Friday, December 24, 2004

The Scarlet Dollar Sign

I'm really late on this story but I haven't seen it anywhere (that could be in part because I'm on vacation and have been lost in my own little book world) so I thought I'd post it here:

The oldest known copy of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" sold at auction Thursday for $545,100, a world record price for an American 19th-century literary work, Christie's said. The pre-sale estimate was between $200,000 and $300,000 for 144 pages of a printed proof of the classic novel. The manuscript was purchased by an American book dealer who requested anonymity, Christie's New York spokeswoman Bendetta Roux said.
The manuscript had been donated by a Hawthorne relation in 1886 to what is now the Natick Historical Society. It was put away into a drawer and forgotten about for 118 years until someone doing an inventory found it. Why no one had bothered to open the drawer in all those years we'll never know, apparently they aren't very curious people at the Historical Society. But once the drawer was open they lost no time in selling it. I seem to recall hearing about it's discovery perhaps a month or so ago. It is unfortunate that it was bought by a dealer and not a university or some other public collection where it could be placed on display or accessed by scholars. But so it goes. Thanks to my Bookman for the link!