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The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre

"People haven’t been fascinated by this book because the translation is mellifluous or beautiful,” said Michael F. Suarez, a professor of English at the University of Virginia who directs the Rare Book School there. “People haven’t been attracted to this book because the presswork is beautiful. It’s not.” Instead, the Bay Psalm Book is treasured for being the first surviving piece of printing done in the British North American colonies. Only 11 copies, many incomplete, today survive. Remarkably two of those copies belong to the same owner, Boston's Old South Church. This month, the church made the controversial decision to sell one (the first such sale in 65 years), and it could bring as much as $20 million for the church's endowment.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 25, 2012 - 7 comments

Books, book bindings, and the death of the book

Ever since something was invented to replace it, people have been predicting the end of the book: The Death Of The Book Through The Ages [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 15, 2012 - 60 comments

Pick an icon, any icon

The Laberinto of Andrea Ghisi is a 17th-century magic trick in book form. Pick an image from the 60 arrayed in front of you, and tell the magician only which quadrant it appears in. Repeat the process twice on different pages, and he can tell you what image you chose. You can see the trick performed at around 2:20 in this video, play a simulation, or see the book digitized in its entirety.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Feb 9, 2012 - 13 comments

You can't tell the players without a scorecard

Signs & Symbols: Decoding Mediaeval & Renaissance Iconography. An online exhibition from the Dunedin Public Library. Does what is implied on the tin, if you have a grounding in the history of tin-decoration.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Nov 13, 2011 - 11 comments

Fortunately, Atlas Shrugged is not one of the choices

Treasures of the Bodleian. Oxford University's Bodleian Library will move into a substantially renovated home in 2015. In preparation, it has put online a selection of highlights from the collection, ranging from papyri to Penguins. You can vote for your favorite treasure, and the top vote-getter will go on display when the library reopens.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Oct 5, 2011 - 8 comments

Digitized Darwin

More than 300 heavily-annotated books from Charles Darwin's personal library have been digitized in a collaboration between Cambridge University, which holds the collection, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a project that has so far digitized nearly 50,000 titles from the natural sciences. And if you're looking for what Darwin wrote, rather than what he read, the University of Oklahoma has digitized the first edition of each of his 22 books.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 23, 2011 - 17 comments

Peeling back the layers.

Animated Anatomies is a new exhibition from Duke University Special Collections that examines the beautiful intricacies of anatomical flap books. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Apr 3, 2011 - 7 comments

In search of the rococofish

In 1719, Louis Renard published Poissons, écrevisses et crabes, de diverses couleurs et figures extraordinaires, que l'on trouve autour des isles Moluques, et sur les côtes des terres australes. The book documented the newly discovered marine life of the East Indies in images of astonishing beauty, but dubious accuracy.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 4, 2011 - 7 comments

It's what's outside that counts

For more than one hundred years, the Guild of Bookworkers has been judging books by some pretty amazing covers.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 7, 2010 - 6 comments

Eddies in the timestream! And this is his couch?

Timelines: Sources from History is a decade-by-decade visual index to the holdings of the British Library from the 1210s to the present.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jan 30, 2010 - 12 comments

The Black Tulip of American Literature

In 1827, a first-time author paid to have a small number of copies of his book Tamerlane and Other Poems, by a Bostonian printed. When Edgar Allan Poe later reprinted the book under his own name, he apologized for its poor quality, but the first edition has become one of the most sought after rarities in book collecting. This week, one of the two copies in private hands sold for $662,500, but you can flip through this one for free.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 5, 2009 - 5 comments

Treasures unburied

Libraries' Surprising Special Collections. [more inside]
posted by Horace Rumpole on Mar 3, 2009 - 44 comments

Where billionaires shop to build their libraries

Jay Walker's Library was just profiled by Wired [via], but they failed to mention where many of those books came from. Big players like Maggs, Simon Finch and the Baumans still compose most of the rare book world. (Heritage is gone but Michael Sharp got four of their employees.) They're all excellent places to shop if you're building an Überlibrary, but, if you're Jay Walker, you start with Phillip J. Pirages. [more inside]
posted by nímwunnan on Oct 8, 2008 - 30 comments

400 digitized rare books

The Rare Book Room presents about 400 of the world's greatest books from a variety of libraries in high resolution format. For some samples, check out: Apianus (Astronomicum Caesareum); Blake (Songs of Innocence and Experience); Braccelli (Bizzarie di Varie Figure); Catesby (The Natural History of Carolina...); Dürer (De Symmetria...); Colonna (Hypnerotomachia Poliphili). And on and on. The interface is great (use arrow far left at top for larger page image) but there's a slight browser resize in FFox. A couple of author names are placeholders for future uploads it seems. [via]
posted by peacay on Mar 12, 2007 - 25 comments

Silk Roads

The Digital Silk Roads Project continues to grow apace with more additions from the Toyo Bunko rare books archive. Now available online, among others, are Les grottes de Touen-Houang, The Thousand Buddhas and several German books, including Chotscho. Unfortunately, all of the high resolution images are greyscale. [related]
posted by tellurian on May 1, 2006 - 5 comments

BibliOdyssey

BibliOdyssey is a new and spectacular compendium of the printed image. From detailed posts on Rare Books of the Japanese Diet Library to a look at some strange illustrations for The Master and the Margarita, the site has a broad range and an eclectic composition authorized by the quality of the posts. Other highlights include Micrographia, a mysterious Astronomické České, the prints of Jacques Callot, and images from Sydney Parkinson's journal of his explorations of New Zealand and Australia. Be sure to look through the archives.
posted by OmieWise on Sep 30, 2005 - 13 comments

Missouri Botanical Gardens Rare Books/Illustrations

Missouri Botanical Gardens Rare Books: The Illustrated Garden
This collection contains seventy seven 18th and 19th century botanical books and these are just a small sample of the 3000+ beautiful illustrations contained within. (via)
posted by peacay on Aug 23, 2005 - 18 comments

Volumes That I Prize Above My Dukedom

Page through the entire first quarto of Hamlet, or the second quarto of King Lear, or any one of dozens of other precious rare editions of Shakespeare, courtesy of the British Library. Clicking on a page brings up a bigger view of the page, which is handy for taking a closer look at lines like "To be or not to be, I, there's the point". There's also some brief background on the various editions.
posted by yankeefog on Aug 4, 2005 - 21 comments

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library's online collection of digital images - over 90,000 of them. A vast labyrinth of high resolution digital images and photo negatives from thousands of rare books and manuscripts. Search by keyword to access scans sorted by category. Find one you like and click on the call number to bring up all images from that title. Searching for "illustrations" brings up 31 pages of scans from hundreds of titles. Examine 16th century mechanical illustrations by Georg Agricola, two full pages of photo negatives from William Blake's Jerusalem, a collection of artwork demonstrating knightly protocol ("medieval" is another keyword search yielding a bonanza of good stuff), and so much more. The interface leaves something to be desired but the sheer amount of works available for viewing makes it all worth it.
posted by LeeJay on Aug 1, 2005 - 12 comments

Literary Fantastic

The Fantastic in Art and Fiction. The Cornell Institute for Digital Collections presents an online image-bank that "provides a visual resource for the study of the Fantastic or of the supernatural in fiction and in art" from the danse macabre to medical oddities to creatures straight out of Hell (and Heaven). The university's Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections has put together a captivating little collection of the marvelous, the mysterious and the magical. You can search through all the images at once or search by book title. (Some images may be slightly NSFW.)
posted by LeeJay on Jul 29, 2005 - 15 comments

Rare Books

Rare Books. Links to virtual exhibitions, 1991-present.
posted by plep on Oct 3, 2004 - 2 comments

Visible Traces: Rare Books and Special Collections from the National Library of China

Visible Traces: Rare Books and Special Collections from the National Library of China. Rare books, maps and other texts, viewable online in this exhibition at askasia.org.
posted by plep on Jan 29, 2004 - 5 comments

At Yale, A Theft Of Historic Proportions

At Yale, A Theft Of Historic Proportions "A college student is accused of abusing his position at Yale University's rare books library to steal more than $1.5 million in one-of-a-kind historic signatures and other items — then selling them on the Internet."
posted by dayvin on Nov 30, 2001 - 8 comments

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