Manuscript Digest: May – June 2024 – 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

An Early Codex Goes Up (Way Up) for Auction
Reuters, April 3, 2024
When the Crosby-Schøyen Codex was written, papyrus scrolls were only just turning into books. Now the ancient manuscript is up for sale. The estimate? Even the low end is high.

The Sale’s Afoot for Holmes and More
Robb Report, April 4, 2024
An autographed Sherlock Holmes manuscript tops the bill. But the real star could be Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane — one of 12 copies that survive and two in private hands.
• Or original cover art from Harry Potter’s debut
• Or a handwritten J. K. Rowling manuscript

Superman Soars to No. 1 in Comics Sales
Kovels Antique Trader, April 8, 2024
A copy of Action Comics No. 1, Superman’s 1938 debut, has scored a record price at auction. How much? Let’s say Superman flew past the $3.6 million for Spider-Man’s introduction.
• But if Michelangelo is your superhero …

They Left Their Mark on Autographs
Fine Books & Collections, May 2024
Who were the greatest autograph dealers ever? A longtime collector calls out Catherine Barnes, Mary Benjamin, Robert Batchelder, Joe Rubinfine, Charles Hamilton… Who else?

Arrests Made in Thefts of Antique Books
Euronews, April 30, 2024
In 2022 and 2023, rare books went missing in libraries from Finland to France. Estimated value: €2.5 million. The investigation zeroed in on suspects with a bent for Russian lit.

The Jefferson Bible Turns a New Page
Smithsonian Magazine, April 11, 2024
Thomas Jefferson cut and pasted Bible verses into his own book of Jesus’s life. It was meticulous work. But finally it needed conservation. Enter the Smithsonian. No pressure.
• Inside the book conservation lab at the Met

A Rare Find Arises at a Phoenix Library
ASU News, May 15, 2024
A Phoenix library held a 1587 copy of Holinshed’s Chronicles. Rare, yes. Rarer than anyone knew — until a visiting scholar spotted poet John Milton’s handwriting in its margins.
• More Milton: a tale of Paradise lost and found

A Watch Collector Gets His Hands on a Prize
U.S. Sun, May 10, 2024
A watch collector browsing in an antique mall spotted an “essay on clockmaking.” Turns out it was a manuscript by a famous 18th-century clockmaker. Price: $147. Value? Way more.
• A rare WWI naval book turns up in a charity shop

Millions of US Records Gaining Online Access
Popular Science, May 9, 2024
The National Archives is teaming up with genealogy site Ancestry to put millions of documents online. Military, immigration, Indigenous peoples … What, when, and how.
• The Newberry is digitizing indigenous peoples book collection

Smokin’! When Tobacco Met Baseball Cards
Smithsonian Magazine, April 18, 2024
The tobacco industry, advertising, and sports teamed up to create collectible baseball cards. How did that idea get on base? Read an excerpt from Game Faces: Early Baseball Cards.
• How MLB players get autographs


Manuscript Society Funds Princeton Scholar’s Paraguay Residency

The Manuscript Society has awarded a $5,000 Maass Research Grant to Santiago Conti, a doctoral candidate in colonial Latin American history at Princeton University. His dissertation focuses on Indian politics in the Guarani missions along the borders between the Spanish and Portuguese empires in colonial South America. The award will cover the expenses of a two-month residency in Paraguay, part of a 16-month trip to visit 12 archives in six countries.


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