Biblio Booksellers: Enter to win a scholarship to the 2015 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar!

Attention Biblio Booksellers! Biblio is pleased to offer a scholarship to the 2015 Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar. Over the past years, we’ve been able to share this scholarship opportunity with wonderful bookshops like Black Paw Books, Renaissance Books, Charity Bookstall, Act 2 Books, and Grateful Dead Books. Named in honor of a community leader who was instrumental in helping us open the first public library in Bolivia, the Don Dario Scholarship is provided annually to one bookseller in recognition of their … Continued

Alan Turing’s Wartime Composition Book Heads to Auction

A young Alan M. Turing

Bonham’s offered British codebreaker Alan Turing’s composition book at auction on April 13th. The previously unknown wartime manuscript, consisting of 56 pages of mathematical and logical notes from Turing, is likely the only extensive manuscript by Turing in existence. An extreme rarity as such, Bonham’s did not release an official estimate for the lot. [Note: the manuscript went for over $1 million to an anonymous bidder (link)] (more…)

Charles Dickens Desk Purchased for Public Display

Charles Dicken's writing desk


The desk of Charles Dickens–where he wrote Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood–was purchased by the Charles Dickens Museum in London. The desk is now on permanent public display at the museum.

Dickens used the desk at his last home, Gad’s Hill Place in Kent. His desk and its accompanying chair passed down through several generations of Dickens descendants before it was sold to a private collector at a charity auction in 2004. The desk has always been in private hands, however a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund allowed the Charles Dickens Museum to purchase the desk for £780,000 ($1.15 million).

“We are delighted to have been able to acquire Charles Dickens’ iconic writing desk and chair for permanent display in his study at 48 Doughty Street,” said Robert Moye, director of the Charles Dickens Museum in London.

“They hold a unique place in our literary heritage and, as we embark on our exhibition exploring The Mystery of Edwin Drood, it is timely that the desk he used when writing his final novel has been secured for the benefit of all our visitors.”

[Image from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.]

Browse related collectible books:

First Editions of books by Charles Dickens

Rare Dickensiana

Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, Nate Pedersen author

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Self-Sanitizing Books in the Digital Era

Français: Pape Clément IV (Fresque de la Tour Ferrande à Pernesles Fontaine, Vaucluse, France) Photo credit: Wikipedia.
Français: Pape Clément IV (Fresque de la Tour Ferrande à Pernesles Fontaine, Vaucluse, France) Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Thomas Bowdler is alive and well, residing comfortably in tablets and e-readers across the globe.

For as long as people have been writing, there have been groups dedicated to keeping words and phrases away from the public. English physician Thomas Bowdler began his crusade to expurgate objectionable verses from both Shakespeare and Gibbon in the 1800s, but he wasn’t the first to impose his views of good taste on others–church censorship goes back centuries, such as when Pope Clement IV ordered the Jews of Aragon to submit all written work to Dominican censors prior to dissemination in the thirteenth century.

Today, the internet is full of filters and other mechanisms to block content. It’s not news that China employs such filters on its ISPs–insiders call it “The Great Firewall”–it’s more startling when expurgation happens on home turf, where freedom of speech supposedly reigns. In 2011, English professor Alan Gribben sanitized a new edition of Huckleberry Finn, replacing the pejorative term for a black man–which appears over 200 times in the book–with “slave,” rationalizing tampering with Twain’s classic in his introduction as as way to “spare the reader from a racial slur that never seems to lose its vitriol.” (more…)

Ayn Rand, Stamp Collector

A heavily corrected draft of Ayn Rand’s article on philately.

In blue ink on blue paper, author Ayn Rand proclaims her passion for philately. The heavily corrected autograph manuscript of her article, “Why I Like Stamp Collecting,” touts the hobby as “a miraculous brain-restorer.” Jacques Minkus’ Stamp Journal published Rand’s piece in 1971.

Rand began collecting at the age of ten but was forced to give it up when she fled the Russian Revolution. She returned to philately later in life, enjoying the fraternity of collectors, the thrill of the hunt, and the aesthetics of fine stamps. It is, the famous novelist writes, an occupation for “busy, purposeful, ambitious people.” No doubt she would have described herself much the same way.

The 16-page manuscript, along with a copy of the published article, is one of the highlights at this week’s New York Antiquarian Book Fair. It will be offered by James Cummins for $7,500. The book fair opens on Thursday evening and runs through the weekend.

Browse related collectible books:

Ayn Rand Books & Ephemera

Books on stamp collecting

Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, Rebecca Rego Barry author

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Was 1925 the Best Year for Literature? (via Fine Books & Collections Magazine)

Ernest Hemingway with Lady Duff Twysden, Hadley, and friends, during the July 1925 trip to Spain that inspired The Sun Also Rises [credit: Wikipedia]
In an excellent conversation piece posted on BBC’s Culture page, journalist Jane Ciabattari argues that 1925 was the greatest year for books.

The year 1925 was a golden moment in literary history.  Ernest Hemingway’s first book, In Our Time, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby were all published that year. As were Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans, John Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer, Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith, among others.”

Ciabatarri cites 1862, 1899, and 1950 as other strong contenders but concludes that 1925 takes the cake:

…1925 brought something unique – a vibrant cultural outpouring, multiple landmark books and a paradigm shift in prose style.

I thought we’d examine the books cited by Ciabatarri from a collectable lens.

1) “In Our Time” by Ernest Hemingway.  Published by Boni & Liveright in New York City in 1925 in an edition limited to a scant 1335 copies.  If you want to purchase one of those copies today, expect to dish out roughly $1k. And if you want the dust jacket – one of the rarest Hemingway jackets to find – you’ll need a bit over $20k.

2) “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf. Published by The Hogarth Press in London in 1925 in an edition of 2000 copies. You’ll need about $1k to pick up the first edition of Mrs Dalloway as well. The first edition is extremely rare with a dust jacket. The only copy I could find online was priced at $75k. (more…)

Finding a Balance Between City and Country, Lowell, MA Stonemasons Celebrate Robert Frost with “Mending Wall” Day

American Stonecraft Mending Wall Day 1
photo credit: PRNewswire

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

(“Mending Wall” Robert Frost, 1-4)

March 26 marks the birthday of four-time Pulitzer Prize-winnng poet Robert Frost, who, although a man of the twentieth century, wrote poems evoking traditional, rural New England landscapes of another time. His poetry recalls a simpler era, and yet Frost conveys the quiet strength of everyday Americans that continues to inspire. (more…)

Women with Words: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is widely regarded as one of the great voices of contemporary black literature. Her ability to capture the moment through the idiosyncracies of language makes her poetry and prose unique in its form. Her personal experiences and social commentary blend into a work of art that raises awareness in our society today. (more…)

National Library of Ireland and W.B. Yeats

If you’re trying to justify a trip to Ireland this March for reasons that don’t involve Guinness and little green leprechauns, consider a visit to the National Library of Ireland’s award-winning exhibit on William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). You certainly wouldn’t be alone–since its opening in 2006, more than a quarter of a million people have made the journey to Dublin to explore Ireland’s preeminent twentieth-century poet and playwright. Winner of the 1923 Nobel Prize for literature, Yeats was a major … Continued

New Edition of Trollope Novel Restores 65,000 Words

A new edition of Anthony Trollope’s novel The Duke’s Children will be published by The Folio Society this month, with an additional 65,000 words cut from the original 1880 edition. The complete, unabridged text will be published in celebration of the bi-centenary of the author’s birth in 1815. The Duke’s Children is the sixth and final novel in Trollope’s Palliser series. Scholars have spent the last decade slowly reinstating the words that Trollope cut from his original version, focusing their … Continued