Sunday, October 27, 2019

Links & Reviews

- Over on the ARCA blog, "The Gospel Truth? How the laundering of papyri washes away its provenance sins."

- A great Book of Common Prayer over on Early Modern Female Book Ownership this week.

- Video from the recent Grolier Club/CODEX Foundation symposium is now available.

- Christine Jacobson is in the "Bright Young Librarians" spotlight this week.

- The Brontë Parsonage Museum has launched a fundraising appeal to purchase one of Charlotte Brontë's "little books" (the fifth "Young Men's Magazine") at auction in Paris on 18 November (part of the Aristophil liquidation).

- From Cambridge University Special Collections, Jill Whitelock on "M. R. James and the ghosts of the old University Library."

- Alison Flood reports on Stuart Kells' forthcoming book about Shakespeare's library for the Guardian.

- From the BL, "John Bagford, bibliophile or biblioclast?"

- More from Peter Kidd on that manuscript Bible noted last week.

- John Overholt was profiled in the Harvard Crimson.


- Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea; review by Lyndsay Faye in the NYTimes.

- Patrick Mauriès' Cabinets of Curiosities; review by Reagan Upshaw in the WaPo.

- Jon Clinch's Marley; review by Ron Charles in the WaPo.

Upcoming Auctions

- Topographical Pictures including Selections from the Kelton Collection at Christie's London on 29 October.

- The Sporting Sale at Bonhams Edinburgh on 31 October.

- Books and Works on Paper at Forum Auctions (online) on 31 October.

- Lincoln and His Times Americana & Political Signature Auction at Heritage Auctions on 2 November.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Links & Reviews

Well it's been quite a rollercoaster, these last few weeks. And things are going to continue to be a bit tumultuous for the next month-and-a-bit, so please pardon any lengthy radio silences that may result. I am delighted to say that in early December I will undertake a new adventure as a Special Collections Librarian at Binghamton University, so I'm in the midst now of packing and preparing for my move home to upstate New York. I'm very much looking forward to being at Binghamton, being closer to my family, and having snowy winters again!

Of course this change also means I'm trying to get things as buttoned up as possible for my successor at Rare Book School before I finish up there just before Thanksgiving. I'm glad to be able to have this year's Boston Antiquarian Book Fair as my sort of "last hurrah" at the RBS table, and look forward to seeing many of you there. This will, I realized the other day, be the fifteenth consecutive Boston fair I've attended ... with many more to come, I hope!

I'm sure I've missed a great deal of biblio-news over the last little while, so please don't hesitate to let me know what I haven't included here and I'll be sure to include it next time.

- ILAB has prepared a summary of its understanding of how new (and utterly ridiculous) tariffs will impact the book trade.

- Swann Galleries have posted a short video highlighting their history as an auction house for books and manuscripts.

- Two excellent writers and biblio-humans have launched newsletters that I've signed up for: Jen Howard and Sarah Werner.

- The owners of the Strand are planning to sue New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission over the agency's designation of the bookshop as a historic building.

- Stephen Grant has Part I of Henry Clay Folger's Deltiological Profile over at The Collation.

- A great story of biblio-kindness (and a fabulous association copy) from Kurt Zimmerman over at American Book Collecting.

- A book on rifles signed by John Wilkes Booth goes to auction this week.

- The story about Dirk Obbink and the sale of biblical papyrus fragments to Hobby Lobby has advanced a great deal recently. From the ARCA blog, "A Scandal of Biblical Proportions" and a followup post containing among other things a statement from Obbink. Katie Shepherd covers the story for the WaPo. See also the EES statement.

- The Chesapeake and Northern California Chapters of APHA have produced collaborative 2020 calendars for your time-keeping and typographical enjoyment.

- From Eric White at Notabilia, "Two 16th-Century Cambridge Bindings by Garrett Godfrey."

- Zoe Abrams has posted a version of her February 2019 Philobiblon Club talk, "What's New in Antiquarian Bookselling?"

- Over at Medieval Manuscripts Provenance, two posts on the Patou Bible in the collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia: Part One, Part Two.

- The course lineup and registration are now available for the 2020 Australasian Rare Books Summer School (Sydney, 3–7 February 2020).

- Christiane Gruber writes for Prospect about the continuing breakup of Islamic manuscripts for the art market. A very important piece.

- "60 Minutes" will air a segment tonight on the theft and forgery of copies of the Columbus Letter.

- Over at LitHub, "The Role of Librarians in a Historical Age of Obsession," by Mark Purcell.

- The Morgan Library & Museum has acquired Jayne Wrightsman's exceptional collection of French manuscripts and fine bindings.

- Yale has, for reasons entirely passing understanding, stopped funding for the excellent Native Northeast Research Collaborative.

- From Unbound, a look at the work being done at the Smithsonian Libraries' book conservation lab to save Caribbean materials damaged during Hurricanes Maria and Irma.


- D.W. Young's new film "The Booksellers"; review by Owen Glieberman in Variety.

Upcoming Auctions

- Fine Books and Manuscripts, Including the Dodge Family Autograph Collection, Natural History, Travel and Americana at Bonhams New York on 23 October.

- Historical Manuscripts Featuring the Bret J. Formichi American Civil War Rarities Collection at Heritage on 23 October.

- Americana – Yosemite – Travel & Exploration – World History – Cartography at PBA Galleries on 24 October.

- Early Printed, Travel, Scientific & Medical Books at Swann Galleries on 24 October.

- Estate of John and Elaine Steinbeck Manuscripts at Heritage on 24 October.

- Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana at Christie's New York on 25 October.

- The George F. Kolbe Library at Kolbe & Fanning on 26 October.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Farewell, Grams

Ten years ago I said goodbye here to my grandfather, Jerry Brooks. It is with great sadness that I must do so now to his wife of more than fifty-two years, my Grams, Lena Jane Savory Brooks. The only things assuaging that sadness are that I know that she's no longer in pain, and that they are together again. She missed him terribly.

"Front and center on the double!" That sentence, delivered at great volume if need be, would bring us kids back to the house from wherever we'd gone off to, and quick. She was a constant presence in my life from the very beginning, and her home was always the center of our family's life. Holidays, weekends, summers, afternoons, snowy days, were likely to find some or all of us there: sledding down the hill across the road from the house; swimming in the pool in the backyard; using every couch cushion, blanket, and clothespin in the house to build elaborate forts taking up half the first floor; mucking about in the barnyard or the haymow or down by the creek. Countless ears of corn were cut off the cob for freezing, hundreds of dozens of Christmas cookies were made for the family and to be delivered round to the neighbors, and many oh many an Easter egg gained its color on her kitchen table. What stories that beautiful old table could tell. She could never quite get through her pre-holiday-dinner prayer ("Be present at our table, Lord / Be here and everywhere adored / Thy creatures bless and grant that we / May feast in paradise with thee. Bless this food to our use, and to His service. Amen") without a tear, and usually I couldn't either. One Thanksgiving right before we were supposed to eat, the electricity went off. Didn't stop us: we got out all the old oil lamps and some candles and kept right on going (thankfully the turkey was out of the oven).

After a brief stint as an FBI secretary in the 1950s (as the story goes, she and her sister threw a party, boys came, and they got fired!), she lived most of her life on the Brooks family farm, raising her kids and grandkids (and now great-grandkids), and sharing fully in the hard work of dairy farming. For many years she helped supervise elections at her polling station, and she would always leave in our mailbox on her way home a copy of the precinct results for me to run down and get in the morning (I caught the political bug early). She was long active at her church, and enjoyed being able to donate blood to the Red Cross when she could; I remember once sitting and waiting with her for a long while because her blood pressure was too high when we first got there, and instead of just giving up and going home, we sat and rested until it was low enough to make the donation.

She loved animals, from her many canine companions to the occasional cat, to orphaned lambs or wildlife she raised (I found in one of her diaries the other day an entry from when I was about two: "Jeremy and I found a baby woodchuck - gonna keep him!"). She felt sure that the family of a robin she once rescued came back and nested every year in her yard, and I've no doubt they did. She called me frequently to update me on the birds in her yard, at her feeder, or in her birdhouses, and I would call when I saw red-winged blackbirds or tree swallows or bluebirds in the spring to let her know that they were on their way back to her.

Grams was also the family medical advisor (though we generally left the tooth-pulling to Gramp). When I sledded into a burdock and got a bit in my eye, she just tossed me up on the kitchen table and pulled it out with tweezers. Her preferred medicine for just about anything that ailed you was a dab of Balsam of Myrrh, which stung like hell. Most of us considered that worse that whatever injury we'd acquired - I once caught my back going under a barbed wire fence and my cousin and spent a long while trying to hide the injury from her just to avoid the Balsam of Myrrh (she eventually saw the blood coming through my shirt and administered the treatment). Of course, Balsam of Myrrh works like a charm; none of us ever denied that, but boy did we try to avoid it. Whenever I was sick or had some ailment or another, she would call nearly every day to check and see how it was.

Occasionally (though not as often as we'd have liked) we could get her to play either her piano or her organ. "Redwing" was a perennial favorite, along with some hymns and Christmas carols. As we sat with Grams in the hospital on Thursday night, my aunt pulled up an audio file of "Redwing" on her phone and we played it for her; I've had the tune in my head since, and I'm perfectly happy to have it stay there awhile. We always got cheery renditions of "Happy Birthday" on the phone every year, and I will miss that terribly next January. When you were traveling, she wanted to be called when you got wherever you were going safely: I walked into the house tonight and totally lost it for a minute when I realized that my first thought had been that I needed to call her and let her know I was home, but not right then because "Wheel of Fortune" would be on.

I was able to make two visits home during her final illness over the last month, and got to hold her hand for much of Thursday, for which I will be forever grateful. She died as she lived, with her family at her side. On Friday, an absolutely pristine day, we had a pizza picnic and picked some of the delicious apples from the tree in her backyard, and all sat around telling stories of Gramp and Grams. They'd both have loved having us all there with them on such a beautiful fall day, enjoying the view down the flat and the colors on the hillside.

It's going to be hard without her. We will muddle through, I suppose, but it won't be the same. Love you Grams, always always.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Links & Auctions

- The University of Edinburgh's fundraising campaign to keep the Charles Lyell notebooks in the UK has been successful!

- In similar news, the judge's copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover, also made subject to an export bar, has been acquired by Bristol University after a successful fundraising effort.

- A new film about antiquarian bookselling, The Booksellers, will debut tomorrow at the New York Film Festival. More from LitHub.

- Beverly Rogers, who recently established a $5 million endowment for the rare books and special collections program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, talked to UNLV news about some of the favorite books in her collection.

- Nicola Davis writes for the Guardian on some of the recent advances made in the painstaking process being deployed in an attempt to "read" the Herculaneum scrolls.

- October's Rare Book Monthly articles include a Susan Halas interview with bookseller Simon Beattie and Michael Stillman on "Collections Moving On, But Where To?"

- Princeton's exhibition Gutenberg & After includes a number of important and interesting online components.

- The HRC's permanent exhibition of the Niépce Heliograph has been updated with new introductory material, &c.

- Commonplace has relaunched at a new URL,

- Over at Sammelband, "Teaching in the Maker Studio."

- The ABAA passed along an alert for two seventeenth-century titles missing from a San Francisco building lobby.

- From Janalyn Martinez for the Grolier Club, "A Noble Fragment."

Upcoming Auctions

- Livres Rares et Manuscrits at Christie's Paris on 7 October.

- Rare Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Photography at Lyon & Turnbull on 9 October.

- Books and Documents of the History of Mexico at Morton Subastas on 9 October.

- Fine Literature at PBA Galleries on 10 October.

- Fine Books & Manuscripts at Swann Galleries on 10 October.