August 2017

Coinciding with this fall’s fortieth Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair on October 28–30 is an ambitious, multi-venue exhibition of illuminated manuscripts and early printed books, providing a tantalizing glimpse of medieval book production as well as a thorough examination of manuscript collecting in Boston at the turn of the nineteenth century.

This fall, the Morgan Library will be exhibiting some of its most bejeweled medieval books in the show Magnificent Gems: Medieval Treasure Bindings. The exhibition, which is running September 2017 through January 2018, will include a dazzling collection of treasure bindings adorned with sapphires, diamonds, emeralds, pearls, and garnets and other precious stones.

John Tenniel judged the images produced from electrotype printing plates of his illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to be so poorly rendered that he convinced the book’s author, Lewis Carroll, to recall entire first edition. Carroll’s diary entry for July 20, 1865 states as much: “Called on [publisher] Macmillan, and showed him Tenniel’s letter about the fairy-tale -- he is entirely dissatisfied with the printing of the pictures, and I suppose we shall have to do it all again.” (R.L. Green, ed., The Diaries (London: 1953), p.234).

On December 5, one of the world’s best private collections of English Bibles will hit the auction block at Sotheby’s New York. It is the collection of Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, described by the auction house as a “renowned theologian and the editor of a bestselling study Bible.” Ryrie’s collection is comprehensive--including papyrus fragments, illuminated manuscripts, and two leaves from the Gutenberg Bible, alongside many early printed editions.

The Charles Dickens Museum in London reported that it discovered an original portrait of Catherine Dickens, wife of Charles Dickens. In a curious twist, the painting was discovered by X-ray beneath the portrait many believed to be the original. As it turns out, the original painting was extensively overpainted, perhaps after a botched attempt to clean it.

Over the holiday week, I took a trip to Corning, New York, home of the Corning Museum of Glass. My primary intention was to see the collection of antique microscopes on exhibit (and featured in our fall 2016 issue). Revealing the Invisible: The History of Glass and the Microscope, on display in the museum’s Rakow Research Library, looks at the scientists and artists who developed and refined microscopy between the 1600s and the late 1800s. 

Thirty original photographs considered masterpieces from the late Qing Dynasty will be exhibited in New York at PRPH Books. The exhibition, presented by the 19th Century Rare Book and Photograph Shop, will run as part of Asia Week New York, March 7-20. 

At TEFAF Maastricht this week, North American manuscript dealers Les Enluminuresclosed a more than $3 million deal with the Kreis Warendorf and the Sparkasse Münsterland Ost to bring the thousand-year-old Liesborn Gospels “home” to Germany.

Aimlessly strolling through Paris in springtime may be a rite of passage for star-crossed lovers, but tomorrow rare books and manusripts dealer Les Enluminures invites walkers to promenade with purpose on Saturday, April 8 at 10:00 a.m., to examine the origins of the book trade when medieval booksellers, binders, and illuminators plied their trade in the heart of the city. Advance registration is essential, so call +33(0)1 42 60 15 58 or email [email protected] tout de suite if you’re interested.

Living in the shadow of her husband, author F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald was a writer and, as evidenced by this incredible set of painted paper dolls, a visual artist too. Zelda had married Fitzgerald in 1920, and their lives were famously wild, unscripted, and discordant. Her biographer Nancy Milford suggests that Zelda began painting in the mid-1920s, perhaps to express her mercurial emotions.