Rare Books

Rare Books

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.""


Denison exhibition encourages public to touch old books

Old and rare books normally are locked tight in the recesses of archives and libraries, touched only by a few and then only with white gloves.

So imagine the scene Wednesday at Denison University's library when 60 students, faculty and others not only saw up close, but also handled treasured documents and rare editions of books, one dating back 500 years.

Rare (1998!) Harry Potter book Auctioned for Charity

(ed-For variety's sake, I tried to find a story--key word: book--on something other than Harry Potter. But this is the one that turned up, and I have to report it...)

Never mind about HP7, now there's a rare edition of Harry Potter (first edition), and it's being sold to raise money for the Oxfam UK . BBC has the story.


Vatican Library Closes until 2010 for Rebuilding

For the first time in its 500 year history, the Vatican Library is closing temporarily. One wing of the building was found to be unsafe, so the next three years will be spent on repairs. BBC News has the story.

Preserving Treasures of the Past

A team of archivists and preservationists is hard at work in Washington DC with librarians and museum personnel from around the country. Thanks to a grant from the non-profit Heritage Foundation and the IMLS, they are learning the how-to's of preserving fragile, time and temperature-worn documents.

A recent survey, following the destruction evidenced by Hurricane Katrina, showed the following:

*More than half of the country's 30,000 libraries, museums and archives have had articles that were damaged by moisture

*26 percent of collecting institutions have no environmental controls, including 40 percent of libraries.

*80 percent of collections have no disaster plan

More on the current summit from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Access North Georgia and WV Gazette.

Frank Streeter Library Sale

On BookTV, Sunday, June 24, at 7:00 PM, (Eastern time) there is a program about the Frank Streeter Library Sale.

A WWII navy veteran of the Pacific theater, Frank Streeter developed an interest in and collected early navigation, pacific voyages, cartography, and science rare books. The 88 year-old Mr. Streeter decided to sell his library at Christies in New York, but died prior to the auction. In this program we take a close look at several of the rarest and most valuable books and learn about Mr. Streeter and how a rare book auction is conducted. The 552 items from the library sold for a total of 16.5 million dollars. Featured in the program is "The Atlantic Neptune", a large four volume sea atlas of the British colonies commissioned in 1760 and 16 years in production; it was the first detailed chart of the coastal areas of North America.

Link to program info at BookTV


Competition to find the greatest hidden treasures in UK libraries

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the British Library recently unveiled Turning the Pages 2.0 - a 3D system that allows people to explore digitized versions of books and manuscripts. A competition is being held among public libraries throughout the United Kingdom to find items in their collections that most deserve to be converted into 'virtual texts' and posted for the public to view on the British Library's website.

A Treat for Fans of James Thurber, And Who Isn't

birdie writes "Previously unseen drawings by James Thurber to be displayed at the Columbus Library from the Columbus Dispatch. The works even include some erotic images -- unusual for Thurber, who drew most often for staid New Yorker Editor Harold Ross.

Thus, some of the drawings aren't family-oriented, Smith acknowledged.

"We will be taking three or four down," he said, "when the Thurber House has its kids camp."



A Reason To Cringe: Jacobite Diary Ruined at British Library

Briton Peter J. Tyldesley, a solicitor and consultant for the Law Commission inherited his ancestor's Thomas Tyldesley diary from the early 18th Century. But in 1994, he decided to give it what he thought would be a safer home at the British Library. The diary was discovered earlier this month with it's leather cover cut off and the pages stained with oil. Times Online tells the sorry tale.


Lambeth Palace library to go online

bookieincolorado writes "[Church of England] One of the oldest public libraries in the country is set to go into cyberspace. The printed book collection of Lambeth Palace Library — the historic library and record office of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the main repository of the documentary history of the Church of England — will be added to an online catalogue for the benefit of the national and international research community, it has been announced today.

Here's The Scoop!"


Rare Steinbeck book auctioned for $47,800

A rare edition of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's epic 1939 tale of Depression-era poverty, sold at auction for $47,800.

A number of other first-edition copies of Steinbeck works were sold Sunday at an auction held by Bonhams & Butterfields. A copy of "Of Mice and Men" sold for $7,768, "East of Eden" for $8,365 and "In Dubious Battle" for $11,353.



Boston Athenaeum Turns 200

teaperson writes "Boston's oldest private library is mounting an exhibit of various treasures to celebrate the occasion, featuring "a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Abraham Lincoln, painting and sculpture by artists Mather Brown and Horatio Greenough. And, of course, there are books, including a bound volume of presidential speeches from the library of George Washington." WBUR takes an audio and video tour."


Discovery of Authorship of Translator of "Faust" Began @ the Library

According to the Great Falls Tribune, if "you're a 19th Century Romantic scholar, [this] discovery is equivalent to finding the Dead Sea Scrolls".

The discovery was of an English translation of Goethe's Faust, anonymous, but believed to be by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Forty years ago, Professor Paul Zall found such a translation at the Huntington Library, and after many years of attempting but not being able to prove that the play was translated by the great British poet, he handed over the project to his student James McKusick, now dean of University of Montana's Davidson Honors College. Read on to follow the twists and turns of the proof...



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