Manuscript Digest:  July – August 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

Lincoln Letter Surfaces
The Guardian, July 5, 2023
An unknown Lincoln letter with Civil War content, held for a century in a private collection, finally came to light. Click the link inside the story to find out what happened next.

Declaration Broadside Goes Big
Fine Books & Collections, July 11, 2023
A rare first broadside edition of the Declaration of Independence just went under the hammer. How rare? Six recorded copies, two in private hands. The sale price was … rarefied.

Scientists Exceed Expectations
Fine Books & Collections, July 13, 2023
A letter from Albert Einstein to an amateur scientist working as a dishwasher. Charles Darwin’s second thoughts on book proofs. Both sailed past their estimates at a recent auction.

Cortés Goes Back to Mexico
El País, July 17, 2023
Three decades ago a 1527 Hernán Cortés manuscript went missing from the Archivo General de México. Last year the FBI got a tip — and the race was on to retrieve it.

Columbus Returns to Italy
NPR, July 21, 2023
In 1493 Columbus wrote to his patrons about what he found in the Americas. Copies of his letter went to libraries across Europe. At least four have been stolen. One is going home.

Rare Books Are on a Roll
New York Post, June 24, 2023
The auction market for rare books hit $1.15 billion in 2021. That’s nearly double its numbers before the pandemic. Why the spike, who’s buying, and what they’re paying.
• Inside the world of rare books

Potter Purchase Pays Off
GB News, July 12, 2023
When the first Harry Potter book came out, 300 copies went to libraries. Someone picked up a deaccessioned copy for 30 pence. This year it went up for auction, and like magic …
• Same story with The Hobbit

Shakespeare Takes Dramatic Turn
Daily Mail, June 28, 2023
A 1655 copy of King Lear went on Antiques Roadshow. It’s one of 17 known to exist. The last time one sold at auction was 1946. It’s worth a lot, right? Spoilers ahead.

Has Anybody Seen These Signatures?
Washington Post, July 28, 2023
He spent decades collecting the signatures of eight presidents and first ladies. Had them all on a rare engraving. Then, somewhere in downtown DC, he lost it. Be on the lookout!

Handwriting Gets a Closer Read
Yahoo! News | Deseret News, June 26, 2023
Gen Z can’t write (or read) cursive. Historical documents might as well be hieroglyphics. A letter from grandma? Call in the paleographers. Think it’s all academic? Keep reading.

From Our Blog

Roger Brooke Taney — A Search for Correspondence

Do you have any letters to or from Roger Brooke Taney? Andrew Jackson and Supreme Court collectors know the name. Taney was attorney general and treasury secretary under Jackson and served as Chief Justice for almost 30 years. Now the first comprehensive edition of his papers is underway at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. Its editor is seeking images of documents for transcription and annotation. Learn more

Additional Items of Interest

Manuscript Mondays : John Law, the Mississippi Bubble, and the Founding of New Orleans, August 7, 8 p.m. ET > Sign up

Culinary Collection: Sample a collection of 25,000 menus, 1850 to 1924, at the New York Public Library > Dig in