Tip #201: Know the Meaning of the Word Rare

p>The word rare in the context of historical documents has a specific usage.  It is the relatively uncommon nature of a particular document as assessed by someone in a position to know.  And some things that appear common at first can after some research or on closer examination turn out to be rare.

Let’s use Queen Victoria as an example. Her material is not common but nor is it rare.   The most common format of her documents is a secretarial form that she notarized at the top left, near the seal.  A quick glance at this document below would confirm that, as would another Victoria document on our site.  But take a closer look.  Although she signed in this fashion, the document itself tells a powerful story about Victorian England.  It’s much more than a simple legal document.

Nathan Raab

Nathan Raab is Vice President of The Raab Collection and on the Board of Directors at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com.

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