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.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Links & Reviews

- George Eberhart writes for American Libraries about a panel at last week's IFLA congress on library theft and security.

- Brooke Palmieri has been appointed editor and Michael Russem designer of APHA's journal, Printing History. Look forward to seeing the fruits of their labors!

- A research team has confirmed that the Codex Selden, housed at the Bodleian Library, is a palimpsest, containing earlier characters beneath the 16th-century text. The before-and-after images here are pretty stunning. More.

- Wayne Wiegand has been named distinguished visiting scholar at the Library of Congress' John W. Kluge Center, to support his work on a book covering the history of American public school libraries.

- Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Manuscripts) is now available. Congratulations to all those involved!

- Fiona McDonald writes for the BBC about several long-hidden libraries.

- John Fea talks to Jonathan Yeager about Yeager's new book Jonathan Edwards and Transatlantic Print Culture.

- Forthcoming from the Book Club of California, The Noblest Roman: A History of the Centaur Types of Bruce Rogers.

- Jason Rovito has been appointed Director of Fine Books and Manuscripts at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

- Hannah Stahl has the latest in a series of posts about imaginary creatures in maps for the Library of Congress' Worlds Revealed blog.

- Rutgers University has received an NEH grant to digitize some 100,000 pages of New Jersey newspapers published between 1836 and 1922 and not currently available in digital form.

- Barnes & Noble CEO Ronald Boire was sacked this week, after just a year on the job.

- Atlas Obscura highlights the NYPL's new storage facility beneath Bryant Park.

- John Lancaster posts for the Houghton Library blog about an important recent acquisition (a 1485 Aquinas) and his work to find the other volume from the set.

- In the LARB, Melissa Dinsman interviews Richard Grusin about digital humanities.

- Coming soon at Penn, an exhibition and publication, Reactions: Medieval/Modern, which "explores the many and varied ways that people have reacted to, and acted upon, manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to today."

- Emily Dourish gets the "Bright Young Librarians" treatment on the Fine Books blog.

- Richard Davies posts for the AbeBooks blog offering a cautionary tale about potentially valuable copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

- Virginia university librarians have sent a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee urging caution about any potential changes to Sections 107 and 108 of the Copyright Act.

- Cameron Hunt McNabb writes for Slate on the origins of the ellipsis.

- Alexandra Walker posts for the Bodleian Library's blog about conservation work undertaken on a recent collection of Mabel Fitzgerald materials.

- Spanish facsimile publishing firm Siloe will produce 898 "exact replicas" of the Voynich manuscript, which will sell for more than £6,000 apiece. Note that Yale University Press will also be publishing a facsimile edition this year, accompanied by essays by Raymond Clemens and Deborah Harkness.


- John Fea's The Bible Cause; review by D.G. Hart in the WSJ.

- Irina Reyn's The Imperial Wife; review by Shannon Reed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Rebecca Rego Barry writes for the Guardian about a bird book which once belonged to the "Birdman of Alcatraz" which will go on the auction block at Christie's in September (as part of their "Out of the Ordinary" sale, which always contains some fantastic things).

- María Palacio posts for the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project about working with an 1836 manuscript library catalog of a Jesuit seminar in Missouri.

- A new report on digitizing orphan works is now available via Harvard's DASH portal.

- At, a history of intentionally blank pages, featuring Sarah Werner, Joe Howley, and others.

- The very long legal battle over Franz Kafka's manuscripts has ended, with Israel's supreme court ruling that Max Brod's heirs must turn over the manuscripts to the National Library of Israel.

- Last week I linked to a report that a box of rare comics had been stolen from the Tampa Bay Comic Con. The Tampa Bay Times updated this week that the dealer, Rick Whitelock, received a phone call on Monday from an anonymous man saying he had accidentally packed up the box with his materials from the show and would return them, but refusing to give his name or contact information. All's well that end's well, though: on Wednesday, the box arrived.

- Tom Kiser of Vivarium Books is profiled as part of the FB&C "Bright Young Booksellers" series.

- Peter Harrington staff have chosen their favorite items from the firm's Summer Catalogue.

- Paul Dingman posts at The Collation about how the transcriptions submitted as part of the Early Modern Manuscripts Online project will be aggregated and verified.

- The Harry Ransom Center is seeking a Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Curator of Early Printed Books and Manuscripts.

- Elaine Long posts on the Shakespeare's World blog about finding references to paper used in early modern cooking.

- Nearly 400 books donated to an English village after an American plane crashed there during WWII have been removed from the village library and destroyed.


- Carols M. N. Eire's Reformations; reviewed by Michael Massing in the NYTimes.

- Winifred Gallagher's How the Post Office Shaped America; review by Emily Cataneo in the CSM.

- Richard Zacks' Chasing the Last Laugh; review by Debra Bruno in the WaPo.