Kwakkel has collected some excellent images of various ways parchment "goes bad," to complement equally excellent explanatory text.

- Brandon Butler writes about the new round of GSU copyright litigation in "Transformative Teaching after GSU."

- Ben Breen has a blog post at The Paris Review about his experience at RBS this summer.

- A deal was reached this week that will keep a Barnes & Noble open in the Bronx for at least the next two years.

- The Guardian highlights the new Cambridge University Library exhibition Private Lives of Print.

- Simon Beattie highlights a German pamphlet from 1930 advertising a "bibliotour" to the northeastern United States.

- Caroline Duroselle-Melish has been named the Andrew W. Mellow Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Sean Quimby has been appointed Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) at Columbia University.


- Jill Lepore's The Secret History of Wonder Woman; reviews by Etelka Lehoczky for NPR, Dwight Garner in the NYTimes, Carol Tavris in the WSJ, and Laura Hudson in the LATimes.

- Charlie Lovett's First Impressions; review by B.L. Clark at The Exile Bibliophile.

- Lucy Worsley's The Art of the English Murder; review by Sara Paretsky in the NYTimes.

- Laura Auricchio's The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered; review by Jonathan Yardley in the WaPo.

- Roger Clarke's Ghosts: A Natural History; review by Patrick McGrath in the NYTimes.

- Peter Wright's The Copyright Wars; review by Louis Menand in The New Yorker.

- Mark Hallett's Reynolds: Portraiture in Action; review by Norma Clarke in the TLS.

- Andrew McConnell Stott's The Poet and the Vampyre; review by Maxwell Carter in the NYTimes.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Links & Reviews

- Erik Kwakkel and Giulio Menna have launched a new website, Quill: Books Before Print.

- Philip Palmer writes on the Clark Library blog (The Clog) about manuscript captions added to early woodcuts and engravings.

- The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has partially reversed the GSU e-reserves decision handed down in May 2012. Jen Howard has a thorough report in the Chronicle. The appeals court found that the lower court judge had incorrectly weighed the four factors used to gauge fair use and returned the case for further examination. More on this decision from Kevin Smith.

- The Friends of Bangor Public Library have recognized collectibles dealer Paul Zebiak for his role in returning stolen posters and photographs to the library. Insider thief Russell Graves is serving a six-month jail sentence for the thefts.

- A new open-access journal of special collections, The Reading Room, launched this week.

- There's a report in the NYTimes about 14th-century birch-bark documents found in mud near Novgorod. More than a thousand such documents have been uncovered so far.

- A 31-year-old Bethesda, MD woman, Christina Wimmel, pleaded guilty to the theft of rare books worth more than $30,000 from her neighbor, collector-dealer Julia Jordan. Wimmel was sentenced to probation and the payment of restitution.

- The shortlist for this year's National Book Awards were announced this week.

- Curators at the Huntington Library have found amongst their uncataloged books two sections of the Yongle Encyclopedia (~1562), called the largest book ever printed in China.

- Toni Morrison's papers have been acquired by Princeton University.

- Jeff Peachey writes about the new Mark Landis documentary "Art and Craft" from a conservators' perspective.

- In Lapham's Quarterly, Colin Dickey reconsiders Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando.

- For Ada Lovelace Day this week, Sarah Werner highlighted an exercise she's used with her students to find early women printers in the book trade records. Joe Adelman posed a question about the integration of women printers into the history of early American printing at The Junto.

- The University of South Carolina has acquired the literary archive of Elmore Leonard.

- In the NYRB, Robert A. Schneider, editor of the AHR, replies to Robert Darnton's most recent NYRB essay, and Darnton responds: Overpriced Scholarship: An Exchange.

- Sam Roberts profiles Richard Norton Smith about Smith's new biography of Nelson Rockefeller.

- McSweeney's founder Dave Eggers announced this week that he is transitioning McSweeney's into a non-profit organization.


- Steven Pinker's The Sense of Style; review by Charles McGrath in the NYTimes.

- Cary Elwes' As You Wish; review by Alexandra Mullen in the WSJ.

- Jonathan Darman's Landslide; review by Sean Wilentz in the NYTimes.

- A trio of new books on reading in the digital age; review by Jennifer Howard in the TLS.

- Zephyr Teachout's Corruption in America; review by Thomas Frank in the NYTimes.

- Richard Norton Smith's On His Own Terms; review by Robert K. Landers in the WSJ.