Thursday, July 21, 2016

Antiquarian Book News

Birmingham NEC

Three rare books, showcased by a York book dealer, are to be offered for sale for thousands of pounds next week. The books, which are all signed and collectively valued at more than £22,000, include a collection of Beatles photos valued at £3,750. Containing 12 black and white photographic prints , the concertina-bound ‘Pixerama Foldbook’ was signed with kisses by John Lennon and George Harrison at the stage door of the Nottingham Odeon cinema on December 12, 1963 which was the penultimate night of The Beatles’ 1963 autumn tour.

Also on sale at the Antiques For Everyone Summer Fair in Birmingham next week, is a first edition copy of The Colossus and Other Poems by American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath, valued at £17,500, which was presented to Plath’s friend and neighbour Winifred Davies.

Also an original version of 1945’s Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall 1783-1787, by Winston Graham, signed by the author and the cast of the original 1975 BBC television series, is also up for sale. Actors who have signed the first edition book include Robin Ellis, Angharad Rees, Jane Wymark and Norma Streader, and it has been valued at £1,250, just in time for the new series of the latest BBC incarnation to return to the nation’s screens in the autumn.

The antique show will take place at the Birmingham NEC between July 21 and 24. To find out more about the show, go to 

Shelley at Cambridge

On July 23, 1816, poet and political agitator Percy Shelley checked into the Hôtel de Londres in Chamonix, near the Swiss border, with his wife Mary, and close friend Lord Byron.

When Shelley signed into the hotel he wrote that he was coming from England and going to 'L'Enfer', or hell – a declaration which sent shockwaves through respected religious society.

A huge volcanic eruption in the Dutch East Indies a year previously had changed the weather patterns around the world, contributing to food shortages and riots. In order to endure the incessant rain and dark skies in the Alps during that summer, Shelley’s party competed to write the scariest ghost story, with Mary Shelley inspired to produce the first draft of Frankenstein. Her husband conceived one of his most famous works, Mont Blanc, which explores human beings’ place in the universe and confronts the notion of religious certainty.

The entry made by Shelley in the visitors’ book was meant to be offensive, and many subsequent visitors, including his distant relatives, Sir John and Lady Shelley, found it so. The page had been removed from the visitors’ book by the late summer of 1825, three years after Shelley had drowned in the Bay of Spezia, a month before his 30th birthday. The manuscript was apparently lost.

The page was found pasted into Shelley’s copy of his poem, The Revolt of Islam, which addresses revolutionary politics and the long history of the nineteenth century through an elaborate mythological narrative. This book, with a first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, is on public view in the Cambridge College’s Wren Library.

The library, which also holds rare first editions by Isaac Newton, AA Milne’s original Winnie the Pooh manuscripts and early Shakespeare editions, is open to visitors from 12 to 2pm, Monday to Friday.

Little ‘monkeys’

The margins of a medieval manuscript have revealed a set of children’s doodles. The discovery sheds new light on the knowledge and education of children in the Middle Ages and their similarities to children of today.

A report recently published in the journal ‘Cogent Arts & Humanities’, described the 14th-century book from a Franciscan convent in Naples as “the work of mischievous little kids.” According to Deborah Thorpe, an author of the study, the drawings were discovered by chance while researching an unrelated project. As an expert of the medieval manuscripts from the University of York in Canada, she believes that the drawings depict a human, a cow or horse and some kind of demon or devil. Researchers concluded that the drawings were likely to have been made by children between the ages of 4 and 6 years old.

There are later examples of the historical children’s drawings, but Thorpe believes that this is the first time that children’s drawings in medieval books have been classified as the work of children with the use of a set of psychological criteria. It shows that children enjoyed playing and
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