Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Review: "A Reforming People"

David D. Hall's latest is A Reforming People: Puritanism and the Transformation of Public Life in New England (Knopf, 2011). Hall argues for a rethinking of how Puritan thought and culture shaped and were shaped by circumstances in early New England, and suggests that the early colonists could be seen as carrying out the most intense (or advanced) reform program in the English-speaking world. "Not in England itself but in New England," he argues, "did the possibilities for change opened up by the English Revolution ... have such consequences" (p. xi-xii).

In four initial chapters, Hall explores the development of colony-wide and town governments, the putting of "godly" rule into practice, and the concept of "equity" as it was seen by the Puritan settlers. A fifth chapter, framed as a case study of early Cambridge, completes the package.

This is a dense book, not one to be taken up lightly. But Hall's drawn on a wealth of recent scholarship, and his careful examination of the Puritans on their own terms is well worth a close read.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: "Taylor: A Brief History of a Short Street"

When I heard that there had been a history written of the street we recently moved to, I knew I'd have to seek out a copy so I could read it (never having lived, to my knowledge, on a street which had been the subject of a history before!). Thankfully one of the local Portland bookstores, Longfellow Books, still had a couple copies on hand.

John K. Jones' Taylor: A Brief History of a Short Street (2004) provides as comprehensive an account of this one-block-long street as anyone's ever likely to. First he outlines the process by which the street came to be (created out of a single family's land in the late 1870s), and then offers short residential histories of each of the houses. Jones provides details on the construction, architectural style, and occupation of all twenty buildings on the street, drawing on deed records, city directories and other such handy local sources.

Since all of the original buildings are still extant, it's possible (and was even the author's intention) to use the book as a sort of walking tour of the street. Pretty nifty, and quite a fun way to spend a summer afternoon!


Back in late March I read this Guardian article and got intrigued about flipbacks, a new book format being released this week in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton (marketed, imaginatively, as "the next little thing").

The small, landscape-format books are quite popular in the Netherlands, where they were launched in 2009 (and are known as dwarsligger). They've also been released in Spain (as librinos) and France (where they're known as Point Deux), through partnerships with the developer, Bible printer/publisher Jongbloed. More than a million copies have sold so far in the Netherlands, and judging from the pre-release buzz in the UK, Hodder & Stoughton may have a winner on their hands (follow @flipbackbooks for updates).

I did a Q&A with Hodder & Stoughton's flipback publisher Kate Parkin for the June LibraryThing newsletter, and was delighted to receive a couple flipbacks to try out (I've also ordered a few more, plus a couple extras to put in the Rare Book School collections). The first thing I noticed was that they really are tiny: only a slight bit bigger than my iPhone, and almost an ounce lighter (though obviously the weight will vary by title). Here's another shot showing a flipback in comparison with standard hardback and paperback books.

The construction of the flipbacks (sewn binding, with the front board and spine unattached to the backstrip) permits them to open fully (handy, I've found, for reading while eating), and the light weight makes it very easy to hold the book with with one hand. They're printed on very thin Indoprint "Bible paper" (which certainly helps keep the weight down), and typeset in what seems to be a Karmina Sans font. That took a bit of getting used to, but after about twenty pages or so I barely noticed. Flipping the pages upward instead of sideways also was a little disorienting at first, but again I didn't even notice after a few minutes.

Much of the media attention on flipbacks has focused on them as potential rivals to e-books. I don't know about that (and the publisher says that was never the intention), but I do know that I for one find them much more easy and comfortable to read than any e-book I've tried, and their portability is certainly a nifty thing. You could fit quite a few of these into a carry-on bag! Right now the price point (£9.99 apiece) and selection would argue against them being particularly powerful competitors to Kindle books, but of course all that could change, and for those of us who still like the feel of something in our hands other than a plastic shell, it's nice to have another option.

Hodder & Stoughton is releasing twelve flipback titles on 30 June, including works by Stephen King, Jasper Fforde, David Mitchell, and Jodi Picoult. Another fifteen titles will be out by November, including six Jane Austen novels. No word yet on when they'll be available in the US, but Jongbloed is reportedly in talks with American publishers. I'm very curious to see how they do in the U.K., and will certainly be watching their progress across the pond.

Have you seen/read any flipbacks yet? What are your thoughts?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: "Calling Mr. King"

Ronald De Feo's debut novel is Calling Mr. King (forthcoming from Other Press). An expert hit man who makes a little slip-up, our protagonist (known by various names) is sent on a forced vacation by leaders of the shadowy gang who give him his orders (and his paychecks). In New York, he finds himself developing a deep interest in art and architecture, and when the time comes to get back to work, our strangely likeable killer finds that something has changed.

Dark, but funny; meandering but well-paced, Calling Mr. King is a suspenseful and most enjoyable read. De Feo has managed to create a likeable assassin, who would make a great tour guide of London or Barcelona architecture in his spare time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Links & Reviews

- Writing in the Albany Times Union, Scott Waldman covers Phil Wajda's story (discussedhere) about new information in the Union College Audubon heist.

- Some fantastic news this week: the University of Cambridge has begun the digitization of Charles Darwin's scientific library, with 330 of 1480 titles available digitally along with transcriptions of Darwin's marginalia.

- The National Library of Medicine released Medicine in the Americas, a digital library of more than 350 works of early American medicine.

- I mentioned it on Twitter this week, but in case you missed it, there's a profile of Morgan Library curator John Bidwell in the NYTimes.

- From the MyFonts newsletter, an interview with type designer Gerard Unger.

- Ian Crouch reports on The Book Bench about a Dutch political group's planned burning of Lawrence Hill's novel Someone Knows My Name (published originally as The Book of Negroes and in Holland as Het Negerboek).

- While I'm quite sure "indepthly" is not in fact a word, KSPR's report on the civil wrongful death suit in the Rolland Comstock case is worth watching and reading. Jury selection is expected to begin on Monday, and both sides are claiming they'll bring new evidence to the case. An earlier report is here.

- Applications for this year's New Scholars program at the Bibliographical Society of America are due by 31 July. Info here.

- I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I've downloaded and am looking forward to Digital Humanities and the Future of Libraries, a talk at the NYPL.

- Quite a good deal on the Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland, available through 31 August. Save up your pennies!

- At Anchora, a look at provenance notes and marks of readership in early printed copies of Chaucer.

- Chris at Book Hunter's Holiday has found some amusing little anecdotes on book collecting in a private library catalog from 1885.

- A book believed stolen from a Greek university library in 2003 was found in a stairwell last week.

- In the NYTimes, Fernanda Santos writes about the increasingly common trend of schools eliminating librarian positions to cut costs.

- CHNM's new project PressForward got lots of buzz on Twitter this week, and also a short writeup in the NYTimes' ArtsBeat blog.

- Booktryst highlights a new exhibit at the Folger: Fame, Fortune, & Theft: The Shakespeare First Folio. Looks like the catalog's a goodie too, I'm going to have to hunt up a copy. Rebecca Rego Barry also comments on the exhibit (and the catalog!) at the Fine Books Blog.

- From the WSJ this week, a piece on the complex logistics of the imminent move of the Barnes Foundation's art into Philadelphia.

- Don't miss Alexis Madrigal's piece "What Big Media Can Learn from the New York Public Library."

- British book thief Sean Cowie was sentenced to six months in jail after his tale of being ill with cancer turned out to have been entirely fabricated.

- On the Telegraph book blog, Mark Mason asks how many books you'll read in your lifetime.

- News from ESTC: links to Proquest's Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Gale/Cengage's Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) are now available through the ESTC public access site via the British Library: Links to ESTC titles in Google Books are going to be added, apparently (no word on Internet Archive titles, but hopefully those will be added as well). Subscriptions are required to view the EEBO and ECCO titles.

- Kaivan Mangouri writes in the Boston Globe on how some Boston-area bookshops are "coping" with the new normal.

- From Bookride, a discussion of booksellers' descriptions and some dubious uses of the descriptor "fine" (among other oft-used terms).


- David Reynolds' Mightier than the Sword; review by Andrew Delbanco in the NYTimes.

- David Pearson's Books as History; review by Stephen J. Gertz at Booktryst.

- Paul Lockhart's The Whites of Their Eyes; review by David Shribman in the Boston Globe.

- Michael Sims' The Story of Charlotte's Web; review by Valerie Sayers in the Washington Post.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Recent Acquisitions

Books which have arrived recently:

- A Colonial Woman's Bookshelf by Kevin J. Hayes (University of Tennessee Press, 1996). Amazon (used).

- Books As History: The Importance of Books Beyond Their Text by David Pearson (Oak Knoll, 2011). Publisher.

- The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth-Century History by Emma Rothschild (Princeton University Press, 2011). Amazon.

- The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (OUP, 2011). Amazon.

- The Library of John Montgomerie, Colonial Governor of New York and New Jersey by Kevin J. Hayes (University of Delaware Press, 2000). Amazon (used)

- L'auberge by Julia Stagg (Hodder & Stoughton, 2011). Publisher.

- James Bowdoin: Patriot and Man of the Enlightenment by Gordon E. Kershaw (Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1976). Green Hand.

- In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace by David G. Post (OUP, 2009). Heartwood Books.

- Studies in Bibliography (Volumes 6, 11, 40, 48). Heartwood Books.

- Senefelder on Lithography: The Classic 1819 Treatise by Alois Senefelder (Dover, 2005). Heartwood Books.

- Abel Buell of Connecticut by Lawrence C. Wroth (Wesleyan University Press, 1958). Heartwood Books.

- Last Harvest: How a Cornfield Became New Daleville by Witold Rybczynski (Scribner, 2007). Heartwood Books.

- Scandal Nation: Law and Authorship in Britain, 1750-1832 by Kathryn Temple (Cornell University Press, 2003). Heartwood Books.

- Adapting to a New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake by James Horn (University of North Carolina Press, 1994). Heartwood Books.

- Jonathan Swift, A Hypocrite Reversed: A Critical Biography by David Nokes (OUP, 1986). Heartwood Books.

- Personal Impressions: The Small Printing Press in Nineteenth-Century America by Elizabeth M. Harris (David R. Godine, 2004). Heartwood Books.

- The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield (Random House, 2011). Publisher.

- Northwest Corner by John Burnham Schwartz (Random House, 2011). Publisher.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: "Northwest Corner"

John Burnham Schwartz's fifth novel, Northwest Corner (forthcoming from Random House) is a standalone sequel to Reservation Road, featuring several of the same characters several years later. The book is told from the alternating perspectives of college student Sam Arno, his estranged father Dwight and ailing mother Ruth, Dwight's paramour Penny, and Emma, a young woman of an age with Sam whose connection to the family I should let the reader discover.

When Sam seriously injures a fellow student in a bar fight and then flees to his father in California, the family and those around them are drawn into a whirlwind of consequences as their past and present trials and decisions swirl around them.

I had a hard time putting the book down after I opened it; it's written with a well-paced immediacy that practically demands that it be read all at once. The characters are so troublingly real, so frustratingly human, it's difficult not to understand them (even if some of their actions might be incomprehensible), and I wanted to know what would happen to them, which choices they would make and what those would mean.

A fine addition to your summer reading list, I'd say.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

General Update (aka Busy is Good, Right?)

Whoof. Where does the time go? I'm back in Portland now for a couple weeks during the RBS break weeks (and avoiding, for good or ill, the RBMS and ALA conferences in Baton Rouge and New Orleans).

The remainder of the first RBS session as well as the second week went swimmingly. I was tremendously pleased to assist David Pearson with his Provenance: Tracing Owners & Collections class, which was really well received by the students. They got to do some really neat work with books from both the RBS and UVA Special Collections holdings, so if you are at all interested in provenance research, keep this class on your list. The week's other classes also went well, though I didn't get a chance to see much of them.

I can't remember now if I mentioned it or not, but the full schedule of this summer's RBS lecture series is now up: they begin anew with Selby Kiffer's well-timed talk on 4 July "Printing the Declaration of Independence - and Selling It."

On Sunday I came back to Portland and have been working on settling in in the new apartment, at last. I still have loads of books to unpack (in fact they're all still in the boxes), and will try to finally get something written up about the whole moving process in the near future. And of course I've been back LibraryThing full time this week; we've been able to get out some new features and are moving ahead with some that will be really exciting for the ongoing Libraries of Early America project, among other things. One nifty new thing is a "what should you borrow?" feature, showing books one LibraryThing members might be interested in from another's library. Check out Jefferson and Adams ...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Links & Reviews

Another slightly-abbreviated edition of links & reviews; more next Sunday, I promise!

- New blog from the University of St. Andrews special collections department: Echoes from the Vault. I've added it to my Google Reader and a link to the sidebar.

- From Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie, Lew's posted some great images of English circulating library bookplates.

- McSweeney's has launched a food magazine, "Lucky Peach."

- Don't miss Rick Gekoski's Guardian piece on dealer venting at book fairs.


- Mary Beth Norton's Separated by Their Sex; review by Joyce Chaplin in the NYTimes.

- Paul Collins' Murder of the Century; review by Rebecca Rego Barry on the Fine Books Blog.

- Geraldine Brooks' Caleb's Crossing; review by Jane Smiley in the Scotsman.

- David McCullough's The Greater Journey; review my Michael Sims in the Washington Post.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Auction Report: June Sales

- Results for the 2 June Bibliophile Sale at Bloomsbury London are here. The top lot was a collection of chromolithograph horse illustrations, which made £2,700.

- PBA Galleries sold Charles Bukowski & His Circle: The Collection of Ross Runfola, also on 2 June. Results are here. The highest price realized was $10,200 for an original Bukowski watercolor.

- The top seller at Swann's 2 June Maps, Atlases, Natural History and Ephemera sale was a 1777 map of Connecticut, which had a $3,000-4,000 estimate but sold for a whopping $168,000. A manuscript map of Japan's Suruga province fetched $120,000.

- Sotheby's London's Music and Continental Books & Manuscripts sale on 8 June made £2,645,628. They've changed their results websites again, but hopefully this link will work. Mahler's copy of his Third Symphony made £163,250 but was not the top lot: that honor went to a seven-volume collection of illustrations of Russian artifacts (1849-1853), which sold for £169,250.

- The much-anticipated Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts at Christie's London on 8 June must have been a bit disappointing. Only 39 of 81 lots sold, for a total of £1,781,100. The Pillone Library did not sell as a group, and apparently only one of the volumes sold separately: a 1478 edition of Dioscorides, which made £91,250. The unexpected high spot was a spectacular copy of Maria Sibylla Merian's first work, Blumenbuch (1675-1680). Estimated at £60,000-90,000, it ended up selling for £565,250.

- Of the 399 lots at the 13 June Christie's London sale of Printed Books and Manuscripts, 213 lots sold for a total of £492,275. The top lot was a third issue of Galileo's Il saggiatore nel quale con bilancia esquisita e giusta si ponderano le cose contenute nella libra astronomica e filosofica di Lotario Sarsi Sigensano (1623), which made £16,250.

- Some fairly healthy prices at the 14 June Bloomsbury London sale Books from the stock of the late John Sperr of Fisher and Sperr London, in 169 lots. As expected the top lot was William Curtis' The Botanical Magazine, which sold for £26,000. The complete set of Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie (1751-1780) sold for £8,500.

- Results for the PBA Galleries Fine Literature, Illustrated & Children's Books, and Fine Books in All Fields sale on 16 June are here.

- Sotheby's New York's 17 June Fine Books and Manuscripts sale the total take was $3,288,444. While a few of the expected top lots didn't sell, the Marc Chagall sketchbook made $602,500, and the René Magritte archive fetched $458,500. The flag from the C.S.S. Alabama sold for $218,500. A first edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales did much better than anticipated, making $206,500.

Preview of the remaining June sales:

- Christie's New York has Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts on 23 June, in 325 lots. A signed first edition of Joyce's Ulysses, from the collection of John W. Boylan is estimated at $350,000-450,000, while a collection of Franklin's Paris and Passy bagatelles could sell for $250,000-350,000. An early manuscript copy of Mateo Ricci's world map is estimated at $150,000-250,000. Lots of Bob Dylan manuscripts and many other interesting lots here.

- Bonhams will sell some Pacific Voyages and Hawaiiana books on 26 June.

Book Review: "Confessions of a Young Novelist"

Delivered as the 2008 Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature at Emory University, the four essays in Umberto Eco's Confessions of a Young Novelist (HUP, 2011) offer a peek inside Eco's creative writing process, his views on a "model reader" and on perceptions of creative writing and fictional characters generally, and on his love of lists (as expanded upon in The Infinity of Lists).

Each of the essays here had something going for it: the lists one I enjoyed simply because I also happen to be a fan of lists and find them fascinating to read and create. The musings on fictional characters and their "life" as characters, while sometimes veering a bit too far into the lit-crit-jargon territory for me, were in the end instructive. The second essay, "Author, Text, and Interpreters," in which Eco discussed relationships between authors, translators, different types of readers, as well as the first (on particular inspirations, challenges and techniques he's used in crafting his own novels) were the best of the quartet.

There may be better introductions to Eco's work, but if you have some familiarity with his novels, these essays will likely be of interest to you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Union College Audubon Theft: The Plot Thickens?

I've written previously about the theft of one of Union College's Audubon volumes in 1971; having attended Union and knowing this particular set of Birds of America well, I take a great interest in not only their present well-being but also in the story of their theft and subsequent recovery. A new article [PDF] in the Union College Magazine, by the college's Director of Media and Public Relations Phil Wajda, sheds new light on the case, and calls into question the long-held view of just how the Birds came to be stolen and Texas book dealer John Jenkins' role in their recovery.

Wajda talked to the actual thief who broke into Union's library in 1971 and stole the Birds, damaging some of the plates as he cut them from their binding. Kenneth Paull, now retired and living in Pennsylvania, told Wajda that the theft was no spur-of-the-moment crime, but a carefully-laid scheme ... and that Jenkins himself was the intended buyer of the Audubons.

It's quite a tale, and certainly worth a read. Phil's done some really interesting detective work, and I'm going to be fascinated to know what more we learn about this case now that his story is out. I'm sure I'll have more to say on it soon, as well.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Links & Reviews

Pardon the brevity this week: he second RBS session begins tonight, so there's much to be done.

- From Steve Ferguson at Princeton, an update on the provenance of certain John Witherspoon books. I've indicated the changes in Witherspoon's LT catalog.

- The British Library launched a 19th Century Books app this week.

- From Mercurius Politicus, a neat look into the parish record research process.

- The second THATCamp New England will be held on 22 October at Brandeis University.

- From Houghton, some newly-digitized goodies, including the printer's copy for the Aldine edition of Aristotle's works.

- An interesting piece by Brewster Kahle on the Internet Archive's physical archive of books, which he sees as something akin to a "seed bank."

- There was no indictment this week in the Rolland Comstock case. The Greene County, MO grand jury took no action related to the still-unsolved murder.

- A new issue of "Republics of Letters" is up, featuring an essay by Roger Chartier, among others.


- Christopher Krebs' A Most Dangerous Book; review by Cullen Murphy in the NYTimes.

- Jane Brown's The Omnipotent Magician; review by John Barrell in the TLS.

- John Sayles' A Moment in the Sun; review by Tom LeClair in the NYTimes.

- Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts; review by Dorothy Gallagher in the NYTimes.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Back at Rare Book School!

Since I've mentioned it a few times, I guess I should actually point out that I am in fact back at the wonderful place that is Rare Book School this summer; LibraryThing very graciously (and patiently) agreed to share me with RBS for the session weeks, so I am enjoying the first week in Charlottesville now (I'll be here this week and next, then home to Portland for two weeks to unpack the books and actually spend some time in the new city, then back to CVille for the July sessions).

As I repeatedly tried to make clear last year, there's no place on earth quite like RBS for the meeting of like bibliophilic minds (I'm writing this just minutes after a fellow staff member and I spent several minutes getting very excited about the colophon page of Holinshed's Chronicles). The staff, the faculty, and the students all combine to make this a marvelous incubator for discussions about books and their people.

This week I'm assisting with Stephen Tabor's new class, Analytical Bibliography, which is garnering rave reviews from his students. They've been doing a range of hands-on demos, including typesetting and correcting yesterday which was a great deal of fun for all (including me, since I got to help). Tomorrow night they'll be visiting UVA's Hinman Collator for a demonstration of the techniques involved with that process.

And that's just one of the five classes happening this week: Mark Dimunation and John Buchtel's History of the Book Class is currently off on a field trip viewing rarities at the Library of Congress, while Sue Allen is wowing her students with her awe-inspiring knowledge of 19th-century American publishers' bindings. Terry Belanger's Book Illustration Processes students have been hard at work practicing their techniques and viewing many examples of the various illustration processes, and Deborah Leslie has been keeping her hardy crop of rare book catalogers hard at work!

For all the courses offered this summer, see the RBS 2011 schedule.

Even beyond the classes, there's much going on. The Monday lecture this week featured Ann Blair, whose book Too Much To Know I reviewed late last year (and very much enjoyed). Her talk, which stemmed from the book, was fascinating, and featured some really neat illustrations of her points (some of which didn't make it into the book). Tonight Terry Belanger will be speaking on teaching with Audubons, which I'm very much looking forward to as well, given my personal interest in Audubon's works.

More soon, I'm sure, but for now, that's what I'm up to!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Book Review: "The Swerve"

Stephen Greenblatt's The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (forthcoming from W.W. Norton) concerns the re-discovery of Lucretius' De rerum natura by Poggio Bracciolini in 1417 and what the work has meant for the way "moderns" perceive the world around us.

There's much to like about this book. As a short biography of the great book hunter Bracciolini, it's extremely well done. The drive that he and other early humanists felt to rescue classical works from the ravages of time by preserving them in manuscript copies (and later in print) is plumbed to its depths here, and although there are many aspects of Bracciolini's discovery of Lucretius that we cannot know (he doesn't even say which monastic library he found it in), the framework Greenblatt has created does the job well.

Beyond Bracciolini, Greenblatt also takes us back to Lucretius' own day and the immediate aftermath of his work's composition; and slightly forward in time to the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, where a wide variety of Epicurean treatises have been discovered among the charred scrolls. He explores the broad scope of early humanism (particularly that of the Bracciolini circle), and also delves into the lessons and principles espoused by Lucretius in his text.

I could have done with more on the later publishing history and reception of De rerum natura; there is some here, but even more on the Enlightenment-era views of the work would have been welcome (Jefferson had seven different editions of the work, for example). That said, Greenblatt's discussion of Montaigne's personal copy - now at Eton College - was a delight to read (and has, I find, been the subject of a book in its own right).

While I might quibble over the scope of the subtitle, I greatly enjoyed The Swerve, and recommend it.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Links & Reviews

- This month's Fine Books Notes is out: it includes an essay by Christopher Lancette on collecting the Revolution, Jeffrey Murray on comic maps, and Ian McKay on auction sales.

- The June AE Monthly is also up; check it out here.

- Shandy Hall is doing another fascinating exhibit this year, asking artists to deliver a fresh take on Sterne's famous "marbled page" (in honor of its 250th anniversary).

- The Providence City Archivist found the city's original charter (thought lost long ago), in a storage area of the archives. Having researched there briefly, I was utterly unsurprised at this.

- I still have to review this week's auction results, but Swann notes their top results of the week here.

- Mike Widener has mounted a couple new Flickr galleries, including a very interesting one of Lady Justice as depicted in headpieces.

- Carolyn Vega, writing for the Huffington Post, considers Charlotte Brontë's "Catalogue of Books," listing her juvenile writings.

- On the AAS blog, Ashley Cataldo writes about the indispensable provenance work done in the AAS collections by Charles Nichol.


- Jonathan Steinberg's Bismarck: A Life; review by Rebecca K. Morrison in the Independent.

- James Morton's The First Detective; review by Michael Dirda in the Washington Post.

- Umberto Eco's Confessions of a Young Novelist; review by Rebecca Rego Barry in Fine Books Notes.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

This Week's Acquisitions

These are in fact from the previous week (more BEA snags, the ones that I shipped):

- Prophet's Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints by Sam Brower (Bloomsbury, 2011). BEA.

- The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen (Mulholland Books, 2011). BEA.

- The Apothecary by Maile Meloy (Putnam, 2011). BEA.

- Calling Mr. King by Ronald De Feo (Other Press, 2011). BEA.

- House Secrets: A Joe DeMarco Thriller by Mike Lawson (Grove Press, 2011). BEA.

- Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius by Sylvia Nasar (Simon & Schuster, 2011). BEA.

- Explorer's Guide Maine Coast & Islands: A Great Destination by Christina Tree (Countryman Press, 2011). BEA.

- Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central, 2011). BEA.

- Tides of War by Stella Tillyard (Henry Holt, 2011). BEA.

- Great House by Nicole Krauss (W.W. Norton, 2011). BEA.

- The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011). BEA.

- True Grit by Charles Portis (Overlook Press, 2011). BEA.

In other news, the move went very smoothly, and twelve hours after the movers left I flew to Charlottesville for the first sessions of Rare Book School. I'll have more to say on both those topics soon!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Auction Preview: June Sales

- There will be a Bibliophile Sale at Bloomsbury London on 2 June, in 376 lots.

- Also on 2 June, Swann has Maps, Atlases, Natural History and Ephemera, in 321 lots.

- Sotheby's London will sell Music and Continental Books & Manuscripts on 8 June, in 376 lots. The top-estimated lot is Mahler's own copy of his Third Symphony, with his autograph revisions. It is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

- Also on 8 June, Christie's London has Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts, in 81 lots. The most spectacular of these (and in fact the most spectacular thing I've seen at auction in a very long time) is the Pillone Library, a collection of eighteen works in seventeen volumes, all with painted fore-edges or drawings on vellum by Cesare Vecellio. These are really remarkable pieces of artwork, created for members of the Pillone family in the 1580s. The volumes will first be offered as a single lot (estimated at £1,100,000-1,600,000); if they don't sell that way, the volumes are going to be sold separately. There are some other important volumes in the sale, as well as an interesting collection of manuscript journals written by Nassau William Senior (1790-1864), estimated at £50,000-80,000.

- At Christie's London on 13 June, Printed Books and Manuscripts, in 399 lots.

- On 14 June at Bloomsbury London, Books from the stock of the late John Sperr of Fisher and Sperr London, in 169 lots. A complete set of Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopédie (1751-1780) is estimated at £10,000-15,000; William Curtis' The Botanical Magazine in 167 volumes could fetch £15,000-20,000.

- PBA Galleries will sell Fine Literature, Illustrated & Children's Books, and Fine Books in All Fields, in 446 lots.

- At Sotheby's New York on 17 June, Fine Books and Manuscripts, in 172 lots, and this is quite a sale! A Marc Chagall sketchbook rates a $600,000-900,000 estimate, while the opera glasses Lincoln took to the theater on the night of his assassination are estimated at $500,000-700,000. Robert E. Lee's 20 April 1861 letter to his brother in which Lee notes his resignation from the U.S. Army could fetch $400,000-600,000, and a flag from the C.S.S. Alabama is estimated at $200,000-400,000. An archive of René Magritte letters rates a $150,000-200,000 estimate. A 1684 first quarto edition of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" could sell for $12,000-18,000. Lots more goodies in here - do browse the catalog.

- Christie's New York will sell Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts on 23 June. Preview to come.