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By MICHAEL CAINES
Welcome news from Saint-Omer in the Pas-de-Calais: a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio has been discovered lying unacknowledged in the collections of the Bibliothèque d'agglomération de Saint-Omer, after it was mistakenly catalogued as an eighteenth-century book.
The excitement of the librarian who made the discovery, Rémy Cordonnier, is understandable, and one of the chief experts in the field, Professor Eric Rasmussen, has authenticated the copy and called it "magnificent" – a rare accolade for such a discovery. And Professor Rasmussen, as the author of The Shakespeare Thefts: In search of the First Folios and the co-editor of The Shakespeare First Folios: A descriptive catalogue, ought to know. "First folios don't turn up very often", he has said, "and when they do, it's usually a really chewed-up, uninteresting copy."
The newspapers have duly reached for the estimated price such a book might go for at auction – £4 million, maybe – and the Independent has described the First Folio as being like the "Holy Grail for Shakespearean scholars".
My only qualm is that's potentially a misleading way of putting it. . . .