Manuscripts

Documentation that has not been compiled into books serves as an invaluable record of history and human interest in the form of manuscripts. Manuscripts are included in most libraries and can be found in many private collections. This documentation takes the form of letters, diaries, legal records, essays, plays, poems, on anything from notes on scientific research to articles on women’s rights.

Manuscripts are often just as valuable, or more so, than a rare book. Original manuscripts are a primary source from the writer that has not been subjected to mass-market publishing. Often, antique manuscripts only exist in leaves and fragments, a sad but precious tribute to those who wished to preserve their contents for posterity. Library manuscript departments provide only limited access to these works because of their fragility.

The most expensive manuscript to date is the "Rothschild Prayerbook," an illuminated book of hours created between 1505 and 1510. Rescued from the Nazi-seized art from the Austrian government by Baroness Rothschild, the work incorporates the artistry of master Flemish Renaissance painters. A more contemporary example is the large collection of poet John Keats’ autograph poetry and transcript letters at the Harvard University Library.


Quick Facts

  • An original signed gouache and watercolor drawing for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of Silver Blaze" sold at auction for $112,500 at Christie’s in 2014
  • A historic autograph signed letter from Abraham Lincoln to friend and Congress member Richard Yates sold for $118,000 at an auction by Profiles in History in 2014
  • A document commemorating the "Los Alamos New Mexico Atomic Bomb Project," signed by 30 scientists, officers, and civilians employed on The Manhattan Project sold for $161,000 at an auction by Christie’s in 2014

Recommended Items at Auction

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Colonel Zachary Taylor Manuscript DS at Fort Crawford
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Colonel Zachary Taylor Manuscript DS at Fort Crawford
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $1,000- $1,200
$4504 Bids
A PRAYER BOOK Qajar Iran, signed Abdul Rahim Najafi, dated 1130 AH (1717)
Oct 29, 1:00 PM BST
A PRAYER BOOK Qajar Iran, signed Abdul Rahim Najafi, dated 1130 AH (1717)
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £200- £300
£201 Bid
A BOOK OF PROTECTION PRAYERS (HIRZ) AND AN INCOMPLETE QUR'AN Ottoman Provinces, 19th century
Oct 29, 1:00 PM BST
A BOOK OF PROTECTION PRAYERS (HIRZ) AND AN INCOMPLETE QUR'AN Ottoman Provinces, 19th century
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £100- £120
£101 Bid
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Raccolta di 7 lettere di pittori inviate a vari destinatari. XX secolo.
Oct 28, 10:00 AM CEST
Raccolta di 7 lettere di pittori inviate a vari destinatari. XX secolo.
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €320- €640
€3201 Bid
A collection of various manuscripts and binding, including several unbound
Oct 26, 10:30 AM BST
A collection of various manuscripts and binding, including several unbound
by Roseberys
Est: £500- £700
£3401 Bid
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DEUX VOLUMES D'UN MATHNAVI DE JALAL AL-DIN RUMI (M. 1273 A.D.) Turquie ottomane, vers 1700
Nov 02, 2:30 PM CET
DEUX VOLUMES D'UN MATHNAVI DE JALAL AL-DIN RUMI (M. 1273 A.D.) Turquie ottomane, vers 1700
by Artcurial
Est: €1,000- €1,200
€1,0001 Bid
TWO ARCHAISTIC SAFAVID-REVIVAL PORTRAITS
Oct 29, 11:00 AM BST
TWO ARCHAISTIC SAFAVID-REVIVAL PORTRAITS
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £300- £500
£3001 Bid
Illuminated Manuscript Procédé
Oct 21, 10:00 AM EDT
Illuminated Manuscript Procédé
by Stair
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
KEYNES, JOHN MAYNARD. (1883-1946). T.L.S. SIGNED, TO SIR OSBERT SITWELL, BLOOMSBURY, 1943
Nov 16, 10:30 AM GMT
KEYNES, JOHN MAYNARD. (1883-1946). T.L.S. SIGNED, TO SIR OSBERT SITWELL, BLOOMSBURY, 1943
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £250- £350
£1501 Bid
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Freud Recommends Theodor Reik with Reik’s Handwritten Definition of Psychology
Oct 27, 1:00 PM EDT
Freud Recommends Theodor Reik with Reik’s Handwritten Definition of Psychology
by Lion Heart Autographs
Est: $11,000- $15,000
$4,0001 Bid
Stanislaus Polonus an Early Polish Printer in Spain 1946 Ed.1076/1600
Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Stanislaus Polonus an Early Polish Printer in Spain 1946 Ed.1076/1600
by Zikorn Arts
Est: $200- $300
$2000 Bids
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Corposa raccolta di lettere autografe e documenti vari. XVII – XIX secolo.
Oct 28, 10:00 AM CEST
Corposa raccolta di lettere autografe e documenti vari. XVII – XIX secolo.
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €380- €760
€3800 Bids
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Raccolta di 6 pergamene, zona Brescia e dintorni. Datate XV-XVI secolo.
Oct 28, 10:00 AM CEST
Raccolta di 6 pergamene, zona Brescia e dintorni. Datate XV-XVI secolo.
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €240- €480
€2400 Bids
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Raccolta di 12 carte manoscritte relative a corrieri postali. Seconda metà del XVI secolo.
Oct 28, 10:00 AM CEST
Raccolta di 12 carte manoscritte relative a corrieri postali. Seconda metà del XVI secolo.
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €300- €600
€3000 Bids
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Raccolta di 4 manoscritti riguardanti la Guerra di successione di Mantova. 1628-1629
Oct 28, 10:00 AM CEST
Raccolta di 4 manoscritti riguardanti la Guerra di successione di Mantova. 1628-1629
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €140- €280
€1400 Bids
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Massenet Jules, 3 lettere autografe. Datate 24 dicembre 1894, 6 gennaio e 18 gennaio 1895, Parigi.
Oct 28, 10:00 AM CEST
Massenet Jules, 3 lettere autografe. Datate 24 dicembre 1894, 6 gennaio e 18 gennaio 1895, Parigi.
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €300- €600
€3000 Bids
Paul Laurence Dunbar AMS
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
Paul Laurence Dunbar AMS
by Second Story Books
Est: $800- $1,000
$6000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Manuscripts


Forum Auctions - UK

Forum Auctions - UK

Gonnelli Casa d'Aste

Gonnelli Casa d'Aste

Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions

Roseberys

Roseberys