Rare Books

But Did He Steal It?

Remember how librarian Richard Kuhta was handed a damaged copy of one of the Bard's First Folios for examination?

Yesterday, the man in possession of the priceless piece, Raymond Scott, 53, was found guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from the UK in relation to the book, which has been described as part of England's ''cultural legacy''. However he was cleared of stealing the work.

The charges relate to one of the surviving copies of the 1623 compendium of Shakespeare's plays which went missing from Durham University in 1998. It was handed in by Scott to the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC a decade later.

Scott was remanded in custody by Judge Richard Lowden, who told him: "There will, in due time, be an inevitable substantial custodial sentence."

The judge adjourned the case to a date to be fixed to allow a psychiatric report to be prepared.

The jury of seven women and five men heard that Scott was arrested after presenting the badly damaged folio to staff at the US library and asking for it to be verified as genuine.

More from Guardian UK.

Descendants Tussle Over Steinbeck Manuscripts and Artifacts

From The Californian: Caught off guard by news that John Steinbeck memorabilia will be auctioned off in New York on Wednesday, the author's son and daughter-in-law are raising money on the fly to bid for items and bring them to Salinas.

Santa Barbara-based Thom Steinbeck and Gail Steinbeck had raised $4,600 as of Monday from a list of contributors that included auto dealership owner Sam Linder and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Their goal is $15,000.

Bloomsbury Auctions announced last Wednesday that a collection of Steinbeck manuscripts, photographs and artifacts valued from $200,000 to $250,000 will be put to bid. The items trace back to a New York apartment the author shared with his third wife, Elaine Steinbeck, in the 1950s and 1960s. After she died in 2003, they came into the possession of Elaine's children from a prior marriage to Zachary Scott, Gail Steinbeck said.

Those heirs, with the aid of literary agents McIntosh & Otis, arranged for the auction, Steinbeck said.

It's a bone of contention between two sides of the family. Disputes over possession of particular items have been hashed out in court for eight years.

Librarian Retrieves Stolen First Folio

Richard Kuhta, a librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library has described the "heart dropping" moment he realised an ancient Shakespeare first edition he'd been asked to authenticate by a County Durham man was a priceless relic stolen a decade earlier.

Staff at the world renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC called in the British Embassy, Durham Police and the FBI after being given the badly damaged book by Raymond Scott in 2008.

Scott, 53, of Manor Grange, Wingate, posed as a wealthy international playboy who claimed to have discovered the Shakespeare's first folio when holidaying in Cuba.

But experts at the library soon discovered the artifact, which had pages missing and its bindings and cover removed, was a unique 1623 first printing of the bard's collected works stolen in a raid at Durham University in December 1998.

Scott, who has denied theft, handling and transporting stolen goods, intended to sell the book at auction then share the money with friends in Cuba, a trial at Newcastle Crown Court heard. Experts estimated the first folio to be worth £1 million, even in its damaged state. They said in terms of its cultural value it was priceless.

Washington National Cathedral to Sell Off Rare Books

The Washington Post: Over the past two years, economic hard times have loomed as large at Washington National Cathedral as the Gothic spires that grace the city's skyline.

The cathedral has slashed its budget from $27 to $13 million, outsourcing its gift shop operation and shuttering its popular greenhouse and its continuing education college for clergy. Three rounds of layoffs have reduced the staff from 170 to 70, including, at the end of this month, the cathedral's conservator and the liturgist who oversaw the April memorial service for civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height.

Then news came this week that the cathedral, visited by every U.S. president since Theodore Roosevelt laid its foundation stone in 1907, was considering selling off part of its rare books collection, probably worth millions. Cathedral officials said the potential sale of the books is a separate matter from its ongoing budget difficulties. But they acknowledge that they no longer have the staff and resources to care for such a vast collection, which includes volumes donated by Queen Elizabeth II and Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie and a Dutch Bible that was the first written in modern language.

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A Gentle Reminder to Special-Collections Curators

Let this, then, serve as a gentle reminder to rare-book curators that your job is not to keep readers from your books but just the opposite: to facilitate readers' use of the collections. If altruism or professional integrity aren't sufficient motivators to get you to play nice, you might consider the fact that you have a job only because people want to read what's in those collections, and you will keep your job for only as long as readers feel welcome to approach you to make use of the materials.

Full article

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Historic Magna Carta Stuck in New York Due to European Travel Restrictions

The Magna Carta may have helped establish our right to protection against unlawful legal detention, but that doesn’t mean the venerated document can’t be held in New York a little longer than expected while Europe resolves its travel woes.

The Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan said a rare manuscript of the Magna Carta that it will show starting Wednesday would remain on display through May 30 while arrangements were made to transport it home to Britain. As all good schoolchildren know, the original Magna Carta was signed by King John of England in 1215 at Runnymede, putting limits on the king’s power and enumerating legal principles like the writ of habeas corpus. The version at the Morgan, which dates to 1217, is one of 17 surviving originals produced in the 13th century that bear the royal seal. It had been held by the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and was transported to New York for a special Oxford event, but could not be returned to Britain as a result of travel restrictions imposed after the eruption of an Icelandic volcano. Through the end of May, Britain’s loss is America’s gain.

Our First President Was a Scofflaw...Overdue Books!

He may have never told a lie, but George Washington apparently had no problem stiffing a Manhattan library on two books.

Two centuries ago, the nation's first President borrowed two tomes from the New York Society Library on Manhattan's Upper East Side (New York City being the Nation's Capital at the time) and never returned them, racking up an inflation-adjusted $300,000 late fee.

But Washington can rest easy. "We're not actively pursuing the overdue fines," quipped head librarian Mark Bartlett. "But we would be very happy if we were able to get the books back." Washington's dastardly deed went unknown for almost 150 years.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/04/17/2010-04-17_read_it__weep_by_george_prez_racks...

A Rare ‘Jungle Book’ Resurfaces in Britain

Librarians for Britain’s National Trust have discovered a rare first edition of Rudyard Kipling’s “Jungle Book,” BBC News reported. Officials of the trust said the book contained a handwritten note from the author to his daughter Josephine, who died in 1899, when she was 6.

Full piece here

Here is another article that shows a picture of the inscription.

Wikipedia entry for The Jungle Book

Charles Dickens Library Exhibit & Discovery Of 2 previously unknown letters from him

Slumming With Charles Dickens: New York Library Relives His American Tours
snippet: "The staging of Dickens In America led to the discovery of two heretofore unknown personal letters written by Dickens to John Bigelow in the 1860's."

The Reanimation Library...Recycling Images and More

Very cool project here in Brooklyn, NY, the Reanimation Library. Below, a video explanation of the project via Rocketboom. Ella Morton interviews Andrew Beccone, master librarian and founder of the Reanimation Library: Additional information at the Reanimation Library website. Sounds like THE perfect place to send of some of those old weeded illustrated volumes....

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