Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Auction Report: October Wrapup

Here's how the October auctions shaped up:

- Results for the 4 October Bloomsbury Red China, 1921-1976 sale are here.

- The top seller at Bloomsbury's Bibliophile Sale on 5 October was something of a surprise. Two copies of Siebe, Gorman & Co.'s Illustrated Catalogue of Diving Apparatus, Diving Bells, ...  (from ~1898 and ~1908) sold for £2,300; they'd been estimated at £150-200. Full results here.

- Christie's London sold Travel, Science, and Natural History on 9 October, in 341 lots. The thermometer signed by Fahreinheit was, as expected, the top lot, at £67,250. But it shared the podium with a collection of letters from a member of the British Antarctic Expedition to his mother. An Enigma machine fetched £58,850. The total for the sale was £1,269,412.

- At Bonhams San Francisco Fine Books and Manuscripts sale on 10 October, a copy of the eight-volume Watson and Kaye photographic collection The People of India (1868-1875) sold for $80,500. The typescript of an unpublished Timothy Leary work did not sell.

- Andy Warhol carried the day at Swann Galleries' 11 October Art, Press and Illustrated Books sale. A copy of his 25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy sold for $52,800.

- Results for PBA Galleries 11 October sale of Fine Literature, Americana Bibliography, and Fine Books in All Fields are here. Two lots sold for $3,300: a mixed set of the Encyclopedie and a signed copy of Bukowski's At Terror Street and Agony Way.

- Bloomsbury sold Literature, Manuscripts, Travel and Natural History Books on 18 October. The top lot was a 1733 John Pine engraving of the Magna Carta, which sold for £19,000. Full results here.

- It was quite a day at Swann Galleries on 23 October for their sale of Aldine Imprints & Early Printed Books from the Library of Kenneth Rapoport, in 119 lots. Almost all of the lots sold, with three fetching more than $40,000: a copy of the 1525 Galen ($48,000); the 1513 Plato ($45,600); and the 1517 Musaeus and Orpheus ($43,200).

- Sotheby's sold items from the estate of Robert S. McNamara on 23 October, for a total of $1,008,571.

- Also some hefty prices at Bloomsbury's Modern First Editions: The Collection of Clive Hirschhorn sale on 25 October. A first edition of The Great Gatsby was the top lot, at £50,000.

- On 25 October PBA Galleries sold California & Its Ranchos: The John C. Broome Library. Results are here.

- Christie's Paris sold Emilie du Chatelet manuscripts and books on 29 October, for a total of €3,289,875. The partial manuscript of her translation of Newton's Principia did even better than anticipated, selling for €961,000.

- Also at Christie's Paris on 29 October, Importants Livres Anciens, Livres D'Artistes et Manuscrits, which brought €1,314,225. The top lot sold for €481,000. Redouté's Les Roses failed to sell.

- On 30 October at Christie's London The Le Vivier Library of Sporting Books and Modern First Editions brought in £734,087. Wynken de Worde's 1518 The boke of hawkyinge and Huntynge and fysshynge bettered presale estimates and fetched £193,250.

- At Christie's Paris on 30 October, Collection d'un Amateur Bibliophile sold for a total of €1,914,550. A first edition of Proust's Á l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs (1920) sold for €145,000. A copy of John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1749) fetched €115,000

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Links & Reviews

- An incredibly cool discovery at the John Carter Brown Library: extensive marginal notations in a 1635 Mercator Atlas have been found to be those of John and Virginia Ferrar, and comprise an early version The reformed Virginian silk-worm (published in 1655). Read the full report, and check out some very good illustrations.

- If you missed it this week, be sure to read Jennifer Schuessler's report on Robin Sloan's recent visit to the Grolier Club. Sloan's new book Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is on my Hurricane Sandy reading list.

- The LA Public Library recently acquired a large collection of maps found in a cottage slated to be torn down. Kudos to the real estate agent who called the library rather than just pitching the collection into a dumpster.

- Nate Pedersen recently interviewed bookseller Garrett Scott for FB&C.

- eBay seller Allan Formhals was found guilty this week of eight counts of fraud, as well as two counts of possessing articles for use in fraud, for forging signatures in books he later sold (more than a hundred books he hadn't yet sold have been seized). Formhals will be sentenced on 21 December.

- Coming up on "60 Minutes" tonight, a segment on recent thefts from the National Archives, and the steps taken to investigate them.

- A new Kickstarter project (the first one I've backed, in fact) from Colin Dickey and the Morbid Anatomy Library has been launched: the end result will be a published volume of essays and artwork drawn from the Morbid Anatomy Presents series.

- The personal papers of Robert S. McNamara fetched more than $1 million at auction this week.

- Something of a surprise ruling in New York, where a panel of judges on the Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled that auction houses must reveal the names of consignors. Christie's has joined the local auctioneer who was party to the original of the lawsuit in an appeal of the decision.

- From the BL, a look at some owls as portrayed in medieval manuscripts.

- In the FB&C "Bright Young Things" series, an interview with Jonathan Kearns of Adrian Harrington (and Bibliodeviancy)

- Simon Garfield, whose new book On the Map comes out soon, picks his top ten books with maps for The Guardian.

- Abby Lang has a very good post at the Rare Book Cataloging at Penn blog on a volume of manuscript and printed items related to book thief Guglielmo Libri.

- Rosalie Osman's short animated film "Bibliomania" has been making the rounds; it's well worth a watch. The main character is named Thomas Philips (and bears a passing resemblance to the original bibliomaniac Sir Thomas Phillipps himself).

- From the Washington Post, a look at the Government Printing Office as it transitions to the digital age.

- An interesting find at the Treasury Department: a previously-unknown transcript of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference was found there; additional copies were later determined to be at the National Archives and the library of the IMF.

- Lots of folks have highlighted a new report from Pew suggesting that people under 30 are "more likely than older adults to do reading of any sort ...". The findings are worth a look, but I wish they'd use some criterion other than having read a single book in the last year. See the CSM report for more.

- There's a fun excerpt from Joe Queenen's forthcoming One for the Books in the WSJ this week.

- The Roxburghe Club has announced the publication of a bicentennial history of the club, written by Nicolas Barker.


- J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy; review by Amanda Foreman in the NYTimes.

- Timothy Egan's Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher; review by Deborah Solomon in the NYTimes.

- Kate Summerscale's Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace; review at The Little Professor.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Links & Reviews

First, my apologies for the lack of action around here lately. It's been a terribly busy few months, and the next couple are looking even more jam-packed. It's good-busy (lots of writing projects, conferences, travel, and of course the Boston Book Fair in a few weeks), but it's busy. I've got several backlogged blog posts still percolating their way up to the surface, though, and I hope to be able to at least get back to a 2-3-posts-per-week schedule in the reasonably near future.

In the meantime, this week's links and reviews:

- One of the posts I still need to finish writing is about the AAS symposium last month to mark the publication of Roger Stoddard and David Whitesell's bibliography of American poetry published through 1820. Garrett Scott has posted his thoughts on the weekend, and they're your must-read for the week.

- Officials at the National Library of Wales have discovered what may be the earliest illustration of Henry VIII, shown as a young boy crying at the deathbed of his mother.

- Michael Dirda's "Waving Not Drowning" is another definitely-should-read for this week.

- J. L. Bell's book-length historic resource study, George Washington's Headquarters and Home - Cambridge, Massachusetts [large PDF] is now available for download. See John's post at Boston1775 for more info on the document.

- An excerpt from Ian Sansom's Paper: An Elegy appears in The Independent.

- The incredibly long-running lawsuit over certain Kafka papers (and those of his friend Max Brod) ended in Tel Aviv this week; a judge ruled that they should go to the Israeli National Library, and officials there say they plan to catalog the papers and make them available online.

- Over at Public Domain Review, Arika Okrent discusses the wonderfully umlaut-ed "universal language" of Volapük.

- More evidence has emerged that that recently-trumpeted "Jesus was married" papyrus fragment is probably a (very) modern forgery.

- Another article in English on the Girolamini Library (and related) thefts, this time from the Washington Times. The total number of books believed stolen from the Girolamini Library may exceed 4,000. The article includes quotes from ABAA Security Committee chair Garrett Scott, and word that de Caro is now believed to have stolen both copies of Galileo's 1606 work Le Operazione del compasso geometrico e militate known in Italy, at the University of Padua and at Monte Cassino.

- This week Georgia governor Nathan Deal announced that funding had been found to keep the Georgia Archives open, but that five full-time employees will still lose their jobs as of 1 November. Deal also said that he plans to ask the legislature to transfer oversight of the archives from the Secretary of State's office to the University System of Georgia.

- From Jennifer Howard this week, first a Chronicle report, "Ditch the Monograph," and a related blog post, "Let Content Dictate Form."

- David Mitchell is the subject of the NYTimes' "By the Book" column this week. I like his answer to the "favorite author" question.

- Over on the Oak Knoll blog, Rob Fleck posts about moving 6,200 books from Chevy Chase back to Oak Knoll HQ in Delaware.


- James McPherson's War on the Waters; review by Howell Raines in the WaPo.

- David Quammen's Spillover; review by Sonia Shah in the NYTimes.

- Jill Lepore's The Story of America; review by Julia Klein in the LATimes.

- Henry Weincek's Master of the Mountain; review by Annette Gordon-Reed in Slate.

- Simon Garfield's On the Map; review by Rachel Hewitt in the Guardian.

- Janet Wallach's The Richest Woman in America; review by Bethany McLean in the WaPo.

- John G. Turner's Brigham Young, Pioneer Prophet; review by Alex Beam in the NYTimes.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Links & Reviews

- Harvard's Radcliffe Institute has unveiled the digital exhibit Take Note, to accompany the 1-2 November conference on the same subject (for which registration is now open, and I'd encourage anyone who can attend to do so).

- A big win this week for fair use; federal judge Harold Baer ruled in favor of HathiTrust in the lawsuit filed against them by the Authors Guild. You can read the ruling here. I also recommend Kevin Smith's analysis of the decision, and Jennifer Howard's Chronicle report on the case.

- eBay seller Allan Formhals of Hampshire, England, has denied forging signatures on books he sold for thousands of dollars. Formhals says he advertised the books as "signed," not "signed by." The trial is ongoing.

- Dame Margaret Drabble's archive has been donated to the University of Cambridge. It comprises some 90 boxes of drafts, working papers, correspondence, and more.

- Nick Squires reported on the Girolamini Library thefts for The Telegraph, noting (as I mentioned last week) de Caro's replacement of stolen Galileo volumes with forged facsimiles, the removal of catalog cards to hide the thefts, and de Caro's, eh, let's call them embellishments, of his academic and employment record.

- Don't miss Brooke Palmieri's post at the Fine Books Blog on the sale of a copy of the 1605 Bodleian Library catalog.

- The Library of Congress has begun publishing Library of Congress Magazine, a bimonthly journal to highlight items from the Library's collections. You can download the first issue here.

- Texas A&M has received a $734,000 Mellon grant for the Early Modern OCR Project: the goal is to "develop new methods and tools to improve the digitization, transcription, and preservation of earl modern texts."

- From Notabilia, a very nice 18th-century Dutch ream wrapper label.

- Goran Proot posted the second installment in his The Collation series on the Dutch fingerprint, with some excellent and useful example images.

- Over at Past is Present, Jackie Penny offers a look at the packing and shipping process for the current Grolier Club exhibit. If you haven't yet read Edward Rothstein's NYT review of that exhibit, take the time and do so.

- I can't remember if I've posted this already or not, but even if I have, it bears repeating. FABS is running a new essay contest for the under-30 set: "American Book Collectors & Collecting from 1940 to the Present." Prize is $1,000 and publication in the FABS newsletter. Info here, via the Ticknor Society blog.

- Rebecca Rego Barry interviewed Selim Nahas, the founder of publisher Smith&Press, about their newly-published translation of the Nuremberg Chronicle.

- Heather Wolfe posted this week about the projects her students at last summer's Mellon Summer Institute in English Paleography at the Huntington Institute worked on, as "An exercise in collaborative editing." Good stuff (and the collaboration continues: comments on Heather's post enabled confirmation of a tricky word).

- From Lew Jaffe at Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie, Threats and Warnings on Bookplates, a new series: Part One, Part Two.

- Now available as freely-downloadable PDFs at the Otago University Research Archive: Keith Maslen's 2001 book Samuel Richardson of London, Printer: A Study of his Business Based on Ornament Use and Business Accounts and his recent update article, "Samuel Richardson of London, Printer: Further Extending the Canon." [h/t Antipodean Footnotes]


- Henry Wiencek's Master of the Mountain; review by Jonathan Yardley in the WaPo.

- Timothy Egan's Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher; reviews by Gary Krist in the WaPo; Wayne Curtis in the WSJ.

Book Review: "Spillover"

In Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic (W.W. Norton, 2012), David Quammen provides us with yet another of his masterful books, combining a readable synthesis of scientific research with personal interviews, experiences, and ruminations. This time it's not on natural selection or island biogeography, but on zoonotic diseases (illnesses which pass from animals to humans). From Marburg to AIDS to Hendra virus and Nipah, Quammen explains how scientists think these diseases come to the spillover point (when the pathogen passes from one species to another) and explores the consequences.

The book is absolutely terrifying, even though Quammen takes pains not to oversensationalize his subject (in fact he takes exception to Richard Preston's having done just that in The Hot Zone). It's simply the facts of the case as Quammen lays them out: these diseases are nasty, they're lurking, and sooner or later, one of them is very likely to cause "the next human pandemic." Since I don't follow the professional virological literature, I was astounded to learn about the role of bats (particularly large Asian fruit bats) as reservoir hosts of these nasty bugs; Quammen devotes much attention to this, to great effect.

While Spillover gets just a touch repetitive over the course of the book (the text of which runs to 520 pages), I didn't actually mind all that much, since the repeated bits generally proved a useful refresher. This is a book which I hope will have a large audience: as Quammen notes, humanity is anything but a passive actor when it comes to disease evolution and spread: our actions over the last centuries and decades have laid the groundwork for much of what may come, and we are, whether we like it or not, completely entangled in the ecological processes of our planet.

Terrifying, yes, but read it. You'll learn something.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Links & Reviews

- The third issue of the Journal of Digital Humanities has been released: it includes a great essay by Sarah Werner, "Where Material Book Culture Meets Digital Humanities."

- New from Brown University, CURIO: Imaging rare, unusual, and intriguing objects at the Brown University Library. [h/t BibliOdyssey]

- Robert Darnton continues the discussion over NYPL renovation plans with an essay in the NYRB, "The Turning Point."

- Jasper Fforde talks to the Washington Post about his new book and what's coming next.

- At Book Patrol, "The Biblio-Surrealism of Jonathan Wolstenholme."

- In the sale of property from the Brooke Astor estate, held 24-25 September, her reading library in ~711 volumes sold for $74,500 (over estimates of just $3,000-5,000).

- Heirs of early Supreme Court justice James Iredell won a suit this week to recover the papers of their ancestor, loaned to the North Carolina State Archives a century ago. Family members are asking for a hefty payment to allow the papers to stay at the archives. [h/t Everett Wilkie on ExLibris]

- From The Public Domain Review, Jonathan Lamb on "The Implacability of Things."

- Amherst College has mounted digital scans of their Emily Dickinson manuscripts [h/t Molly Schwartzburg]

- William Cronon's new AHA presidential column, "How Long Will People Read History Books?" is well worth a read.

- Via Colin Dickey, "The Great New England Vampire Panic," from this month's Smithsonian Magazine.

- The Penn Provenance project posted a letter from book thief Guglielmo Libri to his lawyer, Henri Celliez.

- The absolutely remarkable case of the thefts from the Girolamini Library continues to broaden in scope and severity. The Italian bookselling organization ALAI has now suspended member Luca Cableri of Studio Bibliografico Wunderkammer, and urges all who purchased anything from Cableri or from booksellers Stephane Delsalle or Maurizio Bifolco to contact Col. Raffaele Mancino. Jennifer Lowe offered additional updates on ExLibris: this week four more people were arrested in connection to the conspiracy: booksellers Cableri, Delsalle and Bifolco, plus Fr. Sandro Marsano (former curator of the Girolamini Library), who reportedly allowed people to remove the books from the Girolamini Library. Cableri is believed to have been the contact who arranged for the sale of stolen books at the auction house Zisska and Schauer (they were withdrawn prior to sale). Delsalle is believed to have assisted de Caro in choosing the volumes to steal, and Bifolco reportedly sold many stolen volumes. Other reports out this week indicate that de Caro has now confessed to conspiring with Delsalle to steal books from other libraries, with thefts dating back to 1999. Those libraries include the library of Don Povolo of Verona, the Biblioteca Capitolare di Padova, and the library at Monte Cassino.

Other updates reported by Jennifer Lowe (who's been on top of this story from the beginning, and to whom all of us non-Italian-speakers are greatly indebted) include news that two stolen books from the Girolamini Library were given by de Caro to Senator Marcello Dell'Uttri, organizer of the Milan Book Fair. And late this week came word that de Caro is believed to have stolen a copy of Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius from the National Library of Naples and left a forged copy in its place.


- The new NYRB edition of Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici; review by Brian Patrick Eha in the LA Review of Books.

- David Quammen's Spillover; review by Richard Preston in the WSJ.

- Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise; review by Alex Koppelman in the LATimes.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Auction Report: October Preview

A couple October sales are already behind us:

- On 2 October Bonhams sold Early Printing and English Books to 1640, in 285 lots. The top price of £49,250 went (auction title notwithstanding) to a volume containing two fourteenth-century Franciscan texts. The Aldine Herodotus of 1502 sold for £33,650.

- Also on 2 October, Swann Galleries sold Printed and Manuscript Americana, in 528 lots. A large collection of the Civil War correspondence of Capt. Isaac Plumb of Sherburne, NY, along with three Civil War swords, sold for $55,200. A copy of McKenney and Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America fetched $38,400.

- A Charles Leander Weed photograph from Yosemite made $374,500 today at Sotheby's photographs sale.

- At Bloomsbury on 4 October, a sale entitled Red China, 1921-1976, in 287 lots.

- Bloomsbury holds a Bibliophile Sale on 5 October, in 268 lots.

- Christie's London sells Travel, Science, and Natural History on 9 October, in 341 lots. A thermometer signed by Fahreinheit himself rates the top estimate, £70,000-100,000. Lots of neat Antarctica-related things up for grabs in this one.

- Bonhams San Francisco sells Fine Books and Manuscripts on 10 October, in 423 lots. Among the expected highlights: a typescript of an unpublished Timothy Leary work, estimated at $30,000-50,000.

- Swann Galleries will sell Art, Press and Illustrated Books on 11 October, in 367 lots.

- At PBA Galleries on 11 October, Fine Literature, Americana Bibliography, and Fine Books in All Fields, for a total of 368 lots.

- On 18 October at Bloomsbury, Literature, Manuscripts, Travel and Natural History Books will be up for grabs, in 624 lots.

- At Swann Galleries on 23 October, Aldine Imprints & Early Printed Books from the Library of Kenneth Rapoport, in 119 lots. As you'd expect, there are some real goodies here, but the lot with the top estimate is a copy of the Aldine Theocritus with contemporary hand coloring. It's estimated at $40,000-60,000.

- Bloomsbury will sell Modern First Editions: The Collection of Clive Hirschhorn on 25 October, in 416 lots.

- No preview yet for the 25 October PBA Galleries sale of California & Its Ranchos: The John C. Broome Library.

- Christie's Paris sells Emilie du Chatelet manuscripts and books on 29 October, in 58 lots. A partial manuscript of her translation of Newton's Principia rates the top estimate, at €400,000-600,000. They'll also sell Importants Livres Anciens, Livres D'Artistes et Manuscrits on the same day, in 114 lots. A copy of Redouté's Les Roses is estimated at €450,000-650,000.

- On 30 October at Christie's London, The Le Vivier Library of Sporting Books and Modern First Editions, in 333 lots. Wynken de Worde's 1518 The boke of hawkyinge and Huntynge and fysshynge could fetch £80,000-120,000.

- At Christie's Paris on 30 October, Collection d'un Amateur Bibliophile, in 195 lots.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Auction Report: September Wrapup

The October roundup's coming soon, but before that, a look back at September.

- The Asian Art Reference Books sale at Christie's New York on 13 September realized $1,290,825. Two lots shared the top price of $74,500: Mizuno and Nagahiro's Yun Kang the Buddhist Cave-Temples of the Fifth Century A.D. in Northern China (1951-1956) and Great Paintings of the Sung Dynasty (1975).

- Sale prices for the PBA Galleries 13 September Rare Books & Manuscripts: The Property of Jane Hohfield Galante sale are here. The untrimmed copy of the first edition of Smith's Wealth of Nations was the top lot, at $90,000. Darwin's copy of Bewick's British Birds didn't do as well as anticipated, fetching $54,000. The other expected top lots failed to sell.

- Results of the 13 September Bibliophile Sale at Bloomsbury are here.

- The top lot at the 20 September Children's, Conjuring, Private Press and Modern First Editions at Bloomsbury on 20 September was an original Arthur Rackham illustration, which made £10,000.

Dominic Winter Auctions sold Printed Books and Historical Documents, Important British Atlases & Maps on 19 September (results), and "A Gentleman's Library" on 20 September (results).

- At the Bonhams Oxford sale of Printed Books and Maps on 25 September, the top lot was a fine binding copy of a 1904 edition of Malory's Mort d'Arthur, done by Chivers of Bath. It sold for £6,875.

- On 27 September PBA Galleries sold Americana, African-American History, Travel & Exploration, Cartography from the library from Jane Galante. Results are here. The top price went to a Carl Bodmer aquatint, which sold for $18,000.