So you’re “stuck” at home reading? Here’s a shortlist of new & soon-to-be-released books of interest to bibliophiles.

Pictured above is the new illustrated introduction to the Book of Kells, Ireland’s iconic illuminated manuscript, which will be published on May 5 by Thames & Hudson. Written by Bernard Meehan, formerly head of research collections and keeper of manuscripts at Trinity College, in Dublin, where the Book of Kells is on permanent exhibition, this 96-page guide is a handy reference that covers the manuscript’s historical background, structure, decoration, and the scribes and artists associated with it. A sturdy paperback with vivid and intricately detailed color reproductions, this book will prove a pleasure to those who have already beheld the original and wish to know more, and those who are planning to make the pilgrimage one day.

Here are two books on similar terrain: Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe by Kathy Peiss (Oxford University Press) and A Bookshop in Berlin: The Rediscovered Memoir of One Woman’s Harrowing Escape from the Nazis by Francoise Frenkel (Atria Books). Information Hunters in an erudite cultural history of those who sought to recover the rare books and art hidden by the Nazis in cellars and caves. Bookseller and FB&C contributor Ernest Hilbert, who reviewed it for the Wall Street Journal, called it “a fascinating, and until now little-known, story.” Along the same lines, Frenkel’s engaging book, quietly published in French in 1945 and rediscovered nearly sixty years later, relays her history as a young Jewish bookseller who opens Berlin’s first French bookshop in 1921. Chased out by Nazis in 1939, she stays one step ahead of her assailants as she attempts to find safety in France and Switzerland. 

Here are the sales I'll be keeping an eye on this week:

On Tuesday, March 31, Books and Works on Paper including Autographs and Memorabilia at Chiswick Auctions. The 413 lots include an original Arthur Rackham pen, ink, and watercolor drawing, "The Old Hag Standing Outside a Cottage," estimated at £10,000–15,000. A large seventeenth-century Spanish antiphonal manuscript could sell for £4,000–6,000; the same estimate has been assigned to a near-complete run of the Almanach de Gotha.

Also on Tuesday, The Alex Raymond Flash Gordon Collection at Profiles in History. There are just four lots. The original pencil and ink artwork for the first Flash Gordon Sunday comic, published January 7, 1934, is estimated at $400,000–600,000. The original pencil and ink artwork for Raymond's "Jungle Jim" (published on the same day as the first appearance of Flash Gordon), could fetch $75,000–100,000.

The Spring Auction at Alexander Historical Auctions ends on Wednesday, April 1. The 1,422 lots include a pair of early autograph poems by Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon ($10,000–15,000). There are a number of lots that will be of interest to the WWII collector in this one.

Arader Galleries will hold their April Auction on Saturday, April 4. The 221 lots include an impressive array of Audubon plates, as well as a third edition of John Mitchell's "Map of the British and French Dominions in North America" (1755), estimated at $250,000–350,000. A Ferdinand Verbiest world map, printed around 1860 at Seoul, could sell for $100,000–150,000; the same estimate has been given to a copy of Juan Gonzales de Mendoza's Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China, translated by Robert Parke and published at London in 1588.

Maybe you’re having to miss out on Chawton House’s current exhibition on Emma (now closed, like much else) or a theater viewing of the new film adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, Emma, directed by Autumn de Wilde, but never fear dear reader: Emma is now available on demand through Amazon, Apple, xfinity, Vudu, Google Play, or Fandango Now for $20, and it’s the perfect way to escape the madness for two hours.

Emma is Austen’s brilliant tale of matchmaking gone awry. The titular character is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, whose wide-eyed expressiveness steals the show. Bill Nighy, who portrays Emma’s father, Mr. Woodhouse, is the perfect inscrutable comic. Johnny Flynn, our Mr. Knightley, is more human—dare I say more authentic to Austen?—than previous actors who have played the part.

The Regency-era costumes, glorious confections, and country-house scenery are breathtakingly beautiful, worth the price of admission alone. (Also: the film is fine for mature children.) Watch the trailer below and see for yourself:

Anke Timmermann

Anke Timmermann is a historian, writer, and antiquarian bookseller at Type & Forme, and a member of the Rose Book Collecting Prize committee.

My favorite part of being a student in Heidelberg twenty years ago was the exploration of local second-hand and rare bookshops. I would dot into their basements on my way home from lectures, and in spite of my modest budget always emerge with something interesting, entertaining, or beautiful to add to my shelves, to join books rescued from family attics and flea markets. My partner and fellow-antiquarian bookseller Mark James can also still remember the thrill of starting his book collection while working at a bookshop in Lincoln during school holidays and taking home his pay ‘in kind’ as bags full of books. Like Mark, I would never have considered myself a rare book collector, but both of our youthful libraries gradually grew into unique and personal collections that would now be eligible for book collecting competitions, such as the Anthony Davis, Rose, or David Murray book collecting prizes in the UK, or one of the numerous prizes in the U.S.

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize at the University of London seeks submissions of at least eight titles from students at London-based universities. The call for submissions emphasizes that “the intention is to encourage collecting and we expect that applicants” collections will be embryonic, so their size, age and value are irrelevant. What is much more important is the enthusiasm and commitment of the collector, the interest of the theme and the vision of how the collection will be developed.” In the U.S., the Honey & Wax Book Collecting Prize is awarded to “an outstanding book collection conceived and built by a young woman,” encouraging “aspiring collectors to pay attention to the books that fascinate them, even if they’re not yet sure why. What do you see that others don’t? If you have a theory about the stories your collection might tell, and the curiosity to find out if you’re right, you’re a real collector in the making."

Our Bright Young Collectors series continues today with Nolin Deloison-Baum, winner of the second annual California Young Book Collector's Prize.

Where are you from / where do you live?

I grew up in Oakland, but I’m a French citizen. I took advantage of my passport and spent much of my twenties studying and working in Rome, Paris, and Helsinki. I just turned 30 and feel like it’s time for me to settle in Oakland: it’s home and it’s where I keep all my books.

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

I studied political science and French literature in college. Cured of academia, I eventually wound up in Paris for culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. I’m now a professional cook and an unprofessional (joke intended) book collector.

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

My entire collection is pretty diverse. There are so many things that catch my fascination! With limited success, I do try to limit myself to mostly cookbooks. I’m particularly devoted to collecting the ones related to the places I learned to cook: California and France. I’m especially interested in French cookbooks from the 19th- to the mid-20th century.

How many books are in your collection?

I lost count years ago, but I have over 200 books on French cuisine alone.

What was the first book you bought for your collection?

I’ve been buying books since I learned to read. By the fifth grade, I had completed my collection of Tom Swift Jr. books (all 33, and this was before I knew how to buy them online!). The first rare French cookbook I bought in Paris from a Bouquiniste (one of the booksellers that have permanent stands along the Seine). It was a first edition of the Larousse Gastronomique. Doing a little haggling there is a given, so I pretended to be offended by how expensive it was, and moved on to the next bookseller. To my delight, he followed me with a much more reasonable offer, which suggested that even further negotiation of price was in order.

How about the most recent book?

I just bought a signed first edition of Death of a Salesman. My most recent cookbook find is an unusual little promotional pamphlet of milk recipes by Auguste Escoffier. I haven’t been able to find any trace of its existence anywhere. It’s a ghost and I’m delighted to have discovered it!

What would be the Holy Grail for your collection?

Le Guide Culinaire is Auguste Escoffier’s magnum opus. It is the single most influential tome ever written on French cuisine. This isn’t really debatable. What is subject to debate, though, is the originality of the information within it. Escoffier never made it a secret that he was indebted to his predecessors, and this book was his attempt to cohesively assemble and streamline all their knowledge and to add a few innovations of his own (Peaches Melba, for example!). Also debated, is how much of the authorship was Escoffier’s alone: many have suggested that he, known for his humility, was generous for crediting his coauthors as such. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to list them merely as contributors.

Anyway, I once came across a first edition of Le Guide Culinaire that he had signed. Translated, the inscription, read: To my very dear friend and devoted collaborator E. Fétu. In recognition of my eternal gratitude. While anything signed by Escoffier is prized, this note to his coauthor was astounding because it very much suggested that he felt Émile Fétu had been a major contributor—a worthy coauthor—to the book. This was the Holy Grail.

And your favorite book in your collection?

Well I bought that copy of Le Guide Culinaire. As a book collector, I have the rare privilege of having found and acquired the Holy Grail. There is nothing out there that I could find more desirable, unless one of your readers knows where I can find the book’s original manuscript…

Best bargain you’ve found?

Salvador Dalí’s cookbook, Les dîners de Gala, signed, and, according to the colophon, specially printed, leather-bound and slipcased for Max Gérard, who helped him write it and was a collaborator in many of his other books. There is no mention of other similar special editions, so I suspect mine is unique. The bookseller didn’t speak French, and didn’t seem aware of what was indicated in the colophon. I think he also assumed that Dalí’s signature was printed and not original.

How about The One that Got Away?

So far, none of them have gotten away!

Who is your favorite bookseller / bookstore?

Omnivore Books on Food in San Francisco, owned by Celia Sack, whose enthusiasm for cookbooks is dangerously contagious.

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

Unfortunately, I have other collections. Aside from a budding collection of original menus written by Escoffier and his colleagues, I have a pretty large collection of old cast iron and copper and numerous other kinds of old cookware and cooking appliances.

This week, the British Library will unveil its latest cutting-edge project: making the first batch of what ultimately will be thirty historical globes available for unprecedented up-close interaction, including an augmented reality fuction. It is the result of two years’ collaboration between BL imaging specialists and the digitization company Cyreal, developing bespoke equipment to photograph and digitize the globes from the library’s vast maps collection.

A few sales are still scheduled for this week, but please do check for updates as needed.

On Wednesday, March 25, University Archives will sell Rare Books, Manuscripts & Relics, Forbes Collection Part I, Kerouac Estate Part II. The 215 lots include selections from the Forbes Collection of American Historical Documents, among them an April 1, 1861 letter from Lincoln to Navy Secretary Gideon Welles ($26,000–30,000); Lincoln's December 1860 private letter to William Seward urging him to accept the position as Secretary of State ($6,000–7,000); and a 1794 George Washington letter to a man who owed him money ($5,000–6,000). This sale also includes a copy of the Beatles' debut EP, Twist and Shout, signed by all four members of the band ($16,000–18,000); a mink coat owned by Greta Garbo ($10,000–12,000); and a copy of Jack Kerouac's On the Road from the author's estate ($5,000–6,000).

Forum Auctions will sell books from The Birmingham Assay Office Library on Thursday, March 26. Among the 457 lots on offer are two albums of original sketches for coins, medals, &c. compiled mostly between 1830 and 1850 (£30,000–40,000) and John Harrison's An Account of the Proceedings, in Order to the Discovery of the Longitude (1763), also estimated at £30,000–40,000. A first edition of Harrison's 1765 work A Narrative of the Proceedings relative to the Discovery of the Longitude at Sea, pictured above, is estimated at £20,000–30,000. Also in the same estimate range are a copy of the 1892 English reprint of Antiquities of the Russian Empire and a copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer in original boards. (More on that sale here.)

On Friday, March 27, Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper at Forum Auctions, in 296 lots. The 1570 London edition of Sir Henry Billingsley's translation of Euclid rates the top estimate, at £30,000–40,000. Sir Robert Peel's copy of the 1503 Aldine edition of Euripides could sell for £20,000–30,000. Some interesting Ian Fleming titles are among the other lots on the block.

Rounding out the week's scheduled sales is an auction of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Ephemera at Addison & Sarova on Saturday, March 28. The 234 lots include a 1550 Chaucer ($7,000–10,000) and a 1788 New Testament printed at Trenton, New Jersey ($1,500–2,000). A good range of different things as usual for their sales.

And now, a post totally unrelated to coronavirus, because we need to remember the beautiful things that light up our world: 

Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "The Minotaur," first appeared in 1853 with other retellings of ancient myths, refashioned to highlight the nature of evil and the fear inherent in facing and conquering our deepest secrets. In the hands of Intima Press founder Mindy Belloff, a new illustrated edition fully captures the nuances of Hawthorne's work while also a testament to a master at her craft.

Last month, the University of Birmingham in Birmingham, UK, launched a campaign to save the Boulton Baskerville Bible. This was in direct response to the forthcoming March 26 auction at Forum Auctions in London of fine books, manuscripts, and works on paper from the library of the Birmingham Assay Office Library, which includes a Bible that belonged to Matthew Boulton, a renowned Birmingham silversmith best known for his role in helping invent the Boulton & Watt steam engine.

The Bible was printed in 1763 by Birmingham’s famous printer, John Baskerville — he of the namesake font — and is valued at £4,000-£6,000 ($5,200-7,800). As Rupert Powell, deputy chairman and international head of books at Forum Auctions, told us recently, “You might be attracted to the Bible because it belonged to Boulton, or because you collect Bibles, or because you collect books in general—this is a superbly-bound copy of Baskerville’s great folio Bible, with a very attractive red morocco binding.”

News of the auction caught the attention of Malcolm Dick and Caroline Archer-Parré at the University of Birmingham, who contacted a consortium of local organizations and set up an online pledge form, intending to raise the necessary funds to acquire the volume. “We feel very strongly that the bible should remain in its ancestral home and made publicly available,” their statement reads.  

Earlier this week Malcolm Dick said, “The numbers have exceeded our expectations and we have had pledges from individuals and organizations, in Birmingham, the UK, and the rest of the world.”

As of today, Forum has withdrawn the Bible from auction, leaving us to wonder if a private sale had been arranged, but no comment from the fundraising campaign organizers was offered. 

One of the leading twentieth-century British book collectors, Major John Abbey (1894-1969), is celebrated in an exhibition at Horsham Museum, West Sussex, England, which looks at his collecting life. (And yes, it is still currently open to visitors.)

Dyslexic and a poor writer, Abbey was interested in the book as physical object, its craftsmanship and provenance rather than its actual subject matter. During his life as a wealthy brewer and landowner, he built up a substantial collection at his home in Storrington, near Horsham, much to the displeasure of his wife Lady Ursula Cairns who saw their home disappear beneath a mountain of books. Abbey was particularly interested in private press books and among his collection was a copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer, bound by the Doves bindery.