Saturday, December 31, 2016

Links & Reviews

One last roundup for 2016:

- David Barnett writes for the Independent about the enduring power of M.R. James' ghost stories.

- French publisher Le Seuil has threatened to sue the Van Gogh Museum over questions of the authenticity of several recently published Van Gogh sketches.

- A great post from Dan Hinchen at The Beehive about the wonderful things you can find when answering a reference question.

- The AAS has posted images from their Bien edition of Audubon's Birds.

- Over at Echoes from the Vault, Keelan Overton reports on her recent research on the St. Andrews Qu'ran.

- Kate De Rycker guest-posts at The Collation about her work preparing an edition of the works of Thomas Nashe.

- Rebecca Onion surveys five great digital history projects of 2016.

- Erik Kwakkel has been appointed Scaliger professor at the University of Leiden.

- The first batch of Kafka papers from the estate of Max Brod have arrived at the National Library of Israel.

- Michael Melgaard surveys the used and rare bookshops of Toronto.

- Scholars are concerned about the preservation of an extensive rare book collection at a soon-to-be-closed abbey in Altomuenster, Germany.

- PBA Galleries will offer stock from antiquarian bookseller Edwin V. Glaser in a 12 January sale.

- The January Crocodile mystery post is up at The Collation.

- I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, but pass it along: The Book As ...

- Richard Adams, author of Watership Down, died this week at the age of 96. NYTimes obituary.

- Leah Dobrinska has a "defense of marginalia" at The New Antiquarian.

- Lisa Fagin Davis posts about "training the next generation of fragmentologists" at Manuscript Road Trip. Speaking of which, Leiden University student Éloïse Ruby posts for the KB's blog about analyzing fragments from the KB collections.


- Julia Baird's Victoria the Queen; review by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes.

- Matthew Rubery's The Untold Story of the Talking Book; review by Dennis Duncan in the TLS.

Year-End Reading Report 2016

Another year over, and in the case of this one, good riddance.

I read 140 books in 2016, and here are my favorites:


Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

The Way We Live Now and the Palliser Novels by Anthony Trollope

League of Dragons by Naomi Novik


The Problem of the Missale Speciale by Allan Stevenson

Where We Lived by Jack Larkin

American Literary Publishing in the Mid-Nineteenth Century by Michael Winship

The Invisible Bridge by Rick Perlstein

The Skull Collectors by Ann Fabian

Happy New Year to you all, and good reading! I'm going to start 2017 with a re-read of one of my perennial favorites, Watership Down, in tribute to Richard Adams.

Previous year's reports: 2015201420132012201120102009200820072006.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Links & Reviews

Another busy week in the world of books!

- The Irish Times reported this week that the Jesuit Order in Ireland will sell "thousands" of rare books from its collections at Sotheby's London next summer. Some additional books and manuscripts have been deposited at the National Library of Ireland on long-term loan.

- A copy of Isaac Newton's Principia set a new auction record for a scientific book this week, selling for $3.7 at Christie's New York.

- The ISTC is now live at its new home.

- The Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand has issued a call for papers for their 2017 conference, "Connecting the Colonies: Empires and Networks in the History of the Book."

- A remarkable collection of rare books and manuscripts has been bequeathed to Trinity College, Cambridge by Mary, Duchess of Roxburghe.

- The British Library has acquired nine copper plates used to print diagrams and maps in several East India Company publications in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The plates were previously in the possession of a scrap metal dealer.

- Xinyi Ye has posted a video profile of Boston's Brattle Book Shop (one of my very favorite places, it must be said).

- The Fine Press Book Association seeks an editor for their journal, Parenthesis.

- There's a new Common-place out; it includes a Q&A with Carla Mulford about her recent literary biography of Benjamin Franklin, and John Garcia on print culture and popular history during the Mexican War, among other interesting pieces.

- Video of Matthew Kirschenbaum's 2016 Fales Lecture, "Bookish Media," is now available online.

- Bookbinder Michael Chrisman has been sentenced to twenty-one months in jail after defrauding a business partner; Chrisman had promised to bind seventy facsimile Gutenberg Bibles, but instead sent false invoices and used the funds for personal expenses. Chrisman was also ordered to pay some $483,000 in restitution.

- Registration is now open for the "Bibliography Among the Disciplines" conference in October 2017.

- The University of Michigan Special Collections have completed an eight-year project to digitize Islamic manuscripts from the collections.

- AbeBooks have posted their top sales of 2016.

- Mark Boonshoft writes for the NYPL blog about literary politics in 1790s New York City.

- Caroline Duroselle-Melish posts about sophistications in the First Folio over at The Collation, while Elizabeth DeBold explores explores "The Mysterious Case of Folger First Folio 33."


- Joanne Limburg's A Want of Kindness; review by Katharine Grant in the NYTimes.

- Matthew Rubery's The Untold Story of the Talking Book; review by Kevin Canfield in the WaPo.

- Boston's "Beyond Words" exhibition; review by Jane Whitehead at West 86th.

- Caroline Winterer's American Enlightenments; review by Benjamin Park at Professor Park's Blog.

No Upcoming Auctions

Happy holidays, good cheer, and good books to one and all!

Recent Reads

Just a few stray thoughts on some recent reads. I'll have another of these posts before the end of the year.

Ben Winters' "The Last Policeman" trilogy was good, but he takes it to the next level with Underground Airlines. Set in an alternate America where the Civil War never happened and slave culture clings on in four southern states, Winters' tale is chock full of slightly-twisted historical threads - like any good counterfactual, it explores what might easily have been had things gone just a bit differently. It's uncomfortable, chilling, heartbreaking ... and it deserves a wide audience.

Rick Perlstein's third volume of narrative political history, The Invisible Bridge covers the tumultuous years between Nixon's reelection and the 1976 Republican convention. A straight-up chronicle of these years in politics would probably be an interesting enough read, but as in the previous volumes, Perlstein deftly brings in the cultural contexts surrounding the political news of the day. This, combined with Perlstein's lively writing style and his great skill at sussing out the stories behind the headlines, makes this another excellent read.

My first foray into the magical world of Dorothy Dunnett. I found The Game of Kings a tough go at first (even, for a few nights, a book sure to send me to sleep after just a couple pages), but once I got into the rhythm of the thing, I was off and running. Not the sort of book you can read without giving it your full attention, since it's full of intricate plot threads that are easily lost and hard to locate again, but full of great historical detail, rich wordplay, and moments of pure comic genius.

First published in 1771 as L'An 2440, the title of Louis-Sebastien Mercier's utopian fantasy was edited to Memoirs of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred when William Hooper's English translation was published at Philadelphia in 1795. This change was made simply "for the sake of a round number," according to the "Advertisement" preceding the text, as "there appears no reason for fixing it to any particular year." Extremely popular in its day (it is one of the books profiled by Robert Darnton in his The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France), the book employs many of what we now think of as typical utopian tropes: man wakes up and finds himself hundreds of years in the future, and spends an incredulous day walking around learning how things are done, and wakes up at the end to find it'd all been a dream. But, as Darnton points out, Mercier's work was one of the first to use these techniques, which were entirely fresh and new to his original readers. There's not much plot at all: the narrator is simply guided from place to place, learning how people are clothed, fed, educated, governed, &c. in the very Rousseau-ian society of far-future France. I found it a somewhat intriguing window into the historical moment, but unless you've got a real soft spot for utopian fiction, probably safe to give this one a miss.

After reading Keith Houston's book on punctuation several years ago, Shady Characters, I have been looking forward to his new one, The Book, with much anticipation. It didn't disappoint: it is a nicely-produced and well-written history of the book. Basic, but lively and chock full of interesting tidbits. Well done to Norton for lavishing so much attention on the design.

Dave Eggers' The Circle is a dark satirical look at a society where (most) people happily give themselves over to an all-consuming online presence ("The Circle"), with dramatic consequences. It's not exactly subtle, but for all the heavy-handedness, many (if not all) elements of the plot seem all-too-creepily plausible.

I really enjoyed Nancy Marie Brown's The Ivory Vikings, which provides an in-depth look at the Lewis Chessmen and their cultural context. There's a bit of speculation and a small amount of padding here (see the subtitle, "The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them"), but overall I was completely drawn into Brown's wide-ranging narrative, and even the speculation is carefully done and well explained.

Mutiny on the Bounty (the original version, but Charles Nordhoff and James Normal Hall) is one of those books that somehow managed to seep into my consciousness without ever actually having read it. I'm sure I saw one of the movie versions at some point, which gave me the basic outline of the plot. But that bare-bones version of the story that I thought I knew doesn't hold a candle to the actual novel, which is rich, riveting, and extremely well told. When I picked it up I didn't think it would be one of those books I had a difficult time putting down, but I very nearly read it all in one sitting.

I reread Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell this summer in advance of watching the BBC adaptation of the novel, and was extremely glad I did. It had been at least ten years since I read the whole thing, and I definitely needed a refresher. The book was just as good as I remembered it, and I was also extremely happy with the adaptation.

Marc Hartzman's The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell: A Memoir is pretty much precisely what the title suggests: a memoir narrated by a decapitated head. Weird, yes, but Hartzman has done his research and manages to tell the story of the afterlives of Cromwell's head in a surprisingly vivid way. Would it have worked just as well as a series of narrative vignettes without the fictional component? For me, yes, since I enjoy books like that, but perhaps not for others. A worthwhile experiment!

Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea Quartet was one of those those series that, once I started reading, I couldn't believe I'd waited so long. "The Tombs of Atuan" was by far my favorite, but I liked the others too.

Colin Dickey always comes up with fascinating topics for his books, and Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places is no exception. As he writes at the outset, Dickey is concerned with the following question: "how do we deal with stories about the dead and their ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed haunted?" Drawing on several years' worth of observations from around the country, from famous haunted places to locations you've probably never heard of, Dickey deftly searches for the nuggets of truth at the heart of the ghost stories we tell ... and also for why we tell those stories.

Trollope's The Way We Live Now: darker than the Barsetshire books, but with the same way of getting at the humanity of his characters. Delightfully complex, wickedly funny - it may look like a long read, but the time just flies right by.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Over at the Houghton Library blog, "Footprints of a Bibliographical Ghost."

- An ivory cup-and-ball toy from the family of Jane Austen will be sold at Sotheby's London on Tuesday.

- The Harry Ransom Center has acquired some 180 books from the library of Gabriel García Márquez.

- From Heather Wolfe at The Collation, a look at scissor impressions left behind in early modern books.

 - The NARA blog had a really fascinating post this week about how the Archives responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

- The Times ran an obituary of Martin Stone this week.

- A new exhibition at the National Library of Scotland features early photographically-illustrated books relating to Scotland.

- Abby Schoolman gets the "Bright Young Booksellers" spotlight this week.

- The BPL's Collections of Distinction blog highlights a ~1460 Strasbourg bible from the BPL collections, recently conserved and digitized.

- Swann sold two uncolored plates from Audubon's Birds of America this week.

- Lew Jaffe's post this week at Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie includes a query from another bookplate collector who is seeking dated English bookplates from particular years.

- The team working on building a replica common press at RIT has posted an update on their progress.

- Janice Hansen posts about examples of "mummy printing" (it's not what you think) in the UNC Chapel Hill rare book collections.

- Rebecca Romney offers a primer (treasure map?) on collecting books about pirates.

- R. M. Healey looks back at Bishop Richard de Bury (of Philobiblon fame) at Jot101.

- The Princeton Graphic Arts blog explores a rare print showing the interior of Paris's famed Lemercier lithography firm.

- Danuta Kean reports for the Guardian on what has been a truly terrible year for library funding in the UK.

- Kurt at American Book Collecting highlights a few of the association copies of Rosenbach's Unpublishable Memoirs from his collection.

- Jane Rickard writes for the Huntington Library's blog about evidence of early readership in Ben Jonson's Works.

- The Archives Hub team has posted a basic outline of their updated interface.


- Elaine Scarry's Naming Thy Name; review by Matthew Harrison in the LARB.

- Matthew Kirschenbaum's Track Changes; review by Tim Groenland in the Dublin Review of Books.

- Yale's new edition of the Voynich Manuscript; review by Toby Lester in the WSJ.

Upcoming Auctions

- English Literature, History, Children's Books and Illustrations at Sotheby's London, 13 December

- Rare Books, Early Photographs, Manuscripts, Maps and Paintings at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers (Dublin), 13 December

- Printed Books, Maps, and Documents at Dominic Winter Auctioneers (Cirencester), 14 December

- Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, including Americana at Christie's New York, 14 December

- Books, Photographs and Other Works on Paper at Bloomsbury, 15 December

- Americana, Travel & Exploration, World History and Cartography at PBA Galleries, 15 December

- Important Judaica at Sotheby's New York, 15 December

- Fine and Valuable Books at Bibliopathos (Milan), 15 December

- Bibliothèque d'un amateur at Pierre Bergé & Associes (Paris), 16 December

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Links & Reviews

Somehow it's December already.

- The Library of Congress has signed on as a "content hub partner" with the DPLA.

- The Bute Hours will be offered on Tuesday at Sotheby's London.

- Josephine Livingstone writes on "The Unsolvable Mysteries of the Voynich Manuscript" for the New Yorker Page-Turner blog.

- The Internet Archive is working on building a complete copy of its holdings in Canada.

- Simon Beattie's turned up a fascinating book: an 1858 selection of music for a Merseyside church. An inserted printed slip from the compiler faults the printers for their "slovenly work and bad printing."

- Nate Pedersen checks back in with Zoe Abrams for the "Bright Young Booksellers" series.

- December's Rare Book Monthly articles include a piece by Eric Caren on what's next for him, Michael Stillman on the unconventional sale of books from Newcastle Central Library, and another nice find by Bruce McKinney.

- Stephen Greenberg writes for the NLM blog about a new book in sheets acquisition.

- Caleb Kiffer writes for the Swann blog about a previously unknown first state of de Wit's map of the Netherlands; the map will be on the block at their 8 December sale.

- Egyptian media report that 43 boxes of books and manuscripts were seized at Cairo airport; some appeared to have been stolen from the Al-Azhar University library.

- Over at The New Antiquarian, John Schulman muses about bookseller retirements.

- Lauren Young covers bibliomania for Atlas Obscura, and the Princeton Graphic Arts blog takes a look at an early response to Dibdin, Beresford's Bibliosophia.

- Mark Peters writes about the new online version of Green's Dictionary of Slang for the Boston Globe.

- A poem copied out by Anne Frank shortly before her family went into hiding from the Nazis sold at auction last week for €140,000, while the gun used by Paul Verlaine to wound Arthur Rimbaud fetched €434,000.

- Also from the Princeton Graphic Arts blog, a look at a newly-acquired collection of twenty printed and manuscript dinner bills from ~1780–1830.

- The Telegraph ran an obituary of book scout Martin Stone.

- Sid Berger talked to Rebecca Rego Barry about his Dictionary of the Book (Rowman and Littlefield) for the Fine Books Blog.

- A Beethoven manuscript which came in for a bit of pre-sale dispute failed to sell at Sotheby's London on 29 November; at the same sale, the manuscript of Mahler's second symphony set a new record for a music manuscript, selling for £5.4 million.

- Letters documenting the end of author Robert Louis Stevenson's life have been secured for the National Library of Scotland.

- "A Curious Cutting" at Medieval Manuscript Questions.

- From the Michigan State University Libraries conservation lab blog, a look at a neat technique for keeping pamphlets together.

- The ABAA recently approved seven new members: congratulations to all!


- Yale's new edition of the Voynich Manuscript; review by Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed.

- Sarah Gristwood's Game of Queens; review by Sarah Dunant in the NYTimes.

- David Welky's A Wretched and Precarious Situation; review by Sara Wheeler in the NYTimes.

- Laura Miller's Literary Wonderlands; review by Andrew Sean Greer in the NYTimes.

- Graeme McCrae Burnet's His Bloody Project; review by Steph Cha in the LATimes.

Upcoming Auctions of Note

- Livres rares et manuscrits du XVe au XXe siècle at Christie's Paris, 5 December

- The Bible Collection of Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie at Sotheby's New York, 5 December

- Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at Sotheby's London, 6 December

- Fine Books & Manuscripts including Americana at Sotheby's New York, 6 December

- Western and Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures at Bloomsbury London, 7 December

- Livres anciens et modernes précieux et curieux, 1490–1837 at Binoche et Giquello Paris, 7 December

- History of Science and Technology at Bonhams New York, 7 December

- Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books at Swann Galleries, 8 December

- The Library of the late David Harrison: 17th-19th Century Literature and the Arts at Forum Auctions London, 8 December

- Miniature Books: Rico Onuma Memorial Auction from Lilliput Oval Saloon, Owned by Kazushige Onuma, Tokyo. Part II at PBA Galleries, 8 December

- American Revolution Documents, Arms and Relics at Alexander Historical Auctions, 10 December

- Books, Art and Ephemera at National Book Auctions, 10 December

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Daniel J. Leab, publisher of American Book Prices Current, editor, professor, and historian, died this week at the age of 80. As John Overholt wrote on the RBMS list, "The Leabs’ vision and commitment in establishing the Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab American Book Prices Current Exhibitions Awards has enriched the professional lives of the RBMS community in wide-ranging and innumerable ways since its inception. He will be deeply missed." My sincere condolences to his family.

- Now on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library, all eighteen copies (plus understudy) of the First Folio that have been traveling around the country this year. This is the largest-ever public display of First Folios at a single venue. The show will be up until 22 January.

- Original electrotype blocks used for the illustrations in Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass will be sold at Christie's on 1 December.

- ILAB has posted an interview with new ILAB president Gonzalo Pontes.

- The oldest-known version of the Ten Commandments on a stone tablet (dated to 300–500 CE), previously in the collections of the Living Torah Museum, sold at auction this week for $850,000 at Heritage Auctions; the sale came with a provision that the tablet must be put on public display.

- Arthur Fournier gets the "Bright Young Booksellers" treatment at FB&C.

- Matt Gallatin writes for the Michigan Daily about Motte & Bailey Booksellers of Ann Arbor.

- Sammy Hudes reports for the Star on the Leonard Cohen archives, housed at the University of Toronto's Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.


- James Stourton's Kenneth Clark; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Ruth Scurr's John Aubrey, My Own Life; review by Jeffrey Collins in the WSJ.

Upcoming Auctions

- Rare Books at Ketterer Kunst, 21–22 November

- The Chicago World's Fair, Columbian Exposition 1893 at Gray's, 21 November

- Rare Books, Autographs, Maps & Photographs (including books from the Library of the Explorers Club) at Doyle New York, 22 November

- Music and Continental Books & Manuscripts at Sotheby's London, 29 November

- The Giancarlo Beltrame Collection of Scientific Books, Part II at Christie's London, 30 November

- Fine Books and Manuscripts at Chiswick Auctions, 30 November

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Links & Reviews

- From Jason Rhody, "How to Fight for Federal Support of Cultural Research and Why It Matters."

- Another round of sales from Pierre Bergé's library was held in Paris on 8–9 November, resulting in total sales of €4.8 million. A Flaubert travel diary attracted much pre-sale attention, including coverage in the Guardian (it sold for nearly €540,000).

- November's Rare Book Monthly articles include a profile of map dealer Barry Ruderman, a tribute to Bob Fleck, and a report on the guilty verdict in Michael Danaher's trial for the murder of bookseller Adrian Greenwood. More on the latter from the BBC.

- Wayne Wiegand writes for Inside Higher Ed about how contemporary LIS "research" has shortchanged libraries.

- Some important job searches: AAS is hiring an Associate Librarian, UVA seeks an Associate University Librarian for Special Collections & Archives, and the BPL is looking for a Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian.

- Newly launched, EMoBookTrade, which looks quite interesting indeed.

- A task force at MIT has issued a preliminary "Future of Libraries" report, which "contains general recommendations intended to develop 'a global library for a global university,' while strengthening the library system’s relationship with the local academic community and public sphere."

- Vic Zoschak looks back at this year's Boston Book Fair.

- The ABAA's Women in Bookselling Initiative launched in Boston during the fair.

- Rick Russack offers a review of the events around the book fair for Antiques and the Arts Weekly.

- The University of Chicago has digitized 68 Biblical manuscripts from the Edgar J. Goodspeed Manuscript Collection.

- Several major US and UK institutions have agreed to cooperate in the digitization of the papers of George III.

- Watch a talk by Tom Mole, "Scott in Stone: The Scott Monument in the Victorian Pantheon," delivered to the Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club.

- A first edition of the first Harry Potter book sold for £35,000 this week.

- Based on some fairly tangled legal reasoning, a Connecticut judge ordered that 252 disputed books from Maurice Sendak's estate will go to the author's estate, with another 88 going to the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Both sides may appeal. More coverage from Smithsonian and the NYTimes.

- Author Philip Roth is donating his 4,000-volume library to the Newark Public Library.

- Damage to a nearby building from a massive earthquake has closed the National Library of New Zealand for the time being.

- Tom Brokaw's papers and archive will go to the University of Iowa.

- At The Taper, Brandon Butler posts about the recent goings-on at the Copyright Office.

- The Portland Press Herald interviews Don Lindgren of Rabelais.

- One of 145 manuscripts stolen in 1985 from the Biblioteca Passerini-Landi in Piacenza was recovered after being spotted for sale online. More than half of the other manuscripts have also been recovered over the years. More from the BBC.

- Book scout Martin Stone has died. More from Bookride.

- Chicago's Lutheran School of Theology has returned a 9th-century New Testament to the Greek Orthodox Church.

- From Stephanie Kingsley in Perspectives, a "quick study" on book history.

- Rob Koehler writes for the JHIBlog on novel-reading in the early republic.

- Watch a time-lapse video of 52,000 books being reshelved in the NYPL's Rose Main Reading Room.

- Seven volumes missing from the London Library since the 1950s were recently returned after being found during an estate appraisal.

- The Watkinson Library has acquired an 1839 Audubon letter to Robert Havell.

- Stephanie Jamieson writes for the NLS blog about identifying platinotype photographs.

- Bookseller Ken Karmiole has given $100,000 to the Book Club of California to endow a lecture series in the history of the book trade in California and the West.

- Éditions des Saints Pères is publishing a limited facsimile edition of the manuscript of Jane Eyre, with illustrations by Edmund Garrett.

- Gregory Schneider reports for the WaPo about the State Library of Virginia's efforts to collect and scan Civil War documents from family collections across the commonwealth. Wonderful story.

- The director of Moscow's Library of Ukrainian Literature has been put on trial for "inciting ethnic hatred against Russians" (i.e. "disseminating banned literature classed as extremist"). Natalia Sharina is also charged with embezzling library funds; she maintains that all charges are politically motivated.

- The OUP blog features an essay by New Oxford Shakespeare editor Gary Taylor on Shakespeare's collaborators.

- National Geographic reports on Robert Berlo's important collection of more than 12,000 road maps.

- The second part of Gordon Hollis' "Book Collecting in the United States" series is up on the ABAA blog. Part One.

- Joel Fry, curator at Bartram's Garden, is seeking information on copies of the first edition of John Bartram's Travels (Philadelphia, 1791) for an ongoing census.

- The DPLA's Archival Description Working Group has released a new whitepaper on aggregating and representing archival collections.

- One of the most amusing library blog posts in a long time: "A Raven Named Sir Nevermore?"


- The Morgan Library's Charlotte Brontë exhibition; review by Francine Prose in the NYRB.

- Anne Trubek's The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting; review by Lucy Ferriss at Lingua Franca.

- Frances Wilson's Guilty Thing; review by John Sutherland in the NYTimes.

- David Skal's Something in the Blood; review by Jason Zinoman in the NYTimes.

- John Crowley's new edition of The Chemical Wedding by Christian Rosencreutz: A Romance in Eight Days by Johann Valentin Andreae; review by Peter Bebergal for the New Yorker's Page-Turner blog.

- John Simpson's The Word Detective and John McWhorter's Words on the Move; review by Lynne Truss in the NYTimes.

- Colin Dickey's Ghostland; review by Rachel Monroe in the LARB.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Links & Reviews

- The American Antiquarian Society has unveiled plans for a three-story, 7,000-square foot addition to Antiquarian Hall. See the September Almanac for details.

- Over on the OUP blog, Cóilín Parsons writes on "Big data in the nineteenth century."

- At The New Antiquarian, an "In Memoriam" post for bookseller David Holmes, and Rich Rennicks offers up "Ten Reasons to Attend the Boston Book Fair."

- From Mark Oppenheimer on the New Yorker's Page Turner blog, "The Lost Virtue of Cursive."

- Rare Books Digest offers an analysis of the second- and third-quarter book auctions.

- Alison Flood reports for the Guardian about a House of Lords debate this week in which numerous peers criticized the Government for cuts to libraries over the last several years.

- It's that time again: Megan Rosenbloom writes about anthropodermic bindings for Lapham's Quarterly.

- Hay-on-Wye, perhaps the most famous "book town" in the world, could lose its public library, the BBC reports.

- Florence Fearrington has given $5 million to the Wilson Special Collections Library at UNC Chapel Hill.

- Phoenix Alexander writes for the Beinecke's blog about an apparently unrecorded pamphlet found during cataloging of a large collection of slavery tracts.

- I'm not at all just how newsy this is, but the Washington Post reported this week on analyses of the manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence which suggest that twentieth-century conservation efforts may have caused damage to the manuscript.

- The Museum of London has acquired a manuscript account of a January 1667 report to the House of Commons by Sir Robert Brooks, chairman of the committee charged with investigating the origins of the Great Fire of London.

- Book collector Howard Knohl, a selection from whose collection will be sold at Sotheby's this week, is profiled in the Orange County Times.


- Richard Holmes' This Long Pursuit; review by Daisy Hay in the Guardian.

- Ronald C. White's American Ulysses; review by T.J. Stiles in the NYTimes.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair (and given the weather reports, it sounds like they picked the right weekend for it!). Kate Mitas has a writeup for the Tavistock Books blog. Good venue, decent crowds, and as always a real delight to be among friends from around the biblio-community.

- As Boston approaches, Rich Rennicks has a posted on the ABAA blog offering advice on attending your first book fair.

- Speaking of Boston, the ABAA-RBS seminar series on Thursday, 27 October (right before the fair) still has some spaces available. If you'll be in the area and are interested in a concentrated day of bookish seminars, please join us!

- I missed this announcement in early August: the Berger-Cloonan collection of decorated papers has been acquired by Texas A&M.

- Gavriel Hundiashvili has been charged with the theft of two rare books from the PRPH Books in Manhattan, and has reportedly confessed both to the theft and to mailing the books to the police in September.

- See also, from the NYTimes, Sarah Maslin Nir's piece on rare book theft and booksellers' efforts to combat it.

- The BL and BNF are working on a joint project to digitized some 800 manuscripts from before 1200 CE. Please see Dot Porter's response to this announcement.

- Conservators Frank Mowery and Sonja Jordan-Mowery are profiled in the Lakeland Ledger.

- New letters by Sir Peyton Skipwith at William & Mary's Swem Library include one in which Skipwith mentions his wife Jean's "small, but well-chosen library." (See the library here).

- Matthew Carter will deliver APHA's Lieberman Lecture on 3 December at the Museum of Printing in Haverhill, MA.

- Items from the collection of the Great Evanion (Harry Evans) will go on display at the British Library this week.

- PBA Galleries will sell an extensive archive of Civil War letters this week.

- The NYPL is digitizing its collection of New York city directories from 1786 through 1922/3. Good background and context on the project in the linked post.

- Arizona State University has acquired the Robert A. Lawler collection of sixteenth-century English literature.

- New from Cambridge: Fleuron: A Database of Eighteenth-Century Printers' Ornaments.

- There's a new exhibition on rare book provenance at the University of Adelaide.

- Michael Danaher is currently on trial in Oxford Crown Court for the April murder of rare book dealer Adrian Greenwood. Prosecutors claim the murder was "part of an attempt" to steal a first edition of The Wind in the Willows. The book was found in Danaher's house, along with lists of "people of means" the defendant allegedly planned to kidnap or rob.

- Jonathon Green's Dictionary of Slang is now available online.

- Over at The Collation, Abbie Weinberg and Elizabeth DeBold take a look at the "other" First Folio (Jonson's Workes), published four hundred years ago.

- Ben Cort writes for the Harvard Crimson about a project to digitize Native American petitions in the collections of the Massachusetts State Archives.

- Atlas Obscura visits the hidden apartments inside the NYPL's branch libraries.

- The National Library of Israel has acquired a collection of manuscripts related to the Silk Road.

- From Bookhunter on Safari, a profile of Clara Millard, "the most successful book-huntress in the world."

- More Rare Books of Instagram on the Fine Books Blog.

- Google and Monotype have launched Noto, an open-source typeface family designed to be used for any language.

- Sotheby's will sell the Bible collection of Charles Ryrie in December.

- John Pipkin writes for Lithub about bookseller James Lackington and his Temple of the Muses bookshop.


- Zara Anishanslin's Portrait of a Woman in Silk; review by Alyssa Zuercher Reichardt at The Junto.

- Shakespeare & Company, Paris (edited by Krista Halverson); review by Frances Spalding in the Guardian.

- Corey Mead's Angelic Music; review by Eugenia Zukerman in the WaPo.

- Alan Taylor's American Revolutions; review by Louisa Thomas in the WaPo.

- Colin Dickey's Ghostland; review by Tom Zoellner in the LATimes.

- The current Grolier Club exhibition, "The Centaur Turns One Hundred"; review by Allison Meier at Hyperallergic.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Links & Reviews

A warning: timing on these posts may be wonky for the next month or so, as I've got a heavy travel schedule; I'll try to keep up with things and will post when I can.

- Oak Knoll Fest XIX this past weekend seemed a grand success: excellent panel discussions and lectures, a very well-attended fine press showcase, and some unbeatable sales at Oak Knoll Books. I know I'm not alone in looking forward to the next one!

- The Seattle Antiquarian Book Fair is coming up this weekend, and the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair will be held from 28 to 30 October.

- The ABAA reports the theft of "a number of maps and prints focused on Arctic Exploration, Ethnography, and Circumpolar Navigation" from Juneau, Alaska.

- Christopher de Hamel's Guardian piece about the potential identification of a psalter as once belonging to St. Thomas Becket is a must-read.

- From Eureka Books, a good rundown of the consequences of a new California law governing the sale of autographed books and artwork.

- Jay Moschella writes for the BPL's Collections of Distinction blog about a forged Shakespeare signature. Also see his previous post on the 1598 Richard II quarto.

- From Don Skemer at Princeton, an overview of the library's holdings of William Henry Ireland's Shakespeare forgeries.

- John Lancaster posted on ExLibris on behalf of Elly Cockx-Indestege, who is looking for books from the collection of the 8th Duke of Arenberg. See the post for images of the relevant provenance marks.

- There's a survey (open until 1 November) asking "What I Did Not Learn in Library School" - if it applies, you might consider helping out the researchers. See this post for more details.

- A new exhibition at Trinity College's Watkinson Library celebrates the library's 150th anniversary.

- The catalog of Yale Law Library's current exhibition, "Representing the Law in the Most Serene Republic: Images of Authority from Renaissance Venice" is now available as a PDF, and a selection of photos from the show are up on Flickr.

- Sotheby's posts about a Lewis Carroll manuscript coming up for sale later this month which includes a list of friends the author intended to receive copies of his 1890 work The Nursery of Alice.

- October's Rare Books Monthly articles are up: they include a profile of bookseller Kurt Sanftleben.

- Lew Jaffe has posted a number of interesting bookplates he's willing to exchange for others not currently represented in his collection.

- has introduced a new "Collections" section, themed lists curated by member booksellers.

- See a video about the University of Iowa Center for the Book's attempt to make 2,000 sheets of chancery paper in a single day

- Rich Rennicks posts for The New Antiquarian about the "wordless novels" of Lynd Ward.

- Over at The Junto, Joe Adelman proposes a massive but very useful resource on how the Bible was used and interpreted in early America.

- A major Poe exhibition opens this week at John Hopkins' Peabody Library.

- Sarah Werner posts on "researching while unaffiliated."

- Heywood Hill is running a Library Lifetime Prize Draw: tell them the book that has meant the most to you, and you could win a book a month, for life!

- Christie's profiles Glenn Horowitz.

- Christopher Minty talks to Carolle Morini of the Boston Athenaeum at The Junto.

- For their "Mystery Monday" post, the folks at the Provenance Online Project have a monogram bookplate for us to puzzle out.

- Lisa Fagin Davis posts on Manuscript Road Trip about the ongoing Beyond Words exhibition in Boston. More on this on the Fine Books Blog.

- There's a Vandercook SP-20 that could be yours ... and Josef Beery has developed a new tabletop letterpress, the Book Beetle (see the video).

- A new exhibition at the V&A explores David Garrick as a book collector.


- Krista Halverson's Shakespeare and Company, Paris; review in The Economist.

- Elizabeth Yale's Sociable Knowledge; review by Katherine Walker for the British Society for Literature and Science.

- Ruth Franklin's Shirley Jackson; reviews by Elaine Showalter in the WaPo and Scott Bradfield in the LATimes.

- Mark Kurlansky's Paper and Keith Houston's The Book; review by Dennis Duncan in the TLS.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Links & Reviews

The world lost a true bookman of the highest order on Thursday. Through his bookselling and publishing firms Oak Knoll Books & Press, Bob Fleck labored tirelessly over the last forty years to make important works of bibliographical and book-historical scholarship available to readers, scholars, and collectors. I always enjoyed talking to Bob at book fairs and other places where our paths crossed; he usually had an interesting book or two to show me, and was unfailingly encouraging to me as a young collector of the sorts of books he liked and published. I send my heartfelt condolences to his family and his colleagues. He will be much missed.

- Tributes to Bob Fleck from Jim Hinck at vialibri, Nevine Marchiset at ILAB (with additional submissions from booksellers around the world), and Rich Rennicks on the ABAA blog. John Schulman of ABAA announced on Friday that "All are invited to send memorials, testimonials, anecdotes, etc., about Bob Fleck, to the editor of the ABAA website, Rich Rennicks. His email is We hope to compile these and publish them on the website."

- See also: Jane Rodgers Siegel's remarks at the awarding of the 2008 APHA Institutional Award for Distinguished Achievement in Printing History to Oak Knoll Press and Nevine Marchiset's post about his receipt of the ILAB Medal last fall.

- The online catalog for Boston's Beyond Words exhibition is now available. I'm very much looking forward to seeing at least portions of the show when I'm up there in October.

- Daryl Green has a farewell post at Echoes from the Vault; in October he takes up the reins as College Librarian at Magdalen College, Oxford.

- Scientists have "virtually unwrapped" the charred En-Gedi scroll, known as "the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls."

- Isaac Newton's library is under consideration this week at the Provenance Online Project blog.

- Gordon Rugg has published a new paper offering more evidence that the Voynich Manuscript's text may be an elaborate hoax. See Science Alert, New Scientist.

- Jerry Morris writes at My Sentimental Library about his (very collaborative) work reconstructing Boswell's library on LibraryThing.

- From the Getty's Iris blog, "A Day in the Life of a Digitization Expert."

- Staff at the University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections have identified a Bible once belonging to theologian John Knox.

- Nate Pedersen has begun a new series on the Fine Books Blog, Rare Books on Instagram.

- Now on display at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia, "The Art of Ownership: Bookplates and Book Collectors from 1480 to the Present."

- From Sarah's Books, "a reasonable number of books," about the process of book-sorting.

- Scotland's Iona Cathedral Trust has received a £100,000 grant to support conservation and cataloging for the library at Iona Abbey.

- Three short stories by Georgette Heyer will be republished next month.

- The Medieval Manuscripts Provenance blog has been posting images of several manuscript leaves and cuttings stolen from a private collection in London.

- Christoph Irmscher posts about a somewhat mysterious page in an Audubon ledger now at the Lilly Library.

- Princeton's Graphic Arts collection announced the recent acquisition of a tiny 1636 Protestant psalter printed at Sedan.

- From the "This is New York" blog, see a video of the NYPL's new "book train" system in action.

- The librarian known as the "world's oldest" has reopened in Fez after a lengthy renovation process.


- Christopher de Hamel's Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts; review in The Economist.

- Robert Gottlieb's Avid Reader; reviews by Alexandra Alter in the NYTimes, Michael Dirda in the WaPo, and Thomas Mallon in the NYTimes.

- Emma Donoghue's The Wonder; review by Maureen Corrigan in the WaPo.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Links & Reviews

- From the new issue of Common-place, a great piece by Endrina Tay on the sale of Jefferson's library to Congress in 1815.

- New York City police have released photos of a suspect in the theft of two books from PRPH Books back in April.

- Daniel Akst reports for the WSJ about an MIT/Georgia Tech research effort to use electromagnetic waves (terahertz radiation) to "read" stacked pages: the technique could potentially have uses in analyzing ancient manuscripts, &c.

- Leah Grandy writes for Borealia about the increasing need for training in basic cursive paleography.

- NYPL's Rose Main Reading Room will reopen on 5 October after being closed for more than two years for repairs and restoration.

- Carla Hayden was sworn in this week as Librarian of Congress. You can watch the ceremony here via C-SPAN. Nicholas Fandos reported for the NYTimes on Hayden's remarks at the event, and read an interview Hayden gave to USA Today.


- John Dickerson's Whistlestop; review by Molly Ball in the NYTimes. The podcast is excellent, and I'm looking forward to reading the book.

- Richard Kluger's Indelible Ink; review by Bill Keller in the NYTimes.

- Keith Houston's The Book; review by Clea Simon in the Boston Globe.

- Robert Gottlieb's Avid Reader; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Mary Sarah Bilder's Madison's Hand; review by Stuart Leibiger in Common-place.

- Boston's joint "Beyond Words" exhibition of illuminated manuscripts; review by Barrymore Laurence Scherer in the WSJ.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Tests have reportedly authenticated the Grolier Codex as a genuine 13th-century Maya codex.

- The NEDCC has posted about its work on the preparations for the upcoming cross-institutional exhibition of illuminated manuscripts in Boston.

- Over at Past is Present, a new list of recent articles and books by members of the AAS community.

- And via the ABAA, a roundup of recent bookseller catalogs.

- Thirty-five porters and three auctioneers employed by French auction house Hotel Drouot have been sentenced for the theft of numerous artifacts over several years.

- A four-page portion of the manuscript of Napoleon's "novella" will be sold at Bonhams New York on 21 September.

- From the First Impressions blog, some interesting finds in the Exeter Book revealed by multi-spectral imaging.

- Adam Hooks and Dan De Simone talk about the First Folio's rise to the status of cultural icon in a Folger "Shakespeare Unlimited" podcast.

- UVA Today profiles John Unsworth, new university librarian and dean of libraries.

- Alexandra Kiely has a short piece on the Fortsas hoax for the blog.

- The winners of the 2016 National Collegiate Book Collecting awards have been announced.

- reports on Forum Auctions' "new type of finance deal to help a collector acquire an £850,000 Shakespeare First Folio."

- Sarah Larimer reports for the Washington Post on UNH library cataloger Robert Morin, who left an estate of $4 million to the university.

- The 2017 Boston Book Fair will be held on 10–12 November.


- "Charlotte Brontë: An Independent Will," at the Morgan Library; review by William Grimes in the NYTimes.

- Ruth Scurr's John Aubrey: My Own Life; review by Dwight Garner in the NYTimes.

- Anthony Gottlieb's The Dream of Enlightenment; review by Michael Wood in the NYTimes.

- James Gleick's Time Travel; review by Rosalind Williams in the WaPo.

- Alan Taylor's American Revolutions; reviews by Gordon S. Wood in the NYTimes and Eric Herschthal in Slate.

- Brian Vickers' The One King Lear; review by Holger S. Syme in the LARB. Wow.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Links & Reviews

- In the Yale Alumni Magazine, Judith Schiff has a short piece on Yale's early years and the "battle of the books" between Saybrook and New Haven when the college decided to relocate.

- Carla Hayden will be sworn in as Librarian of Congress on 14 September.

- The September Rare Book Monthly is up: features include a Bruce McKinney interview with Tom Lecky, now of Riverrun Books; Susan Halas talked to Ken Lopez and asked him to update his 1999 analysis of book collecting and the book trade; and (most interestingly!) Bruce McKinney's account of a recent personal acquisition of a 160-page manuscript volume containing records of an Ulster County, New York membership library from 1810 to 1823.

- The Library of Congress has added some 15,000 pages of scanned newspapers from New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC during the early national period.

- Pew released a new report on "book reading."

- The AAS fall public programs schedule is out: great lineup!

- At the Royal Society's Repository blog, Joanna Corden writes about how the Great Fire of London (350 years ago last week) affected the Society.

- David Mason has more in the Guardian about a 1993 theft from his shop in which a small archive of letters relating to an Ernest Hemingway boxing match was stolen.

- Karen Langley highlights the rare book collections of the State Library of Pennsylvania for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


- Matthew Kirschenbaum's Track Changes; review by Ben Allen at Public Books.

- Ross King's Mad Enchantment; review by Philip Kennicott in the WaPo.

- Nisi Shawl's Everfair; review by Elizabeth Hand in the WaPo.

- Sean Wilentz's The Politicians and the Egalitarians; review by Mickey Edwards in the LATimes.

- Keith Houston's The Book; review by Henry Hitchings in the WSJ.

- Anne Trubek's The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting; review by Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Links & Reviews

- The Echoes from the Vault blog is beginning a series on Victorian cloth bindings.

- Ever wondered about the differences between "uncut," "unopened," and "untrimmed"? Erin Blake's got you covered at The Collation.

- The fall Book History Seminar at Yale, "Inevitabilities of the Book," is coming up on 9–10 September. Looks like a great lineup.

- Mary Sarah Bilder talked to Mark Cheatham for the SHEAR blog about her book Madison's Hand.

- Jane Raisch writes for the JHIBlog on "The Hellenism of Early Print."

- A manuscript account by Granville Sharp of an important 1781 slave ship massacre has been identified in the British Library.

- The New Haven Register reports on the impending reopening of the Beinecke Library.

- The William Blake Gallery will open in October in San Francisco.

- The Bookhunter on Safari posts about publisher W.J. Adams, "the almost wholly forgotten man behind the story of Bradshaw's Railway Guides."

- Phillip Lopate writes for the American Scholar about the process and pain of selling his papers to Yale.

- From John Schulman, "An Antiquarian's Guide to the Election."

- Charlotte Howsam's dissertation on medieval book fastenings is now available via

- Lauren Young writes about the "library wars of the ancient world" for Atlas Obscura.

- In the New Yorker's "Daily Shouts," feature, Janet Manley highlights "Rare Books for sale, excellent condition."

- Penguin Classics is publishing a collection of ancient Egyptian writings in English for the first time.

- Keith Houston has a short feature for the BBC, "The mysterious ancient origins of the book."


- John Dixon's The Enlightenment of Cadwallader Colden; review by Christopher Minty at The Junto.

- Forrest Leo's The Gentleman; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Emma Smith's Shakespeare's First Folio; review by Jonathan Rose in the WSJ.