Friday, January 23, 2015

Have you seen the latest news on papyrus?

Pompeii fresco of Greek lyric poet Sappho.
We've been reading with utter fascination the recent developments with ancient papyrus writings that have been in the news recently. A few days ago, there were reports from all over about the biblical scholars who may have found a fragment of the oldest known Gospel of Mark inside an Egyptian mummy mask. If it turns out to be authentic, that surely is an astounding find.

Now comes news from Smithsonian Magazine that new x-ray technology is allowing Italian scientists to study for the first time ancient scrolls from Pompeii blackened in the volcanic eruption in 79 AD and made so fragile that they could be destroyed just touching them.

With the new x-ray machine, scientists won't have to touch the scrolls to study them. They'll just scan them like CT scanner, only a little different. It's all quite technical but the gist is that ancient inks sit on top of the papyrus fibers just enough that they can be seen in the x-ray images.

Anybody who is attracted to the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair, of course, is going to sit up and take notice when developments like this pop up so we figure we're probably not alone in seeking all the details. From what we've seen, the technological breakthrough has just begun to yield something the scientists can work with so it may be some time before there are any great revelations. Apparently there are some 1,800 blackened scrolls that have been discovered.

As it happens, next year's theme for the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair is Written Relics: Papyrus to paperbacks. It's a great theme that gets to the heart of the many varied reasons collectors collect books. It'll be fun to explore in 2016. Maybe by then there will be some new developments on these two stories.

In the meantime, we're focused on this year's book fair. The theme this year is Modern Literature: the truth and beauty of fiction. We'll be talking about that in much greater detail in these days leading up to the book fair, so stay tuned and share with your friends.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

For book lovers, something a little different

Here's something a little different for book lovers. We came across a Washington Post article about this lady. Her name is Maria and she has gained something of a celebrity status for her practice of making videos in which she speaks very, very softly.

For some people, her whispers induce a pleasurable tingle all over their bodies. It's known as autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). It's like what might have happened as a kid and your friend whispered in your ear and you felt a shiver and pulled away giggling. In the Post article, Maria described it as a "shower of sparkles" and "like warm sand being poured all over you ..."

Hey, we like the beach so it was enough to send us poking around her YouTube channel, GentleWhispering, and wouldn't you know it, we discovered Maria's offering for book lovers that you see embedded above.

She had another interesting one set in a library in which she seemed to be portraying the world's quietest librarian. She typed information to issue us a library card but we left before it was ready. You'll have to find that one for yourself. This ASMR effect may not be for everyone but some will enjoy it.

We'd rather sit in our own library and listen to the sound of pages turning in a book we bought at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Past is prologue: a little history of the book fair

This is the 34th year for the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. Sometimes fair goers wonder about the history of the book fair. How did it start? Was it always at The Coliseum? Is anybody still around who remembers the old days? We're always happy when we get questions like that because we've got answers.

Yes, there are people still around after all these years who were involved with the first Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. No, it wasn't always at The Coliseum, though few would dispute the suggestion that this is probably the perfect venue for this book fair. The story of how the book fair started and some of its history over the years is told in the FABA Museum, an online space on our website devoted to our history. We encourage you to click the link and go visit the museum. It's free.

One of the videos that you'll find in the FABA Museum is displayed at the top of this post. In it, book fair chairman Michael Slicker talks about the earliest days of the book fair and where the idea for it came from in the first place. We hope you'll enjoy the video and that you'll take the time to visit the FABA Museum and learn a little about the background of this amazing event.

As always, we'd love to hear from you -- your thoughts, your ideas, your responses to what we've posted.