Dominic Winter to Auction Previously Unknown C.S. Lewis Letter About Joy

  Dominic Winter Auctioneers in Gloucestershire will auction off a delightful, previously unknown C.S. Lewis letter about his interpretation of joy. The letter, discovered tucked into a used book, reveals the author’s view of the emotion: “…real joy… jumps under one’s ribs and makes one forget meals and keeps one (delightedly) sleepless o’nights.” The letter, addressed to an unidentified “Mrs Willis,” was written in August of 1945. The auctioneers have not been able to find out any further information about … Continued

The Tale of Beatrix Potter

The stories of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter Rabbit are beloved worldwide, and their creator mined her own childhood experiences with wildlife as inspiration. Beatrix Potter lived in a typical upper-class family in London, where governesses attended to her schooling and she interacted little with her parents, both of whom were preoccupied with their own artistic talents and social groups. Her governesses recognized her talent early, and nurtured it. Soon the young girl was drawing her own illustrations for cherished … Continued

The Great Omar: The Jewel of Sangorski & Sutcliffe

Sangorski & Sutcliffe is an extremely well-known bookbinding firm. Founded in London in 1901, they are especially known for their sumptuous bindings. (You can learn more about Sangorski & Sutcliffe and see examples of their work in our gallery). The practice of binding books with exquisite jeweled bindings was popular in the Middle Ages, but Sangorski & Sutcliffe resurrected the craft. Their books were bound in intricately inlaid multicolored leather, and often set with real gold, jewels, and semi-precious stones. Their most famous work was The Great Omar … Continued

Einstein’s letter of support for Marie Curie

Marie Curie, 1903 Image credit, Wikipedia

“Simply don’t read that hogwash, but leave it for the reptile for whom it has been fabricated”

A number of Einstein’s correspondence is being translated into English and shared in both paperback  and online.

In Volume 8: The Berlin Years: Correspondence, 1914-1918 was found a note that Einstein sent to Marie Curie, encouraging her to ignore her detractors and continue her course.

By the time that this letter was sent to Marie Skłodowska Curie, she had already been awarded a Nobel prize in Physics, become the first female professor at the University of Paris, and then awarded a Nobel prize in Chemistry. Those accomplishments, however, were often overshadowed by a press fixated on her gender, religious views, and her nationality – these being the source of the slander and insult that Einstein addressed in his letter, which you can read below:

Herbals Outperform at German Auction

A two-day auction of rare books by the German firm Ketterer Kunst on Monday and Tuesday this week realized impressive prices for herbals. All the herbals on offer at auction sold above estimates, sometimes by significant amounts. (Images and more text) (more…)

First Folio Found in French Library

First Folio Shakespeare
[Image of First Folio Table of Contents from Wikipedia]
This week already saw the discovery of a famous lost Kerouac letter.  Now we can add a previously unknown First Folio to the tally.

Shakespeare’s First Folio – containing 36 of his 38 known plays and printed in 1623 – is one of the most valuable books in English literature. It’s also one of the most closely inventoried. Of the 800 copies thought to have been originally printed in the 17th century, 233 are believed to still exist today. And now we can add the 234th to the list.

This particular First Folio has lain dormant in the library of Saint-Omer, an obscure French town near Calais, for over two hundred years.

Medieval literature expert and librarian Rémy Cordonnier stumbled across the book while searching for items to use in a planned exhibition of Anglo-Saxon authors. (more…)

Renaissance Codes and Ciphers Exhibition at the Folger

  Detail. Giambattista della Porta. De furtivis literarum notis. 1591. Folger Shakespeare Library.

Detail. Giambattista della Porta. De furtivis literarum notis. 1591. Folger Shakespeare Library.

What does Shakespeare have to do with twentieth century codebreakers? The folks at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. have a pretty good idea, and on Tuesday unveiled its latest exhibit entitled Decoding the Renaissance: 500 Years of Codes and Ciphers. On display are texts illustrating how the science of creating and breaking codes traces its roots to the age of Shakespeare.

Bill Sherman, head of research at the Victoria and Albert Museum and curator of the exhibition, explained that most of the materials in the show came from the Folger’s own collection and the Library of Congress. “I found that the incredible concentration of books in codes in ciphers was astonishing. Between the Folger and the LOC across the street, they had a first edition — at least one of each — for every key text in that field for the first couple hundred years.” This is also the first time these texts have been brought together to introduce the field of secret communication to the general public.

The Catcher in the Rye, or Not?

The Catcher in the Rye, or not?
The Catcher in the Rye, or not?

Seen here at left is the iconic book jacket for J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye, featuring E. Michael Mitchell’s angry red horse illustration — or is it? Upon closer inspection, you will note that this Catcher‘s author is Richard Prince. And the publisher’s name on the spine is no longer that of Little Brown, but instead something called American Place.

In 2011, Richard Prince, an artist whose paintings have sold at auction for millions of dollars, created this reproduction of the first edition of Catcher in a limited edition of 500 copies.

It was an act of “provocative appropriation,” according to Swann Galleries, which will auction one of the now scarce artist’s books on November 18, for an estimated $800-1,200. Prince sold unsigned copies at the 2011 New York Art Book Fair for several hundred dollars and–unbelievably–hawked them one day on a sidewalk outside New York City’s Central Park for $40. You can read more about this stunt at the Poetry Foundation’s blog.

Image Courtesy of Swann Galleries.

Browse related collectible books:

First Editions of Catcher in the Rye

Richard Prince’s “Catcher in the Rye”

Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, author

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Sylvia Plath’s Unabridged Journals & Enduring Influence

Twenty-three original manuscripts published in 2000

A fit of despair over her troubled marriage to fellow poet Ted Hughes led Sylvia Plath to commit suicide in 1963. In the years that followed, Plath’s work would achieve acclaim and accolades, assuring her a place in the pantheon of American poets. Plath’s sharp, spare verses are the result of many drafts and revisions. Her journals, on the other hand, were an opportunity for Plath to write freely and unencumbered by critical eyes.

In the summer of 1950, just before matriculating at Smith College, Plath began recording the events of her life in almost obsessive detail, and would ultimately cover topics from her never ending quest for poetic perfection to Hughes’ spousal infidelity.  Since she died without a will, Plath’s literary estate was left in the hands of her estranged husband. Hughes published her journals in 1982, however acknowledged that he had excised unsavory and unflattering entries from the last two notebooks spanning 1959 through 1962.   (more…)

Thoreau Institute Obtains Major Collection of Rare Books & Manuscripts

draft manuscript leaf of Thoreau's Walden
A draft manuscript leaf of Thoreau’s Walden, in which he writes, “Oh Baker Farm!” Courtesy of the Walden Woods Project.

The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, a research facility that holds the most comprehensive collection of Henry David Thoreau-related material in one place, has acquired what its curator of collections Jeffrey S. Cramer calls “a dream collection, the last truly great Thoreau collection in private hands.” The collection was amassed over 45 years by bookseller Kevin Mac Donnell of Mac Donnell Rare Books in Austin, Texas.

The highlights are thrilling: A Walden first edition–“the cleanest copy in existence,” says Cramer–plus Thoreau’s Aunt Maria’s annotated copy of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack, two manuscript leaves from his “Walking” essay, unbound sheets of “Civil Disobedience,” two books from Thoreau’s personal library, Thoreau family pencils, and unrecorded variant editions. Topping all of those is an extremely rare manuscript leaf from Walden that references Baker Farm (seen below). “That sold it for us,” says Cramer. Baker Farm is where the Thoreau Institute is located, so it feels very much “like it’s coming back home,” he adds. (more…)