Manuscript Digest – April 2020 – This complimentary e-digest, launched in 2012, covers significant acquisitions and sales, manuscripts lost and found, rare books and ephemera, document conservation, and more.

In the News

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artnet News, March 16, 2020
No joke: Every one of the 16 Dead Sea scroll fragments at the Museum of the Bible turns out to be a modern fake. Who made them, how did they hit the market, and what’s next?

On the Shelf
Newsweek, March 5, 2020
A rare copy of Newton’s Principia has turned up on Corsica. How rare? Maybe 200 copies exist. This one is connected to Bonaparte. The other Bonaparte.

At the Fair
Antiques and the Arts Weekly, March 17, 2020
New York’s Antiquarian Book Fair got in just under the wire, full of elbow bumps, hand sanitizer, collectors, and treasures. Didn’t make the trip? Find out what was in store.
• Another take, plus favorite rare book haunts, from the New York Post

The Movie Version
The Guardian, March 4, 2020
A new documentary goes under the covers of the rare book trade. How The Booksellers takes stock of a timeless world in changing times.

The Breakup
Harvard Magazine, March–April 2020
Book-breaking isn’t right. It also isn’t new. The history of slicing old manuscripts into profitable collectibles — and the sleuths who put the pieces back together.

Philly Wills
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 12, 2020
Philadelphia’s Register of Wills holds records going back to 1682. Holds how? In cardboard boxes stacked to the sprinklers. And not an archivist in sight. What’s the plan?

History Comes Home, March 5, 2020
We all know what happened in the Boston Massacre. Or do we? For one scholar, a passing reference to soldiers’ wives recast events in a family way.

Bad Medicine
New York Times, March 24, 2020
Thanks to the FDA, US babies didn’t suffer birth defects from thalidomide. Well … not quite. Reporters tell the story through original documents, down to the margin notes.

Going Viral
Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2020
A country ravaged by a new virus. Workers carrying on in quarantine. Supplies running low. Time running out. What the Florentine Codex means, 500 years later.

Join the Crowd(source)
Atlas Obscura, March 23, 2020
Sticking close to home? Go online and help an archive decipher handwriting, tag images, and make collections more welcoming for everyone. Old-book smell not included.
• Pandemic stories: Is your local historical society on Oregon’s trail?

From Our Blog

The Declaration of Independence: So Many Versions, So Many Fakes

Dunlap, Goddard, Stone, Tyler, Binns… Which versions of the Declaration of Independence are real — and which ones are really worth something? Brian Kathenes shared tips in a recent webinar cosponsored by the Manuscript Society. Missed it? Members can watch the recording free and download more information on the society’s website. Not a member? Consider this your invitation and motivation.

Other Options

Armchair Adventures: Yale courses and collections that go the (social) distance > Browse

Death Defying: The brave Frenchwoman who documented Nazi art thefts > Watch