Sunday, June 29, 2014

Links & Reviews

Back from an excellent RBMS preconference in the very strange city of Las Vegas. It was a pleasure to see so many old friends and meet so many new ones, and to have a chance to hear from so many about the good work they're doing in their libraries and institutions.

- The Irish Times reports that the oldest known surviving Irish manuscript, known as the First Book of Ussher, will be displayed publicly by Trinity College Dublin for the first time in 2016.

- Mitch Fraas, who I had the great pleasure of meeting in person this week at RBMS, has posted some fascinating findings based on the Americana Exchange lists of top 2013 book and manuscript auction sales, including breakdowns by auction house, century, estimate overperformance, and more.

- From the Harvard Gazette, a story on the conservation of the miniature books created by the Brontë children.

- Over at the Melville House blog, Alex Shephard has an in-depth look at the ongoing Amazon/Hachette feud, and what it means for the publishing industry.

- Continuing the very strange stories coming out of Dublin, All Hallows College is planning to sell art and rare books next month at Sheppard's in Durrow.

- Following the recent confirmation from Houghton Library that a book in its collections was bound in human skin, Paul Needham has written a short essay calling for the binding to be removed and buried.

- Over at The Little Professor, thoughts on deaccessioning from one's personal library.

- SAA president Danna Bell has posted on the SAA blog about "The De-Evolution of the Archives and Archivists List."

- A working manuscript draft of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" sold for $2 million at Sotheby's this week.

- Jennifer Howard reports from the Association of American University Presses' annual meeting for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

- Retiring UVA historian Sandy Gilliam talked to the Roanoke Times about his long career at UVA.


- Horst Bredekamp, Paul Needham et al.'s A Galileo Forgery; review by Massimo Mazzotti in the LA Review of Books. More than a review, though, this is an excellent background piece on the forgeries as well.

- Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling's The Silkworm; review by Harlan Coben in the NYTimes.

- Michael Korda's Clouds of Glory; review by Fergus M. Bordewich in the NYTimes.

- Elizabeth Mitchell's Liberty's Torch; review by Janet Napolitano in the LATimes.

- Kevin Birmingham's The Most Dangerous Book; review by Dwight Garner in the NYTimes.

- Nicola Barker's In the Approaches; review by Ruth Scurr in the TLS.

- Alex Wright's Cataloging the World; review by Maria Popova at Brain Pickings.

- Michael Blanding's The Map Thief; review by Chuck Haga in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

- Lauren Owen's The Quick; review by Joy Tipping in the Dallas Morning News.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Links & Reviews

I realized that this week marked the 8th anniversary of the first post on this blog; it seems almost remarkable that it's continued so long! The milestone seems particularly fitting since I've been spending more time actually thinking about this blog than I usually do, in preparation for a seminar at RBMS this coming week where I'll be talking about "Publishing for Professional Growth." Given the other excellent folks on the panel (Jessica Pigza, Anne Bahde, Colleen Thiesen, and John Overholt as moderator) it should be a really good discussion, and I'm quite looking forward to it. If you're in Las Vegas for RBMS and want to come, it'll be held from 4-5:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

- The new ABAA website launched this week, and it's quite impressive!

- A first edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass from the Huguette Clark collection fetched $305,000 at Christie's this week, setting a new record for a Whitman work.

- The copy of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest inscribed to his jailer sold at auction this week for £55,000.

- A new exhibition, "Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America" opens at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on 24 June.

- With the news that a book at Harvard has now been confirmed to be bound in human skin, the BBC Magazine surveys the well-worn ground of anthropodermic bindings.

- Just weeks after the threat to IES comes another one: now the Warburg Institute could be closed and its collections broken up as the University of London seeks to change the 1944 deed of trust which brought the collection to London. A ruling on the terms of the deed could come this fall. This isn't exactly a new danger, though: Anthony Grafton and Jeffrey Hamburger posted an essay on the possible closure over on the NYRB blog way back in 2010.

- The DPLA has received an $81,000 grant from the Whiting Foundation to explore educational possibilities for its collections.

- Colum McCann gets the "By the Book" treatment in the NYTimes.

- Elizabeth Eisenstein spoke to Thomas Hill for his Library Café podcast. You can listen here.

- The NYPL's Rose Main Reading Room will remain closed for around six months to allow for inspections and repairs to the ceiling after a plaster rosette fell in May.

- Julian Baggini reports in the Financial Times about recent research into the differences between reading on paper and reading on a screen.

- Nathan Raab writes at Forbes about a Lincoln document believed authentic for the last seven decades or so, but now proven to be a forgery.

- Over at The Collation, Deborah J. Leslie writes on throwout plates, bound so that an illustration or table could be viewed while still reading the text.

- The Reading Experience Database bibliography has been updated with a number of new and forthcoming articles.

- Several unpublished Pablo Neruda poems have been found during the cataloging of the poet's manuscripts.

- Dublin police have discovered more than seventy pieces of art, rare books and other objects believed to have been stolen over more than four decades.


- Fred Kaplan's John Quincy Adams; review by Randolph Walerius at Roll Call.

- Lauren Owen's The Quick; reviews by Andrew Sean Greer in the NYTimes and Elizabeth Hand in the LATimes.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Links & Reviews

- The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling in favor of HathiTrust. Read Jennifer Howard's Chronicle report, or the full decision.

- The grandson of historian Samuel Eliot Morison appeared in federal court this week, accused of stealing more than thirty boxes of his grandfather's papers from the Naval Historical Center. Samuel L. Morison, 69, faces up to ten years in prison for the theft of government property, and has been banned from visiting libraries and archives without court approval while awaiting trial. Morison was allegedly selling the documents on eBay via a Maryland bookstore. Reports in Reuters and the WaPo (the latter containing much more detail).

- The Beinecke Library has acquired the papers of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson.

- Over at TNR, Blaine Greteman writes "It's the End of the Humanities as We Know It ... And I feel fine."

- Sid and Ruth Lapidus have donated $2.5 million, as well as rare books and manuscripts relating to slavery, to the NYPL's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

- Boston's wonderful Brattle Book Shop is profiled in Rare Books Digest.

- At The Collation, Sarah Werner examines the four states of the Martin Droeshout portrait of Shakespeare.

- Hillary Clinton talked books with the NYTimes this week.

- The LATimes Summer Book Preview is worth a look-through, and over at the TLS reviewers are discussing which books they're looking forward to reading while on vacation.


- Margery Heffron's Louisa Catherine: The Other Mrs. Adams; review by Barry Alfonso in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

- Gustavo Faverón Patriau's The Antiquarian; review by Carmela Ciuraru in the NYTimes.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Links & Reviews

- The excellent "Authenticity of Print Materials" symposium held at LC back in December is now available as a webcast [Updated with YouTube link, since that's easier to access].

- Tom Hyry has been announced as the new Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library.

- The BBC reports that three FSB agents have been sentenced for the theft of a Gutenberg Bible from Moscow State University: Sergei Vedishchev received a three-year term in a penal colony for theft, and two accomplices received lighter sentences for trying to sell the book to a collector.

- The Independent has more on the large-scale thefts of books and artwork from All Hallows College in Dublin.

- The Rare Book School summer lecture series was announced this week.

- From the Samuelson Clinic at Berkeley, a new "Is it in the Public Domain?" handbook.

- Newly-published is Collecting, Curating, and Researching Writers' Libraries: A Handbook (Rowman & Littlefield), edited by Rich Oram and Joseph Nicholson.

- Tests have confirmed (for all intents and purposes) that a Houghton Library book, Arsène Houssaye's Des destinées de l'ame is actually bound in human skin.

- The NYPL has revealed that its new renovation plans for the Fifth Avenue building and other upgrades will likely cost something on the order of $300 million, while the expected costs of the now-abandoned Central Library Plan had creeped up to more than $500 million. This just days after a falling chunk of plaster closed the Rose Main Reading Room indefinitely.

- Joel Kovarsky is profiled in the Crozet Times about his new book, The True Geography of Our Country: Jefferson's Cartographic Vision.

- From the ABAA Security blog, a robbery at Bay Leaf Books in Newaygo, MI.

- In the Guardian, a fascinating story about an overpainted whale in a 1641 Dutch painting, newly revealed through conservation work.

- Stephen Greenblatt writes about Montaigne's influence on Shakespeare.


- Katharine Grant's Sedition; review by Andea Wulf in the NYTimes.

- Michael Blanding's The Map Thief; review by Michael Washburn in the Boston Globe.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Links & Reviews

- The Irish Times reports that All Hallows College, Dublin is missing "a sizeable number" of valuable books, manuscripts, and pieces of art, possibly worth as much as €100,000. The small college is planning to cease operations in the near future, and this latest investigation comes just days after the college withdrew a collection of Jackie Kennedy letters from auction.

- At Anchora, Adam Hooks weighs in on the Shakespeare's Beehive business, particularly considering printer Richard Field and the uses made of him by the Beehive authors.

- The June AE Monthly is out, and it features a series on bookselling, booksellers talking about Amazon, and an update on Canadian book thief John Mark Tillman, now reportedly cooperating with police to return some 7,000 stolen artifacts to their rightful homes.

- On NPR, Mark Dimunation discussed his ongoing hunt for the last few titles needed to complete the LC's reconstruction of Jefferson's library.

- From Jerry Morris at Biblio Researching, some good sleuthing into the provenance of one of his books.

- A new list of recent and forthcoming books on early American history is up on the SEA site.

- And over at The Junto, they've announced a summer book club.

- Digital surrogates of more than a thousand manuscripts from the 17th and 18th centuries have now been added to Penn in Hand.


- Fred Kaplan's John Quincy Adams; reviews by Robert K. Landers in the WSJ and David Holahan in the CSM.

- Daniel Levine's Hyde; review by Walter Kirn in the NYTimes.

- James Oakes' The Scorpion's Sting; review by Ira Berlin in the WaPo.

- Michael Waldman's The Second Amendment; review by Garrett Epps in the WaPo.

- Michael Korda's Clouds of Glory; review by Eric Foner in the WaPo.

Book Review: "Washington Brotherhood"

Rachel Shelden's Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War (UNC Press, 2013) offers a fresh look at Washington society in the decades leading up to the Civil War, concentrating not on the occasional violent outburst but instead on the day-to-day camaraderie and social interactions of elected officials from across the regional and political spectrum. Shelden highlights a number of situations in which personal friendships between legislators had important consequences for the resolution of sectional differences, and argues for the existence of a Washington "bubble" that kept many of those who might have prevented the ultimate break from seeing it coming to the extent that they might have.

The author has done her research well, drawing on a wide range of unpublished papers, boardinghouse directories, Congressional seating charts, and other materials. She stresses the importance of not relying on the record of Congressional debates as the main source for sectional animus, noting that often legislators who were violently critical of their political opponents in public were close personal friends. She ably explains the Young Indians, a small group of Whig congressmen from across the sectional divide (including Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Stephens) who played a key role in the Whig selection of Zachary Taylor as the party's nominee in 1848 and cemented lasting personal bonds and perceptions between its members (for good and ill, as it turned out).

An excellent exploration of social and cultural connections which provide important context to the history of the antebellum period.