Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2017 Issue

A Bombed Out Library Is Assisted by Another Over 2,000 Miles Away

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Books in the Mosul University Library (People In Need photo).

The story of the Mosul University Library, like that of so many things in Iraq, is one of enormous tragedy. The library survived the Iraqi War, though it brought numerous hardships to the city. There was off and on fighting, always danger, and many abandoned the city. Still, the university persevered. Then, in 2014, ISIS captured the city. A bad situation got much worse. ISIS controlled the city and the university until this past summer, when their last remnants were forced to flee. The university was finally liberated, but unfortunately, there was not that much left.

 

When ISIS took over the University of Mosul, it shut down most classes. Other than its own brand of fanatical Islam, they didn't believe in teaching much of anything. Only the schools of medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry were allowed to continue. Chemistry laboratories were apparently converted to bomb-making facilities. What exactly happened in the library is unclear. ISIS held public book burnings at the city library. Whether a large number of books were also burned or otherwise destroyed at the university library during this period is less certain. They would have had no use for most of the books there, but not being a prime location for a public display, they may not have had the time or manpower to devote to destroying the contents. There were over one million books and other documents and forms of paper within. They may have been too busy to undertake all that destruction in a library when they had a war to fight.

 

Regardless of how much or how little survived the years of ISIS occupation, the final battle for Mosul proved terribly destructive. ISIS snipers, some willing to fight to the end, inhabited buildings in the city. Others heaved firebombs at their targets. House to house combat with fighters who have pre-established positions is almost suicidal. So, government forces called in the bombers and rained bombs from the sky. Whether by bombs dropped from airplanes or firebombs thrown by ISIS' hand, the library suffered severe damage. Fires raced through its floors. The structure suffered enormous devastation, the books almost total destruction. The Mosul University Library was left as little more than a burned-out shell.

 

After such horrific events, it's heartening to hear a story of man's humanity, rather than inhumanity, towards man. The story of the Mosul Library's destruction made its way to employees of the Library of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, in Prague, the Czech Republic, apparently through an article in the New Yorker. They wanted to help. I'm not aware of any particular connection between the Czech Republic and Iraq, other than a shared belief in helping others held by the best people of those and all lands. The people at the library in Prague began collecting monetary donations for the Mosul library. They didn't choose to collect books – language differences may have limited the value of such a contribution and donations of books are easier to come by. The Mosul Library already has many donated books in warehouses and the U.N. has helped with cleaning up the burned out premises. The bigger need now is rebuilding the badly damaged structure, and nothing is more helpful for this need than money.

 

Naturally, contributions at one library are limited, so the people at Charles University reached out to other university libraries and institutions. Not having connections with Mosul itself, the donors solicited the aid of People In Need. People In Need is Czech humanitarian organization that helps people both in their homeland and dozens of countries around the world. They were already operating in Iraq. Staff at the Mosul University Library will determine how best to allocate the funds, while People In Need will deliver the funds and see to it that they are put to the proper use.

 

The fundraising effort will continue until the end of December.

Rare Book Monthly

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    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
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  • <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 54. Fanciful engraving of earth's interior with magma core and errupting volcanoes (1682). $1500 to $1800.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 165. Rare state of Jefferys' influential map of New England in contemporary color (1755). $8000 to $9500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 177. Mouzon's foundation map of the Carolinas (1775). $10000 to $13000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 183. Very rare first state of De Fer's map of the Lower Mississippi Valley (1715). $20000 to $25000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 253. Scarce Scottish edition based on Ellicott's plan of Washington, D.C. (1796). $2400 to $3000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 313. Stunning view of Philadelphia by John Bachmann (1850). $3250 to $4250.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 338. Rare Civil War map based on Bucholtz map of Virginia (1862). $9500 to $12000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 667. First map to accurately show Luzon in Philippines (1590). $6000 to $7500.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 682. Rare map of Shanghai International Settlement published just after WWI (1918). $7000 to $9000.
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 738. Coronelli's superb map of the Pacific showing the Island of California (1697) Est. $2400 - $3000
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 743. A cornerstone piece in the mapping of Australia and New Zealand (1726) Est. $6000 - $7500
    <b>Old World Auctions (April 28):</b><br>Lot 781. An uncommon signature during Jefferson's Governorship of Virginia (1779) Est. $9500 - $11000

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