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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.


Welsh history continued

29 September 2004

IN rebacked old panelled calf, a 1584 first edition of Welsh historian David Powell’s “corrected, augmented and continued” version of the Historie of Cambria, now called Wales left in manuscript form by Hugh Lhuyd, was sold for £1350 in a Lawrences of Crewkerne sale of July 6.

Lucy Clifford’s correspondents

22 September 2004

OFFERED as part of a Lawrences of Crewkerne sale of July 6 was ‘The Valehouse Collection of Letters to Mrs W.K. Clifford’. Though little read nowadays, ‘Lucy’ Clifford was immensely popular in late Victorian and early Edwardian times and was even classed with Edith Wharton, Joseph Conrad and H.G. Wells as one of those whose books “will never die”.

$1.4m quotation from AA

22 September 2004

SOLD for $1.4m (£760,870) at Sotheby’s New York on June 18 was a working draft, or heavily annotated multilith copy of the text that was to become known after the organisation established by its compilers as Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Henry VIII hands over a confiscated priory

16 September 2004

FEATURING a fine portrait initial of Henry VIII and other devices associated with the Tudor monarchs, a vellum document of November 24, 1537, in which the Priory of Combewell [near Goudhurst in Kent] is granted by the king to Thomas Culpeper, was sold for £4400 in an August 26 sale of autographs, historical documents and ephemera held by Mullock Madeley of Ludlow.

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Fund seeks new buying direction

16 September 2004

THE National Art Collections Fund (Art Fund) has criticised the state of public collecting in the UK on the same day as announcing a £500,000 offer to help keep the Macclesfield Psalter in the UK.

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Will a wealthy Armenian step in to buy cultural heritage in one collection?

16 September 2004

WHAT is billed as the first ever selling exhibition of early Armenian art to be held in a commercial gallery will be mounted by Sam Fogg at 15d Clifford Street, London W1, from September 22 to October 15.

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Voragine’s Golden Legend ...

09 September 2004

ILLUSTRATED right is the opening page of a 1468 paper manuscript copy (in period-style panelled calf with period clasps) of Jacob de Voragine’s 13th century history of the lives of the saints, Legenda Aurea – otherwise decorated with rubricated initials throughout – that with some staining to the opening leaves sold at $18,000 (£9780) in a Bonhams & Butterfields of San Francisco sale of June 28.

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16th century weather report?

09 September 2004

RIGHT: though I suspected a sub-text, this black letter broadside, printed “at London in the Olde Baily by Richard Lant for Thomas Porefut in Paules Churchyard at the sygne of Lucrese”, seems to offer a straightforward account (in a translation by Renolde Olyver) of a violent storm and consequent disasters that took place at Mechlin [Malines], near Antwerp, in August 1546.

£30,000 for Il Guercino

09 September 2004

SOLD for £25,000 at Sotheby’s on June 25 was a group of letters, documents and sketches by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, or Il Guercino [the ‘Squinter’], his painter nephew, Benedetto Gennari and his patron Claudio Bertazzoli, that relate to the former’s altarpiece for Santa Maria della Pieta dei Teatini in Ferrara – The Purification of the Virgin.

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Parrot and poet support the Arvon Foundation

19 August 2004

The Parrot Pen-man, an ink and watercolour drawing by Quentin Blake that sold for £1200, was among 40 lots offered at Sotheby’s on July 8 on behalf of the Arvon Foundation, a literary charity that provides residential creative writing courses.

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Nicholas Jarry

10 August 2004

SEEN right is the illuminated title which, together with a full-page miniature of The Annunciation and numerous coloured and gold initials, make up the principal decoration of vellum manuscript collection of Prières et Oraisons Dévotés produced by the great calligrapher Nicholas Jarry (c.1615-7).

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Holmes past and future...

10 August 2004

THE sale at $350,000 (£190,215) of Conan Doyle’s autograph manuscript of the Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, has already been noted in the Antiques Trade Gazette (No.1646) but the Christie’s New York sale of June 9 that brought that very high bid also included the pair of first edition copies of The Adventures... and Memorials of Sherlock Holmes (1892 and ’94) seen right.

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Tame Cats & Wild Things

21 July 2004

A LARGE scale oil by Kathleen Hale of Orlando Reclining Amongst Flowers failed to sell against a £10,000-15,000 estimate at Sotheby’s on July 8, but the autograph draft manuscript of Orlando (The Marmalade Cat) becomes a Doctor of 1944, right, each page with pencil and coloured crayon drawings (some with added wash or gouache, a few unfinished) did sell at £5000 to a London gallery.

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The Cat, the Grinch & Horton

21 July 2004

A Christie’s New York sale of June 9 included a collection of Dr Seuss books, illustrated letters and other ephemera formed by Jed Mattes, who in 1977, following the death of Theodor Geisel’s long-term agent Phyllis Jackson, took over as his representative.

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Snow on Anaesthetics

29 June 2004

JOHN Snow’s best-known work, On the Mode of Communication of Cholera, deals with his investigations into the London cholera epidemic of 1831-32.

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Holmes and the Sussex Vampire

29 June 2004

AS a follow-up to last week’s report on the Conan Doyle collection sold at King Street in May, I bring belated news of The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire.

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A true treat for Custer buffs...

22 June 2004

AN autograph sale held by Swanns on April 29 included 11 lots from the George Armstrong Custer collection formed by the late Dr. Elizabeth Atwood, a vet and well-known Custer buff. Seen right is a copy print of a larger image by Timothy O’Sullivan, inscribed “Truly yours G.A. Custer”, which sold for $14,000 (£7955).

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Whose Hieroglyphica Mexicana?

22 June 2004

VALUED at £1000-1500 in a June 29 sale at Bonhams is a bound manuscript entitled ‘Hieroglyphica Mexicana, or, an Introduction into the Origin, Nature and Meaning of the Ancient Paintings by the Semi-Civilized Nations of America, with Sketches of their Languages, History, Arts & Sciences’.

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Frankenstein and the fireproof book

22 June 2004

A TYPED first draft of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer in which he uses real names of characters and places, not the pseudonyms of the finished book, carried a $100,000-150,000 estimate in a May 27 modern literature sale held in San Francisco by PBA Galleries but it joined a long list of unsold lots.

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Fraktur record well and truly broken by $330,000 nightingale

16 June 2004

DECORATED manuscripts known as fraktur, made in various parts of America but primarily associated with Pennsylvania’s German communities, are something very little known in Britain, but on the home auction scene they are big money spinners indeed, as the example from an April 24 Americana sale held by Freemans of Philadelphia shows.