Once in a very long while, a rare book or manuscript discovery is so remarkable that it makes national headlines. In 1988, for instance, an anonymous Massachusetts collector recovered an 1827 first edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tamerlane from a roadside barn. Many will also recall the 1989 story of the man who found an original broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden inside a picture frame that he bought at a Pennsylvania flea market for $4 (and later sold at Sotheby’s for $2.4 million). Or the discovery of the manuscript of Lincoln’s last address found in a secret compartment of an antique table in 1984 (and later purchased by Malcolm Forbes for $231,000). Yet another “believe it or not” tale is that of the Nashville man who paid $2.50 at a thrift store in 2006 for what he thought was a worthless facsimile of the Declaration of Independence that turned out to be a rare, unrecorded copy of an 1820 print. He sold it for nearly $500,000.
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(Manuscript Courtesy of Morris-Jumel Mansion)