Manuscript Digest –December 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

Missing Ink
The Guardian, November 24, 2020
Gone missing from Cambridge University: two of Charles Darwin’s notebooks. Last seen in late 2020. Mis-shelved? More likely stolen, the library now says. The story is evolving.
• A call for help from the university librarian

Atlas Mugged
Atlas Obscura, November 23, 2020
In a German library, there’s a photo. Like an old “wanted” poster. Librarians across the country were looking for that face. And for rare maps missing from their collections.
• Returned: (most) books from the 2017 Heathrow heist

Taken as Gospel
Art Newspaper, November 26, 2020
The Eikosiphoinissa Manuscript 220 was looted from a Greek monastery in 1917. The Museum of the Bible has the ancient text. And now the MOB is sending it home. But first …

New Newtons
Ars Technica, November 11, 2020
A 1953 census found 189 first editions of Newton’s Principia. So maybe 250 copies were printed, right? Wrong. A new search has raised the tally to 386 copies — and counting.

Sophomore Effort, November 24, 2020
A trio of scholars has uncovered a palimpsest beneath a medieval manuscript. The kicker: they’re sophomores. Using a system they developed themselves. Last year. What they found.

Harvard Enrollment
Harvard Magazine, November–December 2020
Put on your readers. Harvard wants extra hands to transcribe manuscripts for the Colonial North America Project, Susan B. Anthony’s journal, and more. How to volunteer.
• A taste of cookbook transcription at K-State

Rich and Rare
Bloomberg News, November 9, 2020
As Fitzgerald might have said, the rich are not like you and me. They buy more rare books. Experts from auction houses and Boston’s Brattle Book Shop scope out the market.
• A virtual stroll through the Boston Book Fair

Well Read
RBM, vol. 21, no. 2, 2020
Rare book and manuscript dealer Johnny Jenkins had a colorful life (and death). Michael Vinson captured them both in his book Bluffing Texas Style. Read the review in RBM.
• Also the review in Manuscripts, vol. 27, no. 4 (member login)

Hard to Kill
Chicago Tribune, November 2, 2020
Penned by an anonymous author. Picked up at an estate sale. Salvaged from a defunct junk shop. How a manuscript on 1930s Chicago mobsters dodged a bullet and made it into print.

The Wrap-Up
Book Riot, November 4, 2020
When did dust jackets go from trash to treasure? What makes a first edition Gatsby worth so much more with its jacket? A history of books and the paper that wraps them.

From Our Blog

Mel Blanc: A Portrait in Manuscripts: 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of Bugs Bunny, voiced by Mel Blanc. The “Man of 1000 Voices” is a longtime hero of the Manuscript Society’s Kevin Segall. Take a look at his Blanc melange — and get a glimpse of what Mel was like as a colleague, a friend, and a member of his community. “That’s all folks!”

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