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Manuscript

Manuscripts are books, letters, documents or pieces of music written by hand as opposed to being printed.

Handwritten material relating to historical events or famous and literary figures has sparked an active collectables market. Nowadays a wide range of examples can be available from auctions and dealers from illuminated medieval manuscripts to 20th century political speeches.


Parchment roundels

UK buyer sought for Elizabeth I roundels 

20 September 2022

A conjoined roundel manuscript given by the Archbishop of Canterbury to Queen Elizabeth I has been temporarily blocked from export in the hope a UK institution can raise the funds.

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Atomic bomber’s secret logbook made headlines

12 September 2022

Sold at $440,000 (£371,000), the most expensive lot in a three-day auction at Heritage (25% buyer’s premium) was a logbook kept on the B29 Superfortress bomber that dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945.

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Characteristic of a Parisian workshop

12 September 2022

Bellmans is holding a special book and manuscript auction as part of the October sales series, on October 11, with the majority of books coming from one collection.

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American early rarities and a Shakepeare First Folio achieve seven-figure sums

12 September 2022

The principal portion of a two-part sale conducted by Sotheby’s New York included not one, but three lots that brought seven-figure bids.

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Nun’s illuminating role in Italy

05 September 2022

Sixteenth century manuscript produced in a Florence monastery sells in Essex

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Pick of the week: Large bill – swans book flies away for £54,000

29 August 2022

A two-volume manuscript used to determine swan ownership in East Anglia from the 16th to the 19th century was sold by Sworders for a remarkable £54,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

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Evelyn Waugh’s first book inscribed by man who wooed author’s first wife

29 August 2022

Copy of his first book was a later gift from Sir John Heygate to Tarka the Otter author

(Pic 371) H 177 (Conan Doyle MS) 1

Sherlock’s brother detected in Arthur Conan Doyle autograph manuscript

29 August 2022

Making its third appearance at auction in almost 60 years, the 34pp autograph manuscript of Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter’, a tale from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes collection of his stories that first appeared in The Strand magazine in 1893, has sold for $280,000 (£236,090) in Dallas.

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‘Lustie’ farmers sought for a pioneering settlement

15 August 2022

Bearing as its title ‘Certain Directions for the Sending of Men and Comodities, & Cattle to Virginia’, a 10pp secretarial manuscript thought to date from c.1609 proved a major attraction in a July 14 sale held by Forum (15/20/12.5% buyer’s premium).

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Napoleonic memorabilia: Bust of Boney sold at Sotheby's among latest highlights

15 August 2022

Rediscovered sculpted portrait heads a special report covering recent lots linked to the man who became emperor, dedicated to both his triumphs and defeats

Walter Raleigh document

Rawley or Raleigh, it’s worth £22,000

18 July 2022

The sale of Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on July 13 included a document signed by the adventurer and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618).

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Deadly demand by ‘Bloody Mary’

11 July 2022

The queen’s menacing message to Protestant courtiers makes an auction appearance

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The elusive Button Gwinnett completes a Declaration full set

11 July 2022

Unknown as he is to the vast majority of people, even Americans, Button Gwinnett is certainly renowned among collectors of early US history.

Chaworth Roll

Medieval map lays out the routes to royalty

20 June 2022

The Chaworth Roll, a 14th century genealogy of the kings of England that includes the second-earliest recorded road map of the country, is on offer at TEFAF Maastricht this week.

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International hammer highlights: Manuscript strikes gold in New York

16 May 2022

Alchemical work is best-seller as Vishniac lots create a valuable mix in the saleroom

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Auction previews including two Second World War manuscript books

16 May 2022

A selection of 14 upcoming lots from auctions taking place around the UK and overseas.

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A Book of Rhymes

Brontë mini book heads home to Haworth after £1m raised to buy it from New York dealer

28 April 2022

A rediscovered miniature book by Charlotte Brontë has been sold at a New York book fair.

Charles Darwin’s ‘Tree of Life’ notebook

‘Happy Easter’ after Darwin books returned

11 April 2022

The book trade has called for institutions to be more proactive in reporting missing items after two notebooks belonging to Charles Darwin were mysteriously returned to Cambridge University Library.

Bronte manscript

Brontë manuscript on sale at New York book fair

11 April 2022

A recently rediscovered miniature book by Charlotte Brontë (1816-55) is on offer at the New York International Antiquarian Book Fair (NYIABF) this month.