Historical Document and Letter Consignment
Sotheby's sells historical letters, manuscripts and documents in both live and online auctions throughout the year. Our specialists, with decades of experience in appraising and selling American and European historical documents and manuscripts, are ready to help you determine the value of your historical text. Whether you have a historical letter from a famous person in history or a handwritten manuscript about science or religion, Sotheby's offers convenient online auction estimate appraisals for all historical documents, letters and manuscripts.
Sotheby's is the premiere auction house for the sale of rare, historical documents. In 2017, Alexander Hamilton’s important family archive of 75 letters and manuscripts sold at auction for an impressive price, and a letter signed by George Washington realised $100,000 USD. We also sell medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, scientific manuscripts and autographed music manuscripts by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Wagner, among others.
To learn about the value of your historical manuscripts, simply submit images and information to Sotheby's through our easy-to-use online estimate form. Our specialists will review your submission and issue preliminary estimates for items that can be included in our sales.
Find Out the Value of Your Manuscript or Document
Submit photos and information about your antique autographed letter, historical document, or musical manuscript to begin your complimentary estimate request.
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Historical Documents Consigned with Sotheby's
Get Started with an Estimate
Get Started with an Estimate
Get an Estimate
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where should I sell my antique manuscript, document or letter?Sotheby's has been selling autographed letters, musical manuscripts and all types of hand-written ephemera since its founding in 1744, and our current-day specialists are distinguished experts in their field. When you submit your historical documents for appraisal, you can be assured that our experts will provide you with the most accurate valuation based on their assessment of the international market. Our appraisal process is easy and confidential to ensure that you can quickly receive a manuscript appraisal from our experts. When you are ready to sell, your dedicated specialist will help you navigate the auction consignment process to make it as seamless as possible.
- How does Sotheby's determine how much my historical document is worth?Sotheby's specialists have decades of experience in appraising and identifying antique documents and letters. Simply submit clear photographs of the front and back of your manuscript or letter and our specialists will carefully review the item and determine its value. Specialist consider its age, rarity, history of ownership, condition, author, and other factors.
- Can I sell my historical documents online if I consign with Sotheby's?Yes, indeed. Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts department invites participation in our online timed auctions. When you submit your letter, document, or manuscript for review by our specialists, they will consider it for sale in both online and live auctions, as well as private and immediate sales.
- How much does a Sotheby's appraisal of my antique manuscript or letter cost?Sotheby's does not perform appraisals but we do provide estimates for items we believe we can sell. Our estimate appraisals are complimentary and do not cost you anything. We review all submissions and provide valuations for documents and manuscripts we believe we can sell at auction. We will inform you if your manuscript is not a good fit for a Sotheby's auction, and we will do our best to provide you with a recommendation of another venue to sell your document.
Sotheby’s is your best resource to buy and sell a rare manuscript, old manuscript, antique manuscript, ancient manuscript, antique medical manuscript, illuminated manuscript, handwritten manuscript, typed manuscript, original manuscript, autographed manuscript, music manuscript, historic manuscript, religious manuscript, gospel, homilies, sermon, speech, script, draft, literary manuscript, letter, poem, papers, scientific manuscript, treaty, treatise, declaration, archives, scrapbook, notebook, diary, ship’s log, deed, document, lecture, historical document, annotated book, corrected proof, typescript or writings on vellum, linen and paper.