Monday, December 15, 2008

Just sold at Sotheby's: A Big Chunk of British History

by J J Cohen

The Courtenay Compendium has been sold at an extraordinary price and appears headed out of England.

A small movement seems to be rising to stop the progress of this 14th C manuscript across the Channel. Listed at the auction site as having been sold for 937,250 GBP (!), the miscellany contains a previously unknown version of the Encomium Emmae (a work possibly commissioned by Emma herself, daughter of the duke of Normandy, wife first of Ethelred and then Cnut); a full version of Gildas; the travels of Marco Polo; William of Tripoli on the Saracens; and a collection of prophecies (none of which accurately predicts that the manuscript they appear within would someday be more valuable that the endowment of most US universities).

If anyone has any more information, please post!
[via Donald Maddox and the IAS/NAB email list]


Jeffrey Cohen said...

Here is one link.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, the Danes, or more specifically the Royal Library, had allocated up to 600,000 GBP for this, which before auction was two times the high end Sotheby's estimate; it is nearly the entire annual budget for Library purchases and the highest bid they've made abroad in over 100 years. They knew they had a once-in-a-however-long thing, made a serious effort, and in the director's words, were sure that they had enough money for a big Christmas present for the nation.

Story in Danish: