Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Review: "Reset"

Stephen Kinzer's Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future (Times Books, 2010) is an important, and timely book that I hope those responsible for American foreign policy will read carefully. Offering a lucid examination of American diplomatic relations with Turkey and Iran in the 20th and early 21st centuries, Kinzer argues that by engaging meaningfully with these two nations (and by reexamining our stale relationships with Saudi Arabia and Israel), we might have a better chance of attaining the goal of a peaceful Middle East.

Iran and Turkey, Kinzer points out, have deep traditions of democratic engagement, making them and their people logical partners for America in the post-Cold War environment of today. He points out the number of missed opportunities we had in the early years after 9/11 to re-engage with Iran, including a remarkable effort in 2003 which was met with a severe brush-off by the Bush Administration. Kinzer characterizes the US-Iranian relationship this way: "Whenever one has seemed ready to compromise, the other was in too militant a mood to compromise" (p. 127).

By reorienting our relationships with our major allies in the Middle East and pushing strongly for (perhaps even imposing) a settlement on Israel and Palestine, and by working toward coming to terms with Iran (Kinzer suggests using Nixon's China strategy as an example) and building on our good relations with Turkey, America can become an ever stronger force for good in the region.

While Kinzer's book is sometimes repetitive and perhaps a little bit more hopeful than current diplomatic events warrant (it's hard to see a strong engagement with Iran under its present leadership), it's certainly one that should be taken seriously.

Auction Report: Upcoming

Another pretty hefty round of auctions are sneaking up on us:

- On 2 June, Christie's London will sell Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books, in 90 lots. A Tchaikovsky music manuscript is expected to be the highlight (est. £200,000-300,000). An illuminated Middle English manuscript on vellum of The Book of John Mandeville (c. 1440) is also expected to sell well, with estimates of £150,000-200,000. Other highlights are expected to include first editions of Boccaccio's Genealogiae Deorum (1472) and De montibus, silvis, fontibus (1473), bound together and a first edition of Darwin's Origin owned by Darwin bibliographer R.B. Freeman (each est. £50,000-80,000).

- Also on 2 June at Christie's London, the first sale of Malcolm S. Forbes Jr.'s Winston Spencer Churchill collection, in 144 lots. Lots of interesting things, but the high seller is expected to by Churchill's WWII engagement diary, which is estimated at £80,000-120,000.

- Christie's London will sell Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts on 7 June, in 345 lots. Highlights are expected to include a 58-volume collection of c. 350 pamphlets, with 50 of the volumes uniformly bound (est. £20,000-30,000); Kepler's Harmonices mundi libri V (1619), with "erasures" bringing it into compliance with the papal index of 1640 (est. £7,000-10,000); a fair number of incunabula, &c.

- Sotheby's will sell the collection of Patricia Kluge on 8-9 June in at on-site sale at Albemarle House, outside Charlottesville, VA. You can tour the sale here, watch a preview video, and browse the catalog. This is mostly artwork and furniture, but it includes 38 book lots, beginning at Lot 305.

- Sotheby's London will sell Music and Continental Books and Manuscripts on 9 June, in 203 lots. A Franz Schubert autograph manuscript is expected to be the top seller, est. £40,000-60,000. A Bach manuscript could fetch £30,000-50,000, and an 1821 Beethoven letter is estimated at £30,000-40,000.

- The Sotheby's Milan sale on 16 June will feature a few lots of books, beginning with Lot 173. The expected top seller among the books is a 1478 Aritmetica de Treviso (est. 50,000-70,000 Euros)

- At Sotheby's New York on 17 June, the next round of sales from the James S. Copley library will be held: the single-lot sale will feature a 1776 Salem broadside printing of the Declaration of Independence (est. $600,000-800,000), and the big sale will be Arts & Sciences, Including the Mark Twain Collection, in 556 lots. This is an extremely impressive selection. The top seller is expected to be Twain's autograph manuscript of "A Family Sketch" (1897), estimated at $120,000-160,000.

- Also at Sotheby's New York, on 18 June, a sale of Books and Manuscripts in 96 lots. Some more really pricey goodies here, among which are John Lennon's manuscript of "A Day in the Life" (1967), estimated at $500,000-800,000. Another expected top seller is a 1591 first edition in English of Orlando Furioso (est. $100,000-150,000). Other items of note are two archives of J.D. Salinger letters and a copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle.

- On 22 June, Christie's New York will sell Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, Including Americana, in 321 lots. Again, a tremendous number of interesting things in this sale, so do browse through - among the top expected sellers are a 1478 edition of the Ptolomaeus Cosmographia (est. $600,000-800,000); Berlinghieri's Italian atlas of 1482 (est. $300,000-400,000); a 1933 Einstein speech manuscript and an 1823 Stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence on parchment ($250,000-300,000). They're also trying again with the very notable 1787 Ethan Allen letter to Crevecoeur that failed to sell last June (est. $40,000-60,000), and an unfolded copy of the 1833 Declaration engraving made for Peter Force's American Archives is estimated at $30,000-40,000.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

On E-Reading

I almost missed it, but on today's NYTimes editorial page is an important short essay by Verlyn Klinkenborg, "Further Thoughts of a Novice E-Reader." I don't want to take snippets out of it since every word is worth reading - I recommend it highly.

Links & Reviews

- A new blog of note: Cambridge University Library's project to recatalog its collection of incunabula has been posting interesting findings and discoveries. Check them out here (and I've added a link on the sidebar).

- The Financial Times previews a 7 July sale of illuminated manuscripts at Christie's (the first of three). I'll have more on this once I've seen the catalog, but this is going to be a big one!

- Some seriously cool digital-visualization stuff over at the Donald Judd Foundation, where they've set up a virtual browse of the artist's library shelves. I think there's some excellent potential here for other libraries (it would be amazing to do this for Pepys, or John Adams, no?)

- The 1602 Ricci Map is on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts through 29 August, after which it will go to its new home, the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota.

- Andrew Lane, chosen by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a young adult novel about Sherlock Holmes' teenage years, has a short piece about his forthcoming book Death Cloud in the Scotsman.


- Daisy Hay's Young Romantics: reviews by Jonathan Bate in the Telegraph; Stuart Kelly in the Scotsman.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Review: "Neverwhere"

There's something incredibly refreshing about being able to pick up a book and just let it take you off into another world, even if that world happens to be as strange and creepy a place as that described by Neil Gaiman in Neverwhere. His "London Below" is inhabited by those who "fell through the cracks in the world," as one character puts it - and our protagonist, Richard Mayhew, manages to come upon one of those cracks, managing to find himself in London Below quite by accident. Naturally, a quest ensues (in fact there are several quests) , but they're carried off in grand Gaiman style, with quirky humor, a full cast of fascinating (and mostly bizarre) characters, and various twists and turns along the way.

As I read I kept picking out areas where I thought I sensed other literary influences: there were shades of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Paradise Lost, &c. &c. (alright, in the case of the second title the reference was more cheekily direct, and extremely well played). It's a darkly entertaining story, but also something of a grim satire on the state of human society and the plight of those who fall through the cracks.

If you've ever wondered about what strange worlds exist below the subway platforms (and, having lived in a fairly large city for going on five years now, I know I certainly have), and if you can let your imagination run wild a little bit when you read (a skill I am infinitely thankful for), I suspect you'll really enjoy Gaiman's exquisite novel. It's a treat.

This Week's Acquisitions

I paid a visit to the soon-to-close Rodney's in Central Square last weekend, and a few review copies arrived:

- Studies of a Booklover by Thomas Marc Parrott (Books for Libraries Press, 1967). Rodney's.

- The Letter-Journal of George Canning, 1793-1795; edited by Peter Jupp (Royal Historical Society, 1991). Rodney's.

- A Season of Youth: The American Revolution & the Historical Imagination by Michael G. Kammen (Cornell University Press, 1988). Rodney's.

- Richard Alsop, "A Hartford Wit" by Karl Pomeroy Harrington (Wesleyan University Press, 1969). Rodney's.

- New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery by Anthony Grafton (Harvard University Press, 1992). Rodney's.

- Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future by Stephen Kinzer (Times Books, 2010). Publisher.

- The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen (Viking, 2010). Publisher.

- The Book in the Renaissance by Andrew Pettegree (Yale University Press, 2010). Publisher.

- The Better of McSweeney's, Volume 2; edited by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's, 2010). MFA Shop.

- McSweeney's Issue 27; edited by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's, 2008). MFA Shop.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dimunation on Jefferson's Library

The Bridwell Library has mounted the audio of Mark Dimunation's lecture there on 29 April, "Forged in Fire," about the LoC's reconstruction of Jefferson's library. You can listen here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Charlottesville-Bound (Soon)

Much of the radio silence around here lately has been because I've been working my way through the reading list for the class I'll be taking at Rare Book School in a couple weeks (Printed Books to 1800: Description and Analysis, with David Whitesell). I'm more than a little excited about the class, and the readings are giving me a great opportunity to read a number of texts that I've dipped in and out of often but have never worked through systematically.

I'll head down to Charlottesville (pics from my last trip down there in June '08 are here) on 5 June. The first week there I'll be in class, and the second week I'll be working with the RBS staff on a project to be determined. It's an opportunity I'm really thrilled to have, and I look forward to sharing lots of field reports and photos.

In the meantime, I've got lots of reading to do (and I've got several other reports to write up and post, so stay tuned!).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Links & Reviews

- Laura's got a very neat post about cataloging a first edition of More's Utopia.

- There's an Australian profile of bookseller Rick Gekoski, who says he's not worried about the end of good books, but has concerns about the next generation of collectors.

- A poster at The Millions covers the Double Falsehood publication.

- Over at IHE, Scott McLemee weighs in at length on the brazen publicity campaign for Michael Bellesiles' forthcoming book 1877. Of a paragraph in the publisher's letter about the book (which he quotes), McLemee writes "These sentences have absorbed and rewarded my attention for days on end. They are a masterpiece of evasion. The paragraph is, in its way, quite impressive. Every word of it is misleading, including 'and' and 'the.'"

- Nick at Mercurius Politicus examines pelican symbology. Fascinating!

- FoggyGates has news that conservators at the Israel Museum have solved the mystery of an enigmatic forgery (or, at least, some of the mysteries about it).

- A Chronicle blog-post highlights a new study showing that the number of books in a household bears a strong correlation to a child's academic achievement. Here's the money-quote: "Thus it seems that scholarly culture, and the taste for books that it brings, flows from generation to generation largely of its own accord, little affected by education, occupational status, or other aspects of class ... Parents give their infants toy books to play with in the bath; read stories to little children at bed-time; give books as presents to older children; talk, explain, imagine, fantasize, and play with words unceasingly. Their children get a taste for all this, learn the words, master the skills, buy the books. And that pays off handsomely in schools." [h/t @librarythingtim]

- The Harry Ransom Center is digitizing its medieval and early modern manuscripts collection; you can search or browse the currently-uploaded images (more than 7,200 to date, representing just 27 of 215 documents).

- The British Library announced plans to digitize 40 million pages of its newspapers collection over the next ten years. The content will be free for BL users, and available to other users for a fee. NewsCorp's James Murdoch bashed the plan, saying that the BL shouldn't be allowed to use copyrighted materials deposited under a legal mandate for "commercial gain." [h/t @bookn3rd]

- Among the 2010 updates to the Bibliographical Society of America's BibSite is David Pearson's "English Book Owners in the Seventeenth Century" (PDF).

- Mt. Vernon has responded to the non-news that Washington apparently didn't return a book to the New York Society Library in 1789 by offering a replacement copy of the book (Vattel's Law of Nations).


- Nick Bunker's Making Haste from Babylon: review by Russell Shorto in the NYTimes.

- Daisy Hay's Young Romantics: reviews by Richard Eder in the Globe; Lesley McDowell in The Scotsman.

- Ellen Horan's 31 Bond Street: review by Clare Clark in the WaPo.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

George Canning Visits the Irelands

Whenever I come across a British diary covering the 1790s I like to check and see if by chance the writer mentions seeing the "Shakespeare Papers," the forgeries made by William-Henry Ireland and exhibited by his father Samuel. Today I found The Letter Journal of George Canning, 1793-1795, a journal written by a young MP. Canning (1770-1827) would in later years serve as Foreign Secretary (1807-1809, 1822-1827) and Prime Minister (for 119 days in 1827, the shortest term of any UK PM). But in the 1790s he was a newly-minted Tory representative for the rotten borough of Newtown, Isle of Wight.

On 28 March 1795, Canning writes: "Saturday morning - Leigh [his uncle Rev. William Leigh] and Frere [John Hookham Frere, Canning's friend from Eton] and his father breakfasted with me, and we went together to see the Shakespear manuscripts at Mr. Ireland's in Norfolk Street, and we all agreed, I think, in believing so much as we did see to be genuine. What they prove, or whether they prove anything as to the genuineness of the new Play (Vortigson [i.e. Vortigern]) which Mr. I. asserts to have been discovered at the same time and in the same place with these papers, but which he does not shew - is another question. Vortigson, we understand, is not to be published until it has first been produced upon the stage."

This is very interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is the implicit uncertainty about the authenticity of the manuscripts. Also, the visit taking place on a Saturday morning is noteworthy: in the Prospectus for the printed edition of the papers, dated 4 March 1795, Samuel Ireland invites visitors "on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, between the hours of twelve and three." Clearly being an MP had its perks!

With many thanks to Aaron Pratt (@prattrarebooks), who kindly checked on ECCO for me, I can report that Canning and his companions are not listed among the subscribers to the folio edition of the Shakespeare papers, published early in 1796 (I only have the octavo edition, which doesn't contain the subscriber list). It's too bad we don't have Canning's journal for the year after his visit to Norfolk Street - it would be fascinating to know if he attended the first (and only) staging of Vortigern on 2 April 1796.

This Week's Acquisitions

- From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean 1492-1969 by Eric Williams (Vintage, 1984). Raven.

- The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony by James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz (Anchor, 2001). Raven.

- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Harper, 2003). Raven.

- The Creature in the Map: A Journey to El Dorado by Charles Nicholl (University of Chicago Press, 1997). Raven.

- More Letters from the American Farmer: An Edition of the Essays in English Left Unpublished by Crevecoeur; edited by Dennis D. Moore (University of Georgia Press, 1995). Amazon.

Friday, May 21, 2010

New LEA Libraries Added

I've added a few new (small) Libraries of Early America collections from the VA/MD probate inventories:

- William Triplett (1732-1802), landowner and friend of George Washington.

- Peter Presley Thornton (1750-1780), who served in the House of Burgesses 1772-1774, in the Virginia conventions of 1775, as colonel of a minute-man regiment 1775-1777, and as an aide-de-camp to Washington from 1777 probably until his death. Thornton's second wife was Elizabeth Carter, granddaughter of Landon Carter.

- Capt. John Belfield (1725-1801), commander of a troop of Light Continental Dragoons during the Revolution.

- Sarah Young Ball (~1682-1742), widow of Capt. Richard Ball, and holder of his lands following his death in 1726. A very small collection (Bible, prayer book, and Allestree's Whole Duty of Man).

- William Eilbeck (~1700-1764), among the wealthiest men in Charles County, MD at the time of his death. This collection is somewhat undercounted, since 70 titles are not itemized.

Beeman Wins George Washington Book Prize

Richard Beeman has been awarded the George Washington Book Prize for Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House, 2009). The award of $50,000 is the nation's largest literary award for early American history.

Other finalists were R.B. Bernstein's The Founding Fathers Reconsidered and Edith Gelles' Abigail & John: Portrait of a Marriage.

The award is sponsored by Washington College's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the Gilder Lehrman Institute, and Mt. Vernon.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: "The Age of Wonder"

Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science (Pantheon, 2009) is a detailed history of the age of British science from the 1770s through the 1820s. Through profiles of Sir Joseph Banks, William and Caroline Herschel, Sir Humphry Davy, Mungo Park, and the pioneering balloonists (among others), Holmes vividly captures the important connections between science, religion, and the arts which shaped the scientific debates of the era (shades of Wilson's Consilience), and the debaters themselves (I learned here of Davy's accomplishments in writing poetry, for example).

Age of Wonder, which has won all manner of awards, was a good read, but I can't remember a book that took me so long to get through, or felt so much like work to do so. Perhaps another sweep by the editors could have eliminated some of the repetitive aspects of the narrative that started to bother me, or might at least have brought more coherence to the text (it is, essentially, three separate biographical treatments - of Banks, the Herschels, and Davy - interspersed with digressions on other topics).

Overall I'm conflicted about the book. I wanted to like it more than I did.

Major Art Heist in Paris

Not books, but still, wow:

Reports this morning that there's been a pretty large-scale theft of art from the Paris Museum of Modern Art: the works taken were "Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois" by Picasso; "La Pastorale" by Matisse; "L'Olivier Près de l'Estaque" by Braque; "La Femme a l'Eventail" by Modigliani, and "Nature Morte aux Chandeliers" by Fernand Léger.

The stolen works are estimated to be worth the equivalent of $620 million (more like $120 million).

More from the BBC.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Auction Report: Sotheby's Paris

The Books and Manuscripts sale at Sotheby's Paris today (previewed here) brought in €3,278,375 (full results here). Highlights:

- The first edition of Thomas More's Utopia (1516) and the ten-volume set of St. Augustine's works (1528-1529) shared top estimates of €200,000-300,000, and they share the top prices realized - each made €324,750.

- In a surprise, Marshal Vauban's own copy of his 1707 book Project d'une Dixme Royale, with his autograph notes, did much better than expected, fetching €252,750 over estimates of €60,000-90,000.

- A Charles Baudelaire letter made €192,750.

- The six-volume Janssonnius atlas (1652-1657) made €174,750.

- A collection of letters between Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant fetched €168,750.

- A Simone de Beauvoir manuscript of Les Mandarins sold for €132,750, as did the Vesalius De Humani Corporis Fabrica and the 1575 edition of Paré's works.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Links & Reviews

- If you read one thing today (well, other than this post), make it Ron Rosenbaum's Slate takedown of Arden Shakespeare's decision to put Double Falsehood into the "canon."

- Ian updates Bookride's list of 20 sites for book collectors.

- The Spring Lapham's Quarterly has a handy chart: Friends, Lovers, and Family, connecting (among others) Lord Byron and Kevin Bacon.

- New AAS Assistant Reference Librarian Tracey Kry posts some first impressions on their blog. Oh, complicated shelving systems!

- In the Guardian, a preview of Bill Bryson's next book, At Home.

- Jack Rakove was on NPR this week to talk about his new book Revolutionaries; there's also an excerpt.

- I'd been wondering about this. The judge assigned to the Google Books Settlement was recently promoted to the Second Circuit; Publisher's Weekly suggested on Friday that Denny Chin might still rule on the proposed settlement, instead of passing it off to another judge.

- Via Salon, a promo-video for Brontë sister action figures.


- Allan Massie's The Royal Stuarts: review by Noel Malcolm in the Telegraph.

- Jonathan Israel's A Revolution of the Mind (and others): review by Samuel Moyn in The Nation.

- Richard Holmes' The Age of Wonder: review by Paula Findlen in The Nation.

- The Oxford Book of Parodies (edited by John Gross): review by Kevin Jackson in the Sunday Times.

- Ben Macintyre's Operation Mincemeat: review by Jennet Conant in the NYTimes.

- Steven Moore's The Novel: An Alternative History: review by Denis Donoghue in the WSJ.

- Robert Alter's Pen of Iron: reviews by Mark Noll in Books & Culture and Adam Kirsch in TNR.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This Week's Acquisitions

Nothing new arrived this week (I know, it's as much as surprise to me as it is to you!).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Biblio-Blogs

Some blog birth announcements to report ('tis the season, apparently!):

- The Binder's Ticket - from Vernon Wiering at Wiering Books.

- Booktryst - by Stephen Gertz, Nancy Mattoon, and Cokie Anderson.

- Recto|Verso - by Arthur Fournier at F.A. Bernett Books.

Links added to the sidebar.

New Bellesiles Book Coming

Michael Bellesiles' new book, 1877: America's Year of Living Violently, will be published by The New Press in August. There's a HNN piece on the book, which focuses on the (somewhat surprising) publicity campaign that's been launched by the publisher. And the news has garnered some attention over at The Volokh Conspiracy, with essays by Volokh and Jim Lindgren.

Here's betting that 1877 will be among the most closely-read and most-reviewed books this year ...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Horror Stories from a Historical Society

Joan Mazzolini's Plain Dealer story on the trials and tribulations of the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland was published in early March, but I missed it then, so I'm passing it along now. It's frightening. Really frightening, especially for those of us who work in the non-profit historical society world in economic times like those we face today.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Potential of Google Editions

Robert McGarvey has some thoughts on how the recent news that Google will be entering the e-book market with Google Editions. He says it's possible that this move may transform the ideas of digital rights management and book purchasing.

The whole piece is interesting, but I found one statement particularly interesting. McGarvey quotes media consultant Brian O'Leary, who says "Amazon is good at selling us books when we look for books, but Google may be positioning itself to sell us books when we are not looking for a book, just for information on a topic. But when a book is the best source of information, Google appears to want to position itself to sell it to us."

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Links & Reviews

- There's a new blog on the block, courtesy of Laura at bookn3rd - The Cataloguer's Desk, which Laura and other staff at Peter Harrington will be contributing to. Their first post, on William Moon's letter system for the blind, is delightful. They've also begun a Twitter feed. I've added a link on the sidebar to the blog, and subscribed to the feeds.

- In the Globe today, a Q&A with BPL president Amy Ryan.

- Book Patrol notes that Salem OR's Tea Party Bookshop will be changing its name, after many misunderstandings.

- Paul Collins, reprising a theme, comments on the news that Verizon wants to do away with white page phone books in NYC.

- Environmental writer Roger Deakin's archive will go to the University of East Anglia, the Guardian reports.

- A new watermarks site is up.

- About 200 rare books were damaged at Knoxville's Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection this week when the air conditioner malfunctioned. The books have been frozen and will be conserved by Don Etherington in NC.

- A collection of 700+ Edward Gorey items has been donated to Columbia by architectural historian Andrew Alpern.

- Writing in the NYTimes, Michael Kimmelman makes the case that Britain should keep the Elgin Marbles.


- Daisy Hay's Young Romantics: review by Miranda Seymour in the Telegraph.

- Marla Miller's Betsy Ross and the Making of America: review by Laurel Thacher Ulrich in the NYTimes.

- Nick Bunker's Making Haste to Babylon: review by John Demos in the WaPo.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

This Week's Acquisitions

More for the Bermuda project arrived this week:

- Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony by Karen Ordahl Kupperman (Cambridge University Press, 1995). Amazon (used).

- The Literary Career of Nathaniel Tucker, 1750-1807 by Lewis Gaston Leary (AMS Press, 1970). Amazon (used).

- Isle of Devils: Bermuda under the Somers Island Company, 1609-1685 by Jean de Chantal Kennedy (Collins, 1971). Powell's.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Auction Report: Benevento Collection @ Sotheby's

The afternoon session at Sotheby's London was the Benevento Collection: Important Maps and Atlases, in 71 lots. Full results are here; the sale brought in a total of £1,347,912. Highlights:

- The expected top seller did end up on top of the heap: a 12-volume mixed-edition set of Blaeu's Atlas Major (1662-1681), housed in a special cabinet constructed by Milan's Colombo Mobili, was expected to make £180,000-200,000; it sold for £289,250.

- The Forlani maps of North America (1565) and the world (1570) each made £121,250.

- A copy of Coronelli's Navi o vascelli, galee, galeazze, galeoni (1697), a very rare collection of ship portraits, sold for £75,650.

Auction Report: Travel &c. @ Sotheby's

Sotheby's London's Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History sale went down this morning, to the tune of £1,736,750. Full results are here.

-The archive concerning 1928 meetings between Sir Gilbert Clayton and Ibn Saud, from the British consulate at Jeddah (est. £70,000-100,000) did better than expected, making £301,250.

- The sleepers of the sale were a large engraved portolan chart of the East Indies on vellum, c. 1658. It was estimated at £20,000-30,000, but made £205,250.

- And a selection of 64 photographs of Iraq and Afghanistan (1928-1931), estimated at £3,000-4,000 - it fetched a whopping £91,250!

- William Bradford's The Arctic Regions Illustrated with Photographs taken on an Art Expedition to Greenland (est. £60,000-90,000) made £79,250.

- A set of lithographic views of Russia (1821-1824) sold for £63,650.

- John Gould's Birds of Europe (1832-1837) made £58,850.

- Joannes Janssonius' Theatrum Praecipuarum Urbium (1657), Fernandez de Enciso's Suma de Geographia (1546), Sir Thomas Smith's Voiage and Entertainment in Rushia (1605), Joseph Cartwright's aquatint views of the Ionian Islands (1821), and the 1730 map of New York did not sell.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Rodney's to Close

Rodney's Bookstore in Central Square, Cambridge has announced a 50%-off sale on all books, in preparation for the store's closing at a later date (toward the end of the summer, sounds like). Cambridge City councilor Ken Reeves "said the 698 Massachusetts Ave. site would likely become a nightclub, but [a] Rodney’s worker on Tuesday said another used bookseller might be lined up to take the space." Let's hope it's the latter!

Google to Launch E-Book Store

Well, I can't say I'm surprised to see the headlines today that Google will lauch an e-bookstore, "Google Editions," this summer.

"Google says users will be able to buy digital copies of books they discover through its book-search service. It will also allow book retailers—even independent shops—to sell Google Editions on their own sites, giving partners the bulk of the revenue. ... [U]sers of Google Editions would be able to read books from a web browser—meaning that the type of e-reader device wouldn't matter. The company also could build software to optimize reading on certain devices like an iPhone or iPad but hasn't announced any specific plans."

Lots more here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

May is Music Month @ FB&C

The May issue of Fine Books Notes is up, and it's all about music. Joel Silver writes on collecting antiquarian music, Ian McKay examines recent auction sales of musical interest, Stephen Maughan looks at Stefan Zweig's collection of music manuscripts, and editor Rebecca Rego Barry reviews the Grateful Dead exhibit at N-YHS.

No Holding Back

I may have pulled some punches this weekend when I responded to Todd Gilman's Chronicle article. But Laura at Superstarchivist holds nothing back in her own post on the topic, and for that, I applaud her.

I've also added a link to Superstarchivist on the sidebar, and subscribed via Google Reader.

Auction Report: Upcoming

I've already previewed Sotheby's 6 May sales of Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History, plus the Benevento Collection of Maps and Atlases, which promise to be exciting. Here are some other upcoming sales:

- Sotheby's Paris will sell Books and Manuscripts on 18 May, in 210 lots. A first edition of Thomas More's Utopia (1516) and a ten-volume set of St. Augustine's works (1528-1529) share top estimates, with each expected to sell for €200,000-300,000. A 1575 edition of Paré's works is expected to fetch €120,000-180,000, and a six-volume Janssonnius atlas (1652-1657) could make €100,000-160,000. A Vesalius De Humani Corporis Fabrica (1543) is estimated at €100,000-150,000. There are lots of other important books here, so make sure to browse through.

- Christie's London will sell Photobooks on 21 May, in 136 lots. Highlights are expected to include a copy of Emmet Gowin's Concerning America and Alfred Stieglitz, and Myself (1965) inscribed to the photographer's parents (£18,000-25,000); an inscribed copy of Robert Frank's The Americans (1960), with the dust jacket (£10,000-15,000); and Alec Soth's Sleeping by the Misssissippi [sic] (2002), the rare self-published true first (£6,000-8,000). Browse the lots here.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Fun With Maps

There's a cool little feature in on the Globe website today (if you can find it for all the Aquapocalypse madness), "Redrawing New England." It features several different proposed changes to the traditional map of New England, including the new states of "Acadia," "New Connecticut" (now known as Vermont) and "Boston." Neat stuff.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Links & Reviews

- I was at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair on Friday night and Saturday morning - crowds weren't the thronging hordes one likes to see at these smaller fairs, but there was certainly some buying going on. It was great to see some really amazing offerings and chat with the dealers.

- Paul Razzell at the FPBA notes a 6 May illustrated lecture at the BPL celebrating four decades of books from publisher David R. Godine.

- The May AE Monthly is out, for your edification and/or amusement.

- J.L. Bell has some questions about a new Thomas Paine controversy.

- A new exhibit at Yale of recycled manuscripts used in bindings - great stuff!

- Over at Literary Fraud & Folly, news of a new book that claims to answer the question of who wrote The Diary of a Public Man, an anonymous piece on the political leadup to the Civil War.

- Paul Collins has switched over to blogging at The Literary Detective, so change your bookmarks and RSS feeds accordingly. He's got a good post this week on a very odd campaign strategy in the CA gov's race.


- Alberto Manguel's A Reader on Reading: review by Ian Sansom in the Guardian.

- Peter Carey's Parrot and Olivier in America: review by Ron Charles in the WaPo.

- Hugh Raffles' Insectopedia: review by Philip Hoare in the NYTimes.

- Leo Damrosch's Tocqueville's Discovery of America: review by Sam Coale in the Providence Journal.

- James Shapiro's Contested Will: review by Jeremy McCarter in the NYTimes.

- E.O. Wilson's Anthill: review by Etelka Lehoczky in the LATimes.

- Evan Thomas' The War Lovers: review by James McGrath Morris in the WaPo.

- Sy Montgomery's Birdology: review by David Gessner in the WaPo.

- Daisy Hay's Young Romantics: review by James MacConnachie in the Sunday Times.

- Philip Pullman's The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ: review by David Plotz in Slate.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A Gentle Rejoinder

This Chronicle article by Todd Gilman on what he describes as a "not-so-pleasant encounter" at a special collections library is already making the rounds on the relevant listservs, as it should. But after reading it, and thinking a bit about it, I feel compelled to offer a few words in response.

What bothers me about this is that he seems to have simply expected to be able to wander in and browse the shelves of "the largest private collection of Handel memorabilia" (he does not name the library, but clues from the article reveal it to be the Foundling Museum). He'd seen an ad for the museum in a concert brochure; the ad mentioned the library collection, so he went to check it out. Fair enough. But when he was asked if he had an appointment, or if he'd consulted the online catalog (and he had not done so), the librarian seems to have given him something of a brush-off.

I looked at the museum's website this morning. On the page for the George Coke Handel Research Library, it reads, quite clearly, "In addition to the public exhibition room, open during normal Museum hours, The Gerald Coke Handel Research Library is open Wednesday-Friday for research purposes by appointment."

Let me just reiterate that. "Research purposes by appointment."

This is not to defend overzealous librarians who would wall off their collections from the public. I'm not a fan of them, and I do my darnedest to make sure anyone who comes to the institution where I work leaves having seen what they want to see. But, especially in these post-Bland, post-Blumberg, post-Smiley days, special collections libraries do, and must, have policies in place to protect the materials they hold (including providing access to collections on microfilm, setting hours, and even requesting appointments, depending on the situation). Mr. Gilman, as a librarian himself, ought to be aware of that.

This Week's Acquisitions

Here's what's new this week:

- American Machiavelli: Alexander Hamilton and the Origins of U.S. Foreign Policy by John Lamberton Harper (Cambridge University Press, 2007). Raven.

- The Haunted Doll's House and Other Ghost Stories by M. R. James (Penguin, 2006). Raven.

- Seeds of Discontent: The Deep Roots of the American Revolution, 1650-1750 by J. Revell Carr (Walker & Company, 2008). Raven.

- The Journal of Samuel Curwen, Loyalist; edited by Andrew Oliver (Harvard University Press, 1972). Raven.

- Notes on Bermuda by Christopher Morley (Henry, Longwell & Another, 1931). Books Again, Inc., via Biblio.

- The Journal of Richard Norwood, Surveyor of Bermuda (Scholars Facsimiles, 2008). Publisher.

- The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama, and Death in Nineteenth-Century America by Nigel Cliff (Random House, 2007). Used, via Biblio.

- English Bookbinding Styles 1450-1800 by David Pearson (Oak Knoll, 2004). Amazon.

- American Insurgents, American Patriots: The Revolution of the People by T. H. Breen (Hill and Wang, 2010). Publisher.

- Frith of Bermuda, Gentleman Privateer: A Biography of Hezekiah Frith, 1763-1848 by Jean de Chantal Kennedy (Bermuda Bookstores, 1964). Omni Books, via ABE.