PORTLAND, Maine — A bargain hunter went to a real estate sale in Maine to find a KitchenAid mixer, a discarded vintage bookshelf or clothing item, and a 700-year-old treasure.
Instead of a kitchen appliance, Will Sideri stumbled upon a framed document hanging on the wall. It features complex Latin script, along with musical notes and golden balances. A sticker says 1285 AD. Based on what he had seen in a handwriting class at Colby College, the document looked very medieval.
Will Sideri via AP
And that’s a bargain at $75.
Scholars confirm that the parchment is from the Beauvais Missal, used in Beauvais Cathedral in France, and dated to the late 13th century. They say it was used about 700 years ago in Roman Catholic worship.
One manuscript expert said the document, first reported by the Maine Monitor, could be worth up to $10,000.
After tracking down the unusual manuscript, Sideri contacted a former Colby University professor, who was used to it because there was another page in the university collection. The professor contacted another scholar who had studied the material. They quickly confirmed the authenticity.
Lisa Fagin Davis, executive director of the American Medieval Academy and professor of manuscript studies at Simmons University in Boston, said the parchment was part of priests’ prayer and liturgical books.
She said the entire missal that was once owned by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper publisher, before being sold in the 1940s and largely responsible for the ruin of today’s academia, was divided into pages. individually, she said.
This practice was common in the early 20th century. Davis said: “Thousands of unique manuscripts have been destroyed and scattered in this way.
Davis has diligently researched Beauvais . missal, and has followed more than 100 personal pages across the country. All told, the missal has 309 pages in its original form.
The page purchased by Sideri is of particular interest to scholars.
Megan Cook, Sideri’s former professor who teaches medieval literature at Colby, says it’s a much better treasure than the other page in the Colby collection.
According to Davis, the parchment is worth up to $10,000. But Sideri said he has no intention of selling it.
He says he loves the history and beauty of the parchment – and the story of how he stumbled upon it.
“This is something at the end of the day that I know is great,” he said. “I didn’t buy this with the expectation of selling it.”