Rare Books

Another Kind of Ephemera...Bookplates

The latest posting on Confessions Of A Bookplate Junkie (Lewis Jaffe, who has been a collector for thirty years).

What Is To Become of Kafka's Manuscripts? Kafka's Last Trial

A tale of eccentric heirs, Zionist claims, a cat-infested apartment and a court fight the author would have understood all too well. Lengthy (ten page) history and explanation of all the players in the disposition of the works of Franz Kafka; article by Elif Batuman in the Sunday New York Times Magazine.

A Look Back at the History of Print and Publishing (or It's Always Been a Tough Business)

Change of pace from the more frequent 'death of print' stories here on LISNews.

This one's about the birth of print; a discussion of the newly published book by Andrew Pettegree, "The Book in the Renaissance" with Tom Scocca of Slate and the Boston Globe.

In the beginning, before there was such a thing as a Gutenberg Bible, Johannes Gutenberg laid out his rows of metal type and brushed them with ink and, using the mechanism that would change the world, produced an ordinary little schoolbook. It was probably an edition of a fourth-century grammar text by Aelius Donatus, some 28 pages long. Only a few fragments of the printed sheets survive, because no one thought the book was worth keeping.

“Now had he kept to that, doing grammars...it probably would all have been well,” said Andrew Pettegree, a professor of modern history at the University of St. Andrews and author of “The Book in the Renaissance,” the story of the birth of print. Instead, Gutenberg was bent on making a grand statement, an edition of Scripture that would cost half as much as a house and would live through the ages. In the end, struggling for capital to support the Bible project, Gutenberg was forced out of his own print shop by his business partner, Johann Fust.

The article continues in a question and answer format here.

Original Nuremberg Laws To Be Transfered to National Archives

From The Washington Post: The National Archives said Tuesday that a California library is transferring to the Archives the two original sets of the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the Nazis' spare, anti-Semitic manifesto endorsed by Adolf Hitler that helped lead to the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II.

The laws are being transferred by the Huntington Library, in San Marino, where they have been held since they were placed there by Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in 1945.

Gen. Patton presents the infamous laws to Huntington chairman Robert A. Millikan in 1945.

Each set of the 1935 laws is typed on four pieces of paper, said Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper. One set is believed to have been signed by Hitler.

One section, the so-called "laws for the protection of German blood and German honor," forbade such things as marriages between Jews and Germans, and extramarital relations between Jews and "subjects of the state of Germany."

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

60 Minutes had a piece last night on The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. If you skip to 8:45 in the video they show the library and librarian of the church. Interesting to see a library with so much history.

Kafka Experts Will Have to Keep Waiting...

If it were any other writer, today's unfolding of events in an anonymous bank vault in Zurich would be described as Kafkaesque. But the latest twist in a legal battle over the estate of Franz Kafka probably deserves some other adjective.

Four deposit boxes were pried open. Inside were manuscripts, drawings and letters from the Czech writer that had been locked away for more than 50 years, as Kafka experts around the world waited with baited breath. But the expectant Kafka enthusiasts, historians and critics will have to wait longer, after two Israeli sisters who insist they own the papers by inheritance from their mother banned all reporting of the boxes' contents.

They were opened on the orders of Talia Koppelman, a judge from the Tel Aviv family court. Last week she also ordered the opening of six safety deposit boxes in Israeli banks containing other Kafka works.

Today's unlocking at Zurich's UBS bank of safes sealed since 1956 was attended by lawyers representing, on one side, Eve and Ruth Hoffe and the German literature archive, and, on the other, the state of Israel and its national library.

Update from Guardian UK and some background on the case .

The Greatest Unknown Literary Treasure in Los Angeles

...might be The Clark Library. Many feel this way when they discover the rare-book library, which is run by UCLA but located in Jefferson Park. Brick walls hide it from passersby, and most undergraduates have never heard of it. But those who know the library say it is unmatched and unforgettable.

Many details of the library reflect the younger Clark's personal style and history. The bookcases in the reading rooms include copper mined by his family. Clark, who loved chamber music and founded the L.A. Philharmonic, had the drawing room designed to hold concerts.

Clark's taste gave the building and its five-acre grounds a unique charm that remains today. Original furniture manufactured in 1920s Pasadena stands in the reading rooms, and a grand piano occupies the drawing room.

Clark's influence also appears in the books themselves. Experts say his foresight is a major reason the library continues to stand out. Instead of hunting the most sought-after Elizabethan texts, he focused on later writers such as John Dryden and Oscar Wilde.

Clark librarians run a blog called 'The Clog', which in its latest installment, informs us that the dearly departed Mr. Clark can now be found on facebook.

LA Times reports.

But Did He Steal It?

Remember how librarian Richard Kuhta was handed a damaged copy of one of the Bard's First Folios for examination?

Yesterday, the man in possession of the priceless piece, Raymond Scott, 53, was found guilty of handling stolen goods and removing stolen property from the UK in relation to the book, which has been described as part of England's ''cultural legacy''. However he was cleared of stealing the work.

The charges relate to one of the surviving copies of the 1623 compendium of Shakespeare's plays which went missing from Durham University in 1998. It was handed in by Scott to the world-renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC a decade later.

Scott was remanded in custody by Judge Richard Lowden, who told him: "There will, in due time, be an inevitable substantial custodial sentence."

The judge adjourned the case to a date to be fixed to allow a psychiatric report to be prepared.

The jury of seven women and five men heard that Scott was arrested after presenting the badly damaged folio to staff at the US library and asking for it to be verified as genuine.

More from Guardian UK.

Descendants Tussle Over Steinbeck Manuscripts and Artifacts

From The Californian: Caught off guard by news that John Steinbeck memorabilia will be auctioned off in New York on Wednesday, the author's son and daughter-in-law are raising money on the fly to bid for items and bring them to Salinas.

Santa Barbara-based Thom Steinbeck and Gail Steinbeck had raised $4,600 as of Monday from a list of contributors that included auto dealership owner Sam Linder and CIA Director Leon Panetta. Their goal is $15,000.

Bloomsbury Auctions announced last Wednesday that a collection of Steinbeck manuscripts, photographs and artifacts valued from $200,000 to $250,000 will be put to bid. The items trace back to a New York apartment the author shared with his third wife, Elaine Steinbeck, in the 1950s and 1960s. After she died in 2003, they came into the possession of Elaine's children from a prior marriage to Zachary Scott, Gail Steinbeck said.

Those heirs, with the aid of literary agents McIntosh & Otis, arranged for the auction, Steinbeck said.

It's a bone of contention between two sides of the family. Disputes over possession of particular items have been hashed out in court for eight years. -- Read More

Librarian Retrieves Stolen First Folio

Richard Kuhta, a librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library has described the "heart dropping" moment he realised an ancient Shakespeare first edition he'd been asked to authenticate by a County Durham man was a priceless relic stolen a decade earlier.

Staff at the world renowned Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC called in the British Embassy, Durham Police and the FBI after being given the badly damaged book by Raymond Scott in 2008.

Scott, 53, of Manor Grange, Wingate, posed as a wealthy international playboy who claimed to have discovered the Shakespeare's first folio when holidaying in Cuba.

But experts at the library soon discovered the artifact, which had pages missing and its bindings and cover removed, was a unique 1623 first printing of the bard's collected works stolen in a raid at Durham University in December 1998.

Scott, who has denied theft, handling and transporting stolen goods, intended to sell the book at auction then share the money with friends in Cuba, a trial at Newcastle Crown Court heard. Experts estimated the first folio to be worth £1 million, even in its damaged state. They said in terms of its cultural value it was priceless.

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