Sunday, March 31, 2013

Links & Reviews

- Your can't-miss post this week is Heather Wolfe's look at 17th-century filing practices.

- A fire broke out on Monday at the Walworth Town Hall building in Southwark, London, which houses the Newington Library and Cuming Museum in Southwark. There was some damage to the collections of the museum and library, but it sounds as though it could have been significantly worse.

- The Globe & Mail has published an update on the John Mark Tillman thefts case, including the little tidbit that Tillman's son Kyle, 23, also faces charges related to the thefts (obstruction of justice, possession of stolen property, and perjury). The CBC has posted a similar story, noting that the number of seized artifacts has now passed 2,000. And from the RCMP, a photo gallery of recovered items.

- They did it with menus, and now the NYPL has turned to crowdsourced transcription of playbills: head over to and help transcribe!

- Over at Fine Books Blog, Rebecca Rego Barry posted "Ten Reasons a Pessimist Can be Optimistic about the Future of the Book."

- Also from Canada, the Calgary Herald reports on the continuing troubles at LAC, which now include a troubling new "code of conduct" for archives staff.

- The New-York Historical Society's new Audubon exhibit is now open, and this week they also posted a very interesting piece that's also in the show: a Meiji-era woodcut depicting the episode when Audubon opens up a box of watercolors only to find they've been destroyed by rats.

- Jennifer Howard reported last week on the forthcoming edition of Willa Cather's letters. Read the whole thing, it's well worth it!

- And speaking of documentary editions, Jeff Looney of the Thomas Jefferson Papers was recently profiled in the Washington Post.

- From the Houghton blog, a neat new acquisition: a hollow-cut silhouette of Arthur Maynard Walter, one of the founders of the Boston Athenaeum. The silhouette was made by Moses Williams, one of the few known African-American silhouettists of the early 19th century.

- DPLA Director of Content Emily Gore is interviewed by Annie Schutte on the Knight Foundation blog.

- Dave Gary recently had the chance to visit and explore the library of William Seward, at his home in Auburn, NY. Not surprisingly, he found some absolutely great stuff.

- New developments in the de Caro case, too: he and fourteen accomplices have reportedly confessed to additional thefts from more libraries, including the Biblioteca dell’Osservatorio Ximeniano and the Biblioteca Scolopica San Giovannino, both in Florence.

- The Grolier Club's new exhibit on book thief Guglielmo Libri is reviewed by Eve M. Kahn in the NYTimes.

- There's a long profile of George R.R. Martin in the Telegraph.

- Others have already covered the Supreme Court's strong first-sale ruling more thoroughly than I need to, but do read Jennifer Howard's Chronicle report on the case.

- Bookseller Norman Kane (The Americanist) passed away on 23 March; he was 88. Fine Books Notes has a short notice, plus links to their profile and interview with Kane from 2011.

- A couple unpublished F. Scott Fitzgerald poems will go on the auction block this week.

- An update on a link I posted around this time last year: the 1555 copy of Vesalius containing the author's own annotations for a projected third edition is now being made available for study at the University of Toronto's Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, where it is on deposit. The library is planning an exhibition next year to mark the 500th anniversary of Vesalius' birth.


- Steven Galbraith and Geoffrey Smith's Rare Book Librarianship; review by David Gary at Function Follows Forme.

- Joyce Carol Oates' The Accursed; review by Wendy Smith in the LATimes.

- Sandra Day O'Connor's Out of Order; review by Adam Liptak in the NYTimes.

- Andrea Stuart's Sugar in the Blood; review by Amy Wilentz in the NYTimes.

- Catherine Bailey's The Secret Rooms; review by Nicola Shulman in the TLS.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Links & Reviews

I'm just back from the DH: The Next Generation symposium in Boston, which was invigorating and excellent. I'll working on a writeup of both this and the SEA meeting, and hope to have that up shortly.

You all probably heard the rotten news that Google has decided to phase out Google Reader in a few months. I've used Reader for years as the best way to sift through all the blogs, newspaper book review sections, and other resources I try to keep up with each week (starring items in Reader is one of the many ways I collect things for these weekly links posts, too). So I'm very disappointed that it's going away, and like many others I'll be looking for a suitable replacement. If you find one that you like, I'd love to hear about it, and when I find one I like, I'll let you know.

And now, on to the links:

- Marino Massimo de Caro was sentenced to seven years in prison this week as well as lifetime exclusion from holding any public office for his role in the thefts from the Girolamini Library in Naples. Others involved in the case received lighter sentences: Viktoriya Pavlovsky received a prison term of sixty-four months and permanent exclusion from public office; Alejandro Cabello and Mirko Camuri were sentenced to fifty-six months in person and a five-year exclusion from office; and Lorena Paola Weigandt Federico Roncoletti received sentences of thirty-two months in prison. Preliminary hearings in the next round begin on 26 March, when a judge will set a trial date for de Caro and thirteen others on conspiracy charges.

- Some really fantastic news from the University of Rochester: they're planning to digitize portions of the William Henry Seward and Seward Family Papers, after work by undergraduate and graduate students in what sounds like a great course sequence as well as some fantastic faculty-library collaboration.

- New blog: Medieval Bookbindings, which I certainly recommend adding to your reading list. See also Anthony Tedeschi's post on this one.

- New resource:, a site to collect "lectures, podcasts, and resources to aid humanists in initiating, developing, and sustaining projects." Follow them on Twitter at @DevelopDH, too.

- One of the Old South Church copies of the Bay Psalm Book has been digitized, so you can take a look at it here. I'm updating my Bay Psalm Book census post with some additional information gleaned from this scan.

- Whitney Trettien has a great post up with some really fascinating contextual information about the Little Gidding Harmony (the digitization of which I noted here last week).

- Library Journal covered the Maine Shared Collections Strategy this week, an eight-library consortium  between public, academic, and government libraries.

- Freeman's Auction House in Philadelphia will sell, in several parts, the library of the Mount St. Alphonsus Redemptorist seminary and retreat center in Esopus, NY which closed in 2012. The library includes some 4,000 books which may fetch up to $700,000 total.

- Dan Cohen talked to Library Journal this week about the DPLA and his vision for its future. In other DPLA news this week, the National Archives announced that it will contribute 1.2 million records as part of the pilot launch.

- The ABAA and other biblio-groups weighed in this week on Amazon's attempt to control the .book, .author, and .read top-level domain names, calling it anti-competitive. If you want to weigh in, there are some ways to contribute here.

- Japan's Toppan Printing has created what they're saying is the world's smallest printed book, with pages of .75mm.


- Megan Marshall's Margaret Fuller: A New American Life; review by Dwight Garner in the NYTimes.

- Alister McGrath's C.S. Lewis: A Life; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Steve Ferguson highlights a very lovely and curious binding at Notabilia.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Links & Reviews

Apologies for the lack of a links & reviews post last weekend; I was traveling back from the SEA meeting in Savannah, and by the time I got home was too sleepy to get started on this. So consider this week's a double-feature (and I'll have more to say on SEA soon, too). If you want one perspective on Savannah in the meantime, as well as a link to the Twitter archive, see Rachel Herrmann's post over at The Junto.

- New: Manuscripts Online, a nifty search engine for written and early print culture in Britain through 1500.

- Another neat new resource: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, on "reassembling the early modern social network."

- In a must-read post, Heather Wolfe takes a close look at a manuscript diary from the Folger collections and realizes that perhaps the authorial attribution of the diary had been mistaken at some point. Some great detective work here.

- A new Audubon exhibit (really the first installment of three) is now open at the New-York Historical Society. It was reviewed by Edward Rothstein in the NYTimes this week, and featured in the BBC Magazine.

- Some really great news this week: Dan Cohen has been named the executive director of the Digital Public Library of America. They couldn't have made a better choice. Dan posted about his decision to move to the DPLA here.

- An early Charlotte Brontë manuscript poem will go under the hammer at Bonhams on 10 April, and could fetch £40,000-45,000.

- John Palfrey writes in Library Journal about the importance of the first sale doctrine and how the digital shift has led to new, knotty issues in that area.

- If you'll be in Cambridge this summer, there's going to be what looks like a tremendously-interesting conference to celebrate the centenary of A.N.L. Munby, "'Floreat Bibliomania' - Great Collectors and their Grand Designs."

- The ABAA security blog has posted a list of books stolen from Lost Horizons Bookstore in Santa Barbara, CA.

- NARA hosted a presentation this week on the Landau-Savedoff thefts, which you can watch here (and I do recommend watching it if you can; it's well worth it).

- David Rubenstein has donated $10 million to the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mt. Vernon.

- Over at the Fine Books Blog, Zhenya Dzhavgova writes about the awesome efforts by booksellers and others to help out Blue Jacket Books in Xenia, OH, much-damaged by a burst water pipe.

- The Toronto Star reports today on what appears to be a severe reduction in acquisitions by Library and Archives Canada. Warning: includes some absolutely ridiculous statements by the head of LAC.

- Eric White has posted at CERL an introduction to and database of C15 print runs.

- Quite a strange story over a signed first edition of The Great Gatsby on offer by bookseller James Robert Cahill: William M. Hitchcock, son of the man to whom Fitzgerald signed the copy of the book, claims that the book was stolen from his home. The book was purchased by Cahill at a Bonhams auction in 2010 (lot description) for $61,000. The FBI reportedly investigated the case in 2012 but closed the case last month.

- Over on the Queens' Old Library Books Blog, a post by Lindsey Askin on Roger Ascham's marginalia.

- Erin Blake highlights a neat new Folger acquisition, one of ten theater "super-scrapbooks" that got away at the original sale, when the Folgers' agent bought the other nine.

- Newly-digitized at Houghton Library, a fascinating 1620s "gospel harmony," known as the Little Gidding Harmony.

- From the T Magazine blog, a profile of the very cool Monkey's Paw bookshop in Toronto (definitely on my list of places to visit someday!).

- In Slate, Matt Kirschenbaum offers a new preview of his forthcoming book Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing.

- Mark Hartsell guest-blogs on the LOC blog about scholars using Thomas Jefferson's books in the reading room.

- A lawsuit was filed this week by a Sherlock Holmes scholar, alleging that the detective is in the public domain and that the estate should not be able to continue to collect licensing fees.

- LATimes book critic David Ulin's essay "The weight of books" makes for essential reading for those of us with, um, many books.

- Over at the Religion in American History blog, Michael Altman offers up "Reading About the 'Hindoos' with John Adams," where he muses about John Adams' marginalia in Priestley's A Comparison of the Institutes of Moses with that of the Hindoos and Other Ancient Nations (scanned here).

- Via the Princeton Rare Books blog, a new study of the Kelmscott Chaucer copies at Princeton, by Robert J. Milevski.

- It was difficult to miss that photo of cat prints on a manuscript document which made the rounds recently. Emir O. Filipović, who took the original image, wrote about the experience over at The Appendix.


- Susan Jacoby's The Great Agnostic; review by Jennifer Michael Hect in the NYTimes.

- Sandra Day O'Connor's Out of Order; review by Joan Biskupic in the WaPo.

- David D. Hall's Cultures of Print; review by David Gary at Function Follows Forme.

- Ernest Freeberg's Age of Edison; review by Wendy Smith in the LATimes.

- Andrew Pettegree's The Book in the Renaissance; review by David Gary at Function Follows Forme.

- Jonathon Keats' Forged; review by Catherine Schofield Sezgin at the ARCA blog.

- Jim Crace's Harvest; review by Philip Womack in The Telegraph.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Auction Report: February Recap / March Preview

First, let's get February's sales recapped, then we'll take a look at March.

- Bonhams sold Fine Books & Manuscripts on 17 February, in 300 lots (results). A 1619 Mercator atlas sold for $27,500, and an inscribed original "Peanuts" strip fetched $25,000. The copy of Bien's Audubon failed to sell.

- PBA Galleries sold Rare Books & Manuscripts on 18 February, in 225 lots (results). The top lot was a copy of the second volume (only) of the first book edition of The Federalist, which sold for $16,800. The collection of all sixteen printings of the first edition of the Alcoholic Anonymous Big Book and the first issue King James Bible didn't sell.

- At Bonhams on 18 February, Printed Books and Maps, in 436 lots (results). A collection of ~70 maps of Germany and Eastern Europe (mostly C16-18) made £16,875.

- Bloomsbury sold the Beatrix Potter Collection of Mark Ottignon on 27 February, in 307 lots (results). A first issue of The Tale of Peter Rabbit sold for £20,000.

- Also at Bloomsbury, on 28 February, Literature, Manuscripts & Modern First Editions, in 386 lots (results). The two lots of Hester Thrale Piozzi letters were the main attraction, selling for £26,000 and £15,000.

- On 28 February at PBA Galleries, Rare Golf Books, Clubs & Memorabilia from the collection of Georgia Dyer Burnett, in 391 lots (results). A copy of History of the Edinburgh Burgess Golfing Society was the top lot, at $8,400.

And here's what's coming up for the rest of March:

- On 11 March, ALDE sells the Bibliothèque du Chateau de La Plagne, in 331 lots.

- PBA Galleries sells Fine Literature, Children's Books, &c. on 14 March, in 621 lots. A Hemingway family photo album and a first printing of Tender is the Night with later jacket are each estimated at $10,000-15,000.

- There will be a Bibliophile sale at Bloomsbury on 14 March, in 579 lots.

- Bonhams sells Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Historical Photographs on 19 March, in 235 lots.

- Also at Bonhams, on 20 March, The Xi'an Incident: The Papers of Hyland "Bud" Lyon, in just eight lots.

- At Christie's London on 20 March, The Library of a Spanish Bibliophile, in 427 lots.

- Bloomsbury sells Travel, Topographical, Sporting and Natural History Books, Maps, Prints and Photographs on 21 March, in 366 lots.

- No preview yet for the PBA sale of Rare Americana and African American History on 28 March.