Christie's is holding a sale of rare and valuable manuscripts and printed books in London today (June 2). The auction is fairly small - just 90 lots - but there are some fascinating pieces on offer.
There is a handwritten letter from Horatio Nelson to his second in command John Thomas Duckworth representing a famous act of disobedience in which Nelson, having repeatedly refused orders from Lord Keith to send all available forces to Minorca, sends a small force without marines instead.
The 1799 letter, written because Nelson believed Naples to be more important and valued his own opinion above that of Keith, is estimated at £6,000 - £9,000. Collectors may wish to know that a letter written by Napoleon and a piece of a flag from one of Nelson's ships are currently on the market.
Two autographed notebooks belonging to the novelist Iris Murdoch also appear in the sale. Each is entitled 'Notes for Novel'; one is signed. The notebooks contain possibilities and drafts for The Nice and the Good as well as Henry and Cato.
Murdoch found the planning of novels, which she did in detail, difficult and stressful whilst the actual writing of the books appeared problem-free by comparison. It is very rare for notes like these to be offered at auction, and at £10,000-15,000 they represent a good candidate for investment.
The item provoking the most excitement however is a set of 36 pages written in brown ink, representing a previously unknown manuscript from the pen of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
The staves details the end of the love scene between Mariia and Mazepa at the end of Act 2 and the second half of the Finale in Act 3, less ten bars, with full orchestration. The extraordinary work has been given a guide price of £200,000-300,000.
Outside the sale, two autographed documents by Franz Liszt and one by Richard Wagner - Tchaikovsky's contemporaries - are available now.
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Main image: Christie's