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Copy of Poem Sold; 'Twas Worth $280K

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

NEW YORK —  A businessman paid $280,000 for an original 1860 handwritten copy of the classic poem that begins "'Twas the night before Christmas" and read it to friends at a party, an auction gallery said Tuesday.

The buyer, identified only as the chief executive officer of a media company, received the copy of the poem this month, just in time to read it to relatives and business associates at a holiday party in his Manhattan apartment, Heritage Auction Galleries president Greg Rohan said.

Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," in 1822. He wrote and signed the 1860 copy for an acquaintance. Three other copies in his writing are known to exist, but those are in museum collections, Rohan said.

The poem begins:

"'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

"Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

"The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

"In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there."

The copy sold to the media CEO had been in the hands of a private collector and was not auctioned; the Dallas-based gallery brokered the deal.

(Story continues below)

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Partygoers who listened to the new owner's poetic recitation "couldn't believe it," said Rohan, who personally delivered the poem in a protective plastic sleeve.

"They thought it was the coolest thing that was," he said.

Rohan said the poem's new owner planned to "keep it forever" and maybe exhibit it publicly for Christmas 2007.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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