Rare Books

Lost Religious Document Turns Up Not on E-Bay, But at Sotheby's

A 215-year-old Jewish manuscript discovered missing a decade ago will be returned by the German library where it surfaced, an Israeli official said Tuesday.

A 1998 inventory check at the Tel Aviv's Rambam Library revealed that the one-of-a-kind manuscript was missing. Titled "The Book of the Levite's Worship," it was a treatise on Jewish law written by a Berlin rabbi in 1793.

The police had no leads on the possible thief and closed the case, said Avigdor Levin, the top cultural official at the Tel Aviv municipality.

A year later, the manuscript was offered at auction at Sotheby's in New York for between $16,000 and $18,000 and was not purchased, but was later sold to an unidentified dealer and disappeared again before the Israelis could put their hands on it, he said.

The manuscript was finally found thanks to a stroke of luck. In 2005, a manuscript specialist at Israel's national library in Jerusalem received a copy of a book being held by the German National Library and realized it was the "Levite's Worship."

After a legal team established that it was indeed the missing book, the German library agreed to return it to Tel Aviv. Levin said the Germans displayed "a lot of good will." Story from the AP.

Bookfinder.com removes book from 2008 "Out of Print" Book Trends Report

Margin of Safety: The Story of Poliomyelitis Vaccine was the #5 book in the "History" category. The book has been removed from the 2008 report. More details here.

Treasures in the Basement

The Somerville (MA) Public Library basement, two floors below teenagers clustered around computers, stores not only 25-year-old issues of "National Geographic" but 250-year-old books.

Cataloging librarian and occasional Boston Globe book reviewer Kevin O'Kelly said "most people have no idea this stuff is here." Half-forgotten for years, the treasures in the basement will finally get some attention this fall. The library got a $2,500 federal grant through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to hire a conservation specialist who will examine the collection and recommend improvements.

The collection includes "Magnalia Christi Americana" by Cotton Mather, the 17th century Boston Puritan leader, with a publication date of 1702. O'Kelly ran his finger over its thick pages. "This might be a facsimile but I'm pretty sure it's a first edition because if you touch this you can feel the impressions made by the printing press," he said.

Turn the Pages of Rare Books...with Technology

The British Library is bringing some of the world's rarest books online, with the intent of giving as wide an audience as possible the most accurate experience of reading the real thing.

Turning the Pages is a unique piece of software designed to allow readers to look at rare books in a natural way. With Turning the Pages, users can read the books in their original format, almost exactly as they were intended to be read by their original audience. This article on ZD.net allows us to turn the pages of "Alice's Adventures Above Ground. " Look ma, no gloves!

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 <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/10/AR2008041004241.html ">Reports The Washington Post</a>

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.


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