Many of the Shapira fakes remain well preserved (though apparently none of the pornographic statues has survived). But what happened to the parchment strips with passages from Deuteronomy?

After Clermont-Ganneau exposed the strips as fakes, Shapira simply abandoned them at the British Museum. Two years later, in July 1885, they were auctioned off at Sotheby’s, where they were purchased by a London antiquarian book dealer named Bernard Quaritch for 10 pounds, 5 shillings. He exhibited them at the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition in the Albert Hall in 1887, where their listed price was 25 pounds.

Quaritch sold them to Sir Charles Nicholson, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, Australia. After that, however, their fate is somewhat of a mystery. In the preface to “Hebrew Manuscripts and Rare Books Held in the Fisher Library of the University of Sydney,” A.D. Crown writes that “It is probable that the [Shapira strips] were destroyed in the fire which burned Sir Charles’s study at his Totteridge [London] home in 1899” (Studies in Australian Bibliography 20 [1973]).