Rare Books

They Used -What- as a Bookmark?

Always good as a conversation starter...the things people leave in books that are not traditional bookmarks. Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby’s tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hickson are just some of the stranger objects discovered by booksellers. And then there's the strip of bacon.

Abebooks has a listing of these items...some mundane, some bizarre, some deeply personal. What have you found?

Stolen First Folio En Route To Its Rightful Owner

Police have recovered a stolen 400-year-old volume of Shakespeare after a man walked into the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC and asked to have it authenticated.

The First Folio edition of 1623 was stolen nearly a decade ago from a display case at the Durham University Library in England. The book is considered one of the most important in the English language.

Police say the man claimed to be an international businessman who had bought the book in Cuba. The Folger contacted the FBI and discovered that the Folio had been listed as stolen; the 'businessman' is currently being held for questioning.

Jefferson's Library Once Again Complete

The Library of Congress has managed to re-create —with the help of rare-book collectors —-the missing two-thirds of Thomas Jefferson's Library. Mark Dimunation, of the Library of Congress, discusses Jefferson's tastes and rare-book detectives.

Listen to full story on NPR.


Thermal Volatilisation Analysis and You

A pioneering project to chemically "sniff" books could determine a tome's state of health and help protect valuable volumes from decay, scientists have revealed.

And the innovative technique could uncover what creates the distinctive musty smell familiar from antique bookshops.

The system, being developed at the University of Strathclyde, involves placing a book in a sealed chamber for between 24 and 48 hours.

Materials responsible for creating the book's odour are extracted and then examined to determine the "health" of the volume.

Full story here.

Recreated Library Speaks Volumes about Jefferson

For the past decade, a small group of rare book experts has sought to re-create Jefferson's library, scouring antiquarian book collections on two continents to acquire thousands of volumes. The entire collection of more than 6,000 volumes -- some originals and some replacements -- will go on display tomorrow at the Library of Congress, looking much as it would have 200 years ago Reports The Washington Post

Oldest human voice recording!

We all hear growing up that the first recording of a human voice is Thomas Edison's "Mary had a little lamb." However, this may not be true. Audio historian David Giovannoni, has discovered a recording that predates Edison's by 17 years. Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville used a phonautograph to create this artifacts.

Library Admits Damage to 18th-Century Diary

Can the British Library be trusted? I suppose the answer is 'sometimes'...

The New York Times reports via the BBC that "The British Library has admitted that a historic diary was damaged while in its care, but refused to confirm reports that the manuscript, which recorded preparations for the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, had been left in the trunk of a car."

The diary, written by Thomas Tyldesley had been entrusted to the library in 1994 by its owner, descendant Peter J. Tyldesley, who said he believed it would be safer there than in his home.


Man to start selling ultra-rare books

There's a first-edition Ken Follett thriller lying on Michael Sharpe's library table. First editions are what Sharpe collects. This particular potboiler, however, is surrounded by what experts call one of the most extraordinary private collections of rare books in the world.

In just 20 years, Sharpe has amassed works of science, philosophy, medicine, exploration, religion, literature and mathematics, all classified as being in superb condition and worth about $25 million.
Together, they record the growth of Western civilization through everything from a Dead Sea Scroll fragment to "Gone With the Wind."


U. of Miami Adds Three Millionth Book

Ever wonder what happened to Donna Shalala? She served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton for all eight years of his administration.

Since 2001, she's been the fifth President of the University of Miami, and she's exceedingly proud of the libraries on her campus. "The most important buildings on our campuses are our libraries," said Shalala. She explained that libraries can be an effective recruiting tool, which is one reason UM will continue "upgrading and expanding our collection."

The three millionth book, Dialogues et Chants Royaux, a previously lost 16th century manuscript, has just been added to the U of M library, with the fanfare described here.

A prayer(book) for Archimedes: calculus in Greece?

madcow writes ""For seventy years, a prayer book moldered in the closet of a family in France, passed down from one generation to the next. Its mildewed parchment pages were stiff and contorted, tarnished by burn marks and waxy smudges. Behind the text of the prayers, faint Greek letters marched in lines up the page, with an occasional diagram disappearing into the spine...
For this was not just a prayer book. The faint Greek inscriptions and accompanying diagrams were, in fact, the only surviving copies of several works by the great Greek mathematician Archimedes...An intensive research effort over the last nine years has led to the decoding of much of the almost-obliterated Greek text. The results were more revolutionary than anyone had expected. The researchers have discovered that Archimedes was working out principles that, centuries later, would form the heart of calculus and that he had a more sophisticated understanding of the concept of infinity than anyone had realized. Fascinating story here.""



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