Rare Books

Treasures From a Musty Attic Go To the Historical Society

When cleaning out the attic of the Guilford H. Hathaway (MA) Library, Michael McCue and others found more than just some musty items and cobwebs.

Instead, they found historical treasures from the 19th century to the mid-20th century that they now plan to preserve at the Historical Society Museum on Slab Bridge Road.

Among the artifacts were pencil sketches of two town officials, Guilford Hathaway and George W. Hall; a handwritten list of World War II airplane spotters who were town residents; items from the town’s various Temperance Society groups; collars and other pieces of clothing from town marching band uniforms; and an 1897 original layout of the Assonet Burying Ground.

A Book Reveals the Mystery of the Tomb of Copernicus

The mystery was solved not by what was written in the book, but by a few strands of hair left inside a book by Nicolaus Copernicus.

In this AP story, also reported by Guardian UK, it's revealed that researchers have identified the remains of Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton and hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books. The findings could put an end to centuries of speculation about the exact resting spot of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe.

The remains were found in a Roman Catholic cathedral in Frombork, Poland. "In the two years of work, under extremely difficult conditions -- amid thousands of visitors, with earth shifting under the heavy pounding of the organ -- we managed to locate the grave, which was badly damaged," Gassowski said.

Bringing a Trove of Medieval Manuscripts Online for the Ages

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland — One of the oldest and most valuable collections of handwritten medieval books in the world, housed in the magnificent baroque halls of the library in this town’s abbey, is going online with the help of a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

More from the New York Times

Lincoln Memorabilia Up for Grabs But Not to LOC

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has one less competitor for a $20 million collection of Lincoln artifacts...the Library of Congress has pulled out of the bidding.

When Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, IN closed earlier this year, the owners decided to bequeath the entire collection of Lincoln photographs, signed documents, historic textiles and other artifacts to another institution. Several museums and historical groups bid for the collection, but only a few finalists were chosen. A winner is supposed to be announced by the end of the year.

Among the memorabilia are hand-colored engravings with an image of a tousled Abe that were dropped on the crowd at the 1860 Republican National Convention. Story from Gatehouse News.

Rutherford B. Hayes Library Visited by Light-Fingered Trio

Some say that President Hayes stole the 1876 election from his Democratic opponent, Samuel Tilden, but now it's the Hayes Library that has suffered a loss. Two of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center Library's rarest books, with a total value of about $130,000, are missing.

While authorities have arrested three people believed connected to the disappearances, it's still not known where the books are. The books are the Maxwell Code and the Freeman Code, some of Ohio's first laws, dating back to the 1790's.

One of the thieves was previously arrested in 2007 in connection with the theft of $20,000 worth of antique maps from a bookstore in Harrisburg, IL. He also has a prior arrest record for felony theft and receiving stolen property. Toledo Blade reports.

Browsing the World's Oldest Phonebook

A three and a half minute video at the IEEE Spectrum has a story on the worlds oldest known phone book. There are no phone numbers and only 40 pages-but guess how much it's worth!

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!

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