DONALD Gray Sutherland’s letter telling of Ned Kelly and his gang is fragile and in good condition despite being 133 years old.
Kevin Molloy, the manuscripts librarian with the State Library, said the four-page letter sent to Scotland in 1880 had been well-preserved.
The ink used by Sutherland had not faded from the pages and there was no water damage to the document.
“It’s a family heirloom and it’s been well looked after,” Dr Molloy said.
He said the family first contacted the library earlier this year and there was little doubt about the provenance of the letter.
“It’s the sort of thing you love to turn up,” Dr Molloy said.
The letter describes how Kelly’s sisters cried at his side after he had been captured.
Originally the letter had a piece of hair from the bushranger’s horse’s tail enclosed with it.
Dr Molloy said the letter would be worth tens of thousands.
“It’s the sort of thing a collector would go after and other institutions would go after,” he said.