Sunday, September 09, 2007

Links & Reviews

- First, some updates: Scott Brown continues to stay on top of the evolving Davy Crockett letter story, including some important orthographical comparisons. He also heard from one autograph dealer who said that the $490,000 price tag was "a bargain" if genuine (though I'm still not sure why, given prior auction prices), but that "The uniformity of the writing certainly should cause a lot of concern. Davy Crockett did not write on straight lines like that." Finally, Scott's dredged up some earlier examples in which the dealer who sold this letter to Texas has been involved with the sale of non-genuine documents.

- Travis has been chasing down a very strange episode involving book thief Sherman Suchow [aka Charles Merrill Mount]'s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Here's his lead-up post, followed by a summary of the Mount's submission.

- Speaking of thefts, I happened to flick on the t.v. yesterday afternoon and stumbled on an episode of Fox' "Masterminds" about the 2004 thefts from the special collections department at Transylvania University. Naturally it's a bit overdone (it is Fox, after all), but on the substance they did fairly well.

- Hanover College (IN) has mounted a web version of their ongoing Captain Cook exhibit.

- At Book Patrol, Michael highlights some Edward Gorey news, including an exhibit of Gorey's Dracula work at the Cartoon Museum and a brief Harvard Magazine profile from earlier this year [pdf].

- Joyce catches some great biblio-news bits that missed my radar screen on the first pass; don't miss any of these.

- Before he jumped into the Davy Crockett fray, Scott posted an excellent volley in the Google Books debate, dismissing the argument that Google Books is not a good tool in this way: "... any 'ordinary' reader who blindly assumes that a free scan of an out-of-copyright edition of a complicated eighteenth-century book is a good source for reading gets what they pay for. This is the problem with most information on the Internet. You have to use it with care because you don't know by whom or for what purpose it was put online. ... In short, it doesn't matter if you are reading a book online using Google Books, checking one out from the most prestigious library in the world, or buying a brand-new copy from your local bookstore, the advice is the same caveat lector." I'll have more on Google Books soon since I've had some interesting interactions with it recently.

- Richard Davies lists the biggest ABE sales for August, in which a special edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (one inscribed at Rowling's midnight reading) sold for $5,500. The highest-seller for the month was a complete copy of Athanasius Kircher's Itinerarium Exstaticum Quo Mundi Opificium, which fetched $11,728.

- Rare Book Review notes the recent sale at auction of a copy of Francis Frith's Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views (1860). The hammer came down at £63,250, more than three times the presale estimate - quite a haul for a book discovered during an attic clear-out earlier this year.

- In today's NYTimes, John Wilson reviews Of a Feather, Scott Weidensaul's new history of American birding. I'm looking forward to this one; my copy is staring at me from the "to read soon" shelf as I type.

- And finally, as work on the Great Jefferson Library Project continues (quickly!), an article from The New Yorker on another of Jefferson's passions - wine.