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Manuscript Society Digest for May and June 2023

June 15, 2023 @ 12:00 am EDT

Sponsored by The Manuscript Society

Manuscript Digest: May – June 2023 – This complimentary e-digest, now published bi-monthly, covers significant acquisitions and sales, manuscripts lost and found, rare books and ephemera, document conservation, and more 

In the News

Sassoon Sale Sets Record, But …
Reuters, May 17, 2023
The Codex Sassoon, the world’s oldest (almost) complete Bible, has sold for more than the Codex Leicester but less than a first-edition Constitution and below its own estimate.
• The man who paid the price

Washington Book Rips Past Estimate
Fine Books & Collections, May 5, 2023
A bidding war over a book from George Washington’s library ended at $441,000. Why so high? Because Washington’s books come up so rarely? Or is Americana having a moment?

This Scarlet Letter ‘A’ Is for Auction
Smithsonian Magazine, May 9, 2023
Nathaniel Hawthorne famously destroyed his manuscript of The Scarlet Letter. But a passage from the book in his “infernal hand” survives, and it’s on the block.
• The collector’s story

Madison Manuscript Surfaces in the Files
Cardinal News, April 11, 2023
Sometimes it pays to take a closer look. An unsigned document at Washington & Lee University turned out to be a rare James Madison manuscript on a hot topic.

Papers Show Musings on Court Rulings
DNYUZ | New York Times, May 2, 2023
Newly released papers of Justice John Paul Stevens are filled with handwritten notes, marked-up briefs, draft opinions … and views on the US Supreme Court. What they reveal.

King Biographer Corrects the Record
NPR, May 16, 2023
In a 1965 Playboy interview, Martin Luther King Jr. tore into Malcolm X. Or did he? A dive into the archives unearthed a gap between how the article read and what King actually said.

Renovation Uncovers Looted Manuscripts
Philadelphia Tribune | New York Times, May 7, 2023
Oh, what turns up during a renovation — in this case, manuscripts looted in World War I, stashed for years on an auction house shelf. How they got there and where they go next.

A Manuscript Tale Comes to an End
Herald-Banner, April 3, 2023
In 1984 a student of Greek paleography found a manuscript leaf in a Pennsylvania supermarket. The find turned into a 39-year quest to reunite leaves of an ancient codex.
• The lives lost to medieval manuscripts

Was Gutenberg First? Not Really
Smithsonian Magazine, June 2023
Nearly 400 years before Gutenberg, monks in China printed a Buddhist anthology. Pages were up at the Huntington during the Manuscript Society’s tour. More on this amazing text.

Scholar Gets the Last Laugh on Naysayers
Vice, May 31, 2023
There are no manuscripts of medieval minstrelsy. Wrong! A scholar has stumbled across notes from a 15th-century act — and maybe the birth of Monty Python’s killer rabbit.

From Our Blog

Issues and Opportunities in Rare Book & Manuscript Collecting

Brick and mortar locations. Online sites for auctions and dealers. Virtual and live shows. So many places to purchase manuscripts and books, and the landscape keeps changing. Where’s a collector to go? Spencer Stuart and Brian Kathenes shared their insights on the state of the market in a recent Manuscript Mondays webinar.

Other Items of Interest

Rich Hours –  Celebrate summer with “the world’s most beautiful calendar.” > Feast your eyes

High Wattage – FB&C’s Bright Young Librarians of 2023 are all from our member institutions. > Say hi


June 15, 2023
12:00 am EDT
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