$75 estate sale purchase was a 13th-century manuscript page


A Maine man made the estate sale discovery of a lifetime when he paid $75 for a framed page of Latin script and music notations that turned out to be a 13th-century manuscript worth up to $10,000.

Will Sideri said he was at the estate sale in Waterville when he spotted the framed page and it reminded him of something he had seen during a course he took on medieval manuscripts at Colby College.

Sideri, who bought the page for $75, showed it to his former professor, Megan Cook. Cook sent photos to a friend and fellow academic, Lisa Fagin Davis, and they both agreed it appeared to be a piece of The Beauvais Missal, a manuscript written in Beauvais, France, in the late 13th century.

The Beauvais Missal, part of a prayer book used by a priest for a liturgy, had all of its 309 pages intact when it was sold by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in 1942, but in the ensuing years the pages were separated and sold individually.

Davis said she has located 114 of the original pages, including one in Colby College’s collection.

Cook tweeted a photo comparing Colby’s page to the one found by Sideri, which is in better condition.

Davis said Sideri’s page could be worth up to $10,000, but Sideri said he does not plan to sell it.