A manuscript containing the works of the Roman philosopher and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, which was stolen from Poland in the 1960s or 1970s, was accidentally found and returned to the University Library in Wrocław.
In 2021, the manuscript was identified in the offer of a New York antiquarian by library employees, reports the Polish news agency PAP.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the manuscript belonged to the collection of the city library in Wrocław, but after the war it was handed over to the University Library of Wrocław, from where it was stolen between 1961 and 1977.
In 2021, the manuscript was identified by employees of the university library in the offer of a New York antiquarian. The extant documentation, especially the 1954 microfilm, allowed for a thorough comparative analysis of the lost and found manuscripts.
Deputy Minister of Culture Jaroslav Selin said at a handover ceremony held in Warsaw that this precious, illuminated Latin manuscript from the mid-15th century contains three works by Cicero: On Age, On Friendship, and The Stoic Paradoxes.
“It was written in Latin with ancient Greek quotations in 1450, most likely in Florence,” said the director of the university library, Gracina Piotrovič.
Selin also explained that the previous owner, an antique dealer Jonathan Hill after reviewing the documentation confirming the origin and identity of the manuscript, decided to return it to the collection of the Wrocław University Library. Hill, who attended Friday’s ceremony, was awarded a special diploma by the Polish Ministry of Culture.
Almost 66,000 lost works of art are listed in the ministry’s database. About six hundred of them have been returned in recent years.