But then, as the auction house put it, this was 'the most important music manuscript by a British-born composer and indeed the only major manuscript by any 17th-century composer to appear at auction probably since the beginning of the century'.
The collection of manuscripts contained 21 pieces written for the harpsichord - the only keyboard music in Purcell's hand, and the only substantial working manuscript known to exist.
Some pieces were last heard about 300 years ago. There are only five Purcell manuscripts of this size or larger in the world and all are believed to be held by public institutions.
The buyer was a representative of Otto Haas, the London dealer, who was sitting in the saleroom's front row and talking to an anonymous client over a telephone.
The music was identified by a Devon dealer who bought the manuscripts in a London sale.
Simon Maguire, cataloguer in Sotheby's books and manuscripts department, said: 'It includes keyboard versions of some of his theatre music. What's interesting is that it shows that the keyboard arrangements, whose authenticity had been doubted, are authentic.'
One of the items it contains is believed to be the composing manuscript for The Fairy Queen, Purcell's masterpiece.
There are also previously unknown works, pieces written specifically for the keyboard rather than adaptations. Among them is a missing dance from one of his suites.
In the same sale, unpublished letters by Carl Jung, in which he explores and explains his theories of psychoanalysis, sold for pounds 29,900 - a record for any handwritten Jung material.
The letters, dating from 1928 to 1961, were addressed to Dr Jolande Jacobi, a Hungarian analyst practising in Vienna, from where she helped Jung to escape to Zurich.
In them, Jung points out the differences between himself and Freud - for example, how his interpretation of dreams was based on observation.
'Freud has a doctrine,' he wrote. 'I don't have a doctrine, I describe facts. I don't teach about how neuroses arise, I describe what you find in neurotic people . . . I don't use free association at all in analysing dreams.'
John Lennon's glasses were bought by the Hard Rock Cafe in London yesterday for pounds 2,860. Christie's in South Kensington estimated that they would fetch pounds 2,500 to pounds 3,500.
In the same sale, a saxophone played by President Bill Clinton at the 1993 United States presidential gala in Maryland, made pounds 22,000 (estimate pounds 2,000 to pounds 4,000). It was signed by him.
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