Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bay Psalm Book Sells, Hammer Price $12.5 Million

The Bay Psalm Book has just sold at Sotheby's New York for a hammer price of $12.5 million, a new record price for a printed book but well below the estimate of $15-30 million.

Total price, including buyer's premium, will be $14,165,000. Sotheby's tweeted soon after the sale: "The Bay Psalm Book was purchased by philanthropist David Rubenstein + is destined for exhibitions at libraries across the US".

Previous Bay Psalm Book-related posts.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Boston Recap, and Links & Reviews

This year's Boston Book Fair certainly appeared to be a resounding success, and it was a real pleasure to have the chance to see so many friends and readers of the blog while enjoying the great variety of books on offer at the Fair. It was, of course, also a treat for me to be back in Boston and visit old stomping grounds (including the Brattle and Raven for books).

- It was on the train up to Boston that I learned that the Google Books decision had finally been handed down, and was basically a complete victory for Google on fair use grounds. Read Judge Denny Chin's decision, or read a rundown at Techdirt. Jessamyn West rounded up some excellent links on the decision as well, and there's yet another link collection here. Nathan Raab wrote for Forbes about the impact this decision, suggesting that it will further drive down the prices of used books (I'm not sure I entirely agree).

- Sotheby's will sell the Bay Psalm Book on Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST in New York. See the catalog for a full account of the sale (you'll also be able to watch the sale via that link). Jill Lepore has an op/ed in the NYTimes about the sale today. Harvard has had their copy out for display through 14 December. Richard Davies attended one of the displays of the book in Seattle, and wrote about the experience. Earlier this month James Barron previewed the sale for the NYTimes, with comments from (now former) Old South Church historian Jeff Makholm. Over at Rare Books Digest, speculation on who might buy the Bay Psalm book this week (they suggest it may well be billionaire collector Steve Green).

- In Standpoint, H.R. Woudhuysen writes about the Senate House "Folio Fiasco" and the lessons it offers for librarians. It's an excellent piece; read the whole thing.

- Barry Landau's accomplice Jason Savedoff was released from prison earlier this month, after serving a year of his sentence.

- Over at Plougshares, an interview with Leah Price in their "People of the Book" series.

- In honor of the three-hundredth anniversary of Laurence Sterne's birthday, Karen Harvey posts on the OUP blog about the manuscript history of Tristram Shandy.

- Whitney Trettien discusses her work on a prototype of a digital facsimile "edition" of a Little Gidding Harmony.

- Columbia University has acquired the archive of Granary Books.

- An 18th-century Haggadah up for auction next week could fetch up to £500,000.

- The Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive was officially opened at the Library of Congress on 12 November.

- Harvard's Colonial North America project involves digitizing a great deal of manuscript material from across the Harvard library system, reports the Harvard Gazette.

- Making the rounds this weekend, a horrifying post at Tech Technologies documenting the 2010 sale and subsequent dispersal of a Book of Hours by an eBay seller who's been taking the manuscript apart and selling it piecemeal. Scott Gwara passed along a link to Erik Drigsdahl's running list of dismembered manuscripts seen on eBay in recent years.

- The NYPL has acquired Tom Wolfe's papers for $2.15 million.

- Charles Dornan Davis, best known for his role as a major forger of Texas documents, died on 30 September, Everett Wilkie reported on Ex-Libris. See Tom Taylor's book Texfake for a full account of these forgeries; there's also a 1989 New York Times Magazine piece on the events.

- Jenny Lowe posted some updates to the Girolamini theft scandal this week: the Italian culture ministry has brought the church and library complex under the regional network of cultural institutions. The ministry has also pledged €10 to restore the site. Herbert Schauer, of the Munich auction house Zisska & Schauer, was extradited to Italy earlier this month. Trials for the conspirators have been postponed yet again. And ALAI president Fabrizio Govi has called on the Italian government to release a list of the stolen books (which may not be possible given that such a list doesn't seem to exist). Govi adds: "apparently the Italian authorities are not concerned with the production of the forgeries that De Caro has disseminated throughout the antiquarian book marketplace, especially in the United States. Our worry is that, if nobody will investigate further in this field, we will never know who physically produced those forged books, how many are still circulating, and, last but not least, how they were manufactured, in order that we might be better able to recognize them in the future. The apparent disinterest in investigating this process brings up the frightening prospect that these forgeries might continue to proliferate and appear on the market long after the authorities are no longer interested in the stolen books themselves."

- To mark the publication of the three-volume History of Oxford University Press, there were a series of interesting posts by Ian Gadd on the OUP blog: "Before Caxton? Claiming Oxford as England's first printing city", "When did Oxford University Press begin?" They also posted a slideshow of OUP-related images.

- Over at Booktryst, a profile of British type-cutter Richard Austin.

- Just over a year ago I linked to a report that scholars had identified the authors of marginalia in a 1635 Mercator Atlas at the JCB as John and Virginia Ferrar. Now Ferrar Papers editor David Ransome weighs in, suggesting that the writing is not that of Virginia at all, but merely several varieties of John's own handwriting.

- The National Book Awards for 2013 were announced this week.

- Eleanor Catton talked with the NYTimes about her Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries.

- New from the Department of Labor: Books that Shaped Work in America.

- Mary Norris blogged about a round of literary "Jeopardy!" at the launch of Tom Nissley's endlessly interested new book A Reader's Book of Days.


- Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Bully Pulpit; review by Michiko Kakutani in the NYTimes.

- Arlette Farge's The Allure of the Archives; review by Michael Moore in the LA Review of Books.

- Richard Holmes' Falling Upwards; review by Paul Elie in the NYTimes.

- Nicholas Basbanes' On Paper; review by Peter Lewis at Barnes & Noble Review.

- Denise Spellberg's Thomas Jefferson's Qu'ran; review by Kirk Davis Swinehart in the NYTimes.

- Graham Robb's Discovery of Middle Earth; reviews by Ian Morris in the NYTimes and Wendy Smith in the LATimes.

- Owen Matthews' Glorious Misadventures; review by William Grimes in the NYTimes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Links & Reviews

- Over at Slate, you an watch an 18-minute silent movie from 1925 about the making of the OED.

- The Internet Archive's San Francisco scanning center was badly damaged by a fire; there were no injuries or loss of material being scanned, though much equipment was destroyed. They're asking for donations to help them recover.

- Amazon brought belly laughs to indie booksellers all over the country this week when they announced that they planned to allow indies to sell Kindles. Melville House collected some of the best responses.

- Eric Kwakkel asks "Where are the scriptoria?" in medieval images.

- The Appendix has launched a new blog series called Magic Lantern, in which they will spotlight a particularly singular image. The inaugural example is an 1870s Japanese woodblock print of Audubon opening a box of his watercolors which had been eaten to pieces by rats.

- From Notabilia, a nice example of a paper ream wrapper being used as a component of pasteboard.

- Anna Baddeley profiled The Public Domain Review in The Guardian this week.

- The November AEMonthly is out; it includes a short piece on the resignation of the Senate House librarian over that attempted sale of Shakespeare Folios.

- Scott Brown of Eureka Books announced his purchase of the remaining stock of Serendipity Books in Berkeley, amounting to some 100,000 items. Much of this will be sold off at bargain sales over the next few weeks.

- ARCA CEO Lynda Albertson has a very thorough essay on the many questions raised by the discovery of a "lost horde" of Nazi-confiscated art.

- The McGregor Fund has pledged $245,000 to allow select materials from the Tracy W. McGregor Library for digitization and online presentation. The grant will also allow for metadata enhancements and other improvements.

- Jordan Goffin, Special Collections Librarian at Providence Public Library, is highlighted in the Bright Young Librarians series over at FB&C.

- Millions of documents from Bletchley Park are to be digitized and made available online.

- As we wait for the Bay Psalm Book sale later this month, the BL's Head of Hispanic Studies points out that there was a press at Mexico City nearly a century earlier and highlights some of the earliest printing in the Americas. And over on the Sotheby's blog, a very worthwhile post on "Printing the Bay Psalm Book."

- The NYTimes published a roundup of authors' views on how the internet has changed storytelling.

Raymond Scott confessed to the theft of the Durham University First Folio shortly before he was acquitted of the charge, according to a report in the Sunday Sun tabloid. The confession is to be detailed in a book by Mike Kelly, Shakespeare & Love, scheduled for publication later this month (and, it should be noted, Scott told Kelly in a subsequent text message that he was just joking).

- The record for the longest book domino chain was recently broken at the Antwerp Book Fair. Video here.

- The library school program at Southern Connecticut State University has lost its ALA accreditation.

- Nick Basbanes talked to Jackie Atkins about On Paper for The Philadelphia Junto.


- Simon Winchester's The Men Who United The States; review by Stephen Mihm in the NYTimes.

- Jill Lepore's Book of Ages; review by Joanna Scutts in the WaPo.

- Keith Houston's Shady Characters; review by Jon Day in the Telegraph.

- Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Bully Pulpit; review by Heather Cox Richardson in the WaPo.

- Tom Standage's Writing on the Wall; review by Frank Rose in the NYTimes.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Book Review: "Bland Beginning"

Why yes, yes there is a mystery novel based on the T.J. Wise forgeries. Julian Symons' Bland Beginning (or as it is sometimes titled, Bland Beginnings), first published in 1949, is a schlock-filled romp (think P.G. Wodehouse plus Agatha Christie, but not all that well written). But it's full of interesting details about the Wise forgeries and Carter and Pollard's enquiries into them, making it absolutely worth the few hours it takes to read it.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Links & Reviews

One of these days I will catch up and get back to a regular schedule ...

- There was an appeal hearing this week in the Authors Guild v. HathiTrust case; Kenneth Crews of Columbia attended and has posted his notes.

- From the BBC, a "Living Online" report from the Folger Shakespeare Library on its digitization plans and strategies.

- Our friend George Psalmanazar is profiled by Benjamin Breen in The Appendix (drawn from his JEMH article here).

- There's a new CLIR report, Born Digital: Guidance for Donors, Dealers, and Archival Repositories. Naturally the report is web-only, but it's available for free download here.

- The Albion iron hand press used by William Morris to print the Kelmscott Chaucer will be sold at Christie's New York on 6 December, with an estimate of $100,000-150,000.

- Dan De Simone has been announced as the next Eric Weinmann Librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

- Newly digitized at Penn, a 1785 mss. inventory of Nicola Rossi's collection of early printed books and manuscripts. See also the later printed version [via Mitch Fraas].

- At the Centre for Material Texts blog, Jason Scott-Warren writes about his hunt for the 850 books of Elizabethan reader William Neile.

- Paul Collins' next book will be Blood & Ivy: The True Story of Money, Murder & the Trial That Shocked Harvard, about the Parkman-Webster murder. It'll be published by Norton and out in 2016.

- The DPLA has announced a million-dollar grant program from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to train public librarians in digitization, metadata creation, and digital technologies.

- Joseph Thomas recently wrote a fascinating piece for Slate on why his biography of Shel Silverstein may never see print.

- At Forbes, Tim Worstall on how Barnes & Noble is suddenly Amazon's biggest roadblock when it comes to getting the books they're publishing in front of readers.

- Nick Basbanes talked about his new book On Paper with Britannica editor Gregory McNamee, with Publishers Weekly's Michael M. Jones (here), and on the Diane Rehm Show (here).

- Nigel Beale has posted an interview with Bill Reese on collecting and selling books.

- In The New Yorker, Annette Gordon-Reed discusses the new "12 Years a Slave" movie and slave narratives as historical evidence.

- A Chicago man who discovered papers related to Richard T. Greener (the first black graduate of Harvard) told a Chicago newspaper that he would "roast and burn" the papers if Harvard didn't offer more money for them.

- The Getty Research Institute has released another 5,400 artwork images into its Open Content Program (bringing the total up to 10,000+).

- The Guardian is running a series of essays on "The 100 Best Novels," which so far have been very much worth reading.

- SHARP seeks editors for Book History.

- Peter Kirwan, an editor for a new volume titled Collaborative Plays by William Shakespeare & Others, writes very cogently about what the volume is designed to do and present.

- Houghton Library curator John Overholt recently appeared on the "You're the Expert" podcast, which makes for highly entertaining listening.

- Robert Darnton discussed "the future of books" with Memphis Flyer reporter Leonard Gill.

- New at Houghton, Kepler's Ad Rerum Coelestium Amatores Universos, the rarest of Kepler's works (just four copies are known).

- APHA has launched a blog on its new homepage. Recommended (even if it does not, at the moment, appear to be RSS-able, which is a bummer, and on which I will be happy to be corrected if someone can send me the feed URL Update: feed is at http://printinghistory.org/feed/).

- There's a new (and quite nice) version of the USTC site. More from Jim Hinck here.

- From Mitch Fraas at Mapping Books, an early look at mapping library markings from looted books.

- Denise Spellberg talked to NPR recently about her book Thomas Jefferson's Qu'ran.

- Keith Houston, whose book Shady Characters I enjoyed very much this fall, has announced that he's now at work on The Book: A Cover to Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time (to be published by Norton in 2015).

- At Medieval Fragments, a few treasure bindings to feast your eyes upon.

- The University of Melbourne has purchased the literary archives of Germaine Greer for ~$3 million, with proceeds going to rainforest restoration efforts.

- New at AAS, the only(?) issue of The Franklin, an early Washington periodical flop.

- From Jordan Goffin at Notes for Bibliophiles, an excellent reminder that, as he writes, "rare materials require the use of all five senses."

- Rebecca Rego Barry highlights the publication of An Inspiration to All Who Enter: Fifty Works from Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Yale University Press).

- The University of Illinois has acquired the literary archives of Gwendolyn Brooks.

- At Manuscript Road Trip, a consideration of Otto Ege and his biblioclasm.

- Irene O'Daly writes on images of medieval scribes at work over at Medieval Fragments.

- From the Bright Young Librarians series, Meghan Constantinou of the Grolier Club and Jordan Goffin of the Providence Public Library.

- Over at Typefoundry, James Mosley explores the history of @.

- New at Exeter Working Papers in Book History, a series of posts outlining the library contents of Sabine Baring-Gould.

- Jennifer Schuessler covered the launch of the Emily Dickinson Archive, including a look at the continuing tensions between Amherst and Harvard over the Dickinson materials in their collections. More on that from Sarah Schweitzer in the Boston Globe.

- McGill University has launched an exhibit to display select items from the J. Patrick Lee Collection of Voltaire, newly acquired by the university library.

- At Booktryst, a look at the manuscript of George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation, going on the block at Christie's on 14 November.

- In The New Yorker, Paul Collins examines what may be some early Poe works through the lens of computer-based textual analysis.

- Reading Copy asked booksellers Bill Reese and Allen Stypeck for their predictions about the Bay Psalm Book sale on 26 November. In a later post, Richard Davies asks "Who Will Buy the Bay Psalm Book?"

- The Letterform Archive is fundraising (via Kickstarter) for what looks like a very cool 2014 calendar.

- Ron Charles highlights the launch of the new Shelley-Godwin Archive. More here from the NYTimes.


- Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries; review by Janet Maslin in the NYTimes.

- Alan Jacobs' The Book of Common Prayer; review by Adam Shields at Bookwi.se.

- A. Scott Berg's Wilson; review by Hector Tobar in the LATimes.

- Miles Hollingworth's St. Augustine of Hippo; review by Cole Moreton in the Telegraph.

- James WP Campbell's The Library: A World History; review by Clive Aslet in the Telegraph.

- Jeff Greenfield's If Kennedy Lived; reviews by H.W. Brands in the WaPo and John Timpane in the Philly Inquirer.

- Nick Basbanes' On Paper; review by Helen Gallagher in the New York Journal of Books.

- Jill Lepore's Book of Ages; review by Mary Beth Norton in the NYTimes.

- Richard A. Serrano's Last of the Blue and Gray; review by Scott Martelle in the LATimes.