Bill's Articles


It's all about education: Whether you collect books or autographs or both, the educated collector is the savvy collector. A stream of reference works, how-tos, exhibition catalogs, bibliographies and memoirs useful to collectors are published every year -- and receive scant attention in the media. Thus since 1992 I've reviewed between 3 and 6 new books in every issue of this scholarly quarterly

Marveling at Medieval

(Winter 2024)

The Manuscripts Club: The People Behind a Thousand Years of Medieval Manuscripts by Christopher de Hamel

View PDF

The Addictive Allure of Private Libraries and Historical Documents

(Fall 2023)

The Private Library: The History of the Architecture and Furnishings of the Domestic Bookroom by Reid Byers

Safeguarding History: Trailblazing Adventures Inside the Worlds of Collecting and Forging History by Kenneth W. Rendell

View PDF

A Group of Grammars, Kettle of Kettubah and Slew of Suggestions

(Summer 2023)

Taming the Tongue: In the Heyday of English Grammar (1711-1851) by Bryan A. Garner

The Art of the Ketubbah: Marriage Contracts from the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary by Shalom Sabar

Contemporary Issues in Rare Book & Manuscript Collecting: A Handbook for Collectors and the Trade by Spencer W. Stuart

View PDF

Accomplished Curator's Curio Cabinet

(Spring 2023)

A Curator's Wunderkammer: A Decade of Collecting for the University of Virginia by David R. Whitesell

View PDF

Memoirs Worth Remembering

(Winter 2023)

Booked by Fate: A Life of Dealing in the Exotic World of Rare Books (beginning with a garage sale) by Phillip J. Pirages

Fifty Years a Bookseller: or, The Wolf at Your Door by Clarence Wolf

View PDF

A Book Sleuth and a Sleuth's Sleuth

(Fall 2022)

Books in My Life by G. Thomas Tanselle

Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects: From the Collection of Glen S. Miranker by Cathy Miranker and Glen S. Miranker (curators)

View PDF

Book Reviews: One in brief and one at length

(Summer 2022)

The Private Collection of William S. Reese

The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree and Arthur Der Weduwen

View PDF

From London's Roxburghe Club to Chicago's Caxton Club

(Spring 2022)

A Letter from India Written in 1824 by Reginald Heber by Reginald Heber

"With All Faults": Essays About Old Books by David Meyer

View PDF

Glass Half Empty vs. Cup Overfloweth: A Review and a Rejoinder

(Winter 2022)

The Last Bookseller: A Life in the Rare Book Trade by Gary Goodman

Thomas Becket: murder and the making of a saint by Lloyd De Beer and Naomi Speakman

General John A. Rawlins: No Ordinary Man by Allen J. Ottens

View PDF

A Florentine Forefather

Fall 2021

The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts That Illuminated the Renaissance by Ross King

View PDF

Rare Paper, Micro to Macro

(Summer 2021)

The Book in the Cathedral: The Last Relic of Thomas Becket by Christopher De Hamel

Bibliomania: 150 Years of Collecting Rare Books for the George Peabody Library edited by Earle Havens

The Lilly Library from A to Z: Intriguing Objects in a World-Class Collection by Darlene J. Sadlier

A Nation, A City & Its First Library: Americana as a Way of Life at the St. Louis Mercantile Library by John Neal Hoover

View PDF

The Problem with Dealers: One More for the Road

(Spring 2021)

Rare Book Hunting: Essays and Escapades by Kurt Zimmerman

View PDF

The problem with dealers...

(Winter 2021)

Renaissance Hombre: Reflections on a Well-Rounded Life by Scott W. Petersen

Love, Death & Rare Books by Robert Hellenga

The Hunt for History: On the Trail of the World's Lost Treasures — from the Letters of Lincoln, Churchill, and Einstein to the Secret Recordings Aboard JFK's Air Force One by Nathan Raab

View PDF

One Really Bad Egg and a Visit to Calling Cards

(Fall 2020)

Bluffing Texas Style: The Arsons, Forgeries, and High-Stakes Poker Capers of Rare Book Dealer Johnny Jenkins by Michael Vinson

Visitors from the Past: Visiting Cards of Composers, Conductors and Instrumentalists by Jim Neglia

View PDF

Autograph Dealing and the Forensic Imperative

(Summer 2020)

Huber and Headrick's Handwriting Identification: Facts and Fundamentals by Heidi H. Harralson and Larry S. Miller

Scientific Examination of Documents: Methods and Techniques — Fourth Edition by David Ellen, Stephen Day and Christopher Davies

Developments in Handwriting and Signature Identification in the Digital Age by Heidi H. Harralson

The Neuroscience of Handwriting: Applications for Forensic Document Examination by Michael P. Caligiuri and Linton Mohammed

The Psychology of Handwriting by Robert Saudek

View PDF

A Worthy Sequel and a First of Its Kind

(Spring 2020)

Americana is a Creed: Notable Twentieth-Century Collectors, Dealers, and Curators Edited by J. Kevin Graffagnino, Terese M. Austin and Sara Quashnie

The Celluloid Paper Trail: Identification and Description of Twentieth Century Film Scripts by Kevin R. Johnson

View PDF

On Whitman, Pilgrims, Banks and Appraisals

(Winter 2020)

Poet of the Body: New York's Walt Whitman — An exhibition based on the Walt Whitman Collection of Susan Jaffe Tane on the occasion of the Bicentennial Anniversary of Whitman's Birthday by Susan Jaffe Tane and Karen Karbiener (curators)

Plymouth Colony's Private Libraries, as Recorded in Wills and Inventories, 1633-1692 by Jeremy Dupertius Bangs

Mooring a Field: Paul N. Banks and the Education of Library and Archives Conservators by Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa

Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice: 2018-2019 Edition by The Appraisal Foundation

View PDF

New Twist on the Book That Changed Everything

(Fall 2019)

The Lost Gutenberg: The Astounding Story of One Book's Five-Hundred-Year Odyssey by Margaret Leslie Davis

View PDF

Scrawls and Stuff

(Summer 2019)

Scrawl: An A-Z of Famous Doodles — Sketches, Jottings, and Notes from the Greatest Minds in History compiled by Caren, Claudia and Todd Strauss-Schulson

How to Weed Your Attic: Getting Rid of the Junk without Destroying History by Elizabeth H. Dow and Lucinda P. Cockrell

View PDF

Obama and Trump in Black and White

(Spring 2019)

To Obama: With love, joy, anger, and hope by Jeanna Marie Laskas

Donald J. Trump: A Signature Study & Autopen Guide by Stephen Koschal and Patricia Claren

View PDF

Row, Row, Row Your . . . Book

(Winter 2019)

The History of the Limited Editions Club, by Carol Porter Grossman

Atlas of World War II: History's Greatest Conflict Revealed Through Rare Wartime Maps and New Cartography by Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop

View PDF

A Medley of Medieval

(Fall 2018)

Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: Twelve Journeys into the Medieval World by Christopher de Hamel

The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscripts Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman by Christopher de Hamel

Manuscripts in the Making: Art & Science — Volume One edited by Stella Panayotova and Paola Ricciardi

View PDF

"Americana! That's the stuff to collect." — or, The Clements Library Does It Again

(Summer 2018)

The Pioneer Americanists: Early Collectors, Dealers, and Bibliographers, edited by J. Kevin Graffagnino, Terese M. Austin, Jayne Ptolemy and Brian Leigh Dunnigan

View PDF

Autographs and the Age of Experts

(Spring 2018)

How to Be an Effective Expert Witness at Deposition and Trial: The SEAK Guide to Testifying as an Expert Witness by James J. Mangraviti, Steven Babitsky and Nadine Nasser Donovan

View PDF

A Forger and a Cartoonist Worth Celebrating

(Winter 2018)

Adolfo Kaminsky: A Forger's Life by Sarah Kaminsky

To Laugh That We May Not Weep: The Life & Times of Art Young by Glenn Bray and Frank M. Young

View PDF

Reflecting on the Card Catalog

(Fall 2017)

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures, edited by Peter Devereaux

View PDF

Book Reviews

(Summer 2017)

Yours Respectfully, William Berwick: Paper Conservation in the United States and Western Europe, 1800 to 1935 by Christine A. Smith

The Power of Anti-Semitism: The March to the Holocaust 1919-1939 — An exhibition by The Museum of World War II Boston by Kenneth W. Rendell and Samantha Heywood

The Secret History of World War II: Spies, Codes & Covert Operations by Neil Kagan and Stephen G. Hyslop

View PDF

Epistolary Novels about the World of Letters

(Spring 2017)

Correspondence: An Adventure in Letters by N. John Hall

Bibliophilia: An Epistolary Novel of One Man's Obsession with Book Collecting by N. John Hall

View PDF

Kickass Conservators and a Bookish Bonanza

(Winter 2017)

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World's Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

The Dictionary of the Book: A Glossary for Book Collectors, Booksellers, Librarians, and Others by Sidney E. Berger

View PDF

Dr. R. Meets His Match and Mining the Archives of American Art

(Fall 2016)

Edward Eberstadt & Sons: Rare Booksellers of Western Americana by Michael Vinson

Pen to Paper: Artists' Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art edited by Mary Savig

View PDF

A Collector's Potluck, Paper Paraphernalia, Stamp Stories

(Summer 2016)

The Grolier Club Collects II: Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper from the Collections of Grolier Club Members, edited by George Ong

Reading & Writing Accessories: A Study of Paper-Knives, Paper Folders, Letter Openers and Mythical Page Turners by Ian Spellerberg

Put a Stamp on It! Seventy-Seven Sparkling Stories Showcasing How Stamps Have Intercepted Historical Events by Herman Herst, Jr.

View PDF

What do a Michigan Manufacturer, Scottish Scribbler and Illinois Attorney Have in Common?

(Spring 2016)

A Great Library Easily Begets Affection: Memories of the William L. Clements Library, 1923-2015 by Dunnigan, Schopieray, Hastings and Graffagnino

Boswell's Books: Four Generations of Collecting and Collectors by Terry I. Seymour

Fire, Fraud, and Reporters: And Other Ways Lincoln Manuscripts Have Been Lost by James M. Cornelius

View PDF

Sowing Serendipity and the Devil's in the Details

(Winter 2016)

Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places by Rebecca Rego Barry

Portraits and Reviews by G. Thomas Tanselle

View PDF

Something Old, Something New, Some Shakespearian Redux

(Fall 2015)

Manuscripts Ancient - Modern: An Exhibition on the Occasion of The Manuscript Society's Annual Meeting...

Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Illuminated Manuscripts, edited by Marc Epstein

Shakespeare's Beehive: An Annotated Elizabethan Dictionary Comes to Light by George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler

View PDF

The Irish Hand and Writers' Libraries

(Summer 2015)

The Irish Hand: Scribes and Their Manuscripts from the Earliest Times by Timothy O'Neill

Collecting, Curating, and Researching Writers' Libraries: A Handbook, edited by Richard W. Oram

View PDF

Fakes, Forgeries and More

(Spring 2015)

Bibliotheca Fictiva: A Collection of Books & Manuscripts Relating to Literary Forgery, 400BC - AD2000 by Arthur Freeman

Fakes, Lies, and Forgeries: Rare Books and Manuscripts from the Arthur and Janet Freeman Bibliotheca Fictiva Collection, edited by Earle Havens

View PDF

Significant Appraisal Manual

(Winter 2015)

Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice: 2014-2015 Edition

View PDF

Depravity and Generosity: The Attraction of Manuscripts

(Fall 2014)

The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps by Michael Blanding

In Pursuit of a Vision: Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society

View PDF

An Elizabethan Dictionary plus Fifty WWII Documents

(Summer 2014)

Shakespeare's Beehive: An Annotated Elizabethan Dictionary Comes to Light by George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler

Politics, War and Personality: Fifty Iconic World War II Documents That Changed the World by Kenneth W. Rendell

View PDF

A Book About Nothing, A Book About Everything

(Spring 2014)

Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings, editors Marta Werner and Jen Bervin

On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History by Nicholas A. Basbanes

View PDF

German Publications Address Nazi and JFK Signatures

(Winter 2014)

Autographen des Nationalsozialismus 1919-1945: Band I -- Nationalsozialistische Ideologen, Funktionare und Politiker, Militarische Fuhrung der Wehrmacht by Andre Husken
John F. Kennedy Autograph Study by Andreas Wiemer

View PDF

A Forger and Thief plus the American West

(Fall 2013)

Scientist, Scholar & Scoundrel: A Bibliographical Investigation of the Life and Exploits of Count Guglielmo Libri--Mathematician, Journalist, Patriot, Historian of Science, Paleographer, Book Collector, Bibliographer, Antiquarian Bookseller, Forger and Book Thief by Jeremy M. Norman
The Great American West: Pursuing the American Dream by Kenneth W. Rendell

View PDF

Rare Books and Manuscripts Thievery, Then and Now

(Summer 2013)

The Book Thief: The True Crimes of Daniel Spiegelman by Travis McDade
Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It by Travis McDade

View PDF

Neil Armstrong Autographs and an Art Forger

(Spring 2013)

Neil Armstrong: The Quest for His Autograph by Anthony Pizzitola (editor)
Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of an American Art Forger by Ken Perenyi

View PDF

A Burriana Bevy, A Prestidigitation Primer, and A Newspaper Nest

(Winter 2013)

Burriana: A Catalogue of Rare Books, Pamphlets, Letters, Manuscripts, Documents & Objects By, About, or Relating to Aaron Burr and His Contemporaries by Brian Davon Hardison
Playing Cards Autographed by Magicians: A Collector's Guide by Michael E. Johnson
Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News by Todd Andrlik

View PDF

The Antiquarian, the Bibliopole, and the Legal Black Hole

(Fall 2012)

A Place in My Chronicle: A New Edition of the Diary of Christopher Columbus Baldwin, 1829-1835 by Jack Larkin and Caroline Sloat
Ray Safford, Rare Bookman by Mark D. Tomasko
Archivists, Collectors, Dealers, and Replevin: Case Studies in Private Ownership of Public Documents by Elizabeth H. Dow

View PDF

The History of One of the Great Books and Manuscript Libraries

(Summer 2012)

The American Antiquarian Society, 1812-2012: A Bicentennial History by Philip F. Gura

View PDF

Manuscript-related Books for Collectors

(Spring 2012)

Ernest Hemingway: A Descriptive Bibliography by C. Edgar Grissom
A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions by Bill McBride

View PDF

For Bibliophiles and Presidential Collectors

(Winter 2012)

Dr. Rosenbach and Mr. Lilly: Book Collecting in a Golden Age by Joel Silver
James A. Garfield: A Signature Study with a Focus on His Presidential Signatures by Stephen Koschal

View PDF

Genizah, Genizah, . . . and More Genizah

(Fall 2011)

Sacred Treasure: The Cairo Genizah -- The Amazing Discoveries of Forgotten Jewish History in an Egyptian Synagogue Attic by Mark Glickman
Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Genizah by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole
Things on Which I've Stumbled by Peter Cole

View PDF

Books and Autographs and Ever the Twain Shall Meet: Two Reviews

(Summer 2011)

Collected Books: The Guide to Identification and Values -- 4th Edition by Allen and Patricia Ahearn
Rare: A life among antiquarian books by Stuart Kells

View PDF

Medieval Manuscripts and Association Copies of Books: Stories They Tell

(Spring 2011)

The Wollaton Medieval Manuscripts: Texts, Owners and Readers by Ralph Hanna and Thorlac Turville-Petre (editors)
Other People's Books: Association Copies and the Stories They Tell introduction by Thomas G. Tanselle (The Caxton Club)

View PDF

The Ethics of Archivists and Libraries in the Western World

(Winter 2011)

The Ethical Archivist by Elena S. Danielson
The History of the Library in Western Civilization: From Constantine the Great to Cardinal Bessarion -- Imperial, Monastic, School and Private Libraries in the Byzantine World by Konstantinos Sp. Staikos

View PDF

Studies in Authentication and 19th Century Facsimiles

(Fall 2010)

Real or Fake: Studies in Authentication by Joe Nickell
Lettres Autographes Composant la Collection de M. Alfred Bovet by Etienne Charavay

View PDF

Handwriting Today . . . and a Stolen American Relic

(Summer 2010)

Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting by Kitty Burns Florey
Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic by David Howard

View PDF

Those Who Knew Lincoln and Muhammad Ali's Autographs

(Spring 2010)

Abraham Lincoln: Illustrated Biographical Dictionary--Family and Associates, 1809-1861 by Norman Francis Boas
The Collector's Guide to Muhammad Ali Autographs by Shawn Anderson, Markus Brandes and Stephen Koschal

View PDF

Samuel Johnson, Literary Obsession, and Hubert's Freaks

(Winter 2010)

A Monument More Durable Than Brass: The Donald & Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson -- An Exhibition by John Overholt (exhibition curator) and Thomas A. Horrocks (editor)
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Hubert's Freaks: The Rare-Book Dealer, the Times Square Talker, and the Lost Photos of Diane Arbus by Gregory Gibson

View PDF

A Collector's Guide Plus Two Sterling Collections

(Fall 2009)

In the Presence of History: The Authoritative Guide to Historical Autographs for Collectors, History Enthusiasts and Investors by Steven S. Raab and Jonas Raab
World War II: Saving the Reality -- A Collector's Vault by Kenneth W. Rendell
Portrait of the Artist: The Burt Britton Collection

View PDF

Burns, Milton, Lincoln: An Unlikely Trio

(Summer 2009)

The G. Ross Roy Collection of Robert Burns: An Illustrated Catalogue by Elizabeth A. Sudduth (compiler)
The Robert J. Wickenheiser Collection of John Milton at the University of South Carolina: A Descriptive Account with Illustrations by Robert J. Wickhenheiser
Mr. Lincoln's Book: Publishing the Lincoln-Douglas Debates -- with Census of Signed Copies by David H. Leroy

View PDF

Fakes, Exhibits, and Autopens

(Spring 2009)

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger by Lee Israel
Vivat Rex! An Exhibition Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Accession of Henry VIII by Arthur L. Schwarz
Presidents of the United States Autopen Guide by Stephen Koschal and Andreas Wiemer

View PDF

From the Serious to the Not so Serious

(Winter 2009)

Books About Books: A History and Bibliography of Oak Knoll Press by Robert D. Fleck
Benjamin Franklin: Writer and Printer by James N. Green and Peter Stallybrass
Betcha Didn't Know That! 101 Antiques and Collectibles Trivia Tips That Can Make You Rich, Famous, and the Hit of the Party by Leon Castner and Brian Kathenes

View PDF

Other Articles


Change Comes to The Eternal City: Vatican Librarian Leapfrogs into 21st Century

Published in the Summer 2019 issue of Manuscripts. An edited version was originally published as the cover article in Fine Books & Collections, Autumn 2018.

View PDF