This article was first published on the website of Archives Fine Books in Australia, member of ANZAAB and affiliated to ILAB. It is published here with the permission of the author Dawn Albinger and shows the integrity of our trade. Taking our book sleuthing to a new level in 2017…
How we cracked the cold case of a book missing from the rare books department of a major institution.
Only a few months ago the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) had to report the theft of a considerable number of works by Pieter Bruegel along with rare and valuable maps and atlases. The BnF immediately got into contact with the European libraries and with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). An ILAB security message was sent out to all affiliates worldwide, the theft was announced on the ILAB Stolen Books Database. Now the French police reports that the thief has been caught.
In the 1990s rare and valuable 17th century books were stolen from the National Library of Sweden. Now some of them have been returned to Sweden with the help of two American antiquarian booksellers. The official repatriation ceremony took place in Manhattan, New York. (Reblogged from The Art Newspaper)
Do we need more drastic measures to prevent the theft of books, maps, manuscripts and other art on paper? On 26 June 2015 internationally renowned experts – librarians, archivists, lawyers, auctioneers and rare book dealers – discussed one of the global problems of the antiquarian book trade in the 21st century: the theft of books, manuscripts and prints from public collections such as, in recent years, the Girolamini Library in Naples, the National Library of Sweden, the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen and, right now, from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris. "Thefts of rare books, maps and manuscripts from libraries are a growing, global problem", the Art Newspaper summarizes. "The portable nature of these works and the fact that many libraries lack up-to-date catalogues of their sizable collections - some of which were assembled centuries ago - make them prime targets. Two weeks before the conference, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France announced that several 16th- and 17th-century engravings by Brueghel as well as atlases dating from the 16th to 18th centuries had been stolen from its collection. An investigation is currently underway." ILAB President Norbert Donhofer was invited to speak at the conference at the British Library, which will be followed up by another international meeting in New York in 2016.
Recent news concerning the Girolamini thefts and the ongoing investigations: In an official press release the Bavarian authorities announce that they will return some 500 books which were confiscated at the Munich auction house Zisska & Schauer (now Zisska & Lacher) in May 2012 in connection with the thefts from the Girolamini Library in Naples. The books dating from 16th and 17th centuries and worth over 2 million euros will be handed over to Italian judicial authorities in Munich on 13th February 2015.
On Sunday, November 9th, Il Sole 24 Ore devoted an entire page to recent problems in the Italian rare book trade, featuring two excellent articles by Daniele Danesi and Fabrizio Govi. These articles moved me to speak a few words prior to the Bloomsbury Rome auction of November 12, with its books "released from confiscation" ("dissequestrati"). Had he not been abroad, I am certain that Fabrizio, who succeeded me as president of the ALAI in 2010, would have done exactly the same. I recognize that in this time of severe economic crisis and in the aftermath of the "Girolamini Affair" and related criminal activities, Fabrizio has demonstrated outstanding leadership in speaking out on behalf of ALAI members, and defending them against irresponsible allegations and harassment by Italian authorities.
En 1464, les moines allemands Conrad Sweynheym et Arnold Pannartz parvinrent au monastère bénédictin de Subiaco avec leur précieuse cargaison de poinçons et matrices métalliques pour pouvoir imprimer avec des caractères mobiles. Ils avaient été apprentis de l'atelier de Peter Schöffer à Mayence. Avec leur arrivée, l'extraordinaire aventure de l'imprimerie en Italie débuta.
Probably the most notorious seventeenth-century sex manual bore the strange title Aristotle's Masterpiece. This book bears a fake author's name — the Greek philosopher had nothing to do with it — in order to give the work some measure of respectability. The ruse didn't work; Aristotle's Masterpiece was banned in Britain until the 1960s. But the prohibition didn't keep it from circulating: it was one of the most notorious, and widely distributed, sex books in the English language.
Strange how myths are perpetuated. Like the one that claims Captain James Cook discovered Australia. Or the myth that the English are responsible for the mapping of Australia. If we delve into the history of Australian cartography, we find that it is the French, not the English, who made the greatest contribution to the early mapping of our continent. In fact, given King Louis XVI and Napoleon's interest in the great southern continent, it is surprising that we are not a nation of French speaking citizens.
Mark Twain was the first author to submit a typed manuscript in 1883. Since then authors have been devoted to their typewriters. For many of them it was a kind of love affair, a private room within the private house, or a refuge on travels in the anonymous settings of a hotel room. With notebook and iPad, this era comes to an end. The Guardian looks back on some of the iconic images of writer and their keyboards. A brilliant picture story featuring Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Francoise Sagan, William Faulkner, Brendan Behan, Agatha Christie.
"Among the volumes held by University of Melbourne Special Collections concerning British exploration of the Pacific, the book with the greatest link to the subject has nothing at all to do with it at least in terms of its topic. It is a medical text called An Introduction to Physiology (London, 1759), a compilation of lectures for students by the Scottish physiologist and instructor Malcolm Flemyng (ca. 1700–1764)..."