Poe manuscript fetches $300,000 in auction

If you've got any Edgar Allan Poe manuscripts lying around, this may be a good time to sell them.

A copy of Poe's poem "The Conqueror Worm," hand-written and signed by the author, sold for $300,000 Saturday -- about $280,000 more than the New England auction house handling it had expected.

The yellowed document was purchased by an anonymous collector, SouthCoastToday.com reports, who has 10 days to verify its authenticity before the sale is final. It had been owned by a Rhode Island family since 1920, and was offered for auction by Marion Antique Auctions in Marion, Mass.

"I told them it was a good object and we would feature it in our summer auction," Marion Antique Shop owner Frank McNamee told South Coast Today. He then added, in one of the year's major understatements, "I thought it was going to do really well."

(To be fair, McNamee said Tuesday that he suspected the manuscript would sell for far more than the published $10,000-$20,000 estimate. But because it was a late addition to the auction, there was no time to verify its authenticity beforehand, and he suspected that might prevent some people from bidding. Still, he said bidding for the item, which was promoted online and attracted international attention, was heated.)

"The Conqueror Worm," which speaks to the inevitability of death, was first published in 1843 -- six years before Poe died, under circumstances never fully explained, in a Baltimore hospital.

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