May 31, 2012

Massive rare manuscript auction at Sotheby’s


Paul's Epistle to the Romans

Next month, international auction house Sotheby’s will auction off a collection of extremely rare and valuable leaves of manuscript, in a collection they call “The History of Script.” The sixty lots up for auction come from the extensive collection of Martin Schøyen, which contains 740 manuscripts spanning 5,000 years, and, per Sotheby’s, “represent the entire history of writing in Europe.” Ranging from papyrus fragments of Homer’s Oydssey to the epistles of Saint Paul to a history of the ancient world by Roman statesman Cassiodorus, the specimens will go up for auction on July 10 in London.

Originally unearthed in the ancient abbeys of England and France, the manuscripts include three written in the archaic Anglo-Saxon language, a phenomenon that, in all likelihood, hasn’t occurred since the sixteenth century. At the very least, Sotheby’s estimates that the items will fetch between $4,700-$8,000. At the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive item is a page of vellum manuscript from Saint Aldhelm’s In Praise of Virginity (c. 800) that is expected to go for $477,000-$795,000.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.