Harold inspected the 1796 edition of Die Fliedermaus with white cotton gloves and a wooden page-turner of a similar period (it was 1812 but who was counting?). He noted the gilt edging to the paper, the hand drawn initial caps coloured with powdered lapis lazuli and gold leaf. He closed the book with a sigh.
"I'm sorry," he said with a sigh. "It's a fake. A good one, but a fake nevertheless."
The old man frowned. "I paid £14,000 for that last year," he said. "How can you tell?"
Harold tapped his nose. "We like to keep these things quiet, sir, but just for you..." He opened the covers. "See this cardstock? It's darkened because of the industrial revolution threw so much smoke into the Drakwald Forest. The revolution didn't start until 1780, and to make this cardstock the trees would have been cut and seasoned before that."
"Well I never." The old man sagged. "How much is it worth then?"
Harold shrugged. "Twenty thousand to anyone you can convince it's genuine. A hundred quid to me."
"Thank you. You've been most kind." The old man wrapped the book back up in acid-free tissue paper, put it in his briefcase and shuffled out.
Jasfoup watched him go. "That was impressive," he said. "I've no idea you had so much knowledge of papermaking."
"I don't" Harold grinned. "I saw John's signature on the flyleaf. It was one of ours."
Image: Illuminated Letters: A Treasury of Decorative Calligraphy