Rare Books

Moving Day for Priceless Historical Documents

From the New York Times a fascinating look at how invaluable historical documents and artifacts are secured while in transit.

Rare books stolen from Becker College Library

A British man named Joseph Heath was ordered to pay $3,000 to Becker College library after stealing 100 rare books, including one signed by Abraham Lincoln, The Telegram reports.

The 53-year-old Leicester native had smuggled around $115,000 out of the antique book collection of the library. One of the books he took was a first edition o Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

Heath, a janitor at the college, had offered the missing books or sale to private collectors, as well as posting them on Craigslist.

Heath’s book pilfering was discovered when he tried to sell books to the Leicester Historical Society, and one of the board members recognized the editions.

Virginia History and Bunny Men

From The Washington Post:

"We Virginians, we really love our history,” said Laura Wickstead, director of the Virginia Room at the City of Fairfax Regional Library. “That’s for sure.”

“We’re sitting within a virtual stone’s throw of the Library of Congress, the National Archives and these fabulous university collections,” Laura said, “but even these smaller public library collections are superb and have things you don’t find other places.”

There’s certainly a lot to love. After all, this is the part of the country that produced George Mason, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Virginia was a hotbed of the Civil War. More recently, it’s where the mysterious urban legend known as the Bunny Man did whatever it is that Bunny Men do.

Sarajevo Reopens 477-year old library After Wars Destruction


Via Boston.com:

Shown above: Bosnian security worker passes by old books on display during opening ceremony of Gazi Husrev-bey library in Sarajevo, on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Sarajevo reopens the 477-year old library on Wednesday, that contains the biggest collection of oriental books and manuscripts in Southeast Europe, after it was rebuilt with the financial donation from Qatar. Dodging bullets and bombs during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and the city's siege, Sarajevans moved the manuscripts eight times to different locations to save them from destruction. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

The Cleveland Public Library Found a Lost First Edition Copy of 'A Christmas Carol'

The Cleveland Public Library Found a Lost First Edition Copy of 'A Christmas Carol'
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2013/12/cleveland-public-library-found-l...
Cleveland librarian Kelly Brown had far more modest plans when she first began collecting items for a holiday traditions display at the Cleveland Public Library. But when she began poking around the stacks, she stumbled on a fairly unexpected Yuletide surprise: a first-edition copy of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

First book printed in the US sells for $14.2 million at Sotheby's

From CNN.com: "The world's most valuable book sold Tuesday for $14.16 million at Sotheby's in New York, according to the auction house.

The rare Bay Psalm Book is the first book ever written and printed in what is now the United States. Its sale set a record for a book sold at auction, Sotheby's said."

An Ancient Library and Advice from the Buddha

Fascinating piece in the New Yorker about an ancient Chinese library in Dunhuang, unearthed about one hundred years ago, and where scholars are now in the process of digitizing thousand year old Chinese manuscripts.

A portion of the article equating print with prayer...

"The paper items preserved in the Library also shed light on the origins of another information technology: print. The Diamond Sutra, one of the most famous documents recovered from Dunhuang, was commissioned in 868 A.D., “for free distribution,” by a man named Wang Jie, who wanted to commemorate his parents. In the well-known sermon that it contains, the Buddha declares that the merit accrued from reading and reciting the sutra was worth more than a galaxy filled with jewels. In other words, reproducing scriptures, whether orally or on paper, was good for karma. Printing began as a form of prayer, the equivalent of turning a prayer wheel or slipping a note into the Western Wall in Jerusalem, but on an industrial scale."

...Others Titles by the Same Author

William John Locke. Photo via
Sean Fagan, Old and Rare Books.

Nazi Era Book Left in Illinois Library Book Drop

From The Chicago Sun-Times: LaGrange Park Public Library officials are brimming with curiosity over who dropped off a rare book stamped “Secret!” from notorious Nazi Commander Hermann Goring, which is now under study at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a great mystery,” library director Dixie Conkis said. “We had the book in our possession for a while not knowing quite what to do with it, but felt that because it was marked ‘secret’ it was probably a rather important book.”

The book, “1938-1941: Vier Jahre, Hermann Goring-Werke,” likely was left in the library’s book drop. It easily could have been discarded if not for Ursula Stanek, circulation services director, who grew up in Mannheim, Germany. The book sat on her desk for several weeks in the spring until she noted the inside cover was stamped “Geheim!” meaning “Secret!” with letterhead from Goring, the Nazi state secrete police commander.

Thanks to the librarians, the book now has a permanent home in Washington DC's Holocaust Museum, which had only previously had a reprinted copy.

Peering Into the Exquisite Life of Rare Books

For five weeks each summer Rare Book School brings some 300 librarians, conservators, scholars, dealers, collectors and random book-mad civilians together for weeklong intensive courses in an atmosphere that combines the intensity of the seminar room, the nerdiness of a “Star Trek” convention and the camaraderie of a summer camp where people come back year after year.

Full article in the NYT

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