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A Man Walked Into a Bard One Day . . .

His town of Washington is the ancestral home of George Washington, "the original Washington," he said in an interview that spanned several hours and locations, including the historic stone Washington family home.

Police questioned Scott for two days last week. They carted off more than 1,000 of his books and impounded his Ferrari before they released him without charge. Durham police said he remains a suspect in the ongoing investigation.

Scott said he told the Folger two weeks ago that he wanted "to go to The Washington Post to publicize the discovery, which is not the act of a person with something to hide."

He thinks Stephen Massey, a veteran independent rare books consultant and appraiser who examined the folio, got it wrong. He insists that his Cuban copy is not, in fact, the Durham copy.

Published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, the First Folio has been called the most important edition printed in the English language. It is a large-format collection of 36 of Shakespeare's plays, including "Antony and Cleopatra" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." About 230 copies are believed to have survived, including 79 at the Folger.

Scott said he does not think Massey can prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that his volume was the one stolen in Durham.

When looking at these centuries-old pages, Scott said, "an expert can only say with his hand on his heart" that "there is a balance of probabilities" regarding which volume this one is.

Massey, a former executive with Christie's, was called in by the Folger's Richard Kuhta.

In an interview, Massey said, "It wasn't too much of an Albert Einstein-like leap" to conclude it was the Durham First Folio.

From a published census with detailed descriptions of existing First Folios, Massey knew the exact dimensions of the Durham First Folio. He knew that the table of contents had a handwritten notation in ink saying "Troilus and Cressida," beneath the printed title "Henry VIII." He knew the title leaf with the portrait of Shakespeare was missing.

All these details checked out, he said.

The last page, which contained details that could prove the folio was the stolen Durham volume, was missing.


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