Wanting only to score a KitchenAid mixer, a bookshelf, or vintage clothing at bargain prices from estate sales, a shopper from Maine stumbled into the ultimate sale and perhaps the most important find he would ever make. Who would've thought an actual medieval manuscript was waiting to be discovered? But that's exactly what happened.
Maine Sales Hunter On Finding A Bargain Medieval Manuscript
Will Sideri from Maine looks for cheap items as his hobby, going through estate sales every once in a while. This time, he hoped to score one of three: a KitchenAid mixer, a bookshelf, or a piece of vintage clothing. Surprisingly enough, Sideri found none, instead pocketing a bargain medieval manuscript for only $75. At the local scale, the document was hanging on the wall, framed, with a sticker stating "1285 AD.” Written in Latin, the paper included some musical notes and gold details. The buyer already knew how important it must’ve been after looking at a few manuscripts during classes at Colby College. Of course, as soon as he had one glance at the writing, he contacted his former Colby College professor. The latter knew where the piece belonged – another page of the same script remained in the college collection.
And Sideri was right! The bargain medieval manuscript was indeed from The Beauvais Missal, used in the Beauvais Cathedral in France around 700 years ago. The professor called another academic to help with the document research, and the team confirmed the authenticity. Written around the late 13th century, academics said, the script was used in Roman Catholic worship. Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America and a professor of manuscript studies at Simmons University in Boston added that the paper came from a prayer book and priests' liturgy. Moreover, the price of the paper goes up to $10,000.
Extensive History Of The Prayer Book
Diving into the history of the bargain medieval manuscript transforms the random buy into a story similar to Indiana Jones films. At first, William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher, owned a full missal with a complete page collection. Sadly, it was later divided into pages. Each page held its own weight and price, thus being sold in the 1940s when every part of the missal traveled around the world. Davis explained that similar practices were incredibly popular in the early 20th century. "Thousands of unique manuscripts were destroyed and scattered this way," she said. All the academics are still devastated while researching various manuscripts.
As for Davis, her goal was to look into The Beauvais Missal, in particular. After picking its history apart, she found and tracked down more than 100 individual pages across the country. Unfortunately, she has more than half of the medieval manuscript to recover – the missal is about 309 pages in total, originally. Something is piquing the academics' curiosity in Sideri’s discovery, though. Compared to the page in the Colby collection, the bargain sale page is in a far better condition, said Megan Cook, Sideri's former professor. Despite finding out a high price for the page, the collector doesn’t want to sell it. The history of both the parchment and how he found it is way more valuable for the man.
"This is something at the end of the day that I know is cool," he said. "I didn't buy this expecting to sell it."