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Mozart’s Sheet Music, a Letter From King Henry VIII and More Literature Is Heading to Auction

Christie's is gearing up for its latest sale of medieval manuscripts, historic letters and other notable tomes.

A woman looks at a painting showing a portrait of Austrian composer  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the age of 13, dated from 1770 and attributed to Italian painter Giambettino Cignaroli at the Christies auction house in Paris on November 15, 2019. - The painting, one of the few painted during Mozart's lifetime and still part of a private collection, will be auctioned by Christie's on November 27, 2019 in Paris for an estimate between 800,000 and 1.2 million euros, the auction house announced. (Photo by Fran?ois GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images AFP via Getty Images

Literary buffs, you may want to clear your calendar.

For one day only next week, Christie’s will be hosting its Valuable Books and Manuscripts auction, which contains a slew of rare finds including medieval manuscripts pages, first editions of novels, uncommon maps and drafts from respected artists to historical figures. With over 200 lots, the selection on offer is sure to delight even the most persnickety of collectors.

Some of the highlights from the literary-focused sale include a handwritten military letter from King Henry VIII of England dating back to 1513. Written in July of that year—just one month before the English victory at the Battle of the Spurs—the note contains instructions from the royal telling his lieutenant-general to capture the town of Thérouanne and to convince German mercenaries to switch their allegiance and fight for the Brits instead of the French. The regal parchment holds a value of around $40,000. 

“Whereas we do occasionally see Henry VIII letters coming up, what’s particularly rare about this one is that it’s a campaign letter, it’s about war, it’s about his strategy,” Mark Wiltshire, a specialist in the books and manuscripts department at Christie’s London, told Reuters. “It’s about him as a sort of Machiavellian figure trying to work out exactly the best way of defeating his opposition.”

An autographed music manuscript written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from the summer of 1773 is also on offer, penned while the great composer lived in Salzburg, Austria. The sheet music, meant to celebrate a family friend’s graduation from Salzburg University, features the first 15 bars from the second movement of the Serenade in D major for orchestra. Expected to fetch between $98,000 and $145,000, this specific selection is especially noteworthy for its included violin solo.

If a piece of musical history or a wartime letter isn’t your thing, the auction has plenty of other choices for you to snatch up. Other lots entail a copy of Gerard Mercator’s 1595 Atlas—the first book of maps to ever be called an “atlas”—along with other autographed letters from some of the greatest scientists in history, such as Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. And, if you’re hoping to add a more modern tome to your shelves, check out the collection of first edition James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, including the sought-after Casino Royale.

Beginning on December 14, the sale will take place online as well as in-person at 8 King Street, St. James, Christie’s London showroom. Can’t wait till then to see the lots? Feel free to view the items before they hit the auction block from December 10 through 13 at the same location. 

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