April 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

"Merde" Manuscript Goes to Auction

Pardon our French, but a bizarre manuscript heading to auction at Christie's London this week might provide a chuckle for your Monday. If, that is, you have a slightly scatological sense of humor, because this nineteenth-century Italian manuscript is about ... well ... excrement, scat, poo--and not of the Winnie variety. Titled Merda est salus hominis..., the 28-page manuscript is, according to Christie's, a "discourse in the form of a mock-address to a learned society, retracing the ancient and noble origins of defecation, its cultural associations and health-giving benefits." The handwriting is beautifully elaborate, which makes the prank all the better. Bound in black roan, the manuscript also contains an engraved frontispiece that is, shall we say, on theme.

Lot 17 copy.jpgThe auction estimate for this feces-focused volume is £500-800 ($650-1,000), inexpensive enough to be a terrific conversation piece. Perhaps Italy's own Museo della Merda would make a perfect home for it?

Image: Christie's Images LTD. 2017.