Fine Books’ Top Ten Stories of 2014

We are readying for the new year with a toast to the top ten blog posts of 2014. A few are no-brainers. When two booksellers announced that they had found Shakespeare’s own dictionary this past April, it was bound to catch our attention (and yours). Sylvia Plath is a favorite, so her place on this list is also unsurprising, and the Voynich manuscript is a modern mystery that has perennial appeal. But what else was popular among our readers over the past year? Take a look:

220px-Holmes_by_Paget.jpg#1 Supreme Court Refuses Appeal, 50 Sherlock Holmes Works Officially in the Public Domain. Great news for Sherlock fans this year: The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a ruling that 50 Sherlock Holmes stories published before 1923 are no longer protected by copyright.

#2 Sylvia Plath’s Unabridged Journals & Enduring Influence. More than 50 years after her death, Plath’s influence continues to reverberate throughout the literary community.

#3 Shakespeare’s Dictionary Found?! Two NY rare booksellers believe that they have purchased--on Ebay, no less--an annotated dictionary that belonged to the William Shakespeare. The evidence is compelling.

#4 Nick Basbanes’ Library of Inscribed First Editions for Sale. What would you give to own a copy of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose inscribed to the man who brought book collecting into the mainstream? Author of A Gentle Madness (and our featured columnist) Nick Basbanes amassed a collection of 600 inscribed first editions.

#5 Literary Anniversaries 2014. Publication dates, writers’ births & deaths: Who doesn’t like to ponder a list of all the important anniversaries in a given year?

#6 Guest Post: My Week at Bookseller Hogwarts. Bookseller Megan Bell of Underground Books tells us about her experience at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar.

#7 Biblio-Mysteries: The Forgers & First Impressions. The rare book trade is a dark underworld, peopled with deceptive booksellers, maniacal collectors, and greedy forgers--or so two new novels would have us believe.

#8 Possible Mexican Origin for the Voynich Manuscript. In a paper published with the American Botanical Council, two scientists have proposed a new theory: perhaps the Voynich Manuscript originated in Mexico.

#9 Guest Post: Collecting the Legacy Press. Bookseller Gabe Konrád of Bay Leaf Used & Rare Books interviews Cathleen A. Baker, the founder and driving force behind The Legacy Press.

#10 Rothschild Prayerbook Set to Break Record. A preview of the prayerbook that went on to earn $13.6 million at auction on January 29, 2014.  

For more of our top stories from the recent past, check out 2013’s top ten & 2012’s top ten.

Auction Guide