Manuscripts from Simon Beattie and Justin Croft
Simon Beattie and Justin Croft have issued a catalogue of More Manuscripts. It is not hard to figure out what you will find here. Most manuscripts were created in the 17th or 18th century, though they do extend to centuries both before and after. Many are original items, though some are hand copies of others. Many contain primarily text, but some include drawings, calligraphy, and several feature musical notation. Topics range from music to science, politics, poetry, military, religion, or just lettering. In other words, there is a variety of material here, with created by hand being the common thread. Here are a few examples.
Item 9 is a student drawing book with over 30 sketches by Florence Chaplin and her fellow student, Ernest Shepard. The two attended the Royal Academy together, and their friendship obviously developed into something more, as they married a few years after this circa 1900 book was filled. It begins with numerous sketches by Chaplin, but later adds those of Shepard, including several sketches and a finished watercolor he drew of Florence. The pair earned several Academy prizes at the turn of the century, and by 1904, were married. Shepard served in the First World War, and there are some manuscript leaves from this time by him inserted at its end. After the war, Shepard found employment with Punch magazine, and the fact that Florence was the founder's granddaughter couldn't have hurt. It was there that he made the connection from which he is best known. He became friends with A.A. Milne, who chose Shepard to illustrate his Pooh books. His illustrations, under the moniker E.H. Shepard, are almost as well known as the writing itself. Florence died during the run of Pooh books, succumbing during a routine operation in 1927, though Ernest lived until 1976. Priced at £2,000 (British pounds or approximately $3,153 in U.S. Currency).
Item 30 is a household book for the residence of the Sun King of France, Louis XIV. It is from 1693, and there was a famine across the land that year, but fortunately, Louis and his entourage were not affected. This book describes many of the meals served, and there were plentiful quantities of beef, veal, mutton, game and fish, along with bread, fruit, vegetables, and of course (this is France), wine. Many of the accounts show the quantity and cost of the various provisions, as well as allocations and distributions of gifts to members of the household. There is also information about the personal expenses of Louis' son, “Le Grand Dauphin” Louis. King Louis evidently prospered under this diet as he ruled for 72 years, longer than any other European monarch, and was succeeded by his great grandson, having outlived both his son and grandson. £2,500 (US $3,943).
Manuscripts from Simon Beattie and Justin Croft
Item 7 is an odd musical work which combines a traditional folk dance with modern technology. The title is Âllo Âllo? Mazurka des Telefonistes. This can be translated to “Hello Hello? Mazurka of the Telephones.” The mazurka is a Polish folk dance, and the telephone, at the time this score was written (circa 1900), a modern technological wonder. It inspired A. Caro to write this piece of music for piano. Apparently, the song was never published, though a number of other pieces for piano by Caro were. Perhaps this song should be played on one of those phones with a keyboard that can play notes. £200 (US $315).
Item 1 offers a collection of somewhat more serious songs from mid-18th century France. These are “airs à boire,” or drinking songs. There are 18 of them, including 17 duets, 13 of which are for female voices. The cataloguer notes that these odes to wine “should not be confused with the bawdy drinking songs popular among tavern-goers across the English channel.” While “playful,” and “sometimes even suggestive,” it is pointed out that “they were happily performed with decorum by both sexes.” That's why the French aren't the English. £2,000 (US $3,153).
Item 6 is a collection of notes and drawings that will be of interest to collectors of the American military. They come from France. In 1881, a French mission came to America as part of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown, when American revolutionaries, aided by French allies, defeated the British and essentially won the war for independence for America. The mission was headed by French General Georges Boulanger. Among those who accompanied him was Lieutenant Colonel Blondel of the artillery. Boulanger returned to France after the celebrations, but Blondel stayed on, where he was given a tour of various facilities and other locations of military interest, including West Point, arsenals at Springfield and Frankfort, firearms manufacturers at Bridgeport and New Haven. Blondel kept copious notes, as well as adding drawings of items such as firearms. The openness of the Americans with their French counterpart is somewhat surprising, but this was a period of excellent relations (the Statue of Liberty was gifted just five years later). The manuscripts were evidently given to Gen. Boulanger on Blondel's return as it was part of his personal collection. Gen. Boulanger went on to be the major political figure in late 1880s France, a monarchist many feared would seize control of the republic. He developed a large following, but his opponents would have him accused of treason. Boulanger fled to Brussels where he committed suicide in 1891. £8,000 (US $12,622).
Item 41 concerns a lady who could be described as either a very pious woman or a crazy woman. It is a plea from an anonymous gentleman for veneration, perhaps even canonization, for Anne Chereau Parance, made in 1678. It contains a biography of Mme Parance and a few quotations from her, as the writer could best recall. Apparently, she was pushed, though gently, into marriage, and though she loved and respected her husband, and bore him two children, this was not the spiritual life she envisioned. So, Mme Parance decided to become... well, not a virgin, but chaste. We are unsure how M. Parance reacted to this. She also engaged in mortification, a process of inflicting pain on oneself that somehow slays our sins and makes us more holy. She possessed a cilice, a barbed chain to be worn against the skin, and had various other metal devices. She was into early heavy metal, so to speak. When these were not available, she employed thistles. Though these may make you a better person, we still do not recommend trying them at home. Despite these pleas made to a local religious group, it does not appear that Anne ever received much recognition for her efforts as she appears to be otherwise forgotten. £2000 (US $3,153).
Simon Beattie may be reached at +44 (0) 1494 784954 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.simonbeattie.co.uk.