Sunday, February 07, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Andrew Shannon, 51, has gone on trial for the unlawful possession of books stolen from Carton House in County Kildare, Ireland. The books were found to be missing after being put in storage during renovations on the house. Shannon, who maintained that he had purchased the books, was found guilty on Tuesday and will be sentenced in April. Shannon was already in jail, serving time for vandalizing a valuable Monet painting in 2012; in 2011 he was convicted of handling stolen property involving a number of stolen maps.

- The Independent reports that a French court is struggling to find a single buyer for the massive collection of books and manuscripts owned by the Aristophil Group. See the call for buyers.

- Carolyn Kellogg covers the Huntington Library's acquisition of Paul Theroux's papers for the LATimes.

- Writing for Slate, Lydia Pyne has a very interesting piece on the Snead & Company bookshelves that populated many an American library for much of the twentieth century.

- The J. Paul Getty Museum has acquired the Livre des fais de Jacques de Lalaing, a 16th-century secular illuminated manuscript.

- The records of the Bibliographical Society of America have been processed and are now available for research at the Grolier Club.

- Newly-launched, French Renaissance Paleography, featuring more than 100 manuscripts along with transcription tools, &c.

- Lots of coverage this week in the British media about Lady Isabella Hertford's use of birds clipped from Audubon's Birds of America to augment her drawing room wallpaper (note: this happened soon after the book was published, not recently).

- The University of Toronto Scarborough has purchased a collection of more than 10,000 Chinese restaurant menus.

- A 19th-century library record has been returned to Scotland's Innerpeffray Library after being found tucked into a secondhand book.

- The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a woman filing for bankruptcy can keep her first edition Book of Mormon and will not be required to sell it to pay creditors. Anna Robinson says she found the book while cleaning a library storage area in 2003, and that the director told her she could keep whatever books she found. [Shakes head incredulously].

- February's Rare Book Monthly is out, including a report on the lawsuit over books stolen from NYPL, a recap of the Pirie sale, and more.

- From Daniel Grant in the Observer, "The Rarefied World of Book Collecting Is Not a Dying Art."

- Reading Sheffield launched recently: it's a collection of interviews with readers born between 1919 and 1942, with much background and context. I encourage a look-round.

- J.L. Bell covers the lawsuit over the Franklin & Hall manuscript over at Boston 1775.

- Sarah Lyall profiles London bookshop Heywood Hill for the NYTimes' T Magazine.

- At Echoes from the Vault, Carina Müller writes about cataloging the John Sturgeon Mackay's collection of mathematical books.


- "Blooks: The Art of Books That Aren't" (Grolier Club exhibition); reviews by Jennifer Schuessler in the NYTimes and Rebecca Rego Barry in the Guardian.

- Iain Pears' Arcadia; review by Steve Donoghue in the WaPo.

- Rebecca Rego Barry's Rare Books Uncovered; review by Bill Ruehlmann in the Virginian-Pilot.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Links & Reviews

- The Massachusetts Historical Society marks the 225th anniversary of its establishment today. May it ever prosper!

- An employee of the National Library of Ireland will face trial over the theft of more than two hundred books from the library's collections. John Nulty has not yet entered a plea. Nulty is accused stealing the books "on various dates from 2004 to 2013."

- A lawsuit to determine rightful ownership of rare bibles and Franklin & Hall Work Book No. 2 continues to move forward: a judge this week determined that the New York Public Library's claim to the books is not barred by the statute of limitations. Read the full decision. For a plain-English report on this update, see Liam O'Brien's post on the Melville House blog.

- New from the Folger et al: Shakespeare Documented, "the largest and most authoritative collection of primary-source materials" documenting Shakespeare's life.

- Sarah Werner has posted a trio of her recent pieces, all of which are very much worth a read.

- Applications for the Justin Winsor Library History Essay Award are due by 16 February. Information here.

- From Jennifer Howard, "The Year of Opening Up the Library."

- It's being billed as a plus, but locals are none too pleased about it: the Silver Buckle Press and its collections will be relocated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries to the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

- For the Washington Post, Sarah Kershaw reports on the efforts to save Malian manuscripts from Islamic extremists.

- Part III of the Collation writeup of the Folger's acquisitions at the Pirie sale, covering the manuscripts, is now posted.

- E.C. Schroeder has been reappointed to a second term as director of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library and associate university librarian at Yale.

Book Reviews

- Eleanor Fitzsimons' Wilde's Women; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Deborah Lutz's Relics of Death in Victorian Literature and Culture and The Brontë Cabinet; review by Samantha Ellis in the TLS.

- Christopher Buckley's The Relic Master; review by Aram Bakshian, Jr. in the Washington Times.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Links & Reviews

- The New-York Historical Society's institutional archives are being processed, and a partial finding guide is now available.

- A York County, PA court of common pleas ledger from the 1820s was listed for sale on eBay recently: the York Dispatch has a report on the county's attempt to get the ledger back.

- Anchi Hoh writes for the Library of Congress blog about the recent acquisition of an important 15th-century Arabic manuscript on astronomy and mathematics.

- A rare Ottoman atlas from 1803 has been identified in the collections of the National Library of Norway.

- Caroline Duroselle-Melish covers the Folger's acquisitions of printed material and bindings from the Pirie sale for The Collation.


- Josh Spero's Second-Hand Stories; review by Nicholas Lezard in the New Statesman.

- Nile Green's The Love of Strangers; review by Anita Anand in the NYTimes.

- Andrea Wulf's The Invention of Nature; review by Eric Herschthal in the CSM.

- Elizabeth Norton's The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor; review by Steve Donoghue in the CSM.

- Marta Weiss' Julia Margaret Cameron (catalog to accompany a current V&A exhibit); review by Dinah Birch in the TLS.

- Rebecca Rego Barry's Rare Books Uncovered; reviews by Richard Davies at AbeBooks' Reading Copy, Amy Henderson in the Weekly Standard, and Jenna Lifhits in the Washington Free Beacon.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Links & Reviews

Wow, aside from all the conferences this felt at first like it was a somewhat quiet week, but when I started putting this together I realized just how wrong that impression was!

- Missed this announcement in December: Alberto Manguel has been appointed director of the National Library of Argentina.

- The New York Public Library released 180,000+ digitized items as high-resolution downloads, with various changes to the NYPL Digital Collections website intended to "facilitate sharing, research and reuse." This announcement, and rightly so, earned much praise this week. See also good coverage from NPR and the NYTimes.

- A round of eighteen awesome CLIR Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grants was announced this week: they include a project to digitize the Gabriel Garcia Marquez archive at the HRC, a website to aggregate Philadelphia-area medieval manuscript images, a cross-museum collection of field notes, and much, much more.

- Rebecca Rego Barry was on WAMC this week to talk about Rare Books Uncovered.

- NPR's Susan Stamberg covered the big First Folio Tour for NPR this week.

- Over at Past is Present, an excellent post on the conservation treatment process recently carried out on the AAS's 1709 Bay Psalm Book.

- The Getty is digitizing early books illustrated with photographs from its collections.

- From Erin Schreiner on the NYSL blog, "New York Needs a History of Reading."

- Britta Lokting, writing at Forward, asks "What's Next for Valmadonna Judaica Trove After Record-Shattering Sale?"

- There's a neat new Omeka presentation of 17th-century Newcastle-upon-Tyne bookseller William Corbett's shop.

- Speaking of Bay Psalm Books: Swann has announced that a previously unknown seventh edition (Boston, 1693), with some truly excellent provenance, will be part of their sale on 4 February. See the lot description, with photos. The estimate here, $30,000–40,000, seems a bit low to me ...

- Another Pirie sale acquisition announcement: the State Library Victoria acquired four lots (containing 33 English Civil War pamphlets) for inclusion in their Emmerson collection.

- And over at The Collation, Elizabeth DeBold has the first in a series of posts to highlight the Folger's Pirie sale purchases.

- Tim Martin reports for The Telegraph on the Royal College of Physicians exhibit about John Dee's library.

- Jim Kuhn has been appointed associate director and Hobby Foundation Librarian at the Harry Ransom Center.

- In the NYTimes, William Neuman reports on recent work on Incan khipus, including a recent discovery of several khipus in situ at an Incan storage facility.

- Over at The Alchemy Website, see "A modern alchemical hoax exposed." Extremely odd indeed.

- New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a fairly extensive plan to digitize some 2.8 million boxes of municipal records.

- At LitHub, Samantha Hunt offers up "A Brief History of Books that do not Exist."

- In slightly more annoying news, the Authors Guild announced that they will appeal the Google Books ruling to the Supreme Court.

- Paul Collins was on BBC Radio recently discussing the wonderfully zany book Plotto.


- Shaun Greehalgh's A Forger's Tale; review by Jeff Taylor in TNR (more art forgery primer than review, but interesting anyway).

- Kate Loveman's Samuel Pepys and his Books; review by Lena Liapi at Reviews in History.

- Eric Nelson's The Royalist Revolution; review by Heather Schwartz at Common-place.

- Tom Holland's Dynasty; review by Michiko Kakutani in the NYTimes.

- Justin Peters' The Idealist; review by Michael Schaub in the LATimes.

- Scott Hendrix's Martin Luther and Andrew Pettegree's Brand Luther; review by D.G. Hart in the WSJ.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Links & Reviews

- The team working on a census of early editions of Vesalius has launched a website about their project. If you can help them, please do!

- BNF Director Bruno Racine talked to The Hindu about the state of libraries and librarianship.

- John Overholt's find of an uncatalogued manuscript map of the New York-New Jersey border is featured in the NYTimes.

- As Sarah Werner pointed out on Twitter this week, the group studying that treasure trove of unopened 17th-century letters has put together a striking website about their work and the letters.

- January's Rare Book Monthly articles are up: they include the annual report on the top 500 auction prices for books and manuscripts from 2015, a writeup on the first Bergé sale, and more.

- The NYTimes reported on the NYPL's erotica collection.


- Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle's A Just and Generous Nation; review by David Holahan in the CSM.

- Peter Daly's The Emblem in Early Modern Europe; review by Maureen Mulvihill in Appositions.

- Tom Holland's Dynasty; review by Dennis Drabelle in the WaPo.

- Mary Beard's SPQR; review by Michael D. Schaffer in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year-End Reading Report 2015

Another year's reading comes to a close (though I intentionally didn't start any new books this week so that I could get through the big pile of journals and magazines that had accumulated over the last several months). In 2015 I finished 172 books, including some classics that I'd long intended to read and finally did.

And now, my five favorite fiction and non-fiction reads for 2015 (in no particular order within the lists):


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

The Barsetshire Chronicles by Anthony Trollope

Slade House by David Mitchell


Do Not Sell at Any Price by Amanda Petrusich

Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey

Galileo's Idol by Nick Wilding

The Most Disreputable Trade by Tom Bonnell

Winter World by Bernd Heinrich

Happy New Year to you all, and good reading!

Previous year's reports: 201420132012201120102009200820072006.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Links & Reviews

- Bookseller John Crichton of the Brick Row Book Shop is profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle. The shop marked its hundredth birthday in early December.

- Sotheby's sale of material from the Valmadonna Trust collection realized more than $14.9 million, setting a record for an auction of Judaica. The Bomberg Talmud alone fetched $9.3 million, and was sold to Stephan Loewentheil, reportedly on behalf of collector Leon Black.

- The Morgan Library & Museum announced that they acquired from the Pirie sale the large-paper copy of Orlando Furioso (1591).

- Peter Brantley writes for Publishers Weekly about how James Billington's retirement should be a "wake-up call" for librarians.

- No surprise to most readers of this blog, but Michael Rosenwald reports for the Washington Post on the "resurgence" of used bookstores.

- The BBC reports on the new details emerging about the early Koranic fragments identified at Birmingham University earlier this year.

- Over at The New Antiquarian, a poetic ode to the current Grolier Club exhibition by Terry Belanger.

- The Shakespeare exhibits are starting: the HRC's, "Shakespeare in Print and Performance," is up through 29 May. See a preview.

- Along the same lines, Heather Wolfe announces one of the Folger's many initiatives for 2016: Shakespeare Documented, "the largest and most authoritative resource for learning about primary sources that document the life and career of William Shakespeare."

- In the Guardian's "book to share" column, Robert Freeman highlights Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer.

- At Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie, Guillermo Moran shows the process of making a mezzotint bookplate.


- Page Smith's (posthumous) Tragic Encounters and Michael McDonnell's Masters of Empire; review by David Treuer in the LATimes.

- David Wootton's The Invention of Science; review by Matthew Price in the Boston Globe.