Sunday, February 22, 2015

Links & Reviews

- It was made official this week: the Scheide Library will stay at Princeton, and with an appraised value of $300 million, it is the largest gift in the university's history. NPR's Audie Cornish talked to Scheide Librarian Paul Needham.

- An employee at Russia's Hermitage Museum has been arrested for the theft of books and illustrations from the museum's collections. AFP reported that Russian police had found stolen items at the man's home, in the possession of a friend, and at a St. Petersburg antique shop.

- Anthony Grafton writes for the NYRB on marginalia's moment, noting particularly the current exhibit at the New York Society Library.

- The New-York Historical Society will mount the third in a series of Audubon exhibitions this spring.

- A Bible once owned by Francis Daniel Pastorius has been acquired by the University of Pennsylvania.

- José Manuel Fernández Castineiras has received a ten-year prison sentence for the theft of the Codex Calixtinus and more than €2.4 million from the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.

- Manchester Central Library has "withdrawn" more than 240,000 volumes, mostly non-fiction, from its circulating shelves. The books are believed to have been sold to local firm Rival Books.

- Neely Tucker has an excellent piece in the Washington Post about the "new" Harper Lee novel scheduled to be published in July.

- In case you missed the fun this week, the media picked up this week on a pretty funny little story: in a scene in the new Jennifer Lopez movie "The Boy Next Door," a character receives a copy of the "first edition" of The Iliad. This reportedly caused searches for "first editions" of The Iliad to skyrocket on AbeBooks. The story about this in The Telegraph sent me to the covers page at LibraryThing, where I pretty quickly found a strong candidate for the correct edition (in a variant color binding), and then ended up as an update on the news story. Silly fun. A few copies were listed on AbeBooks when I figured out what it was; I bought the cheapest on a whim, but wasn't surprised to find when it arrived that it was yet another variant binding!

- John Schulman has collected a roundup of bookseller responses to the recent ABAA fair in Oakland.

- British media reported this week that a previously-unknown Sherlock Holmes story has been found, part of a collection of short stories written to help fund the construction of a new bridge in the small Scottish town of Selkirk in 1904. Vulture posted the full text of the story. Mattias Bostrom at I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere makes a very good case that the story is very unlikely to have been written by Conan Doyle himself.

- Over at Alembic Rare Books, a very nice inscribed presentation copy of John Herschel's Results of Astronomical Observations (1847).

- In a post for the NYTimes Artsbeat blog, Roslyn Sulcas highlights the British Library's Endangered Archives Program, which has now mounted more than 4 million images.

- The Watkinson Library at Trinity College is raising funds to conserve and rebind the Shakespeare Second Folio they acquired in 2012.

- Conor Friedersdorf reports for The Atlantic on the absolutely ridiculous crackdown on Little Free Libraries.

- The four finalists for this year's George Washington Book Prize have been announced.

- Houghton Library highlights a very neat new acquisition: a 1474 book printed at the Benedictine monastery of SS. Ulrich and Afra in Augsburg.

- Simon Beattie's found a 1792 novel in German by Friedrich Eberhard Rambach (Die eiserne Maske. Eine schottische Geshichte [The Iron Mask. A Scottish Story], much-inspired by the Ossian tradition.

- A new website on the Martin Marprelate Press has launched.

- Alix Christie talked to The Library Cafe about her book Gutenberg's Appentice.


- Bernard Bailyn's Sometimes an Art; review by Gordon Wood in the Weekly Standard. This one has sparked some heated discussions and rebuttals, including a critique by William R. Black at The Junto and another (in tweet form) by Jonathan W. Wilson. John Fea offers a semi-defense of Wood, to which L.D. Burnett responded.

- Reif Larsen's I Am Radar; review by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes.

- David O. Stewart's Madison's Gift; review by Carol Berkin in the WaPo.

- Mary Pilon's The Monopolists; review by Carlos Lozada in the WaPo.

- Two new editions of Jane Austen's juvenile writings; review by Paula Byrne in the TLS.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Links & Reviews

Lots to cover once again. Here goes:

- The Bavarian government has returned more than 500 books stolen from the Girolamini and other Italian libraries. The books were seized from the Munich auction house Zisska & Schauer in 2012.

- The recovery of some of the Doves Type, noted in December, is the subject of several more complete accounts now, including a long piece in the Creative Review by Rachael Steven and a report from Justin Quirk in The Sunday Times.

- Nick Basbanes writes for the Fine Books Blog about recent attacks against books and libraries in Iraq.

- UPenn has received a $7 million gift to create a digital humanities lab.

- Jennifer Howard has launched a new project, "Books in the Wild," to document visually how we interact with books.

- Fairly surprising place for it, but there's a piece on historical bibliography (and Bible typos) in the Washington Post's Style blog.

- The Harvard magazine reports on "Cold Storage," a new documentary about the Harvard Depository.

- The Philadelphia Inquirer has a new report on the ongoing feud between the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia and the estate of Maurice Sendak.

- The Library of Congress has acquired the papers of composer Marvin Hamlisch.

- Materials related to the codebreaking efforts at Bletchley Park, including several unique Banbury sheets, have been found in the rafters of buildings at the site during renovations.

- From the BPL Collections of Distinction blog, a look at some excellent volvelles in Apian's Cosmographica.

- The Warburg Institute and the University of London have reached a "binding agreement" through mediation about the future management of the Institute.

- In the LA Review of Books, Matthew Kirschenbaum asks "What is an @uthor?"

- Bernard Bailyn talked to The Junto about his new book, Sometimes an Art: Nine Essays on History.

- The NYTimes ran a story on the aftermath of the big Brooklyn warehouse fire was destroyed thousands of pages of archival records.

- The Boston Globe highlights the BPL's recent digitization initiatives.

- Michael Hoinski reports for the NYTimes on Gaylord Schanilec's new work, Lac des Pleurs.

- The manuscript of Don McLean's "American Pie" is set to be sold at Christie's in April, with an estimate of up to $1.5 million. McLean claims that the manuscript will "divulge all that there is to divulge" about the meaning of the song's lyrics.

- Over at The Collation, a neat find on the endpapers of a quarto Henry VI.

- From Stefan Fatsis at Slate, what should a dictionary look like in the 21st century?

- Alison Flood reports for the Guardian on the sale of a first edition of Aristotle's Masterpiece at last weekend's California International Antiquarian Book Fair.

- Beinecke Library curator Timothy Young has posted ten reasons why the physical book still matters.

- An Elmira, NY man has been charged with the theft of a plaque from Mark Twain's grave.

- The folks at Bookfinder have released their list of the most-sought out-of-print books of 2014.

- Pradeep Sebastian profiles London book-runners Martin Stone and Driff in his "Endpaper" column.

- The BBC Magazine ran a feature on maps, drawn from the recently-published Times History of the World in Maps.

- A copy of the Magna Carta from 1300 has been found in a scrapbook in Sandwich, England. This copy is just the seventh of this version known to exist.

- Grove Atlantic and Electric Literature have announced the planned launch of Literary Hub on 8 April. Just what this new site will do is pretty opaque, but it seems worth watching. More from the WSJ.

- The Cambridge University Library has mounted an exhibition to mark the 500th anniversary of the death of Aldus Manutius. More of these are coming, including what promises to be a fantastic one at the Grolier Club in New York.

- From Eric Kwakkel, a look at "medieval books on the go."

- Scholium Group has posted earnings warnings and spun off two companies (South Kensington Books and Ultimate Library). Is it just me, or is it really weird to read press releases like this about books?

- Manuscript Road Trip visits Rhode Island this week.

- A collection of 19th-century dust jackets, most from the 1870s-1890s, is up for grabs from South Carolina book dealer Books Tell You Why. Rebecca Rego Barry highlights the collection at Fine Books Blog.


- "Decoding the Renaissance," the current Folger exhibition; review by William Grimes in the NYTimes.

- Peter Gay's Why the Romantics Matter; review by Peter Swaab in the Telegraph.

- Andrew Levy's Huck Finn's America; review by Parul Seghal in the NYTimes.

- Martha Hodes' Mourning Lincoln and Richard Wightman Fox's Lincoln's Body; review by Jill Lepore in the NYTimes.

- Richard Marsh's The Beetle; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Robert Middlekauff's Washington's Revolution; review by Daniel Shribman in the Boston Globe.

- Michael Rosen's Alphabetical; review by Carlos Lozada in the WaPo.

- Richard Brookhiser's Founders' Son; review by Drew Gilpin Faust in the NYTimes.

- Ruth Guildings' Owning the Past; review by Nigel Spivey in the TLS.

- Mary Pilon's The Monopolists; review by Jen Doll in TNR.

- Cornelia H. Dayton and Sharon V. Salinger's Robert Love's Warnings; review by Kristin O'Brassill-Kulfan at Reviews in History.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Two Young Bibliophiles Visit Monticello

Two hundred years ago today, on 4 February 1815, two young Massachusetts bibliophiles arrived at Monticello to visit Thomas Jefferson. George Ticknor and Francis Calley Gray spent the better part of three days with Jefferson, and much of that time was spent viewing Jefferson's books, which would shortly make their way to Washington to reconstitute the Library of Congress. Both Ticknor and Gray wrote about the experience (Ticknor in a letter to his father, Gray in his journal), and Ticknor would go on to engage in a lengthy correspondence with Jefferson through the rest of the former president's life. I'm working on editing a small collection of their letters for the Ticknor Society (the Boston bibliophilic society named for Ticknor and his daughter Anna), and since I've already made preliminary transcriptions of the two accounts of the visit to Monticello, I thought I'd post them here to mark the bicentennial of their visit. 

I should note, too, that John Adams's letter of introduction to Jefferson on Ticknor's behalf is one of my favorites: it contains the great line "As you are all Heluones Librorum [gluttons for books] I think you ought to have a sympathy for each other."

George Ticknor to Elisha Ticknor, 7 February 1815

Charlottesville, February 7, 1815.

We left Charlottesville on Saturday morning, the 4th of February, for Mr. Jefferson's. He lives, you know, on a mountain, which he has named Monticello, and which, perhaps, you do not know, is a synonym for Carter's mountain. The ascent of this steep, savage hill, was as pensive and slow as Satan's ascent to Paradise. We were obliged to wind two-thirds round its sides before we reached the artificial lawn on which the house stands; and, when we had arrived there, we were about six hundred feet, I understand, above the stream which flows at its foot. It is an abrupt mountain. The fine growth of ancient forest-trees conceals its sides and shades part of its summit. The prospect is admirable. ... The lawn on the top, as I hinted, was artificially formed by cutting down the peak of the height. In its centre, and facing the south-east, Mr. Jefferson has placed his house, which is of brick, two stories high in the wings, with a piazza in front of a receding centre. It is built, I suppose, in the French style. You enter, by a glass folding-door, into a hall, which reminds you of Fielding's "Man of the Mountain," by the strange furniture of its walls. On one side hang the hand and horns of an elk, a deer, and a buffalo; another is covered with curiosities which Lewis and Clarke found in their wild and perilous expedition. On the third, among many other striking matters, was the head of a mammoth, or, as Cuvier calls it, a mastodon, containing the only os frontis, Mr. Jefferson tells me, that has yet been found. On the fourth side, in odd union with a fine painting of the Repentance of St. Peter, is an Indian map on leather, of the southern waters of the Missouri, and an Indian representation of a bloody battle, handed down in their traditions.

Through this hall—or rather museum—we passed to the dining-room, and sent our letters to Mr. Jefferson, who was of course in his study. Here again we found ourselves surrounded with paintings that seemed good.

We had hardly time to glance at the pictures before Mr. Jefferson entered; and if I was astonished to find Mr. Madison short and somewhat awkward, I was doubly astonished to find Mr. Jefferson, whom I had always supposed to be a short man, more than six feet high, with dignity in his appearance, and ease and graciousness in his manners. ... He rang, and sent to Charlottesville for our baggage, and, as dinner approached, took us to the drawing-room,—a large and rather elegant room, twenty or thirty feet high,—which, with the hall I have described, composed the whole centre of the house, from top to bottom. The floor of this room is tessellated. It is formed of alternate diamonds of cherry and beech, and kept polished as highly as if it were of fine mahogany.

Here are the best pictures of the collection. Over the fireplace is the Laughing and Weeping Philosophers, diving the world between them; on its right, the earliest navigators to America,—Columbus, Americus Vespuccius, Magellan, etc.,—copied, Mr. Jefferson said, from originals in the Florence Gallery. Farther round, Mr. Madison in the plain, Quaker-like dress of his youth, Lafayette in his Revolutionary uniform, and Franklin in the dress in which we always see him. There were other pictures, and a copy of Raphael's Transfiguration.

We conversed on various subjects until dinner-time, and at dinner were introduced to the grown members of his family. These are his only remaining child, Mrs. Randolph, her husband, Colonel Randolph, and the two oldest of their unmarried children, Thomas Jefferson and Ellen; and I assure you I have seldom met a pleasanter party.

The evening passed away pleasantly in general conversation, of which Mr. Jefferson was necessarily the leader. I shall probably surprise you by saying that, in conversation, he reminded me of Dr. Freeman. He has the same discursive manner and love of paradox, with the same appearance of sobriety and cool reason. He seems equally fond of American antiquities, and especially the antiquities of his native State, and talks of them with freedom and, I suppose, accuracy. He has, too, the appearance of that fairness and simplicity which Dr. Freeman has; and, if the parallel holds no further here, they will again meet on the ground of their love of old books and young society.

On Sunday morning, after breakfast, Mr. Jefferson asked me into his library, and there I spent the forenoon of that day as I had that of yesterday. This collection of books, now so much talked about, consists of about seven thousand volumes, contained in a suite of fine rooms, and is arranged in the catalogue, and on the shelves, according to the divisions and subdivisions of human learning by Lord Bacon. In so short a time I could not, of course, estimate its value, even if I had been competent to do so.

Perhaps the most curious single specimen—or, at least, the most characteristic of the man and expressive of his hatred of royalty—was a collection which he had bound up in six volumes, and lettered "The Book of Kings," consisting of the "Mémoires de la Princesse de Bareith," two volumes; "Les Mémoires de la Comtesse de la Motte," two volumes; the "Trial of the Duke of York," one volume; and "The Book," one volume. These documents of regal scandal seemed to be favourites with the philosopher, who pointed them out to me with a satisfaction somewhat inconsistent with the measured gravity he claims in relation to such subjects generally.

On Monday morning I spent a couple of hours with him in his study. He gave me there an account of the manner in which he passed the portion of his time in Europe which he could rescue from public business; told me that while he was in France he had formed a plan of going to Italy, Sicily, and Greece, and that he should have executed it if he had not left Europe in the full conviction that he should immediately return there, and find a better opportunity. He spoke of my intention to go, and, without my even hinting any purpose to ask him for letters, told me that he was now seventy-two years old, and that most of his friends and correspondents in Europe had died in the course of the twenty-seven years since he left France, but that he would gladly furnish me with the means of becoming acquainted with some of the remainder, if I would give him a month's notice, and regretted that their number was so reduced.

The afternoon and evening passed as on the two days previous; for everything is done with such regularity, that when you know how one day is filled, I suppose you know how it is with the others. At eight o'clock the first bell is rung in the great hall, and at nine the second summons you to the breakfast room, where you find everything ready. After breakfast every one goes, as inclination leads him, to his chamber, the drawing-room, or the library. The children retire to their school-room with their mother, Mr. Jefferson rides to his mils on the Rivanna, and returns at about twelve. At half-past three the great bell rings, and those who are disposed resort to the drawing-room, and the rest go to the dining-room at the second call of the bell, which is at four o'clock. The dinner was always choice, and served in the French style; but no wine was set on the table till the cloth was removed. The ladies sat until about six, then retired, but returned with the tea-tray a little before seven, and spent the evening with the gentlemen; which was always pleasant, for they are obviously accustomed to join in the conversation, however high the topic may be. At about half-past ten, which seemed to be their usual hour of retiring, I went to my chamber, found there a fire, candle, and a servant in waiting to receive my orders for the morning, and in the morning was waked by his return to build the fire.

To-day, Tuesday, we told Mr. Jefferson that we should leave Monticello in the afternoon. He seemed much surprised, and said as much as politeness would permit on the badness of the roads and the prospect of bad weather, to induce us to remain longer. It was evident, I thought, that they had calculated on our staying a week. At dinner, Mr. Jefferson again urged us to stay, not in an oppressive way, but with kind politeness; and when the horses were at the door, asked if he should not send them away; but, as he found us resolved on going, he bade us farewell in the heartiest style of Southern hospitality, after thrice reminding me that I must write to him for letters to his friends in Europe. I came away almost regretting that the coach returned so soon, and thinking, with General Hamilton, that he was a perfect gentleman in his own house.

Two little incidents which occurred while we were at Monticello should not be passed by. The night before we left, young Randolph came up late from Charlottesville and brought the astounding news that the English had been defeated before New Orleans by General Jackson. Mr. Jefferson had made up his mind that the city would fall, and told me that the English would hold it permanently—or for some time—by a force of Sepoys from the East Indies. He had gone to bed, like the rest of us; but of course his grandson went to his chamber with the paper containing the news. But the old philosopher refused to open his door, saying he could wait till the morning; and when we met at breakfast I found he had not yet seen it.

One morning, when he came back from his ride, he told Mr. Randolph, very quietly, that the dam had been carried away the night before. From his manner, I supposed it an affair of small consequence, but at Charlottesville, on my way to Richmond, I found the country ringing with it. Mr. Jefferson's great dam was gone, and it would cost $30,000 to rebuild it.

There is a breathing of national philosophy in Mr. Jefferson,—in his dress, his house, his conversation. His setness, for instance, in wearing very sharp-toed shoes, corduroy small-clothes, and red plush waistcoat, which have been laughed at till he might perhaps wisely have dismissed them.
So, though he told me he thought Charron, "De la Sagesse," the best treatise on moral philosophy ever written, and an obscure Review of Montesquieu, by Dupont de Nemours, the best political work that had been printed for fifty years,—though he talked very freely of the natural impossibility that one generation should bind another to pay a public debt, and of the expediency of vesting all the legislative authority of a State in one branch, and the executive authority in another, and leaving them to govern it by joint discretion,—I considered such opinions simply as curious indicia of an extraordinary character.

Francis Calley Gray Journal, February 1815

[...] On Saturday [4 February] it rained & at twelve o'clock we went from our tavern in a hack to Monticello, three miles east of Charlottesville on the same road we had passed on the day before. Our road passed between Monticello & the S.W. mountain which is much higher & along whose side runs the narrow path which led us between these hills to the gate on the S.E. side of Monticello. The sides of both these hills & the valley between them are covered with a noble forest of oaks in all stages of growth & of decay. Their trunks straight & tall put forth no branches till they reach a height almost equal to the summits of our loftiest trees in New England. Those which were rooted in the valley, in the richest soil overtopped many which sprung from spots far above them on the side of the mountain. The forest had evidently been abandoned to nature; some of the trees were decaying from age, some were blasted, some uprooted by the wind & some appeared even to have been twisted from their trunks by the violence of a hurricane. They rendered the approach to the house even at this season of the year extremely grand & imposing. On reaching the house we found no bell nor knocker & entering through the hall in the parlour, saw a gentleman (Col. Randolph), who took our letters to Mr. Jefferson.

Mr. Jefferson soon made his appearance. He is quite tall, 6 feet, one or two inches, face streaked & speckled with red, light gray eyes, white hair, dressed in shoes of very thin soft leather with pointed toes and heels ascending in a peak behind, with very short quarters, grey worsted stockings, corduroy small clothes, blue waistcoat & coat, of stiff thick cloth made of the wool of his own merinoes & badly manufactured, the buttons of his coat & small clothes of horn, & an under waistcoat flannel bound with red velvet — His figure bony, long and with broad shoulders, a true Virginian. He begged he might put up our carriage, send for our baggage & keep us with him some time. We assented & he left the room to give the necessary directions, sending as we requested the carriage back to Charlottesville. On looking round the room in which we sat the first thing which attracted our attention was the state of the chairs. They had leather bottoms stuffed with hair, but the bottoms were completely worn through & the hair sticking out in all directions; on the mantel-piece which was large & of marble were many books of all kinds: Livy, Orosius, Edinburg Review, 1 vol. of Edgeworth's Moral Tales, &c. &c. There were many miserable prints & some fine pictures hung round the room, among them two plans for the completion of the Capitol at Washington, one of them very elegant. A harpsichord stood in one corner of the room. There were four double windows from the wall to the floor of fine large glass & a recess in one side of the apartment. This was the breakfasting room. After half an hour's conversation with Mr. Jeff. & Col. Randolph, we were invited into the parlour where a fire was just kindled & a servant occupied in substituting a wooden pannel for a square of glass, which had been broken in one of the folding doors opening on the lawn. Mr. J. had procured the glass for his house in Bohemia, where the price is so much the square foot whatever be the size of the glass purchased, and these panes were so large that, unable to replace the square in this part of the country, he had been obliged to send to Boston to have some glass made of sufficient size to replace that broken, & this had not yet been received.

We passed the whole forenoon, which was rainy, in conversation with Mr. Jeff and Mr. Randolph & at 4 o'clock toddy was brought us, which neither of us took, and which was never handed again, & we were ushered back into the breakfast room to dinner, where we were introduced to Mrs. Randolph, Miss Randolph, & Mr. T. J. Randolph. The rest of the family were Mrs. Marks, a sister of Mr. Jefferson & 2 other daughters of Col. Randolph. The drinking cups were of silver marked G. W. to T. J.— the table liquors were beer & cider & after dinner wine. In the same room we took tea & at ten in the evening retired. Fires were lighted in our bedrooms and again in the morning before we rose — the beds were all in recesses.

At 15 minutes after 8, we heard the first breakfast bell & at 9, the second, whose sound assembled us in the breakfast room. We sat an hour after breakfast chatting with the ladies & then adjourned to the parlour. Mr. Jefferson gave us the catalogue of his books to examine & soon after conducted us to his library, & passed an hour there in pointing out to us its principal treasures. His collection of ancient classics was complete as to the authors, but very careless in the editions. They were generally interleaved with the best English Translations. The Ancient English authors are also all here & some very rare editions of them: a black letter Chaucer and the first of Milton's Paradise Lost, divided into ten books, were the most remarkable. A considerable number of books valuable to the Biblical critic were here, & various ancient editions of all the genuine & apocryphal books, Erasmus' edition, &c. Many of the most valuable works on the civil and maritime law & on diplomacy, together with a complete collection of the laws of the different states, those of Virginia in manuscript, & all the old elementary writers & reporters of England formed the legal library. The ancient and most distinguished modern historians render this department nearly complete, & the histories & descriptions of the Kingdoms of Asia were remarkably numerous. Rapin was here in French, though very rare in that language. Mr. Jeff. said that after all it was still the best history of England, for Hume's tory principles are to him insupportable. The best mode of counteracting their effect is, he thinks, to publish an edition of Hume expunging all those reflections & reasonings whose influence is so injurious. This has been attempted by Baxter, but he has injured the work by making other material abridgments. D'Avila was there in Italian, in Mr. J's opinion, one of the most entertaining books he ever read. I was surprised to find here two little volumes on Chronology by Count Potocki of St. Petersburg. Mr. J. has also a fine collection of Saxon & mœso Gothic books, among them Alfred's translations of Orosius and Boethius—& shewed us some attempts he had made at facilitating the study of this language. He thought the singularity of the letters one of the greatest difficulties & proposed publishing the Saxon books in four columns, the first to contain the Saxon, the second the same in Roman characters, the third a strictly verbal translation & the fourth a free one. Mr. J. said the French Dicty of Trévoux was better than that of the Academy, thought Charron's "de la Sagesse" an excellent work & brought us a commentary & review on Montesquieu published by Duane the translator from the French M.S. which he called the best book on politics which had been published for a century & agreed with its author in his opinion of Montesquieu.

Of all branches of learning however that relating to the History of North & South America is the most perfectly displayed in this library. The collection on this subject is without a question the most valuable in the world. Here are the works of all the Spanish travellers in America & the great work of De Brie in which he has collected latin translations of the smaller works published by the earliest visitors of America whose original publications are now lost. It is finely printed & adorned with many plates. Here also is a copy of the letters of Fernando Cortes in Spanish, one of a small edition, & the copy retained by the Editor the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo for himself, but given by him to the American Consul for Mr. Jefferson. This work contains the official letters of Cortes to his court, his maps of the country & plates representing the dress, armour & other contents of the treasury of the Mexican Sovereigns. We saw here also some beautiful modern M.S.S., one of [a] work which had been suppressed in France, most of the Greek Romances. — Mr. Jeff took us from his library into his bed chamber where, on a table before the fire, stood a polygraph with which he said he always wrote.

Mr. Jefferson took his accustomed ride before dinner & on his return told us that the ice was crowded & thick on the banks of the Rivanna & had carried away 30 feet of his mill-dam; this was all he said on the subject, & from his manner I supposed his loss was probably about one or two hundred dollars, but on our ride back to Richmond we heard it everywhere spoken of as a serious loss & the countrymen, some of them, even estimated it at $30,000. This to be sure must [have been] a most wonderful miscalculation, but no doubt the loss was serious.

Ticknor's letter is published in The Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor. Boston: J.R. Osgood, 1876. I:34-37. Gray's journal is published in Francis Calley Gray, Thomas Jefferson in 1814: Being an account of a visit to Monticello, Virginia (ed. Henry S. Rowe and T. Jefferson Coolidge, Jr.). Boston: The Club of Odd Volumes, 1924, pp. 65-74. Also published in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series 8:232-236. The manuscript of Gray's journal is at Duke University.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Links & Reviews

Lots to get to, so I'll dig right in:

- The Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (Inion), one of Russia's largest university libraries, was destroyed by fire on Friday. More than a million historic documents, some 15% of the collection, are believed lost. More here.

- More than 250 firefighters fought a seven-alarm blaze at a Brooklyn warehouse housing state and city government records on Saturday. The building has been called a "total loss." Among the agencies with records stored in the building were New York state courts and New York City Administration for Children's Services, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, and the Greater New York Hospital Association.

- Electrician José Manuel Fernández Castineiras has gone on trial for the 2011 theft of the Codex Calixtinus from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The Codex, plus other items and cash stolen from the cathedral, were recovered a year later in Castineiras' garage. Castineiras faces up to 15 years in jail and a large fine; his lawyers argue that a confession and video showing him stuffing cash into his pockets should be suppressed. The electrician said Tuesday that he doesn't remember confessing to the theft.

- A coffin bearing the initials "M.C." has been found during a search for the remains of Miguel de Cervantes. The decaying casket was discovered in a crypt at the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, where Cervantes is known to have been buried. The AP reports that identifying the bones as those of Cervantes may be possible, given battle wounds he is known to have suffered.

- The University of Pennsylvania has acquired more than fifty occult and alchemical manuscripts from the collection of Ralph George Algernon Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland (1728–1809).

- Scholars are making (very slow) progress on reading carbonized Herculaneum papyrus scrolls using non-destructive techniques.

- The AP ports that ISIL militants sacked libraries in the Iraqi city of Mosul last month, seizing more than 2,000 "infidel" books at the city's Central Library and burning hundreds at the University of Mosul. Archives at the Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers, the Mosul Museum, and other institutions were also reportedly ransacked.

- The University of Edinburgh's Centre for the History of the Book blog has begun a series highlighting useful books and online resources for book history students.

- The NEH and the Mellon Foundation are partnering to create open-access electronic editions of out-of-print humanities books.

- In the Jan/Feb issue of LCM, the magazine of the Library of Congress, LC archivist Cheryl Fox and Paper Conservation Section Head Holly Krueger note the long tradition of LC assisting other institutions in preserving their collections after disasters. [Warning: contains a very sad image of the New York State Library's Audubon elephant folio after the 1911 fire]

- Cornell University's hip-hop collection is going digital, Molly Karr reports for the Cornell Sun.

- In the 26 January New Yorker, Jill Lepore asks "Can the Internet be archived?"

- The Brontë Society at Haworth has acquired the mahogany writing table used by the siblings for £580,000, with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

- The Grolier Club's current exhibition on important children's literature was featured on "CBS Sunday Morning" today. Video.

- Americana Exchange has been renamed Rare Book Hub, and its monthly newsletter will now be called Rare Book Monthly.

- The woman who found the Cassady-Kerouac letter has now sued both estates and the Profiles in History auction house, seeking to quiet title to the document. Jean Spinosa maintains that her father rescued the letter, along with other materials from Golden Goose Press, when the press' proprietor closed up shop.

- The Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project has launched, featuring some 300 digitized ballads, a number of contextual essays, and more.

- BPL president Amy Ryan has been appointed the new chair of the DPLA Board of Directors.

- Sarah Hovde provides a very useful introduction to RDA at The Collation.

- New from the Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Manuscript Cookbooks Survey, a database of pre-1865 manuscript cookbooks in English. They're just getting started, but this promises to be a fascinating resource.

- The Voynich Manuscript has its day over at Manuscript Road Trip (speaking of which, the Voynich itself is currently on a road trip: it's on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library until the end of the month).

- Glenn Lafantasie writes for Salon about certain restrictions placed on papers of Robert E. Lee and his family members by their descendants.

- Catalogers in the Library of Congress Law Library recently identified a volume from Thomas Jefferson's library, long thought lost.

- New at UVA's Special Collections library, "William Blake, Visionary / Envisioning William Blake," an exhibition curated by David Whitesell.

- The new Peter Harrington Catalogue 107 includes preview videos for many of the items. [h/t John Overholt]

- Scientists are working on recovering papyrus fragments from low-quality mummy masks, Owen Jarus reports for LiveScience. Bits found so far include what may be the oldest known fragment from the Gospel of Mark, among other things. But the technique being used means that the mummy masks are destroyed in the process (and is thus somewhat controversial). The first volume of texts obtained will be published this year.

- Barbara Basbanes Richter highlights the Codex Gigas for the Fine Books Blog.

- The Grolier Club has digitized its Transactions and Gazette.

- The Bookplate Society is holding a web auction of several thousand bookplates and other items, many from the Stephanie and Brian Schofield collection of ladies' bookplates.

- Over at The Junto, Sara Georgini interviews Jeff McClurken about reviewing digital history for the JAH. Sara also interviews Richard S. Dunn about his book A Tale of Two Plantations.

- Johnson Publishing, the publisher of Ebony, is looking to sell its archive of more than five million photographs.

- Robert Pirie, well-known collector of 16th- and 17th-century English literature, died on 15 January. The NYTimes ran an obituary on 28 January.

- Sotheby's announced last week that as of 1 February buyers will pay more in premiums: now 25% on the first $200,000 of a hammer price.

- The Guardian reports on a new theory about the identify of the dedicatee of Shakespeare's Sonnets, WH: Geoffrey Caveney suggests that perhaps he can be identified as William Holme, a recently-deceased associate of the publisher.

- The Institute for English Studies has received a reprieve.

- Megan Gannon reports for LiveScience on the Sappho fragments hailed last year: Oxford papyrologist Dirk Obbink has revealed more about the provenance of the fragments in a recent paper.

- Laura Putre writes for Slate about the shortage of Pioneer Girl, a new annotated edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder's autobiography. The South Dakota State Historical Society Press initially printed 15,000 copies, but that and a second printing were exhausted almost immediately. A third print run is expected in March. Copies are selling for $50 and up on Amazon at the moment.

- From the "Oh for Pete's Sake" Department: the city of Shreveport, LA has shut down a Little Free Library, with zoning authorities saying that it is considered a commercial enterprise.

Book Reviews

- Jenny Uglow's In These Times; review by Leo Damrosch in the NYTimes.

- Benjamin Olshin's The Marco Polo Maps; review by Richard Walker in the Spectator (in which Walks asks how the University of Chicago Press could publish such a work).

- Eric Foner's Gateway to Freedom; reviews by Kevin Baker in the NYTimes and Elizabeth R. Varon in the WaPo.

- New editions of Lovecraft by Leslie Klinger and S.T. Joshi; review by Michael Dirda in the TLS.

- Molly Guptill Manning's When Books Went to War; review by Maureen Corrigan in the WaPo.