Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Links & Reviews

Heading up to New York tomorrow for Bibliography Week events - I hope I'll see many of you there! Meanwhile, some links and reviews:

- From Paste magazine, John Ruch writes on "The Peculiar Underworld of Rare-Book Thieves." It notes that a book on the Smiley thefts by Michael Blanding will be published this year (The Map Thief, to be published by Gotham Books).

- The Wellcome Library has released 100,000 hi-res images from its collections.

- Excellent reporter Paul Grondahl has a report in the Times Union on the New York State Library's "tough calls" about culling materials from the collections. It makes for difficult reading.

- New OED chief editor Michael Proffitt talked to the New York Times this week about the future of the dictionary.

- A pair of scholars have announced what they see as a breakthrough in the Voynich Manuscript, concluding that many of the plants and animals portrayed there may be North American species.

- The Mellon Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to fund a "Humanities Without Walls" consortium to "create new avenues for collaborative research, teaching, and the production of scholarship in the humanities, forging and sustaining areas of inquiry that cannot be created or maintained without cross-institutional cooperation."

- From the BBC: Albrecht Durer: Printing Press Native.

- A Sotheby's report published in Chinese has defended the authenticity of a calligraphy scroll sold for $8.2 million in September (mentioned here). Chinese scholars argue that the scroll was a 19th-century reproduction.

- New York's Rizzoli Bookstore will likely have to move; the building's owners are planning to demolish the site.

- New online, the Catalogue of English Manuscripts, 1450-1700, containing descriptions of more than 37,000 manuscript texts from 237 C16-17 authors.

- From the "Bright Young Librarians" series, Trinity College's Rick Ring is profiled.

- Unclaimed material stolen by Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff is being temporarily housed at the Maryland Historical Society, the Baltimore Sun reported, until it can be identified and returned to its rightful home(s).

- The British Library will close its Preservation Advisory Centre as of the end of March.

- Material from the family archive of William Penn will be up for sale at Bonham's London on 28 January.

- The daughter of Cold Comfort Farm author Stella Gibbons has found two finished-but-unpublished novels amongst her mother's possessions.

- Mitch Fraas notes a success story in identifying a smudgy provenance stamp - there's hope!

- The New York Times ran a report last week on Pinochet's library.

- Casey Cep has a piece at The New Yorker on "The Allure of the Map."

- I'm feeling a bit removed from the whole Common Core debate, but I found Alex Kalamaroff's essay at The Millions, "The Common Core Vs. Books: When Teachers are Unable to Foster a Love of Reading in Students" very much worthwhile.

- The Strand's rare book room was highlighted in the New York Daily News.

- Over at Manuscript Road Trip, our erstwhile guides explore the career and telltale signs of the Spanish Forger.

- The existence of a secret Foreign Office archive, containing some 1.2 million files going back to the 17th century, was revealed this week.

- Two digital collections of rare books at Princeton have been expanded: the Sid Lapidus collection on Liberty and the American Revolution, and the library's annotated books.

- The BL is crowdfunding the digitization of George III's personal collection of maps and views: they're looking for £100,000.

- From Antipodean Footnotes, highlights from the woodcuts in the early Italian and French editions of the Hypnerotomachia.

- In the LA Review of Books, Johanna Drucker writes on "Pixel Dust: Illusions of Innovation in Scholarly Publishing."

- Penn State has acquired the archive of book designer Chip Kidd, while Billy Collins' papers will go to the Harry Ransom Center.


- The History of OUP, Volume III; review by Bernard Porter in The Guardian.

- Jed Buchwald and Mordechai Feingold's Newton and the Origin of Civilization; review by Scott Mandelbrote in the TLS.

- Bob Brier's Egyptomania; review (well, pan) by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Alan Jacobs' The Book of Common Prayer; review by Willy Maley in the THE.

- Douglas Egerton's The Wars of Reconstruction; review by Fergus Bordewich in the WSJ.

- Greg Grandin's The Empire of Necessity; review by Scott Martelle in the LATimes.

- Timothy Brook's Mr. Selden's Map of China and Robert Batchelor's London: The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City, 1549-1689; review in The Economist.

- Jacqueline Jones' A Dreadful Deceit; review by Thomas Chatterton Williams in the WSJ.

- Colin Jerolmack's The Global Pigeon; review by Jennie Erin Smith in the TLS.

- Nick Basbanes' On Paper; review at BookBrowse.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Links & Reviews

- Over at The Millions, Travis McDade on Rare Book Crime Capers: Forgery, Theft, Murder and the Holy Grail of American Printing. McDade concentrates on Hofmann's forgery of the Oath of a Freeman and its intersection with other instances of rare book crime.

- Ben Mauk posted on the New Yorker blog about Elaine Treharne's recent work on medieval manuscripts being dismantled and sold on eBay. It includes comments from dealer Philip Pirages, who said "I have to admit that selling individual leaves encourages book breaking to some extent. From time to time I feel it would be better if I didn't do this."

- The latest issue of Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, with the theme "What is the History of (Electronic) Books?" is now freely available on the BSC's website.

- For your amusement, Dusty Archive Kitten Deaths, a new Tumblr highlighting (and let's be frank, shaming) archival/library cliches and the journalists who perpetuate them.

- At Unique at Penn, some neat and elusive pieces of print found on the pastedowns of a manuscript commonplace book.

- From BibliOdyssey, monograms and ciphers.

- The Wellcome Library recently acquired a remarkable 15th-century folding almanac in a silk binding. Lots of pictures and context here.

- There was quite a dustup last week over the apparent destruction of a series of Franklin County, NC records found in the courthouse basement. In the end most of the records appeared to have been destroyed pursuant to regular retention schedules (see the response from the NC Office of Archives and History, as well as a public letter to the same effect).


- Hugh Wilford's America's Great Game; review by Tony Perry in the LATimes.

- Richard Drake's The Education of an Anti-Imperialist; review by Lewis Gould in the WSJ.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Links & Reviews

- Sarah Werner, writing at Snarkmarket about the ongoing "death of the book" silliness, highlights one of my favorite books of recent years, A Dodo at Oxford, and argues that "any opposition between print and digital is, today, ridiculous." Read the whole post.

- The Al Sa'eh library in Tripoli, Lebanon, which housed some 80,000 books and manuscripts, was destroyed by fire this week, after false rumors that the owner, a Greek Orthodox priest, had written an article insulting Islam.

- Some nasty news out of Canada this week, where it has been revealed that important archival materials held at various environmental libraries around the country ordered closed by the government are being haphazardly destroyed or dispersed.

- In this month's Smithsonian, Joshua Hammer writes on "The Race to Save Mali's Priceless Artifacts."

- The Authors Guild will appeal Judge Denny Chin's ruling in the Google Books case, Publishers Weekly reports.

- The January AE Monthly is out, containing their annual list of the top 500 auction prices for 2013, among a selection of other interesting pieces.

- The Higgins Armory Museum of Worcester, MA has closed after 82 years.

- A cache of some 20,000 Japanese books, including some by woodblock master Hokusai has been authenticated at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts after research by a scholarly team from 2010 through 2012. The collection was donated by Ernest Fenollosa in the early 20th century.

- Lucy Hughes-Hallett's Telegraph piece "Why Villette is better than Jane Eyre" will likely be of interest to many readers.

- A draft of a 1775 plea for reconciliation to the British people written by Robert R. Livington was found last summer in the attic of New York's Morris-Jumel Mansion museum. The museum will sell the document at Keno Auctions on 26 January.

- The Free Library of Philadelphia's acquisition of the Rosenbach Museum and Library is now complete.

- From Marina Warner in the NYRB, "Maps and Monsters," a short essay and gallery.

- A Celtic brooch dating from the 8th or 9th century has been found in British Museum storage; it had been hidden in a "lump of organic material" excavated from a Viking burial site in Norway and acquired by the BM in 1891.


- Nick Basbanes' On Paper; review by Christine Rosen in the Wilson Quarterly.

- Brian Dillon's Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing; review by James Delbourgo in the Chronicle Review.

- Catherine Bailey's The Secret Rooms; review by Kirk David Swinehart in the NYTimes.

- Jane Ridley's The Playboy Prince; review by Joanna Scutts in the WaPo.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Literary Anniversaries 2014

Some literary anniversaries coming up in 2014. Obviously not an exhaustive list!

50 years ago (1964):

- Bret Easton Ellis born, 7 March.
- Elizabeth Kostova born, 26 December.
- T.H. White dies, 17 January.
- Rachel Carson dies, 14 April.
- Flannery O'Connor dies, 3 August.
- Ian Fleming dies, 12 August.
- Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory published.
- Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang published.
- Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree published.

100 years ago (1914):

- William S. Burroughs born, 5 February.
- Ralph Ellison born, 1 March.
- Octavio Paz born, 31 March.
- Bernard Malamud born, 26 April.
- Dylan Thomas born, 27 October.
- Patrick O'Brian born, 12 December.
- James Joyce's Dubliners published.

150 years ago (1864):

- Nathaniel Hawthorne dies, 19 May.
- Walter Savage Landor dies, 17 September.
- J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Uncle Silas and Wylder's Hand published.
- Jules Verne's A Journey to the Center of the Earth published.

200 years ago (1814):

- J. Sheridan Le Fanu born, 28 August.
- William Wells Brown born, 6 November.
- Marquis de Sade dies, 2 December.
- Walter Scott's Waverley published.
- Lord Byron's The Corsair published.
- Jane Austen's Mansfield Park published.

250 years ago (1764):

- Ann Radcliffe born, 9 July.
- Robert Dodsley dies, 23 September.
- Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto published.
- George Psalmanazar's Memoirs published.
- Cesare Beccaria's Of Crimes and Punishments published.

300 years ago (1714):

- William Shenstone born, 13 November.
- Scriblerus Club founded.
- Bernard Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees published in book form.

350 years ago (1664):

- Matthew Prior born, 21 July.
- John Evelyn's Sylva published in book form.

400 years ago (1614):

- Isaac Casaubon dies, 1 July.

450 years ago (1564):

- Galileo Galilei born, 15 February.
- Christopher Marlowe born, February (bap. 26 February).
- William Shakespeare born, April (bap. 26 April).
- John Calvin dies, 27 May.
- Andreas Vesalius dies, 15 October.
- First datable printed work in Russian printed, 1 March.

500 years ago (1514):

- Georg Joachim Rheticus born, 16 February.
- Andreas Vesalius born, 31 December.
- Hartmann Schedel dies, 28 November.
- Albrecht Dürer engraves Melencolia I and St. Jerome in His Study.