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700-year-old French religious document found at Maine estate sale: NPR


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 a kitchen appliance, Will Sideri came across a framed document hanging on the wall. It had elaborate Latin writing, as well as musical notes and golden flourishes. A sticker said 1285 AD. From what he had seen in a manuscript class at Colby College, the document looked downright medieval.

Will Sideri bought a 700-year-old manuscript that was used in Beauvais Cathedral in France for $75 at an estate sale in Waterville, Maine. A manuscript expert said the document could be worth up to $10,000.

Will Sideri via AP


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Will Sideri via AP

700-year-old French religious document found at Maine estate sale: NPR

Will Sideri bought a 700-year-old manuscript that was used in Beauvais Cathedral in France for $75 at an estate sale in Waterville, Maine. A manuscript expert said the document could be worth up to $10,000.

Will Sideri via AP

And it was a bargain at $75.

Scholars have confirmed that the parchment is from the Beauvais Missal, used in Beauvais Cathedral in France and dated to the late 13th century. It was used around 700 years ago in Roman Catholic worship, they said.

A manuscript expert said the document, first reported by the Maine Monitor, could be worth up to $10,000.

After spying on the unusual manuscript, Sideri contacted his former professor at Colby College, who knew him because there is another page in the college’s collection. The professor contacted another academic who had researched the document. They quickly confirmed the authenticity.

The scroll was part of a prayer book and part of the priests’ liturgy, said Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America and professor of manuscript studies at Simmons University in Boston.

The complete missal was once owned by William Randolph Hearst, the journal’s publisher, before it was sold in the 1940s and, much to the dismay of today’s scholars, was split into individual pages, he said. she declared.

The practice was common in the early 20th century. “Thousands of unique manuscripts were destroyed and scattered in this way,” Davis said.

Davis painstakingly researched the Beauvais Missal and found over 100 individual pages across the country. In total, the missal had 309 pages in its original form.

The page purchased by Sideri is of particular interest to academics.

It’s a treasure both because of its age and its condition, which is much better than the other page in the Colby collection, said Megan Cook, Sideri’s former teacher, who teaches medieval literature at Colby.

The scroll is worth more than $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.

“At the end of the day, it’s something that I know is cool,” he said. “I didn’t buy this hoping to sell it.”


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