An exhibition presenting new works by popular illustrator Quentin Blake opens later this week at Shapero Rare Books in London.

An Anthology of Readers will feature 72 pen, ink, and watercolor drawings focusing on people of all ages who love reading books. “Reading is interesting to me and as it happens it is the only thing in which I have a qualification, a Cambridge degree,” said Blake. “But of course what is really interesting are the postures that readers get into when they have a book in their hand.”

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened a new exhibition called Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe. Featuring 170 “exquisite and entertaining” objects, including clocks, scientific instruments, sculpture, and more, the exhibition highlights how art, science, and technology fit into court life, often in the form of displays and amusements. One of the highlights, a late eighteenth-century writing automaton called “The Draughtsman-Writer,” perfectly illustrates this idea.

What is the Draughtsman-Writer? It’s a lifelike automaton made of brass, steel, wood, and fabric, built by Henri Maillardet, a Swiss man living in London, c. 1800. When set in motion, it quite elegantly writes poems and draws elaborate pictures using its “mechanical memory.” According to the Met, “The advanced mechanism of this piece, which stored more information than any machines that came before it, was the forerunner of the computer, the most common technology used today.”

The Draughtsman-Writer inspired Brian Selznick’s 2007 novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which in turn formed the basis of Martin Scorsese’s 2011 film, Hugo. It is currently part of the collections at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, on loan to the Met for this exhibition, which runs through March 1, 2020.

Take a look at how it works here:

After some very busy weeks in the auction rooms, a bit of a respite for the end of the month.

On Tuesday, November 26, Morton Subastas holds a sale of Libros y Documentos del Porfiriato y la Revolución Mexicana, in 424 lots. An 1804 printed edict about salted meats signed by Miguel Hidalgo is among the top-estimated lots, at $MXN 170,000–190,000, and a collection of twenty-eight photographs by Manuel Ramos of La Decena Trágica (1913) is estimated at $MXN 60,000–70,000.

Also on Tuesday, the first part of Bibliothèque de Martine de Béhague et des comtes de Ganay at Christie's Paris. The 187 lots include a lovely copy of the Desaint & Saillant edition of La Fontaine's Fables choisies, mises en vers (Paris, 1755–1759), illustrated with the engravings of Jean-Baptiste Oudry. These were colored around 1782 and bound at roughly the same time; the binding displays the arms of the comte d'Artois, in this case indicating that the set was likely given as a gift by the count or one of his relatives. The Fables are estimated at €150,000–200,000, as is a copy of Philibert de L'Orme's Premier tome de l'architecture (1567), a large paper copy in in a fanfare binding.

Forum Auctions holds an online sale of Books and Works on Paper on Wednesday, November 27. Lots 1–53 of the 201 lots were the property of the late bookseller Charles Cox. A copy of the 1673 second edition of Richard Ligon's True & Exact History of the Island of Barbadoes is estimated at £1,000–1,500, as is an 1814 satirical etching celebrating American naval victories in the War of 1812, "John Bull making a new batch of Ships to send to the Lakes."

At Christie's London on Wednesday, Russia: Important Books and Manuscripts, in 188 lots. Expected to lead the way are an album of 94 ink and watercolor drawings of artillery weapons and their accessories, likely made for Paul I in 1800 by the Second Cadet Corps and later in the collection of Alexander II; and a full set of the parts of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin with the second edition of Part II. Both lots are estimated at £100,000–150,000.

California bibliophiles 35 and under: the Southern & Northern California Chapters of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America has announced its second annual Young Book Collector’s Prize for Golden State-based collectors. 

The first-place winner receives a gift certificate of $500 to spend at the 2020 California International Antiquarian Book Fair where the winner’s collection will be on display, a year’s membership to the Book Club of California, the Bibliographical Society of America, and a year’s subscription to both The Book Collector and Fine Books & Collections.

It is perhaps inevitable that our quarterly roundup of books about books is heavy on heavy books, i.e. oversized, coffee-table tomes, the kind you might give or wish to receive as a holiday gift. Nevertheless, all are useful and beautiful additions to a book lover’s shelves.

Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Julia Fine, an honorable mention in this year's Honey and Wax Book Collecting Prize, for women 30 and under.

Where are you from / where do you live?

I live in Washington DC.

What did you study at University? What do you do now for an occupation?

I recently graduated from Harvard, where I studied History & Literature with a focus on the food history of the British Empire. Now, I work as a Humanities Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks and the Folger Shakespeare Library. At Dumbarton Oaks, I work on the Urban Landscape Initiative, putting together public programming that looks at the intersection between race, inequality, and the urban environment. At the Folger, I work on the “Before ‘Farm to Table’” Project, putting together an online exhibition of modern recipes. 

Please introduce us to your book collection.  What areas do you collect in? 

My collection (which is always changing) is at its core a collection of modern American vegetarian prescriptive works, including cookbooks, diet guidelines, ethical tracts, and more. However, I recently started a second related collection on the global influence of South Asian cuisine during the imperial era. For that collection, I collect books published on South Asian food anywhere in the world before 1947.

How many books are in your collection?

In my main collection of vegetarian cookbooks, I have about 40 now, though that is still growing.

What was the first book you bought for your collection?

I can’t remember the first book I bought for my collection! I always had an interest in vegetarian works, so I’ve been reading and buying these books for a while now.

How about the most recent book?

Most recently, I bought a book to add to my collection on South Asian food. It is a 1917 tract on Hindu dietetics published in Minneapolis, so it is one of the earlier South Asian culinary books published in America. I found it due to the help of Don Lindgren at Rabelais.

And your favorite book in your collection?

I love all of my Moosewood cookbooks to death. They are some of the most important works in the US vegetarian movement, and the illustrations in those books are absolutely stunning.

Best bargain you’ve found?

I found a 1963 book on Hindu vegetarian cooking in an antique store in Maine for $10. It’s an incredible little book, and I am working now to do research on its history. I just stumbled upon it in a random store. 

How about The One that Got Away?

Don’t really have an answer for this yet — I try not to dwell on all the books I’ve missed out on!

What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?

For my collection on South Asian cuisine, I would love an early copy of Hannah Glasse’s 1747 work, which was one of the earliest cookbooks in Britain to mention Indian “curry.” For my collection on vegetarian books, I would love to complete my collection of Moosewood cookbooks.

Who is your favorite bookseller / bookstore?

I just went to Rabelais a few weeks ago in Maine, and it was an unbelievable experience. Don knew just about everything about food history on any subject, and could point me in the direction of amazing books no matter what topic I threw at him. I learned so much from that visit, and will be going back many more times.

What would you collect if you didn’t collect books?

I don’t think I would collect anything! I love collecting books because I love books, and I don’t think anything could replace that for me. 

Closing out Walt Whitman’s boisterous bicentennial year — there were exhibitions aplenty, featured here and in our summer print edition — New York’s Center for Book Arts is taking a different approach in its celebration of the Good Gray Poet. In its current exhibition, Walt Whitman’s Words: Inspiring Artists Today, the CBA invited dozens of contemporary artists to create work based on recurrent themes in Whitman’s work, such as geography, history, identity, and the use of photography as a branding tool. Many of these artists, such as Donald Glaister, Russell Maret, and Barbara Henry, will be known to book art enthusiasts and collectors of artist’s books.

At a related event on October 24, three artists represented in the exhibition, Sasha Chavchavadze, Anne Gilman, and Susan Newmark, discussed their contributions and how Whitman's words influenced the creation of their objects. Another program, scheduled for December 12, will focus on photography and feature the work of Marianne Dages, Daphne Fitzpatrick, and “Pinhole” photographer Stefan Killen, in discussion with Deirdre Lawrence, the curator of the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on view at the CBA through December 14, and an accompanying catalogue will be published in late November.

Here's what I'll be watching this week:

At Sotheby's Paris on Monday, November 18, Bibliothèque Jean-François Chaponnière : Une collection Genevoise, in 285 lots. A 1772 Mozart manuscript of two complete minuets is expected to lead the way, estimated at €150,000–200,000. Buffon's Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux (1770–1786), from the library of Abel Smith of Woodhall Park, could sell for €40,000–60,000. They will also sell 47 lots of Artistes et Relieurs: Livres et Manuscrits, including Delaunay and Cendrars' La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France (1913), one of 28 copies on Japan paper (€200,000–300,000). There are some truly fabulous bindings in this one, so do have a look through the catalogue.

Sotheby's London sells the Cottesloe Military Library on Tuesday, November 19. Leading lots are expected to be a copy of the first edition of Galileo's Discorsi e dimostrazioni matematiche (Leiden, 1638) from the library of Cardinal Carlo Massimo (£30,000–40,000); and Caxton's 1489 edition of The boke of the fayt of armes and of Chyvalrye, the first continental military book to be printed in English. A presentation copy to Charles II of Henry Hexham's Principles of the Art Militarie could sell for £20,000–30,000.

Chiswick Auctions will sell Books & Works on Paper on Wednesday, November 20. The 304 lots include a 1753 Atlas Novus Terrarum Orbis Imperia with 87 maps (£8,000–10,000).

On Thursday, November 21, PBA Galleries holds a sale of Rare Books & Manuscripts – Alcoholics Anonymous – Miniature Books, in 338 lots. A German copy of Johann Jakob Scheuchzer's Kupfer-Bibel (1731–1735), in five volumes, could sell for $15,000–25,000. A first edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous (1939), inscribed by Bill Wilson, in a facsimile dust jacket, is estimated at $10,000–15,000; a 1666 English edition of Aesop's Fables rates the same estimate.

Another tranche of Aristophil auctions will also be held this week in Paris:

At Aguttes on Monday, November 18, Britannica – Americana (Aristophil 22), in 200 lots. The Charlotte Brontë "little book" Second Series of the Young Men's Magazines rates the top estimate by a mile, at €600,000–800,000. Also on Monday at Aguttes, Aristophil 26 is Pages d'Histoire, in 112 lots, which will be of interest to the Napoleona collectors. 

Artcurial holds Aristophil sale 23 on Tuesday, November 19: Littérature Française des XIXe et XXe Siècles, in 265 lots. Balzac's Comédie humaine (1842–1848) is estimated at €60,000–80,000, as is Victor Hugo's new series of La Légende des siècles (1877). This copy, on vellum, was presented by Hugo to his grandson Georges. A collection of more than thirty letters from Flaubert to de Maupassant could fetch €50,000–70,000.

At Drouot on Wednesday, Aristophil 24: L'Académie Française (1634–1793), in 376 lots. And rounding out the week at Ader on Thursday, Aristophil 25, covering the subsequent period of L'Académie Française, in 355 lots. 

Were we to read into the jacket art of the first edition of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s first novel, we’d note the focus on jewelry—in this case, emerald and gold earrings and a pearl necklace. And perhaps we ought to read into it, after all, fine jewels have been very important to the bestselling British-American author. Over the course of her 55-year marriage to Hollywood movie producer Bob Bradford, who died earlier this year, she amassed quite a collection.

“During our wonderful marriage, he simply could not resist buying me fine jewellery. And I was given a lot as we were married for a long time! Every birthday, wedding anniversary, Christmas, new book publication, and even while on holiday, Bob would often surprise me with a fabulous piece,” said Barbara Taylor Bradford.

San Francisco-based Jack Stauffacher (1920-2017) was a master of types. The self-taught printer, typographer, book designer, and founder of Greenwood Press spent his eight-decade-long career in the service of crafting and assembling beautiful typographic forms sure to stand the test of time. Beloved by many throughout the creative community and considered one of the last of the original San Francisco bohemians, Stauffacher and his wood type prints will be the subject of a forthcoming book to be published by Letterform Archive.

Only on Saturday: The Wood Type Prints of Jack Stauffacher was written by Stauffacher’s friend and fellow Bay area designer Chuck Byrne. Though the book is being funded by a Kickstarter campaign that wraps up Friday, November 15 at 6pm PST, Letterform exceeded its all-or-nothing $65,000 goal on Wednesday. Backers are still very much welcome to pledge financial support in return for various thank-you gifts: $19 nets digital wallpaper and a list of Stauffacher’s favorite books, while $1,500 gets a private dinner for two in San Francisco with the author as well as a deluxe edition of the book.

Drawing from original prints that were only recently added to Letterform's collection when its curators were cleaning out Stauffacher’s studio that had served as his base of operations for over fifty years, the book is sure to be on many typophiles' holiday lists.

No matter how many accolades he racked up for his contributions to the book arts community, Stauffacher always considered himself to be first and foremost a printer: as Byrne notes, he was “a member of a long tradition--the guild of it conveyed many things he held sacred: noble labor, intelligence, responsibility, comradeship, history, and above all secret knowledge.”

Stauffacher’s life was well-documented in a 1999 limited-edition publication by the Book Club of California entitled, A Typographic Journey: The History of Greenwood Press, but Letterform’s undertaking will be the first widely distributed book on the AIGA medalist. Additionally, Only on Saturday will feature hundreds of wood type prints, many to appear for the first time in book form, with the ultimate goal of sharing Stauffacher’s influences and process. Friends, fellow printers, and curators include their remembrances of a man whose influence is indelible.