Sunday, December 09, 2007

Links & Reviews

- A number of historical artifacts have gone missing from the Dallas Historical Society. They "were placed in a box at the society's offices at the Hall of State in Fair Park after an awards ceremony" on November 15, and discovered missing last week. The Dallas Morning News has a report. Among the items are one of Santa Anna's spurs, "a silver Mexican Medal of Honor from 1836, a five-star collar insignia worn by Adm. Chester W. Nimitz at the Japanese surrender ceremony and a Bible belonging to one of Dallas' first families."

- In the Washington Post, Patricia Sullivan has an obituary of Smithsonian historian, scholar and collector Silvio Bedini, who died back in November at age 90. Some of Bedini's books treated
"timekeeping, early American scientific instruments, African American mathematician and astronomer Benjamin Banneker, Thomas Jefferson's lap desk and the origin of dominoes." His son told Sullivan that Bedini's bookplate featured a Gustave Doré "engraving of a man absorbed in books, surrounded by the phrase 'Satis Temporis Non Est Nobis': For us, there is not enough time." And don't we know it.

- From BibliOdyssey, a collection of Neapolitan and Genonan family crests.

- UCLA, the Huntington Library and the Getty Research Institute have joined forces to create a digital version of
Bernard Picart's Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde ("Religious Ceremonies and Costumes of All the People in the World"), first published in 1723. "Adapting techniques that have gained popularity over the Internet, the scholarly team is digitizing and annotating the 3,000-page oeuvre. Eventual plans call for making at least three annotated editions available on the Web." Good background on Picart and the project here, and there's also an article on the digitization effort in yesterday's LATimes.

- The BBC reported this week that the Vatican Archives has found what is believed to be Michelangelo's last sketch, a chalk drawing (created c. 1564) for part of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. "This particular sketch is thought to have survived because a building supervisor had used the back of it to make notes on problems linked to transporting the stone through Rome."

- In Paris, the Bibliotheque Nationale has opened an exhibition of its pornographic section, officially known as "Enfer" (Hell), for the first time since the 1830s. The show, which runs through March 2008, features more than 350 books, engravings, photographs and "curiosities." No one under age 16 is allowed into the exhibition hall.

- Travis notes this article in the University of New Mexico Daily Lobo, which reports the issuance of warrants for five people accused of stealing books from university libraries and reselling them at campus bookstores. Travis' take: "
I really hope we’re not entering a cycle where a bunch of youngsters think stealing books is profitable. Book thieves should be pathetic middle-aged males."

- Scott Brown's got some big news: he bought a bookstore! Eureka Books (Eureka, CA) looks like a great shop, and I wish Scott all the best in this new venture.

- LT unveiled a whole bunch of new features this week ... still some kinks to be worked out with at least a few of them, I've noticed, but I think they'll be very useful.

- A couple big auctions coming up: J.K. Rowling's Tales of Beedle the Bard will sell at Sotheby's in London on Thursday (13 December) and the Magna Carta will sell on 18 December at Sotheby's New York rooms. I've seen the catalogue for the latter, and boy is it impressive. This copy of the Magna Carta is estimated to sell for $20-30 million, although that could be the floor rather than the ceiling.


- In the NYTimes, Patrick Allitt reviews Garry Wills' new history of American religion, Head and Heart: American Christianities.

- In the Telegraph, Brian Dillon reviews Umberto Eco's recent works: Turning Back the Clock and On Ugliness.


- The Christian Science Monitor released its Best History of 2007 and Best Nonfiction of 2007 lists.

- Over at The Millions, they've started a neat series of posts called A Year in Reading, where they ask prominent authors, bloggers and other book-folks what they've read and enjoyed this year.