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Manuscript

Manuscripts are books, letters, documents or pieces of music written by hand as opposed to being printed.

Handwritten material relating to historical events or famous and literary figures has sparked an active collectables market. Nowadays a wide range of examples can be available from auctions and dealers from illuminated medieval manuscripts to 20th century political speeches.


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A chance to buy a piece of vaccine history – Edward Jenner’s innoculation book comes to auction

09 July 2020

Vaccinations are high on the agenda at the moment as the world searches for immunisation against the coronavirus.

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Early French books of hours on top as Paris reopens

29 June 2020

The Paris auction centre Drouot opened its doors again last month in France following the lockdown.

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Mary Queen of Scots' prayer book comes to auction in London

02 June 2020

A prayer book that once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87) will be offered at auction during Christie’s Classic Week of sales.

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UK Auction Previews of Books, Maps and Works on Paper – including an autograph letter by Robert Burns

26 May 2020

A selection of upcoming lots of books, maps and prints from auctions taking place around the UK.

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Saving the Pickwick Papers

26 May 2020

In keeping with the convention of the time, autograph leaves of serialised novels were nearly always destroyed as soon as they were set in type.

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Men of letters: Dickens and Burns light up works on paper parade

25 May 2020

Two outstanding works on paper – a letter by Robert Burns and a page from the manuscript for Charles Dickens’ 'Pickwick Papers' – headline the June offerings across the field of books, maps and prints.

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Book of Hours made for Charles VIII of France offered online by Les Enluminures

20 April 2020

This small-scale book of hours, below, was made c.1490-93 for Charles VIII of France. Containing 12 full-page and 10 small miniatures by the Master of the Chronique scandaleuse, it is offered by Les Enluminures for $575,000 as part of its online initiative: a Books of Hours online update to be sent out biannually.

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Middle Eastern medical manuscript proves to be £70,000 saleroom cure

09 March 2020

Said to date from the 12th-14th century, an incomplete and dampstained Middle Eastern medical manuscript sold for £70,000 at Bellmans (22% buyer’s premium) on February 22.

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Pick of the week: Institutions flock to Cheltenham sale for Maria Edgeworth archive

17 February 2020

Two institutions dominated bidding for the notebooks and correspondence of a significant Regency period female author at the Cotswold Auction Company in Cheltenham last week.

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‘High crimes and misdemeanors’ – Rare copy of first US impeachment resolution offered at Bonhams

14 February 2020

An original copy of the first impeachment resolution against US president Andrew Johnson has emerged at auction.

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5 Questions: book dealer Dr Jörn Günther

03 February 2020

Rare book dealer Dr Jörn Günther of Switzerland specialises in manuscripts, miniatures, and rare early printed books from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

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Guilty pleas heard in Pittsburgh library theft

20 January 2020

Two men have pleaded guilty in connection with the theft of rare books and manuscripts from the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Medieval guide for female hermits blocked from export in hope of finding UK buyer

16 January 2020

The UK government’s arts minister Helen Whately has placed an export bar on a 15th century Middle English manuscript in the hope of finding a buyer to keep it in the UK.

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Teenage diary of 18th century stained glass craftsman bought by York University

20 December 2019

A 90-page journal kept by a 15-year-old boy has been purchased by the University of York for £3200 at auction.

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Pick of the week: Putting the Hours in brings reward

02 December 2019

Personal devotional prayer books, known as a Book of Hours, were popular among the wealthy and powerful in late medieval Europe. Illuminated with miniature paintings depicting the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary and saints, they were sometimes personalised for the patrons who commissioned them.

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Copy of the world’s most expensive natural history book flies into auction at Sotheby’s

26 November 2019

A copy of The Birds of America by John James Audubon (1785-1851) will be offered at Sotheby’s Fine Books and Manuscripts sale on December 18 in New York.

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Yorkshire’s Brontë Parsonage Museum secures rare manuscript at Paris auction

18 November 2019

The Brontë Parsonage Museum has secured an 1830 autograph miniature manuscript by a 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë (1816-55) that was auctioned at Aguttes in Paris.

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Charlotte Brontë’s teenage miniature manuscript returns to auction

28 October 2019

Parsonage Museum ‘determined to make the most of second opportunity’ to own miniature manuscript

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Bastille lot with English connection

28 October 2019

Estimated at £10,000-15,000 in a Forum Auctions sale of November 21 is a French indenture agreement of 1421 with a certain added English appeal.

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Actress Judi Dench and the Brontë Museum call on public to help fund bid for miniature manuscript by a 14-year-old Charlotte Brontë

24 October 2019

The Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth in West Yorkshire has begun a public campaign to raise the final funds needed to bid for a rare manuscript from the Brontës' childhood.