George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler have been waiting for this day for six years– the day the world will discover they are in possession of a book they claim was owned by William Shakespeare.

​Koppelman and Wechsler purchased a copy of Baret’s Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie (1580), on eBay in 2008. While other books have more famously earned the designation of Shakespeare source texts, works by Florio and Holinshed’s Chronicles of England (1587) among them, Baret’s Alvearie has been somewhat overlooked. While they initially believed their dictionary to be important and valuable because of the Elizabethan-era annotations it contained, Koppelman and Wechsler soon found themselves making the case for Shakespeare himself as its owner and annotator.

Knowing their find would be met with both excitement and skepticism at once, Koppelman and Wechsler spent the last six years researching the life and times of Shakespeare, studying his canon, and connecting with Shakespeare scholars. Through their devoted study, they have unearthed evidence through careful analysis of the paleography and “personal markers” of the annotator, such as stylized “W” and “S” letters, and biblical “IHS” monograms penned next to entries for yew tree. The majority of their case for Shakespeare’s dictionary lies in their analysis of the annotations themselves, a dense network of interrelated references that show shocking parallels to the unique and inventive language of Shakespeare, the words as they appear in his works.

Koppelman & Wechsler’s research is available to the public in the form of their book, Shakespeare’s Beehive. A 342-page single-item catalogue, it was written for the academic and layperson alike, and provides their analyses of the linguistic elements along with text citations, the annotator’s marks easily identifiable in red. They have also made available a complete digital scan of their Alvearie, and intend for their website, www.shakespearesbeehive.com, to become a home for further inquiry and lively debate.

As booksellers, Koppelman and Wechsler have been waiting for this day for their entire careers, having independently spent over 20 years in the antiquarian book trade. They embody the characteristics of quality booksellers– intelligent, persistent, hard-working experts who through erudite research have made a case for their important discovery. They have demonstrated due diligence, going about their investigation with remarkable skill, sensitivity, and scholarship, ultimately intending to provide guidance to all interested in this unique book.

 

More on this find:
Shakespeare’s Beehive
Folger Shakespeare Library
The New Yorker
Sydney Morning Herald
Forbes
The Guardian

ABAA member Garrett Scott is keeping an updated list of news and information on this extraordinary discovery on his blog, Bibliophagist

Comments