HE HAS A FEW CRACKS HERE AND THERE BUT HE REALLY
DOES LOOK QUITE good for his age, which is probably
more than 100 years old. But no one can really
say. Not yet, anyway.
That’s because ever since the life-size
plaster cast of William Shakespeare showed up
in the English department office the question
of who made it and when has stumped the experts.
It doesn’t display its sculptor’s
name or a date.
The bust was a gift from the estate of Bernard
George Franklin. His father brought it over from
England in the early 1900s. The best guess is
that the head is based on the famed Shakespeare
memorial at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-on-Avon.
Retired English Prof. David Thatcher has been
assigned to the case and after months in search
of clues the best he can deduce is that the bust
is rare, if not valuable.
But how valuable—particularly
where insurance is concerned?
seem to be a duplicate in the vast realm of
Shakespeare-abilia. Thatcher consulted the
American scholar Louis Marder, holder of the
world’s largest private
collection of Shakespeare busts, but even he
has never seen one exactly like it.
Similar enquiries to the Folger Shakespeare
Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum have
been inconclusive. One remaining option may be
to send the bust to the Canadian Conservation
Institute for analysis to possibly determine
the date of production.
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