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Autographed Robert Burns manuscript sold for £35k

An autographed manuscript of one of Robert Burns' most well-loved works has been sold for 35,000 pounds. Picture: Getty/Hulton Archive

An autographed manuscript of one of Robert Burns' most well-loved works has been sold for 35,000 pounds. Picture: Getty/Hulton Archive

AN autographed manuscript of a famous Robert Burns song has fetched £35,000 at auction.

‘Ye Banks and Braes O’Bonnie Doon’ was written by the legendary Scottish poet in 1792 and was first published in Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum.

The song is about The Doon, a well-known river in Ayrshire river which flows past Burns’s birthplace of Alloway.

Burns singled the song out for its “pathos” while The Burns Encyclopedia describes it as “possibly the most popular of all his songs”.

After being first published in James Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum, IV, for 13 August 1792, it was reprinted in George Thomson’s Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs, 1793-99.

There is only one other manuscript of the song in existence, and this is the copy submitted for inclusion in Scots Musical Museum. It is housed in the British Library.

This one was written on paper bearing the royal Hanoverian watermark of a hunting horn over the GR cipher - a reminder of Burns’ occupation as an Exciseman for the Crown.

It went under the hammer today at Bonhams’ Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs sale in Knightsbridge, London.

After a bidding frenzy among collectors, it ended up selling to an unnamed buyer in the auction room for £35,000.

Matthew Haley, Bonhams’ head of books, said: “We are very pleased at this result.

“Burns took song-writing very seriously and Ye Banks and Braes O’Bonnie Doon surely stands out as one of the loveliest among his many beautiful and memorable lyrics.”

Meanwhile, one wealthy autograph hunter paid £23,750 for Jane Austen’s signature, from January, 1811.

‘Ye Banks and Braes O’Bonnie Doon’

Ye banks & braes o’ bonie Doon,

How can ye bloom sae fresh & fair;

How can ye chant, ye little birds,

And I sae weary, fu’ o’ care, -

Thou’lt break my heart, thou warbling bird,

That wantons thro’ the flowering thorn:

Thou mindst me o’ departed joys -

Departed, never to return. -

Aft hae I rov’d by bonie Doon,

To see the rose & woodbine twine;

And ilka bird sang o’ its love,

And fondly sae did I o’ mine. -

Wi’ lightsome heart I pu’d a rose,

Fu’ sweet upon its thorny tree;

And may fause lover staw my rose,

But Ah, he left the thorn wi’ me!

 

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