Saturday, September 25, 2004

Housewife inherits Shakespeare folio

A rare Shakespeare First Folios goes on the auction block soon after coming into the hands of a British housewife who inherited it from a distant cousin.

Anne Humphries of Stockport near Manchester did not know the relative who owned the book and does not know how Frances Cottle, the widow of a tailor's cutter who lived in North London came to possess one of the rarest books on earth, The Scotsman reports. The family ties were so tenuous it took a genealogist two years to trace the link and determine that Humphries was Cottle's closest surviving relative.

The First Folio, published in 1623, was the earliest collection of Shakespeare plays. Only 750 copies were printed and only six are now believed to be in private hands.

The Bloomsbury Auction in London has placed a conservative valuation on the book of 80,000 pounds or about $145,000. But the last First Folio to go on the market, one that was in better condition, sold for 4 million pounds or more than $7 million.

They are talking about millions, Humphries said. Is it silly money? It is such an important piece."

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