Depending on what part of the archiving sector you work in, money flows in very different ways – and the type of material you collect varies.
I have been at the University for a year now and I still find it hard to grasp the notion that literary manuscripts are worth money and that institutions will pay for them. This is despite the fact that there are often stories in the news about manuscripts being sold at auction and the associated fundraising to ensure they stay in the country.
At the start of the Melvyn Bragg archive project it was impressed upon me that this collection was a very generous gift and that Lord Bragg was aware of his manuscripts' financial value. I can't guess how much they are worth, but I have to admit the varied nature and quality of material has made me wonder about the figures that could/would be associated with some parts of the collection.
By the late 1970s US university libraries had been buying up English literary manuscripts for years, while it was not yet a big part of UK university culture. In 1978 publishers Martin Secker and Warburg Ltd returned the original typescript of Josh Lawton to Melvyn and told him to "Sell it to the University of Texas for thousands and thousands of dollars!"
There may have been an element of jest in their note but reading it really made me see that ten years into Bragg's career he was producing work considered worthy of being research material in its own right.
We will never know whether Josh Lawton would have sold for thousands and thousands of dollars, but we do feel lucky to have it here in Special Collections.