Sunday, June 26, 2016

Links & Reviews

It was a busy conference week for many, between RBMS (see #rbms16), ALA Annual (see #alaac16) and the Omohundro Institute conference (see #oieahc16). Looks like lots of good content at each!

- Casey Cep highlights Thomas McDade's bibliography The Annals of Murder for the New Yorker Page-Turner blog.

- New from the Huntington Library and partners, "Decoding the Civil War," a crowdsourced project to transcribe and decipher some 16,000 Civil War telegrams. See the Huntington announcement.

- The Lilly Library is the subject of a Smithsonian writeup.

- Over on the NYPL blog, Charles Cuykendall Carter talks to CUNY professor Simon Reader about teaching with a recently-digitized copy of Middlemarch in parts (from the Pforzheimer Collection).

- Bookseller and collector Philip R. Bishop of Mosher Books has launched a new website, The Mosher Press, on the life and works of Thomas Bird Mosher.

- will make some digitized genealogical works available via the DPLA interface.

- Ann Patty reports for the WSJ about Latin-language immersion programs.

- Skip Hollandsworth profiles Larry McMurtry for Texas Monthly.

- Elizabeth Yale writes for Aeon about British antiquarianism in "The nature of Britain."

- Alexander Street Press has been acquired by ProQuest.

- Three new incoming university librarians (Valerie Hotchkiss at Vanderbilt, Anne Jarvis at Princeton, and John Unsworth at UVA) are profiled in the Chronicle.

- In the New York Times Magazine, Jenna Wortham explores "How an Archive of the Internet Could Change History."

- In the spring issue of Humanities, the Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine gets a feature by Edgar Allen Beem.

- Alex Shephard writes for the New Republic about what happens to the book ecosystem if we lose Barnes & Noble.


- Adrian Tinniswood's The Long Weekend; review by Sandra McElwaine in the Washington Times.

- Michael Shelden's Melville in Love; review by Sam Coale in the Providence Journal.

- Naomi Novik's League of Dragons; review by Jason Heller for NPR.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Links & Reviews

I realized this week (in the midst of an excellent but all-consuming Rare Book School session) that I made my first post on this blog ten years ago Friday. Hard to believe it's been that long – thank you for reading!

- An 1835 prayerbook owned by William Wordsworth has been stolen from a display case in a Cumbrian church. If anyone has additional identifying details about the volume that would help in securing its return, please let me know.

- Gordon College has abandoned plans to sell off books from the Edward Payson Vining collection.

- Ariel Sabar's Atlantic piece on the "Jesus' Wife" papyrus is a spectacular read.

- The 16 June Books & Manuscripts sale at Christie's realized nearly $2.5 million, but two of the expected high-sellers didn't meet their reserve (the first edition of Alice in Wonderland and the Neal Cassady letter to Kerouac). The top lot proved to be Constitutional Convention delegate James McHenry's manuscript notes from the 30 and 31 May 1787 sessions of the convention ($389,000).

- Author Dan Brown has donated €300,000 to Amsterdam's Ritman Library to help fund the digitization of the library's collections.

- A second selection of books from the library of Pierre BergĂ© will be sold on 8–9 November at Sotheby's Paris.

- Culture24 highlights ten of the new Roman writing tablets recently discovered in London.

- There's a new beta version of the Universal Short-Title Catalogue (USTC).

- A first edition presentation copy of Das Kapital sold for £218,500 this week.

- Convicted book thief Andrew Shannon received a one-year prison sentence for the theft of 57 rare books from Carton House; he was already serving time for other crimes.

- Not to be missed: "Assertive Cataloguing" at The Bookhunter on Safari.

- From Publisher's Weekly, "As E-book Sales Decline, Digital Fatigue Grows."

- David Leonard has accepted the BPL presidency; may he meet with every success.

- John V. Fleming's "Finding a Good Book" is a useful reminder that there are a whole lot more books out there than those on the current bestseller lists.

- The American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA has permanently closed; its collections, including a large library, will reportedly be transferred to other institutions.

- Caroline Duroselle-Melish posts at The Collation on "Investigating a Bull's Head Watermark."

- An archive of William Steig illustrations sold for $187,500 at Sotheby's this week.


- Neil Hayward's Lost Among the Birds; review by Peter Lewis in the CSM.

- Denis Boyles' Everything Explained that is Explainable; review by Joseph Epstein in the WSJ.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Links & Reviews

- David W. Dunlap reports for the NYTimes on the five-decade Times career of Rudolph Stocker, described as "the last printer at The Times working under a guaranteed lifetime contract; the last Times employee who knew how to operate a Linotype casting machine; the last journeyman of the old International Typographical Union and its New York local, No. 6."

- Adam Gopnik writes in the New Yorker about the reading habits of Hamilton and Burr, using the New York Society Library's great City Readers project.

- Smithsonian reports that scientists have deciphered more symbols on the Antikythera Mechanism. The new findings led credence to the theory that the device was used for astrological purposes, and that it made have originated near the island of Rhodes. Results have been published in a special issue of Almagest.

- Rebecca Romney has joined the bookselling firm Honey & Wax.

- David Maclay posts at the National Library of Scotland blog about their current exhibition "Monster Making in the Summer of 2016" (drawing on the John Murray archive).

- Jill Bourne has declined the offer to become president of the Boston Public Library, citing personal reasons. The Boston Globe has a report. The BPL's board will meet Tuesday morning to move forward.

- Quartz highlights a century-old stationery store in Japan where you can customize the perfect notebook.

- The Washington Post surveys cruise ship libraries.

- Folget Curatorial Assistant Elizabeth DeBold is profiled in the "Bright Young Librarians" series.


- John Guy's Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years; review by Stacey Schiff in the NYTimes.

- Mike Ashley's Adventures in the Strand; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

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

- A trio of new books on Byron; review by Corin Throsby in the TLS.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Some downright incredible archeological finds in London recently, including what is believed to be the earliest reference to the name "London." The cache of 400 wooden writing tablets, some dating back to around 50 CE, were found during construction-related excavations for the new Bloomberg European headquarters building. The wax originally on the tablets is long gone, but researchers have managed to read the "faint scratches" left behind.

- A Darwin letter, stolen twice from the Smithsonian Institution, has been returned. No charges have been filed, as the statute of limitations has expired.

- Dalya Alberge reports for the Guardian on some recent work using x-rays to "read" medieval manuscripts hidden within bindings."Experiments have found a fragment from a 12th-century manuscript that includes excerpts from the work of Bede, the 8th-century monk and scholar. The researchers were even able to disassemble multiple pages that had been pasted on to one another, making the text legible. In one case, they could read each of three medieval pages that had been glued together. Elsewhere, they found two fragments stuck together underneath the cover of a 16th-century binding." Erik Kwakkel posted about this project back in December.

- The June Rare Book Monthly articles are out, including a report by Michael Stillman on the Columbus Letter recently returned to Italy.

- At Manuscript Road Trip, Lisa Fagin Davis explores some manuscript leaves found in Maine, which she describes as an "Otto Ege treasure trove" (and which, happily, have been acquired by Colby College).

- At Past is Present, a quarterly look at books and articles recently published by members of the AAS community.

- Mark Wolverton writes for Nature on digital forensics and BitCurator.

- David Mitchell has joined Margaret Atwood in submitting a manuscript for the wonderful (and tantalizing!) "Future Library" project.

- Kayleigh Betterton reports on the London International Antiquarian Book Fair for The Bookhunter on Safari.

- Princeton has acquired a copy of the second edition of Bodoni's Manual tipografico, called "the specimen book to end all specimen books."

- Michael Rosenwald notices for the Washington Post a number of recent books on paper.


- A whole shelf full of recent Shakespeare-related books, including Adam Hooks' Selling Shakespeare; review by James Ryerson in the NYTimes.

- Matthew Kirschenbaum's Track Changes; review by Lucy Ferriss in the Chronicle.

- Ricky Jay's Matthias Buchinger; review by Teller in the NYTimes.

- Jill Lepore's Joe Gould's Teeth; reviews by Scott W. Berg in the WaPo and Karen Long in the LATimes.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Links & Reviews

- Emily Wells writes for Past Is Present about the continuing work on transforming the AAS Printers' File into a linked open data resource.

- Over at The Collation, Meaghan Brown posts about assigning genres to early modern plays for the Folger's Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama.

- Barbara Basbanes Richter reports for the Fine Books Blog on the Met's recent symposium on American publishers' bookbindings.

- The Bodleian Library announced their purchases from last December's Pirie sale.

- Denis Joachim's major collection of rare books, art, and photographs will be sold over three days in Melbourne (19–21 June).

- A single buyer purchased all four Shakespeare folios (not, as the Press Association piece says, Shakespeare's "first four books") on the block at Christie's this week, for just under £2.5 million.

- Scott Reyburn reports for the NYTimes on another Christie's sale from this week: that of some thirty medieval manuscripts from the collection of Maurice Burrus.

- In the Dublin Inquirer, Louisa McGrath highlights the manuscript diary of the first Keeper of Marsh's Library.

- A new twist to the adult coloring book trend: Alison Flood writes for the Guardian about the coming republication of a series of 17th-century maps originally issued to accompany Michael Drayton's Poly-Obion.

- T.S. Eliot's rejection letter for Animal Farm has been making the rounds this week: it was among the items selected for the British Library's Discovering Literature: 20th Century online collection.


- Denis Boyle's Everything Explained That Is Explainable; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Jill Lepore's Joe Gould's Teeth; review by Karen Long in the LATimes.

- Jack Lynch's You Could Look it Up; review by Peter Thoneman in the TLS.

- Julie Fenster's Jefferson's America; review by Karin Altenberg in the WSJ.

- Matt Kirschenbaum's Track Changes; review by John Gilbey in the THE.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Links & Reviews

Lots of catching up to do: since my last I had the great pleasure and honoring of addressing the annual meeting of the Ticknor Society in Boston on the friendship between Thomas Jefferson and George Ticknor. The annual meeting was held at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where Ticknorites had the opportunity to view the excellent current exhibition, "The Private Jefferson" (which I commend to anyone who can get there to view it before it closes on 26 May). While in Boston I also got to make my semi-annual visits to the Brattle Book Shop and Commonwealth Books, and was able to work in a little research time at MHS (more about that latter soon; I located something I'm quite excited to share). All that plus a laptop meltdown! If I missed anything vital in this catch-up post, please don't hesitate to send it along.

- A copy of the "Plannck II" Columbus Letter donated to the Library of Congress in 2004 was repatriated to Italy this week; it had been stolen from the Riccardiana Library in Florence and replaced with a photographic facsimile. The letter was subsequently sold at Christie's in 1992 (lot description). See: Department of Justice press release; seizure warrant (this makes for fascinating reading - boy would I like to see what's underneath those redaction lines!); Elisabetta Povoledo's NYTimes article. For more: La Repubblica (in Italian); Italian Cultural Ministry statement (in Italian); LATimes. (Thanks to Nick Wilding and others for posting on ExLibris about this story). Volker Schroder also linked to a bookseller's description of the letter from before the 1992 Christie's sale.

- Jill Bourne, city librarian at the San Jose Public Library, will be the new president of the Boston Public Library.

- RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, is now officially fully open-access.

- Erin Blake has a great two-part series at The Collation this week: "Physical description in book cataloging," and "Signature statements in book cataloging."

- Christie's will sell a copy of the true first edition of Carroll's Alice in Wonderland on 16 June. More from the Fine Books Blog. Coming up on the same day, also at Christie's, Neal Cassady's famed letter to Jack Kerouac (more on this from Jennifer Schuessler in the NYTimes).

- Lara Putnam's American Historical Review article "The Transnational and the Text-Searchable: Digitized Sources and the Shadows They Cast" is currently available via the AHR.

- A 15-year-old's collection of more than 200 Apple computers may become the cornerstone of a planned Maine Technology Museum.

- Jerome McGann's ADE keynote, "Exceptional Measures: The Human Sciences in STEM Worlds," is now available online.

- An 11th-century letter known as the last surviving work of Chinese scholar Zeng Gong has set a new record price for an example of Chinese calligraphy, the BBC reports, selling for $32 million at a Beijing auction. The buyer was film mogul Wang Zhongjun.

- Last month the Princeton History Department hosted what looks like a great two-day conference in honor of Sidney Lapidus: "Fighting Words: Polemical Literature in the Age of Democratic Revolutions."

- Skinner is holding an online auction of fine books and manuscripts, which runs through 26 May.

- Matt Kirschenbaum has a short piece for the Paris Review: "Picturing the literary history of word processing."

- A manuscript Dutch East India Company map of the Java Sea from 1743 is coming up for auction at Swann Galleries.

- Tim Parks' T Magazine piece on the Corsini family archive is very much worth a read.

- In "A Melville Marginalia Mystery," NYPL's Thomas Lannon interviews Dawn Coleman about some erased Melville marginal notations she's been working on sussing out.

- At Smithsonian, Marissa Fessenden offers a brief history of traveling with books.

- Report is a little spotty, but "Ukraine Today" reports that a 1574 volume printed by Ivan Fedorov was stolen from Ukraine's Vernadsay National Library.

- NPR's "Parallels" reports on the ongoing work on the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae.

- Mitch Fraas has a post up at Unique at Penn about a volume of government documents possibly once owned by Alexander Hamilton.

- Eric White writes for Princeton's Notabilia blog about the recent discovery that one of Princeton's copies of the 1545 Greek Bible bears the annotations of Martin Chemnitz.

- Digitized copies of the Boston Athenaeum's exhibitions catalogues from 1950 through the present are now available via the Athenaeum's website.

- From Atlas Obscura, Cara Giaimo profiles archaeological linguist Nora White and her work on Ireland's "Ogham" alphabet.

- New to me (and thanks to Tess Goodman for sending it along): a 1969 Paris Review interview with E. B. White.

- Friday, 20 May marked the premiere of a new opera, "The Book Collector." Ernest Hilbert of Bauman Rare Books wrote the libretto.


- Bronwen Riley's The Edge of Empire; review by Jan Morris in the NYTimes.

- Nathaniel Philbrick's Valiant Ambition; reviews by David Waldstreicher in the NYTimes and Carol Berkin in the WaPo.

- Mark Kurlansky's Paper; review by Anthony Grafton in the NYTimes.

- Norma Clarke's Brothers of the Quill; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Carla Mulford's Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire and George Goodwin's Benjamin Franklin in London; review by T. H. Breen in the TLS.

- Michael Canfield's Theodore Roosevelt in the Field; review by Peter Coates in the TLS.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Links & Reviews

- The Bodleian Library has acquired the Tolkien-annotated map of Middle Earth found last year.

- An Isaac Newton manuscript on Christianity and faith will be sold at PBA Galleries on 2 June.

- Matthew Kirschenbaum talked to Craig Fehrman of the Boston Globe about his new book Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing.

- John Jay's manuscript copy of "Federalist No. 2" has been identified at the Brooklyn Historical Society (where the staff didn't know this particular manuscript had been considered missing by editors).

- At The Collation, Paul Dingman takes a look at early modern account books.

- Launched this week, Women in Book History, an online bibliography that "lists secondary sources on women's writing and participation in the book trades."

- From Zoe Abrams Rare Books, "Lesson No. 1: Trust Your Instincts."

- Carl Montford writes for the APHA blog about printing from some original Bewick wood engraving blocks.

- A Napoleonic War manuscript diary was discovered amongst a storage cabinet full of unsorted books in a Hobart, Tasmania bookshop.

- Scholars argue about Shakespeare play.

- Via Dave Gary, Forbes is experimenting with putting video ad-players in their print magazine.

- New writings by Walt Whitman, a series of men's health columns, were identified by a University of Houston grad student. More from the NYTimes.

- Ted Underwood's "Versions of disciplinary history" is a good overview of the recent and ongoing arguments about "digital humanities." As he writes, "The good thing about DH is, it creates a lively community that crosses disciplinary lines to exchange ideas. The bad thing is, it also creates a community that crosses disciplinary lines to fight pointlessly over the meaning of 'digital humanities'."

- Alison Flood has more the Audubon hoax I mentioned recently, in a Guardian report.


- Matthew Kirschenbaum's Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing; review by Josephine Livingstone in TNR.

- J. Gerald Kennedy's Strange Nation; review by Michael Livingston in the WaPo.

- Letters of a Dead Man, edited by Linda B. Parshall; review by Michael Dirda in the WaPo.

- Martin Seay's The Mirror Thief; review by Michael Magras at BookPage.

- Robert Michael Morrissey's Empire by Collaboration; review by Robert Englebert at Early Canadian History.

- Michael Patrick Lynch's The Internet of Us; review essay by David Weinberger in the LARB.