Sunday, September 06, 2015

Links & Reviews

- The collection of rare books and manuscripts acquired by Aristophil, the French company run by Gérard Lhéritier, will be sold at auction according to a report in The Art Newspaper. French prosecutors have described the company's business model as a Ponzi scheme, and the founder is currently out on bail. The collection includes fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls and the manuscript of the Marquis de Sade's "120 Days of Sodom." The report suggests that it may be a while before any such auction, occurs, though: "Conducting a full inventory of the company's collection is expected to take several years." Lhéritier maintains that the liquidation of the collection was instigated by "a small gang of civil servants" who want the manuscripts for the state.

- Another great episode from "To The Best of Our Knowledge" this week, on "The Art of the Collection." Highly recommended.

- Bookseller James Jaffe examined the contents of a safe-deposit box containing Harper Lee materials, and concluded that a third novel is not present. He reports that the box contained an original typescript of "Go Set a Watchman," a early typescript of portions of "To Kill a Mockingbird," and a copy-edited full typescript of the latter. You can read Jaffe's full report here.

- Recirculating this week, a list of Hebrew books missing from Lincoln College, Oxford. The presumed theft of these books was first investigated in 1990.

- The University of Louisville recently announced the discovery of the only known manuscript of "Good Morning to All," now better known as "Happy Birthday." The manuscript was located in a sketch book belonging to the song's co-author, Mildred Hill, part of a collection donated to the university in the 1950s and never cataloged. The first page of the manuscript is missing, and there is some question about whether this is the original version, or a revision.

- Much confusion this week in Springfield over the fate of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project, with the Illinois Times reporting that the project would be shut down or at least halted as a state budget impasse continues. More from the Lincoln Courier.

- Now up at Folgerpedia, a very useful writeup on "Interpreting MARC records."

- A copy of the book containing the first known image of the dodo was on the auction block this week in Edinburgh, but failed to sell.

- Thanks to Mitch Fraas for passing along Sasha Abramsky's article in The Nation about his grandfather's library: "How the Atheist Son of a Jewish Rabbi Created One of the Greatest Libraries of Socialist Literature."

- Rose Eveleth highlights the recent launch of Archives Corps, a volunteer effort to "organize the saving of physical materials in danger of loss."

- In the 7 September New Yorker, Stacy Schiff has a long piece on the Salem witchcraft crisis.

- Bowdoin College has acquired a collection of more than 700 books on American cookery, with emphasis on pre-1900 titles. The collection was assembled by New York banker Clifford Apgar, and its purchase was funded in part by a gift from Esta Kramer. More coverage in a Bowdoin news piece and from the Portland Press-Herald.

- Eric Kwakkel explores medieval "posters" this week.

- An unpublished Ezra Pound poem sold at auction this week for £7,500.

- The Tate galleries have launched a new crowdsourced transcription project (called, naturally, AnnoTate) through Zooniverse, to transcribe items from their archive of artists' papers.

- A 19th-century manuscript Koran sold for £230,000 at a Devon auction, over estimates of just £1,500.

- On display at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia through January as part of their exhibit Catholics in the New World: A Selection of 16th–18th Century Texts are copies of the first surviving book printed in the Americas, Doctrina breve (Mexico City, 1544) and the first book printed in South America, Doctrina christiana (Lima, 1584).

- Jeff Scott, director of library services at the Berkeley Public Library (CA) for just ten months, resigned this week after staff and community members accused him of lying about the number of books being weeded from the library's collections and for removing staff members from the weeding process after they protested the extent of the deaccessioning.

- From July, but new to me: NBC Tech ran an article on the use of multispectral imaging on manuscripts, maps, &c.

- A copy of the last Titanic lunch menu will be sold in an online auction on 30 September.

- This month's crocodile mystery is up at The Collation.

- The AAS has posted its quarterly roundup of recent articles and books by AAS community members.

- From Pradeep Sebastian at The Hindu, a look back at Nirmal Kumar's mid-century Calcutta bookshop.


- Paul Kingsnorth's The Wake; review by Hari Kunzru in the NYTimes. More on this book from Ari Shapiro at NPR.

- Zachary Lesser's Hamlet After Q1; review by Arnold Hunt in the TLS.

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