Antique forgery of a letter from Robert Burns to James Johnson
Scope and Contents
The collection also includes a cover, noted: 'Letter of the poet Burns received from Mr. James Stewart Merchant Burrowstounness January 1851'.
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Biographical / Historical
Smith's explanation was that while in employment with the firm of Thomas Henry Ferrier WS as chief clerk he had been asked to get rid of a huge quantity of old documents that had accumulated in the cellars of the law office. On examining these he had found that many of the documents were of value and so he had begun selling them to booksellers, auction rooms and pawnbrokers. When the original stock ran out he had then provided fakes to replace them, and he claimed that he was able to supply any type of document required.
Smith - the one and only mass-producer of literary forgeries in Scottish history - was found guilty on all charges but leniency was recommended. He was sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment.
- Forgery of a letter from Robert Burns to James Johnson, Engraver, Lawn Market, Edinburgh, by Alexander Howland 'Antique' Smith (fl.1888-1892)
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