September 2016 Archives

Curated Lists of Collectibles Now on AbeBooks, a subsidiary of, launched a new search element to its website earlier this week. Dubbed Collections, this section focuses on antiquarian books, prints, and ephemera. What makes this different from the rest of AbeBooks is the interface. 

                                                                                                                   abecollections.JPGFamous for helping people find specific, obscure but often necessary books, the newest component to AbeBooks addresses the way people shop for everything nowadays: the Collections platform is organized thematically, mimicking a Pinterest board with its visual bookmarks.

                                                                                                                                                                   Unlike traditional functions on AbeBooks, users won’t be typing in the name of a specific title; the Collections section is geared towards potential customers who have a general idea of what they like, and by browsing thematically will develop a more nuanced appreciation for their likes and dislikes.

                                                                                                                                                               “Anyone who enjoys hunting through used bookstores, antique shops and art galleries for obscure treasures will relish Collections,” said Arkady Vitrouk, CEO of AbeBooks. “Collections allows sellers to define the topics and offer an innovative discovery experience.”

                                                                                                                                                                                  Though online shopping will never quite be the same as browsing the dusty stacks of a bookstore--though brick-and-mortar shops were organized thematically--there was always an element of serendipity, difficult to replicate in the digital world. Still, this is stack-browsing in the digital era, and Collections is the latest foray into the tech sphere for antiquarians. (To wit, see last month’s story about Collectival’s game-changing software for book dealers. )


md6667734861.jpg“Collections” are created when sellers upload items to AbeBooks and curate each one into a list. Customers can then browse lists--some extending into thousands of items--and as they click through, the website’s software updates its personalized recommendations. In addition, AbeBooks’ editors highlight particularly noteworthy lists for their breadth and beauty.

Current “curators” include the usual suspects--New York’s Strand Bookstore, Powell’s Books in Portland, Royal Books from Baltimore, Hennessey + Ingalls from Los Angeles--as well as smaller, more specialized shops like Hungarian seller Földvári Books and Dutch seller Librarium of The Hague. Donald A. Heald hosts “Pocket Maps,” one of which is seen here.

Have you visited the Collections marketplace on yet? Tweet us your experiences @finebooks.

                                                                                                                                                      Images Courtesy of

chairlie and the chocolate works.jpgCharlie and the Chocolate Factory has been translated into Scots, redubbed Chairlie and the Chocolate Works, and published by Black and White Publishing in celebration of the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth. The novel joins Scots translations from earlier this year of The BFG, The Twits, and George’s Marvellous Medicine, retitled respectively The Guid Freendly Giant, The Eejits, and Geordie’s Mingin Medicine.

The Dahl books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, were translated into Scots by Scottish poet and novelist Matthew Fitt.

At a Scottish Book Trust event last month, Fitt said it was particularly difficult to translate Dahl’s many invented words into Scots. In Chairlie and the Chocloate Works, the Oompa-Loompas became the Heedrum-Hodrums:

I took ages trying to get one for that,” he said. “You think a oompa, well it’s kinda got a oompa, it’s a kinda trombone sound, oompa, oompa, stick it your joompa feel to it, there’s a musical element. And I was thinking, well how dae ye, ye dae wi this? And I had lots of ideas. I remembered there’s a great word for old-fashioned Scottish music ... which is Heedrum-Hodrum and so once I’d settled on that, that was it.

For language-lovers, Scots translations of the Dahl novels will be a real treat. Indeed, the Scots translations have no less a fan than Quentin Blake himself, famed illustrator of Dahl’s novels, who, Fitt said, keeps a copy of The Eejits on his mantelpiece, calling it his favorite edition of any of the Dahl books he worked on.


Image Courtesy of Black and White Publishing.

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 10.13.01 AM.pngFormer Fine Books editor Scott Brown, now proprietor of Eureka Books in Eureka, California, is leading the charge to amend or overturn a new state law that requires all autographed material sold for more than $5 to be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

On September 9, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB-1570 Collectibles: Sale of Autographed Memorabilia, slated to go into effect in January 2017. The law is meant to regulate memorabilia sales and guard against “forgery mills,” but its unintended consequences for booksellers, particularly those who specialize in signed books and artwork, could be severe.

As Brown explained on his bookstore’s blog:

The law requires dealers in any autographed material to provide certificates of authenticity (COA) for any signed item sold for $5 or more.

“That sounds pretty reasonable,” you might be thinking. The legislature and the governor apparently had a similar response, because the law was passed with almost no discussion (though eBay’s lobbyist’s fingerprints are on the bill -- they managed to get themselves exempted).

Here’s the problem: We sell greeting cards by local artist John Wesa. He signs each one. If we sell one for $5, under this law, we have to provide a certificate of authenticity, and we have to keep our copy of the COA for seven (7!) years. For a $5 greeting card.

Each year, we sell more than a thousand books signed by local authors, every one of these will need to have an accompanying COA. In odd-numbered years, we sell books for the Humboldt County Children’s Book Author Festival. In 2015, we sold 1605 signed books to benefit the festival. That’s 1605 COAs, to be filed and stored for seven years.

Not only that, but if a third-party seller is involved, he/she must be identified on the COA. So, for example, if Brown buys a signed book from a scout, or a collector who is deaccessioning, or someone who inherited a collection, he would have to supply that person’s name and address to the future buyer on the COA.

Brown and fellow bookseller Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, believe this law not only imposes “considerable hardships on many businesses” but “requires significant invasion of privacy for any consumer who wishes to sell anything signed.”  

The booksellers’ letters to their state representatives on this topic have been posted in full on the Eureka Books blog. Brown’s letter questions how this law will affect the upcoming California International Antiquarian Book Fair. He writes, “Surely many out-of-state vendors who exhibit at conventions and trade shows in California will choose not to participate because of this law.”

                                                                                                                                                    Image: Signed copy of John Updike’s Self-Consciousness. Credit: Rebecca Rego Barry.

Truman_Capote_by_Jack_Mitchell.jpgIn a bizzaro bit of auction news, the ashes of author Truman Capote were just sold at auction in Los Angeles, fetching $43,750. Julien’s Auctions hosted the auction, which also included the clothes Capote was wearing at the time of his death ($6,400) and two of his prescription pill bottles ($9,280). 

The auction for Capote’s ashes began at $2,000. The president of Julien’s Auctions, Darren Julien, said in a statement that he thought the ashes might clear $10,000 but was surprised at how high the bidding went. The winning bidder remained anonymous.

Their previous owner was the late Joanne Carson, wife of former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, who kept the ashes in a carved Japanese box. Joanne was great friends with Truman, who died in her Bel-Air mansion in 1984 from liver disease (which goes part of the way toward explaining how Joanne ended up with the ashes).

Incidentally, this auction news ties into the bigger theme of Banned Books Week, currently ongoing (September 25 - October 1), as Capote’s In Cold Blood was briefly banned in Georgia in 2000 after a school complaint.  (The book was later reinstated to the class’s reading list).

Now you have two reasons to pick up a copy of In Cold Blood this week, a first edition with dust jacket of which should set you back a few hundred dollars...

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

We at Fine Books were so saddened to learn that Bob Fleck, founder of Oak Knoll Books & Press, passed away last week.

For so many bibliophiles, including myself, Oak Knoll is a point of entry into the world of books about books. I first visited Fleck and his shop back in 2001, when I wrote an article about Oak Knoll for Publishers Weekly. I attended Oak Knoll Fest VIII, took home one of the amazing catalogues for which Oak Knoll is known, and was swept up into a world that I was only beginning to explore, a world that he had, in large part, created. For that, I am so grateful.  

It was at that festival fifteen years ago that I first met Nicholas Basbanes--talk about an entrée into bibliophily. Nick has twice presented at Oak Knoll. He described Bob this way: “A truly great bookman, and an outstanding human being. When we talk about ‘books about books,’ we are talking about Oak Knoll Books, its publishing arm, Oak Knoll Press, and the guiding spirit of both, Bob Fleck. I couldn’t begin to count the number of titles Bob sent my way for my own work.”

According to Webb Howell, publisher of Fine Books, Bob Fleck was a long and loyal supporter of the magazine. “Fine Books had worked jointly on several things with Oak Knoll over the years, including a limited edition of Every Book Its Reader by Nicholas A. Basbanes. Bob brought a wonderful sense of business and order to the book community.”

Oak Knoll has announced that this year’s Oak Knoll Fest XIX scheduled for September 30-October 2, will go on, as per Bob’s wishes.

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers has posted a lovely condolence note here, and the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America is collecting memories and memorials to post here. In 2014, Bob sat for this video interview at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair:

In 1989, the Souvenir Press published a limited edition of Slightly Foxed--but still desirable: Ronald Searle’s Wicked World of Book Collecting, a volume that continues to delight book collectors. In it, Searle, a British artist and cartoonist, put his pen to work on the lingo of antiquarian booksellers’ catalogues, e.g., “a little thumbed,” “cracked but holding,” and, as seen in the illustration below, “spine defective.” His style was effusive and irreverent.  

719050.jpgThis original illustration in ink, graphite, and watercolor--one of more than sixty drawn for the initial publication--appeared on page 65 of Slightly Foxed. Searle’s famous satire has since been published in a trade edition and a Folio Society edition.

Now, nestled amongst New Yorker cartoon art and children’s book illustrations, this signed drawing goes to auction at Swann Galleries. The estimate is $2,000-3,000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Image Courtesy of Swann Galleries.

The Joy of Reading


“The Joy of Reading” by Will Barnet. Photo: B.B. Richter.                                                                         

Like many well-intentioned parents, mine bring stuff whenever they come to visit. A recent trip yielded a dozen prints and posters carefully sealed in cardboard tubes. All had probably seen the light of day at least once, but one print in particular probably spent three decades rolled up: an elegant, highly stylized portrait of a young boy sitting on a swing by the sea reading an oversize book to his mother, created by legendary artist and printmaker Will Barnet. (The New York Times ran a fascinating profile on him in 2010, when, at age 99 and unable to use his left hand or stand, Barnet continued to spend up to four hours a day at his easel.) Commemorating sixty years of the Book of the Month Club, my “Joy of Reading” print was issued in 1986, and simple math led to the startling conclusion that this would mark the ninetieth year that the Book of the Month Club has sent select volumes to subscribers across America. (Tempus fugit.) Truthfully, I didn’t know whether the Club still existed, and if so, I wondered how a company wholly dedicated to printed books that relied on the postal service would fare in this new era of print-on-demand and e-books.

The answer is: surprisingly well. Founded by economist-turned-publisher Harry Scherman in New York in 1926, the Club’s founding mission was to introduce readers to new and noteworthy books like Gone with the Wind and Catcher in the Rye. The last fifteen years have been something of a roller-coaster for the Club; it was purchased in 2000 by Bookspan LLC, an online and direct-mail venture created by Time Warner and Bertelsmann, which was itself swallowed up by Bertelsmann in 2008. Bookspan was then quietly sold to private-equity investor Najafi Companies, which in turn unloaded the company onto Pride Tree Holdings, a Delaware-based corporation established in 2012, the year it acquired Bookspan. Now, Book of the Month Club operates as one of over a dozen book-centric subscription entities under Bookspan’s aegis.

After a three-year hiatus, the Club was relaunched in 2015 as an e-commerce site. Here’s how it works: Subscribers create a profile and select a membership plan. A one-month subscription costs $16.99, whereas a 12-month subscription totals $144.88. Subscribers are notified on the first of each month of the Club’s five selections, curated by a panel of judges including book bloggers, journalists, authors, and monthly guest judges like Whoopi Goldberg and David Sedaris. Subscribers then have five days to make their picks, and the selections ship out by the seventh. (Caveat emptor: Other than gift plans, all memberships renew automatically, so read the fine print before diving in.) Bookspan’s Head of Development Jennifer Dwork likened the latest incarnation of the Club to “Birchbox [a makeup subscription service] for books.”

“Our judges receive the books three months in advance,” said Dwork. “The only criteria we provide is that their selections be a shining example of its form.” As in years past, the books are bound and designed to highlight their Club provenance. These days, books boast a stylish circular crest on the front boards. For authors, being selected for Book of the Month can mean the difference between feast or famine, reaching hundreds of thousands of additional readers who many not otherwise think to pick up their title.

                                                                                                                                                                  “At relaunch, we focused on social media,” continued Dwork. “Our Instagram page is robust [boasting over eighty-six thousand followers], and we encourage community members to share images of their books.” Lucky participants are rewarded with free memberships, tote bags, and monthly book credits.

From a collecting standpoint, few serious book hunters covet book club editions, or BCEs, though some publishers are more desirable than others--read Biblio’s excellent 2010 treatise on how to spot BCEs here.

                                                                                                                                                                    Though the company won’t release any sales figures, Dwork said that since its relaunch, the Club’s customer base has grown steadily. “We’re excited because we’re reaching a growing demographic: young women between the ages of twenty to thirty-five, and they prefer reading physical books over reading on a tablet,” Dwork explained. The Club may be onto something: a recent Pew study demonstrated that 65 percent Americans get their literary pleasure in print rather than in digital format. 

This current iteration of Book of the Month Club is tapping into a growing trend of subscription-based services while reaffirming that people still read and derive joy from physical books in the modern age. “Every book isn’t going to be for everyone, but we offer a great selection of established and emerging authors,” Dwork said. “We’re like your well read friend who recommends books and stands by them.” 



Monthly gifts. Image used with permission from Book of the Month Club.



If you are not yet using Instagram, a social media app available on smart phones for sharing photos, you’re missing out on some prime opportunities for oohing and aahing over rare books.  The app has been embraced by special collections libraries, and rare book sellers and collectors as a venue to showcase their marvelous holdings. There are hundreds of great rare book Instagram feeds from around the world.

Aimee Peake, proprietor of Bison Books in Winnipeg, a previous entry in our Bright Young Booksellers series, and an avid Instagram user herself (@bisonbooks), suggested we profile some of these rare book Instagram feeds on our blog. I put the call-out for recommendations on Twitter and the following streams bubbled up to the surface.  Note that today’s post will focus on institutional accounts.  A follow-up post will profile booksellers and collectors.

And so, in no particular order, here we go!

The British Library (@britishlibrary)

IG1.jpgFisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto (@fisherlibrary)

IG2.jpgThe American Antiquarian Society (@americanantiquarian)

IG3.jpgW. D. Jordan Library, Queen’s University (@jordan_library)


Houghton Library, Harvard (@houghtonlibrary)

IG5.jpgUniversity of Miami, Special Collections (@um_spec_coll)

IG6.jpgSan Francisco Public Library Book Arts (@sfplbookarts)

IG7.jpgUniversity of Texas at San Antonio (@utsaspeccoll)

IG8.jpgBoston Public Library, Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (@bplmaps)

IG9.jpgUniversity of Nevada at Las Vegas (@unlvspeccoll)


University of Iowa, Special Collections (@uispeccoll)

IG11.jpgMcGill Library and Archives (@mcgill_rare)

IG12.jpgFree Library of Philadelphia (@freelibraryrarebooks)

IG13.jpgMuhlenberg College Special Collections (@bergspecialcollections)

IG14.jpgLambeth Palace Library (@lampallib)


Congregrational Library & Archive (@congrelib)

IG16.jpgAmerican Bookbinders Museum (@american_bookbinders)


Northwestern University, Transportation Library (@transportationlibrary)

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 10.12.26 PM.png

Still hungry for more?  Check out a curated Wiki of institutional feeds.

Did we miss your favorite?  Drop me a line at or on Twitter @nate_pedersen

There is at least one good story coming out of Washington, D.C. this election season, and that is the grand opening on Saturday of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. Thirteen years in the making, the museum has collected close to 37,000 artifacts that showcase the contributions of African Americans. It will be at the top of my to-visit list on my next trip to D.C.  

Until then, an exploration of the permanent collection through the museum’s savvy web portal, however, provides a fantastic overview of museum’s scope. Of course, these literary highlights elicited my particular interest.     

2014_280.jpgA first edition of Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman (1899). Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Inkwell.jpgJames Baldwin’s glass and brass inkwell is part of a larger collection of photography and memorabilia related to the novelist and poet. Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of The Baldwin Family.

2011_28_001.jpgThe Bible that belonged to slave revolt leader Nat Turner, c. 1830s. Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Maurice A. Person and Noah and Brooke Porter.

Hymnal.jpgThe personal hymnal of Harriet Tubman, Gospel Hymns No. 2 (1876). Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Charles L. Blockson.


Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 10.10.56 AM.pngA print depicting Frederick Douglass at his desk from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, c. 1879. Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Joele and Fred Michaud.


Agatha Christie collectors will need to make room on Thursday for a delightful set of new stamps issued by the Royal Mail in celebration of the author’s 126th birthday.  

Each of the six new stamps commemorate a classic Agatha Christie mystery, including “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” “And Then There Were None,” “A Murder is Announced,” and “The Body in the Library.”

The stamps, designed by Jim Sutherland and Neil Webb, have a great aesthetic to them, with an appealing retro-meets-modern look. But here’s the real kicker: each stamp features clues to help attentive viewers solve the mystery. The stamps include microtext, UV ink, and thermochromic ink, requiring a viewer to utilize a magnifying glass, UV light, and body heat to find the clues.

It’s an ingenious design, sure to delight Christie fans around the world.  The stamps, which are incidentally valid within the UK for first class postage, are available for sale in the Royal Mail online shop.

“I am delighted that, 100 years after she wrote her first detective novel, my grandmother’s works are being celebrated in such a unique way by Royal Mail,” said Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard in a statement. “The ingenuity of her mysteries is cleverly represented in these distinctive designs, with the use of cutting edge technology - a welcome alliance of the traditional and the modern - adding to the delight. I am certain that ... mystery lovers will relish the puzzles that each stamp presents.”

Image Courtesy of the Royal Mail.

When offered Sylvia Plath’s first collection of poems, The Colossus, New Directions founder James Laughlin turned it down. The year was 1960, and London publisher William Heinemann was looking for an American publishing partner. They sent a typed proposal letter and a proof of The Colossus to four American publishers, among them New Directions, where editor Bob MacGregor subtly praised the book in a note to his boss, calling it “skillful,” particularly Plath’s poem for Leonard Baskin, “Sculptor.” But Laughlin decided to pass, scribbling on a slip of paper, “Nor for us, I’d say.”

freemans.plath copy.jpgLater this month, this mini archive including three pieces of publishers’ correspondence (one typed letter signed; one half typed, half manuscript note; and one brief manuscript note) accompanied by an uncorrected proof of The Colossus will go to auction at Freeman’s in Philadelphia on September 30. It is conservatively estimated at $1,000-1,500.

In 2011, Peter K. Steinberg, author of Sylvia Plath and founder of Sylvia Plath Info, wrote an article for FB&C about elusive Plath proofs. “[I]t is the two titles published during Plath’s life that are the more desirable for the collector, which is reflected in both their rarity and price.” Those two titles are The Colossus, which had been ultimately picked up by Knopf in the U.S. in 1962, and The Bell Jar, Plath’s pseudonymous novel published by Heinemann in 1963. She committed suicide soon after its publication.

According to Steinberg, Heinemann’s print run for the first edition of The Colossus was quite low--500 copies. As for pre-publication proofs, we might estimate 20-25 were produced, the same number bookseller Ken Lopez suggested in 2011 were made of The Bell Jar (which had a larger print run). Steinberg said the Freeman’s copy is the tenth recorded proof of The Colossus; six are held by institutions, two are privately owned, one is currently for sale for $5,500 from an online bookseller, and the one pictured above that goes to auction next week.

Uncorrected proofs have become a strong area of interest, particularly for collectors of modern first editions. As Ken Lopez explains, collectors are swayed by “the earlier the better” rule, and proofs represent the next best thing to collecting authors’ manuscripts, an unreachable goal for many collectors.

Last year Bonhams sold a previously unrecorded proof of Plath’s The Bell Jar, found by a student, for £5,250. 

                                                                                                                                                                           Image Courtesy of Freeman’s.


The Folio Book of Ghost Stories, reproduced with permission from The Folio Society.                                                                                                                                                       David McConochie has a flair for creating otherworldly art and was recently recognized as Illustrator of the Year at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s V&A Illustration Awards for his work on The Folio Book of Ghost Stories, a collection of nineteen haunting, blood-curdling tales of paranormal activity and malevolent beings by storytellers such as A.S. Byatt, Penelope Fitzgerald, and Vladimir Nabokov, among others. (Last year’s winner was Virginia-based Sterling Hundley for illustrating the Folio edition of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.) V&A panel judges said that McConochie’s work struck them “by the boldness of the composition and the way in which it set the tone for the unnerving stories within the book.” McConochie, 35, recently shared his thoughts on this momentous win and his approach to illustrating a volume of supernatural stories.



McConochie in his studio. Image used with permission from Folio Society.  

McConochie joins a select group of artists with the V&A prize. “I had been aware of the awards going back to my student days, though such accolades back then seemed a remote idea,” he recalled. “As an artist, you’re out on a limb a lot of the time and in bit of a bubble, so it’s great having this sort of recognition.”                                                                                                                                                                                               

The artist’s perfectly creepy illustrations for The Folio Book of Ghost Stories appear pulled from another era, and in fact were inspired by early photography. “I had been looking at daguerreotypes in my research. There was a quality of underlying eeriness in the grainy images that I wanted to incorporate into some of the illustrations,” he explained. “I tend to soak up imagery and information from different sources before I start work and then start to put things together in an intuitive manner.” McConochie said that the artistic process can be quite chaotic, and the final image is often the result of hard work assisted by a dash of serendipity.                                                                                                                                                                                        

In addition to illustrating ghost stories, the artist enjoys reading them as well. “This [Folio Society edition] is a great collection and there are a few favorites, some of which I chose not to illustrate, such as “The Signalman” by Charles Dickens.” Another that came to mind was W.W. Jacobs wish-fulfillment story gone horribly wrong in “The Monkey’s Paw.” McConochie was drawn to the fact that “Jacob’s tale has this growing sense of dread. It creates some very macabre and gruesome imagery in the reader’s mind and yet holds back on revealing much; it’s all suggestion.”                                                                                                                                                                                                               McConochie continues his foray into eerie underworlds and parallel universes with a series of paintings for a forthcoming book entitled Child of the Dark, a diary of a woman living in a Sao Paulo favela in the 1950s.                                                                                                                            

This volume is presented in a slime-green clamshell case, and the frontispiece is a portrait of a faceless apparition from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Captain of the Pole-Star.” The Folio Book of Ghost Stories, introduced by Kathryn Hughes and illustrated by David McConochie, is 296 pages with eight color illustrations and retails for $59.95. 


Reproduced with permission from The Folio Society. 

IMG_1474 (1).jpgI’m on the road this week and happened to spend last weekend in St. Paul where a lazy Sunday drive along Summit Avenue revealed this surprising bit of news:

The F. Scott Fitzgerald family rowhouse, located at 599 Summit Avenue, is up for sale. The three-story, 3,441-sq. foot brownstone was built in 1889 and has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Even without the enticing bit of literary history connected with the house, its price, $665,000, seems a bargain to this blogger, more familiar with West Coast real estate.

Fitzgerald’s parents moved into the house in 1918, and Fitzgerald joined them after brief stints in the US Army and the New York City advertising world. Fitzgerald spent the summer of 1919 in the house finishing This Side of Paradise in a third-floor room and taking frequent walks down nearby Selby Avenue. The Fitzgerald family, who moved frequently, vacated the house again in 1919, but its place in literary history was assured by F. Scott completing his most successful novel (during his lifetime, anyway) while living there.

You can get a peek behind the scenes of the Fitzgerald house on its Zillow listing.

Image Courtesy of Zillow.

Perhaps it is too obvious to say, but handwriting tugs at the heartstrings of book collectors. We look for and place value on signatures, inscriptions, and marginalia. So the idea that handwriting might someday be obsolete is unsettling. Put in context, however, bibliophiles will note some fascinating parallels between this divide and the one that Gutenberg faced five hundred years ago. Anne Trubek, editor in chief of Belt magazine, publisher of Belt Publishing, and sometime contributor to Fine Books, deftly provides that background in her new book, The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting (Bloomsbury, September).

9781620402153.jpgFrom a visit to the Morgan Library to behold (and hold) cuneiform at the book’s beginning to a visit to the Ransom Center to examine digital handwriting and contemporary authors’ archives near the book’s end, Trubek makes manageable what could be an unwieldy topic. She even explains how a goose quill pen is made! And who knew that Platt Rogers Spencer, developer of Amerca’s ornate 19th-century penmanship, took his inspiration from nature, fashioning his “a’s, b’s and c’s from the shapes for rocks, branches, and lakes that he looked at every day”?

Trubek is well-acquainted with the question that some historians and history-minded enthusiasts ask, “How can you read cursive if you cannot write it?” To which she responds, “The truth is, most of us already cannot read 99 percent of the historical record.” A compelling statement that is supported by her (too brief) interview with Heather Wolfe, curator of manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library and an expert in indecipherable historic scripts. Her point is that the shift away from handwriting is part of a long-term process, and it dredges up cultural and social anxieties that deserve to be considered in this debate.  

That said, those who believe that teaching handwriting--a hot-button issue in American education--remains important will still find the book enjoyable to read because Trubek’s approach is even-handed; she seems less interested in converting readers than in offering up a thoughtful survey of a fraught subject.   

Image via Bloomsbury Publishing.

zegelvel_0.jpgThe National Post Office of the Netherlands, “PostNL,” has issued a special commemorative stamp sheet to celebrate 2016 as the “Year of the Book.”

PostNL worked in collaboration with the National Library of the Netherlands to select ten books to feature on the stamp sheet including Turks Fruit by Jan Wolkers, Het Achterhuis by Anne Frank, Ethica by Spinoza and Oom Jan Leert zijn Neefjes Schaken by Max Euwe. The selected books represent a diversity of genres, time periods, and formats, including journals, children’s books, textbooks, picture books, and literature.

Designer Niels Schrader created a “bookscape” to showcase the ten books across the the stamp sheet. “In this design, the books are spread out horizontally, photographed from different angles. For example, there are photographs of books which are open, or with the front or back cover showing, or only the spine of the book. This creates a landscape of books if you view them from above. We now call that a bookscape,” said Schrader in a statement.

If you can bring yourself to break apart the bookscape, stamps are valid for mail shipped within the Netherlands, but for collectors in other countries, the stamps can be purchased online at  

Image Courtesy of PostNL.

As a location for an antiquarian book fair, nouveau Brooklyn seems pretty perfect. The local crowd is young, educated, and interested,* and the Brooklyn Expo Center is a bright and airy venue with a great vibe. Having completed its third successful event this past weekend, the Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair is now a staple of the book fair calendar.

My browsing time was limited, so my highlights are regrettably brief.

IMG_2439.JPGWilliam Reese Co. put the borough in the spotlight with two early Brooklyn imprints: An Historical and Geographical Account of Algiers by James Wilson Stevens (1800) and The Book of Common Prayer (1801). Another interesting item on display was New York’s first liquor license, a form printed c. 1702-1714 by William Bradford, the only working printer in NY at the time.

I perused Peter Masi’s stand--a delight not only in content but in form, for he has all manner of fascinating ephemera neatly organized by subject. His printed catalogues are enjoyable for this reason as well.

Austin Abbey Rare Books created an outstanding visual display of decorated gilt bindings. I spied an especially beautiful copy of A Border Shepherdess by Amelia E. Barr and thought immediately about Richard Minsky and his Barr collection.   

IMG_2451.JPGIn addition to 100+ booksellers, the book fair hosted special events throughout the weekend. Whether or not things like the Haiku Lounge, panel discussions, or book signings (disclosure: I was graciously invited to sign copies of Rare Books Uncovered there on Saturday afternoon) draw more or different visitors than might otherwise attend an antiquarian book fair, it’s difficult to know for certain, but it does make the book fair experience more fun and diverse.  

*And interesting. Lots of cool tattoos were on exhibit at the fair too; I noticed Poe on one arm and the words “Ex Libris” on another.


Images: Courtesy of Brett Barry.


Readers may recall a story that appeared here earlier this year heralding the rediscovery of a long-forgotten manuscript by Beatrix Potter. Penguin editor Jo Hanks unearthed the material while conducting research for a new addition to Emma Thompson’s revival of the series.  “I found a reference to a letter from Beatrix to her publisher that referred to a story ‘about a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life,’” Hanks recalled in an online discussion in January. Intrigued, Hanks searched among the author’s papers in the V&A Archive at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Tucked away were three handwritten manuscripts for The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots.

The manuscript had remained untouched for over a century, and in her notes Potter acknowledged that the text was incomplete. Hanks lightly edited the material, and the story was published by Frederick Warne (a subsidiary of Penguin) on September 6 to coincide with the sesquicentennial of Potter’s birth. Kitty-in-Boots is accompanied by a CD of the tale, read by actress Helen Mirren.

Written in 1914, on the eve of the First World War, the story is about a mischievous, gun-toting, boot-wearing black cat named Miss Catherine St. Quintin, better known as Kitty to the kind old woman who keeps her. Kitty has a split personality; by day, she’s a content, well-fed houscat. At night, her doppelganger Winkiepeeps trades places so that she may go hunting fully decked in a gentleman’s jacket and fur-lined boots--a British Puss-in-Boots, but with a bad attitude and an air-gun. One night Winkiepeeps tells Kitty about ferrets chasing rabbits, and the bloodthirsty creature can’t resist the temptation. This particular outing is doomed from the start: the air-gun misfires repeatedly, Kitty misses just about all her targets, and a trap ensnares the ferocious feline.  

Quentin Kitty in Boots illustration - copyright Quentin Blake.jpg
By night one way, by day another. © 2016 Quentin Blake

Since Kitty is chasing hares, it’s only fitting that Peter Rabbit is part of the spectacle as well, but in this story he’s old and fat, brandishing an umbrella that he weaponizes better than Miss Kitty does her gun. Peter’s also more clever than Kitty, outsmarting her at every turn. Finally, after losing her toe in a trap set by fellow hunter Mr. Tod the fox, Kitty renounces her hunting ways and turns to more civilized pursuits. In addition to the aforementioned Peter and Mr. Tod, characters from other Potter stories make brief appearances as well.

How does a 100-year-old tale about a murderous cat sit with modern readers? It may be tempting to quickly denounce a book that so enthusiastically describes feline bloodlust, but, it’s quite tame when compared to all that contemporary media has to offer, and Kitty learns a valuable lesson about hunting innocent creatures for sport while she awaits rescue.

The manuscript was discovered with only one illustration--a rough sketch of Kitty and Mr. Tod. Award-winning illustrator Quentin Blake was tapped to bring Potter’s story to life. Beloved for his work illustrating books by Roald Dahl and Russell Hoban (among many others), Blake’s scratchy pen-and-ink artwork bustles with activity, conveying the impish Miss Kitty and her riotous animal coterie. Certainly, Blake’s illustrations will never be mistaken for Potter’s, but they are marvelous, modern adaptations to what is sure to become a new classic.

51gR3uq8uIL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgNick Mamatas should be a familiar name to our regular readers. Mamatas has contributed several pieces to our print issues over the years, including “The New Alexandria” (Summer 2012) and “Lovecraft’s Providence” (Spring 2011). His new book, I Am Providence, is out now with the Night Shade Imprint at Skyhorse Publishing. We recently interviewed Mamatas about “I am Providence” over email.

Please introduce our readers to “I Am Providence”:

“I Am Providence” is, at its roots, a murder mystery that takes place at a fan convention for devotees of H. P. Lovecraft and the small press cottage industry that has risen up around him in the decades since his death. It can also be fruitfully read, I hope, as a metaphysical horror novel, and as a satire of current mores around fandoms and consumer subcultures of all sorts. Reviewers have tended to agree that it hits at least two of those three targets.

What’s the origin story of “I Am Providence”? Initial inspiration?

The book was actually written on commission from editor Jeremy Lassen of Skyhorse Publishing’s Night Shade Books imprint. His idea was “Bimbos of the Death Sun meets True Detective.” Despite taking the commission, “I Am Providence” may well be my most personal novel. Even with the remit from the publisher, I had an infinite number of choices, and took them all. I wanted a manor house style Agatha Christie mystery, the peculiar and idiosyncratic points of view not uncommon in noir (in this case, one of the narrators is the corpse of the victim), the sinister philosophical meandering of Colin Wilson’s Gerard Sorme trilogy, the pointed criticisms of vice typical of satire, and the like. I put in everything I had, basically.

We’ve covered anthropodermic bibliopegy before on our blog. Tell our readers about how the practice -- and the book collecting culture around it -- fits into your novel:

Simply, it’s binding a book a book in human (ανθρώπινος) skin (δέρμα). In the novel, such a book, named Arkham, is the “McGuffin” of the plot. Our victim owned one copy of five and wished to sell. He turned up dead instead, with his own face removed, with the suggestion that that face might end up being number six.

Certain books are notorious and thus collectible because of a certain aura around them. Every librarian knows that older editions of occult title tend to vanish regularly, not because they’re even that rare or because occult manuals actually “work” on any level save the psychological, but because they look cool and and weirdos like the steal. Books bound in human skin have just such an aura--people at university libraries and other special collections have expressed a little regret rather than relief when a book purported to be bound in human leather turns out to just ordinary sheepskin. Harvard Law School had one that turned out to be sheep after testing, though the inscription claimed “The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.” Even way back then, pranksters were weird. Or someone’s best friend was a sheep. With a surname.

Why do you think Lovecraft’s fiction -- and the subculture that has grown up around it -- is so popular today?

Lovecraft is popular thanks partially to the important work of people who committed themselves to keeping his stories in print, and partially thanks to the peculiarities of copyright and Lovecraft’s own practice of letting his friends use his terms and characters--it’s an “open source” mythology of the 20th century. It lacks the baggage of the Old World myths of the vampire and the werewolf, and instead deals with issues of modernity--a mechanistic universe, an understanding of infinity--instead of trafficking in religious sentiment. In this way, it is popular in the way Romeroesque zombies are popular: something about it “clicks” culturally, and due to a series of accidents, the stuff ended up in the public domain and available for all to use to their own ends, so the cultural production and reproduction of the material exploded. 

In the novel you affectionately skewer this Lovecraftian subculture, and the convention crowd that goes with it, as only someone could do who is intimately familiar with the scene. Tell us more about this dichotomy. What do you love -- and what do you dislike -- about the current Lovecraftian scene?

Like almost any other endeavor, most of the people with the time and energy to take organizational or cultural responsibility are often people who don’t have a lot else going on in their lives so their leisure activities become deathly important, or who are so heavily committed to that work that their ability to evaluate the folks who come along to “help” is severely compromised. So when some solid, dependable, person does good scholarship or puts on a great event, it is not unusual for their assistants, confidants, or hangers-on to be what we use to call “climbers”--manipulative, petty, annoying, and always eager to first keep score and then settle scores. So basically we end up with these goons who invest too much of their identity and self-regard into running things, or we have good people happy to offload important tasks to horrid narcissists.

The plus side is that most people in the subculture are fun and creative and often carry alcohol on their persons at all times, so that’s great!

Are you a Lovecraft collector yourself? Or, if not, what do you personally collect?

I don’t collect anything. A freelance writer’s income, plus frequent cross-country moves, has kept me from collecting anything. I do often buy collectible books as gifts though. My wife Olivia is the great-granddaughter of imagist poet F. S. Flint. I knew enough about rare books and dealers to get her a a decent copy of his “Otherworld for Christmas” after we moved in together, and that copy was in much better shape than any of the ones her parents had managed to hang on to over the decades. Being a writer means I do have some collectible books, mostly inscribed association copies of world firsts from friends who are a lot more famous than I am. My copy of China Mieville’s “The City & The City” is even inscribed by him: “Dear Nick, This is now an association copy of TC&TC.” 

Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

I have a website, cleverly located at, and I love to tweet. I’m @Nmamatas over there. 

Image Courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing.

Over the weekend, the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, opened Lari Pittman: Mood Books. The exhibition features six massive illustrated books--opening to more than four feet in width--that contain 65 “hallucinogenic” paintings by the Los Angeles-based artist. Since his first solo exhibition in 1982, Pittman has become a well-known figure in the contemporary art world. His paintings draw inspiration from a variety of sources, including folk art and commercial advertising, and they often navigate heady themes (love, sex, rebellion) with vivid, illuminating color.

pittman_12-verified_500.jpgAs art critic David Pagel wrote in BOMB magazine in 1991, “Lari Pittman’s paintings indulge a sensualist’s love for the visceral. Rendered with a fanatic’s precision, his Victorian silhouettes: imaginary organic forms, runawayarrows, and arabesques, transform ornamentation into a contemporary narrative of life and death, love and sex.”

The exhibit is up through February 20, 2017.

Image: Lari Pittman, from 12 Verified Occurrences During a Full Moon, 2015, acrylic and lacquer spray over gessoed, heavy-weight paper board, 27 × 25 × 4.5 inches. © Lari Pittman, courtesy of the artist and Regen projects, Los Angeles.

Microbrewery fans and Roald Dahl collectors have a new brew to add to their list: Mr. Twit’s Odious Ale, a special one-off beer brewed with wild yeast swabbed from Roald Dahl’s writing chair.

London microbrewery 40FT Brewing brewed the special beer to accompany an immersive theatrical production running in London from this past Sunday, September 4th, to October 30th. Entitled “Dinner with the Twits,” theatre goers join Mr. and Mrs. Twit (from Dahl’s classic novel The Twits) in a “windowless house with a ghastly garden” for a one-of-a-kind theatrical dining experience.

The theatre company, Les Enfants Terribles, employed a food design company to develop the courses for the meal.  That food design company in turn asked 40ft Brewing to create something special for the diners. 40FT Brewing came up with the unusual idea of brewing a beer with yeast harvested from Roald Dahl’s writing chair.  The Dahl estate agreed and gave the brewers access to the famous writing chair, which Dahl had specially crafted to avoid writing at a desk after a lingering back injury from WWII.

“A fair number of our previous projects have been inspired by Roald Dahl in some way or other,” said Harry Parr, of Bompas & Parr, the food designers involved in the theatrical production, “so it’s been a delight to work directly with the Roald Dahl estate and, indirectly, one of the best-loved storytellers of all time, in his centenary year. By incorporating wild yeast cultured from inside Roald Dahl’s writing chair in our beer to accompany Dinner at The Twits, it feels like we are injecting his own dark humour and effervescent sense of fun into the brew.”

French antiquarian bookseller Jean-Baptiste de Proyart recently published Catalogue Huit, a sumptuous compendium of illuminated manuscripts and rare books being offered for sale. This is the eighth catalogue de Proyart has released since setting up his own boutique, currently nestled on rue Fresnel in Paris’ tony sixteenth arrondissement, a stone’s throw from the Trocadero and the Palais du Chaillot. Prior to “sailing his own ship,” as he puts it, de Proyart cut his teeth in Sotheby’s London book department and provided expertise during the monumental, 12,000-volume, six-part sale of the collection of legendary bookseller Pierre Berès in 2005 and 2006.


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                                                                                                                                                   Specializing in antiquarian rarities and beauties, de Proyart’s catalogues are vast archives of information, testaments to rigorous scholarship of the material at hand. Catalogue Huit, like the rest of de Proyart’s catalogues, are not merely filled with pretty pictures and hefty price tags; they are filled with history and provenance details that together provide an intimate examination of the world of antiquarian books while also reconstructing the world of the past as codified on paper. Turning to nearly any page reveals unique books with stellar provenance.

A 1531 Book of Hours illustrated by Geoffory Tory is, as de Proyart writes, a “masterpiece of French Renaissance illumination.” Bound in gold-tooled moroccan leather, the item illustrates why Tory’s contributions to the world of illuminated manuscripts are so coveted by collectors. This particular copy belonged to Louis Joinville (1773-1849), a bureaucrat during the French Revolution and later deputy to statesman and poet Pierre Daru. (Price available upon request.)

An oversize choir book (or graduel) dating from around 1450 includes songs chanted at daily mass. Finely painted letters in blue, red, green, and gold leaf, accompanied by miniature unicorns, dragons, and stags throughout the manuscript suggest that all the decorations were completed in one workshop. This particular Graduel is believed to have been created south of Cologne and once belonged to the prince of Oettingen-Wallerstein, a collector of European history. Bound in fifteenth-century vellum with illuminated illustration throughout, this Graduel is being offered for 380,000 euros.

Another exciting piece is the first appearance of François Marie Arouet (a.k.a. Voltaire) in print, a seven-page ode written while Voltaire was still a student at Louis le Grand. This early piece demonstrates the future philosopher’s brilliance at written discourse, and this Imitation de l’Ode du R. Père du Jay sur Sainte Genevieve is surprising, given Voltaire’s future views on religion. (Voltaire later repudiated claims that he was the author of the work. In a letter written in 1766, he quipped that if Saint-Genevieve, the patron and of Paris believed to save the city from Atilla the Hun, ever returned to earth, “she would be quite bitter” towards him.) This rare publication, of which only five copies exist in French institutions and none are known to be in American universities or libraries, is available for 15,000 euros.

For the francophile with deep pockets or big dreams, Catalogue Huit is hard to beat. Though not quite the same as a physical copy, a PDF of the catalogue may be downloaded here.

                                                                                                                                                          Image Courtesy of the bookseller.

Finebooks_photo_BobMacLean.jpgOur Bright Young Librarians series continues today with Robert MacLean, Assistant Librarian in Archives & Special Collections at the University of Glasgow in Scotland:

What is your role at your institution?

I am an assistant librarian in the University of Glasgow Library Archives and Special Collections. My primary role is overseeing and carrying out teaching sessions using our collections, something I’m now doing in concert with my archivist colleague Claire Daniel following Special Collections’ recent merger with the University Archives. But like so many folk working in special collections I have all sorts of “hats” and enjoy carrying out a range of other activities too. These include working on the Glasgow Incunabula Project - our big programme of cataloguing in detail the thousand-plus incunables in our care - rare book cataloguing, enquiry response (particularly detailed ones relating to historical bibliography), blogging and collection promotion, and supervision of placement students and interns.

How did you get started in rare books?

I became interested while still a Geography undergraduate (I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2001). One of our honours assignments included a visit to the Library to look at Victorian documents on “slum clearance” and handling these strange things with their odd orthography, unfamiliar typefaces and strange smell gave me the bug. On graduation I got a temporary contract in the University of Glasgow Library cataloguing nineteenth century books for the online catalogue. Subsequently I managed to swing a transfer and permanent post in Special Collections, as a library assistant involved with reading room supervision, enquiry response and rare book cataloguing and I’ve been there ever since, eventually being promoted to assistant librarian.

Where did you earn your MLS/advanced degree?

At the University of Strathclyde, also in Glasgow. I studied for the Masters part-time over two years, attending lectures one day a week, whilst still working in Special Collections full time, making up the hours I missed by working evenings and weekends. It was hard work to be honest but definitely worthwhile since I learned a lot about wider library issues beyond my own experience and it also gave me that bit of extra confidence that I hadn’t missed any basic lessons from the ‘Big Book of Librarianship’ during my on-the-job training!

Favorite rare book / ephemera that you’ve handled?

Wow that’s such an unfair question to ask. In fact, I’m inclined not to believe a special collections librarian that comes up with just one answer to this! The things I favour tend not to be the shiny, illuminated or finely bound (although obviously I love those too!) but the grubby, cheap, broken or very well used. Books that - going beyond their text - can tell you a story through provenance, marginalia, binding and any other copy-specific material feature are what really interest me. That all said my current favourite item is mostly interesting for its text rather than any paratext! It’s a nineteenth century manuscript travel diary of a Scottish gentleman who travelled to the South of France for the winter. It’s far more interesting than its catalogue record would lead you to believe, and is one of those gems that you occasionally just stumble across in the book stacks by chance while looking for something else. The diary is studded with original photographs and fantastic pen-and-ink sketches. The author is hilarious: hugely grumpy about all sorts of things from his wife and daughter’s proclivity for packing too much, French railways, French restaurants, French bureaucrats questioning his “unexceptionable” mastery of the French language, and of course, the French weather. Brits abroad eh? Plus ça change. I’ve taken photos of each page and I’m slowly transcribing the whole diary and I’ll blog about it from the Archives & Special Collection blog at some point soon.

What do you personally collect?

Well I’m not really much of a collector at the moment. I mostly seem to collect lots of books about books - book history etc. However I did recently buy my very first early printed book. I was on holiday seeing my sister, who lives in the south of France, and found a small collection of late eighteenth-century French schoolbooks sitting out in the sun at a car boot sale! I successfully impressed my sister with the “I bet I can guess the publication date just by looking at the binding” game - just a couple of years out for the first volume - only to be punished for my hubris by guessing the other volumes’ dates wildly wrongly, to my sister’s great amusement. I bought my lucky guess for just three euros, a 12mo guide to “Good Christian living” printed in Narbonne, bound in tanned sheepskin and with a charming nineteenth-century school prize-giving inscription.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to keep busy and play plenty of tennis. I also love hill walking. Glasgow is only an hour’s drive from some spectacular mountains and I love nothing more than getting out into the hills on the, admittedly rare, occasions that we get some sunny weather. 

What excites you about rare book librarianship?

Showing things to people. Every single day working in special collections you come across something cool and interesting that you just need to share. Actually I expect my colleagues are secretly delighted that, now Twitter is around, I don’t feel the need to chap on their doors all the time to say “COME LOOK AT THIS!!” since I post stuff online instead! This thrill in showing, sharing, contextualising and talking about rare books is one of the things I enjoy most about my teaching role; being able to share these wonderful things with people and explain why they’re interesting and exciting is so much fun and a great privilege. And seeing as I caught the rare book bug while still an undergraduate student, I always hope that my teaching sessions might offer a similar experience to others.

Thoughts on the future of special collections / rare book librarianship?

From an academic special collections standpoint there has surely never been a better time. The “material turn” in the arts and humanities has made the rare books we care for valuable to researchers as never before. Each and every surviving copy of a book has potential interest for researchers exploring the production and consumption of texts. It’s vital therefore that we care for and - as far as we are able - describe these books, copy-specifics and all, to make them findable. This interest is also feeding into undergraduate teaching with primary source sessions increasingly sought after, which is fabulous to see. The power and reach of various social media platforms - Twitter [@UofGlasgowASC] being just one example - is also allowing us to share and enthuse about our collections to a non-traditional audience as never before, generating much interest from the general public in the process. It’s a really exciting time to be working in special collections. Yet not everything is rosy. There’s rarely enough money around for most to easily do all the things they’d like and all that their various, enthusiastic, users want them to do. There are probably fewer professional-grade librarians around than there have ever been before and new professionals are often not appointed at the same grade as retiring colleagues. With lots to do the temptation will increasingly be to fill the gap with unpaid internships; while these will doubtless be great experience for the intern, they effectively slam the door of the profession to those unsupported by the “Bank of Mum and Dad”, which won’t be great for the future diversity of the profession.

Any unusual or interesting collection at your library you’d like to draw our attention to?

Well there are so many possibilities but one which I really should plug is our incunabula collection. Numbering in excess of one thousand, it is the largest collection in Scotland and one of the largest in Britain. We’ve catalogued each one in a huge amount of detail going beyond the basics to some in-depth description of provenance, marginalia, decoration, binding, the whole works, with each entry illustrated with a few images. The Glasgow Incunabula Project site - which is now a city-wide project, including the incunable holdings of other Glasgow institutions - allows you to search through the whole lot using a range of indexed entry points. We hope that it’s going to be really useful for all sorts of researchers.

Any upcoming exhibitions at your library?

Well we’ve recently renovated the ground floor of the Library installing a publicly accessible “virtual” exhibition space, so hopefully we’ll be populating that space soon with some interesting and attractive visuals of our holdings. And 2018 will see the 300th anniversary of the birth of William Hunter, one of the University of Glasgow’s great benefactors. He studied at the University before going on to become a very successful physician, man-midwife and collector. His amazing collections were bequeathed to the University of Glasgow following his death in 1783, becoming The Hunterian, the first public museum in Scotland, the 10,000 volume library of which now resides in Archives and Special Collections. Along with our colleagues at The Hunterian, and throughout the University, we’ll be collaborating to celebrate this anniversary with various events throughout the year, so look out for announcements about that.

Image Courtesy of Robert MacLean.

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