Cover image for The hunt for amazing treasures
Title:
The hunt for amazing treasures
Author:
Bazrod, Sondra Farrell.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dell Pub., 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 228 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780440508885
Format :
Book

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Library
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Material Type
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Status
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AM231 .B39 1999A Adult Non-Fiction Grosvenor Room-Rare Books Reference
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Summary

Summary

A tie in to the popular NBC special and the series airing on the Learning Channel, The Hunt for Amazing Treasures chronicles the stories behind the riches found by real people and amateur treasure seekers as well as their professional counterparts.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The Huck Finn Manuscript A Hollywood librarian knew she had to clean out the musty, cluttered attic of her lovely home on a quiet tree-lined street just minutes away from Paramount studios. It was fortunate that she had the attic in which to store the trunks and boxes that had been there for thirty years--not many southern California homes have attics and practically none have basements. Mary, the name we'll use since she has preferred to remain anonymous, occasionally wondered about the contents of those six steamer trunks and boxes. Each time she thought of going through the containers she had inherited from her grandfather, though, she would sigh and, perhaps using Scarlett O'Hara's motto, would tell herself tomorrow was another day. After all, she had been raising four children and working full-time through the years. On each visit to the attic, whenever there was an extra lamp to store or a child's toy to keep, she would look at the ever growing assortment of mementos of her life and feel overwhelmed by the thought of organizing things. One day while rummaging in the attic, she lifted the tray from one of the black, dusty, scratched steamer trunks and put it on an empty space of a shelf near the eighteen crammed bookshelves that covered one wall. As her hand went to the papers in the trunk tray, the phone rang, ending her attic adventure for the day. Finally, during the Labor Day weekend in 1990, she knew the time had come. "I had three days and I knew I had to get to it," she said. "I went first to the tray of the old trunk I had put on the shelf and found a lot of what looked like thin sheets of paper that looked like there was handwriting on them, wrapped in a very frail piece of brown wrapping paper. It said Mark Twain Huck Finn MSS. I couldn't believe it at first, but there it was." As she scanned the hundreds of small, faint-blue-lined pages, she noticed that the first ones were written in black ink, and later ones in purple. Mary first consulted the old college paperback of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that was nestled among the thousands of books in her home. "It had the same words, but the version I found had added passages and corrections and crossed-out words and sentences. There were scraps that had additions and revisions," she said. Mary still found it hard to believe she'd found something so important. She held those fragile pages and compared them to the printed book. Her next step was the most logical. She went to the library and found a book with Twain's handwriting. "It was the same, so I thought, 'aha!' and then I called my sister who lives on the East Coast," Mary said. "She suggested we call Sotheby's in New York, and since she lived in the same time zone I told her to make the call." After her sister called Sotheby's, they asked to have copies of the first and last pages faxed to them, which Mary did. When the faxed pages arrived in New York, David Redden, executive vice-president, called the Beverly Hills office of Sotheby's and excitedly asked one of the document experts there to rush to Mary's home, because he believed the manuscript was the "real thing." The local expert confirmed the find and was thrilled to be touching those original pages of Huck Finn. "It was so exciting," Mary remembers. "Sotheby's hired an armored truck to take the manuscript to the airport for its trip to New York Sotheby's after it was packed as though it were a precious gem, and of course it was." She added, "When I told my neighbor about it, she told me her mother would have thrown out everything in the attic long ago because she didn't believe in having clutter around. Fortunately, I don't think that way." The thought of throwing out such a treasure gave Mary chills. What a loss it would have been! When the handwritten 665-page manuscript arrived in the hands of ebullient David Redden, he said, "This is a real treasure. These passages were never seen before. It really is an extraordinary story. After we received the call from California that there might be an original Huck Finn manuscript, I thought, 'my goodness, it's very doubtful,' but hope springs eternal and one of the lessons I try to teach everyone at Sotheby's is never to dismiss anyone who calls on the telephone. When we received the manuscript we were aghast. It clearly was the most extraordinary literary discovery of the postwar period." The news spread around the country and also 400 miles north to the Buffalo and Erie County Library, which houses one of this country's largest Twain collections. In fact, the library had been guarding the typewritten second half of the original Huck Finn, which had been there since its publication in 1884. Mary's grandfather, James Fraser Gluck, had been a trustee of the Buffalo and Erie County Library and loved to collect original manuscripts. He often corresponded with noted authors and asked them to send original copies of their writings after publication. Because Mark Twain had lived for a time in Buffalo and Gluck admired his work, he wrote to Twain, asking if he would send the original Huckleberry Finn manuscript to the library. Twain sent the typewritten second half to Gluck and told him the first half seemed to have been lost by the publisher. Twain's letter said, "The first half was copied by the pen, and when the book was finally finished, the original of that half probably went to the printers and was destroyed." He added, "Half of the Finn book (second half) is extant because that half was written after the typewriter came into general use. Before that, it was my custom (and everybody's in my line, no doubt) to have my books copied with a pen and ship the original to the printers, who never returned it." Twain was mistaken and is believed to have later found those first handwritten pages and sent them on to the Buffalo library. In a letter dated 1887, Gluck and another library official acknowledged receiving the first half of the manuscript. When the first half of Huckleberry Finn arrived at the library, Gluck took it home to read it, as he usually did when manuscripts were received. He was only forty-five years old at the time, but he caught a cold that turned into pneumonia, and died within a few days. The distraught family packed many of his papers, never realizing that Huck Finn was among them. In the 1920s the family moved to southern California. When Gluck's wife died, one of their two daughters, Mary's aunt, inherited everything, and just kept the memorabilia in trunks and boxes. In 1961, the aunt died and the inheritance ended up in Mary's attic. There Huck Finn remained until that fateful day in 1990. Excerpted from The Hunt for Amazing Treasures by Sondra Farrell Bazrod All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.