700-year-old French religious document found in sale of prime estate: NPR Pipa News
PORTLAND, Maine – A bargain hunter who went to a Maine estate sale to find a KitchenAid mixer, a rack or some vintage clothing came away with a 700-year-old treasure.
Instead of kitchen utensils, Will Sidery came across a framed document hanging on the wall. It had an elaborate script in Latin, accompanied by musical notes and gilding. A sticker said 1285 AD. From what he saw in manuscript class at Colby College, the document looked downright medieval.
PA. via Will Sidery
And it was a bargain for $75.
Scholars have confirmed that the parchment is from the Divers de Beauvais, used in Beauvais Cathedral in France and dating from the late 13th century. He said it was used in Roman Catholic worship around 700 years ago.
A manuscript expert said the document, first reported by the Main Monitor, could be worth up to $10,000.
After spying on the unusual manuscript, Sidery contacts his former professor at Colby College, who knows him because there is another page in the college’s collection. The professor contacted another academic who had researched the document. He quickly confirmed the authenticity.
The scroll was a prayer book and part of priestly worship, said Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America and professor of manuscript studies at Simmons University in Boston.
He noted that newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst had a comprehensive precedent before it was sold in the 1940s and split into separate pages for today’s scholars.
This practice was common in the early 20th century. “Thousands of unique manuscripts were destroyed and scattered like this,” Davis said.
Davis painstakingly researched the Beauvais Missal and found over 100 individual pages across the country. In total, the misal had 309 pages in its original form.
The page purchased by Sideri is of particular interest to academics.
It’s a treasure in both age and condition, far superior to the second page in the Colby collection, said Megan Cook, a former sidery teacher who taught medieval literature at Colby.
The price of the scroll is over $10,000 according to Davis. But Sideri said he had no intention of selling it.
He said he loved the history and beauty of the scroll – and the story of how he came across it.
“It’s something at the end of the day that I know is good,” he said. “I did not buy it in the hope of reselling it.”