Manuscript Digest: December 2022 – January 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 news in this digest

In the News

Constitutional Interest
Artnet News, December 15, 2022
A rare copy of the Constitution, one of two in private hands, was set to go under the hammer for the first time since 1894. Then hours before the sale, the auction house hit pause. Why?

Civil War Stories
InsideHook, January 3, 2023
In 1864–65, the 2nd Colorado Cavalry published a newsletter. Now the Library of Congress has acquired its full run. What’s in it? Let’s say the first draft of history can be messy.

Cortés Manuscript Recovered
Mexico News Daily, November 23, 2022
A 1527 manuscript signed by Hernando Cortés was headed for auction. Then FBI Boston stepped in. Seems the document was stolen from Mexico’s national archives. Sorry, no sale.
• Another Cortés, another return

Bob Dylan Signature Blues
Esquire, November 29, 2022
Autopen strikes again? Fans paid $599 for Bob Dylan’s “signed” book. But was that his handwriting? Was it anyone’s? Buyers wanted to know. And the answer, my friend, is …

Darwinian Selection
BBC, December 10, 2022
Charles Darwin was once asked for a handwriting sample. He replied with a page on his theory of evolution. In his writing. With his signature. That page just fetched a record price.

Voynich Voucher?
Art Newspaper, January 13, 2023
The meaning of the Voynich Manuscript is famously inscrutable. But the history behind the mystery may be getting clearer with a fresh look at the manuscript’s provenance.

New Tech and ‘Ancient’ Fakes
Smithsonian Magazine, January/February 2023
Remember the fake Dead Sea Scrolls fragments that all turned out to be fakes? Meet the expert who uncovered that forgery and more with a mix of high tech and Biblical scholarship.

JFK Cache Released
CNN, December 15, 2022
The National Archives has released another batch of JFK assassination documents. What’s new, what’s still under wraps, and what’s up with the 28 records “not located”?

Slouching Towards NYPL
6sqft, January 27, 2023
Joan Didion wrote reams about California. But when she placed her six decades of papers — and those of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne — she took Manhattan.

Collector on the Ball
Golf Digest, December 13, 2022
Tiger Woods memorabilia is hot. Tom Watson, not so much. Recently, an auction house ascribed a signed ball to the wrong TW — a misplay that paid off for a savvy collector.

From Our Blog

Cursive Writing and Reading History

A Harvard University history professor was shocked when undergraduates in her class could not read documents written by soldiers and others during the Civil War. What made the texts so elusive? They were written in cursive. Will cursive someday be taught as paleography? In a recent article, the professor traces handwriting in America through the decades and discusses the pushback in cutting cursive from the classroom.

Also of Interest

Handwriting & History: Grolier Club Lecture: Kenneth W. Rendell With collection highlights > Watch now

Manuscript Mondays: ‘Cartoon Animation Art’ –  Live webinar –  Monday, February 6, 8 p.m. ET > Sign up