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.


The Freddie Mercury Collection: A kind of auction magic

19 June 2023

Queen singer Freddie Mercury’s art and antiques collection is coming up for sale in September.

Corday letter

Letter by Marat murderer Corday bought by Normandy institutions

14 June 2023

A letter of justification by the woman who assassinated the French Revolutionary journalist and politician Jean-Paul Marat has been bought by a group of Normandy institutions at auction.

Elizabethan manuscript on cheese

Pick of the week: Cheesy does it for £45,000 Elizabethan manuscript at auction

29 May 2023

Leading the sale at Dominic Winter on May 17 was a highly unusual Elizabethan manuscript treatise on cheese and cheese making.


Conan Doyle celebrated in Chicago

29 May 2023

‘Sherlockian scholar’ is the term Potter & Potter (20% buyer’s premium) uses to describe Robert Hess.

The Codex Sassoon

Auction record for any book as Hebrew bible takes $38.1m at Sotheby’s

18 May 2023

Setting an auction record for any book, manuscript or item of Judaica, a work billed as the ‘earliest and most complete Hebrew bible’ in existence sold for $33.5m (£26.6m) at Sotheby’s New York.


The incredible story of Aristophil

08 May 2023

Involving a string of spectacular works, the saga of the collapsed French firm is worth a novel itself


An astronomical price paid for Mamluk manuscript

08 May 2023

A 13th century Mamluk (Egyptian or Syrian) manuscript on astronomy sold for a surprise £140,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) in south London on April 28.


Recreational maths: Handwritten Alan Turing document sold at Bonhams

08 May 2023

When the Bletchley Park boffins were taking a break from code-breaking in the Second World War, complicated puzzles were one of the diversions.


The polar market explored

08 May 2023

Now hugely popular, this collecting field actually took many years to get going

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's anti-slavery poem

Search for UK institution to buy Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s anti-slavery manuscript

21 March 2023

An anti-slavery poem written in ancient Greek by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) has been temporarily barred from being exported from the UK.


Long life down to good cooking?

13 March 2023

Manuscript including recipes sold for £15,000 was written by a lady who died ‘aged around 100’


Napoleon document recognises exceptional bravery

27 February 2023

There is some discolouring and it appears to have spent some considerable time folded up, but this early 19th century vellum document signed “Bonaparte” as Premier Consul was sold for £3000.


Pick of the week: Family archive shines light on abolition movement

13 February 2023

A cache of material from descendants of the Starbuck family, a Quaker whaling family influential in both the abolitionist movement and the founding of Nantucket as a whaling centre, was the highlight of Catherine Southon’s sale on February 8.


Herschel museum buys manuscript memoir

02 January 2023

Two Herschel family-related historic items – a Royal Society King’s medal and a manuscript memoir – have changed hands at auction and in a private sale.


Don’t think twice, it’s all right to make a bid for Bob Dylan love letters

02 January 2023

Running to over 150pp in all, an archive of 42 love letters sent by Bob Dylan to a high school sweetheart, Barbara Ann Hewitt, featured in a November 17 Marvels of Modern Music sale held by RR Auctions of Amherst, New Hampshire.

Darwin manuscript

News in Brief – including the sale of a Darwin autograph manuscript

19 December 2022

A round-up of art and antiques news from the previous seven days, including the auction of a Darwin autograph manuscript at Sotheby’s.


Put in the hours for the rewards

12 December 2022

Illuminated manuscript c.1470 is a highlight in Gloucestershire saleroom


Kepler manuscript’s star value

28 November 2022

Calculations on planetary movements rise to the occasion in New York saleroom


Sex appeal: Iranian erotic poem

21 November 2022

Sixteenth century single folio manuscript displays orgiastic spree in graphic detail


Iranian incense burner helps to fuel ‘white glove’ sale

21 November 2022

Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) was another of the London salerooms that held a designated sale in Islamic week.