A Peek Behind the Fences: Inside Alderman Library’s Renovations

Major renovation of the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library will continue throughout 2021 and 2022. Preparation got underway last January, and not long after the coronavirus pandemic closed the Grounds in March, the project began in earnest. The new and old stacks were demolished over the Summer…

📚 📖

The Rare Book School and the Bibliographical Society of UVA will also be on this floor, creating an area that is devoted to the care and preservation of the book.

Read the original article and view all of the progress photos here:


Experts Search for Rare Newton book, Three Copies in Canadian University Libraries

Tucked away in three university libraries across Canada are first edition copies of a book that experts say contains the building blocks of science. Prof. Mordechai Feingold of the California Institute of Technology and Andrej Svorencik of the University of Mannheim in Germany are looking for more copies of Sir Isaac Newton’s “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” in private collections. The two experts in September published a paper in their “attempt to locate all surviving copies” of the first edition of Newton’s book.

Many people believe that the book, published in 1687, was “so complicated” that no one read it, Feingold said. By tracing the ownership of first editions, the scientists want to show that not only was the book read but it was also understood.

“I mean, not necessarily as Newton did, but sufficiently to build on,” he said in an interview.

A census of the book published in 1953 showed there were 189 copies scattered around the world but a new estimate puts the number at 386.

Dalhousie, McGill and the University of Toronto each have a copy of the 510-page leather-bound book.

Karen Smith, special collections librarian at Dalhousie in Halifax, said the school’s copy was donated in 1934 by William Inglis Morse, who spent most of his adult life travelling, collecting and visiting libraries.

She said Morse believed books should be “handed on as a heritage of the ages.”

The copy at McGill University in Montreal was donated in 1911 by Sir William Osler, a renowned physician, as part of his 8,000-title collection.

The University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library purchased a copy from a bookseller in 1971 for less than $5,000, said science and medicine librarian Alexandra Carter.

Lauren Williams, the liaison librarian for the Blacker Wood Natural History Collection at McGill, said books during Newton’s time became smaller, so they were no longer large stationary objects.

“They’re lighter, they’re easier to carry around.”

Newton’s book is described as octave size or about 20 to 25 centimetres.

The binding can also tell a lot about the person who owned the book, Williams said. A wealthy person would use gold leaf on their bindings, while someone of modest means would get a simple binding.

Newton opted for a simple binding, which also says something about his approach to books being functional and practical, she said.

“These were not meant to be sort of luxurious items to be put on display,” Williams said.

Feingold said over the past 300 years since the book was published, it’s travelled to different parts of the world either because it was bought or bequeathed.

“It’s very interesting detective work to really try to trace the various owners of the book over the past,” he said. “There are many, many stories to be told about the book and the locations over the years.”

It’s also a book “that people treasure because it is by Newton,” he said, noting a copy in 2016 sold for US$3.7 million.

While digitized copies of the books are widely available, he said they don’t hold the “magical” quality of paper.

“You know, when you go through the pages you feel as if you are tracing the mind of a special individual and trying to figure out what and how he did it, right.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 1, 2020. Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

Boston Book Fair Goes Virtual Nov 12-14, 2020

r/BookCollecting - Boston Book Fair Goes Virtual, Nov. 12-14, 2020

An alluring treasure trove awaits seasoned collectors as well as new visitors at the 44th annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair, which will be held virtually November 12-14, 2020.  The event will showcase the finest in rare and valuable books, illuminated manuscripts, autographs, ephemera, political and historic documents, maps, atlases, photographs, fine and decorative prints, and much more.

Shop the virtual booths of hundreds of international sellers and discover their latest acquisitions and rare finds from November 12-14, 2020 at http://www.abaa.org/vbf

Learn more:

The Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair is going virtual this year! 

The Inside Story of the $8 Million Heist From the Carnegie Library

bible being held by blue-gloved hand
Far from a crime just against the library, the theft was a crime against the world’s cultural heritage. Everywhere they looked, the auditors found a staggering degree of destruction and looting.

Precious maps, books and artworks vanished from the Pittsburgh archive over the course of 25 years
By Travis McDade | Smithsonian Magazine

Far from a crime just against the library, the theft was a crime against the world’s cultural heritage. Everywhere they looked, the auditors found a staggering degree of destruction and looting.

A copy of Ptolemy’s groundbreaking La Geographia, printed in 1548, had survived intact for over 400 years, but now all of its maps were missing. Of an 18-volume set of Giovanni Piranesi’s extremely rare etchings, printed between 1748 and 1807, the assessors noted dryly, “The only part of this asset located during on-site inspection was its bindings. The contents have evidently been removed from the bindings and the appraiser is taking the extraordinary assumption that they have been removed from the premises.” The replacement value for the Piranesis alone was $600,000.

The thief lived close to the Caliban Book Shop in Pittsburgh, where he established a friendly business selling books to the owner, who marked the books “Withdrawn from Library.” The ethics code of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America states that members “shall make all reasonable efforts to ascertain that materials offered to him or her are the property of the seller,” and members “shall make every effort to prevent the theft or distribution of stolen antiquarian books and related materials.” Schulman was not only a member of the ABAA. He had served on its ethics and standards committee.

Read the entire detailed article here at the Smithsonian Magazine