Tuesday, 6 September 2016
A Valuable Manuscript
You'd be surprised what people sell at these sales. Mostly what you find are worthless items, but every now and then, if you know what you are buying and have a keen interest in antiques, you can find a gem or two which you can re-sell later on for a fortune.
I remember years ago I was very lucky to find two rare items at the same car boot sale. First I found an oil painting by Stradivarius, and then later on that day I discovered a violin made by Rembrandt.
I took them to an antique dealer. He told me they were rare but unfortunately Stradivarius was a bad painter and Rembrandt could not make a good violin to save his life. I sold both items for $400.
On another occasion I found a fountain pen and a cell-phone which belonged to King Henry the VIII. I later sold them for $2 each.
I also found a watercolour painting of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, I think it was. He was shot in the eye with an arrow, in that battle. You can see it clearly in the painting. King Harold sitting on a horse with an arrow in his eye. Below it there's the inscription: Keep blinking your Majesty. It will work its way out!
Undeterred I continued visiting and searching car boot sales. And that's where I found a very rare brown canary. He was going cheep ... cheep ... cheep. I was told later that he was just a sparrow, so I let him go free. He immediately pulled off all his feathers revealing beautiful yellow plumage.
Anyway ... all this is leading to what I found last week at a sale. An old manuscript which looked very ancient indeed. It was hand-written, (that's why it's called a manuscript), in some very ancient language. I could not make out what language it was, or decipher any of the letters; and neither could the seller. It looked as if it dated back centuries, perhaps even a date B.C. - can you imagine that. It was leather bound and in fairly good condition considering its age. The pages had become brown with age and you could see the writing faintly on every page.
I took it to several experts to try to identify the language it was written in. None could identify it or even place a date as to when it was written, or indeed where.
I was very excited that at last I had discovered something that was worth a fortune. Can you imagine the feeling? Holding something in my hand that years ago could have belonged to some ancient sage, or perhaps a King from a far off land, or perhaps a wizard like Merlin or such like person.
If only I knew what was written in that book and decipher its secrets. Perhaps some ancient cures to many ailments that challenge modern science, or secret recipes for longevity, or magician's potions or spells perhaps.
Eventually I took the manuscript to an ancient language expert in our library. The expert wasn't ancient. He was about fifty years old or so. His skill was deciphering ancient languages; hence him being an ancient language expert. He was also an expert of anthropology. At first I thought this was the study of how ants apologise - ant thropolofy. But he told me he studied humankind; particularly human societies and cultures.
He said: "Do you realise that whilst you've been standing here 3000 people in the world have died?"
"OK," I said, "in that case I'll stand over there!"
He smiled and explained, "What I meant to say, every time I breathe in and out one person in the world dies!"
"You should try a better mouthwash," I replied.
Anyway, he looked at the hand-written manuscript and indentified it straightaway. It is a doctor's diary. Apparently all doctors write this way.