Records & Results: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books
Illuminated Manuscripts Lead Early Printed Books at Swann
Coinciding with Rare Book Week in New York City, our spring offering of Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Bookson March 7 brought bibliophiles from near and far, with breakneck bidding for a number of items, including incunabula and first editions on medicine–but it was illuminated manuscripts that took the spotlight in the sale.
“The market is strong for exceptional material, and we saw significant interest in printed and manuscript Books of Hours, with bidding driving prices over estimates. The biggest surprise of the day was the manuscript Qur’an that went for more than 10 times the high estimate.”
Scientific and medical publications included a first edition of George Agricola’s most important writings on geology, mineralogy and mining, and his monograph on ancient Greek and Roman weights and measures: De ortu & causis subterraneorum Lib. V bound with De mensuris & ponderibus Romanorum atque Graecorum Lib. V, Basil, 1546, 1550, which settled at $11,250.
A first separate printing of the first of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen’s three papers announcing his discovery of x-rays, Eine Neue Art von Strahlen, Würzburg, 1895, was sold for $5,200. Andreas Vesalius’s 1604 Anatomia, Venice, a landmark treatise on human anatomy, brought $5,250. A 1737-38 first edition of Icon durae matris in concave [convexa] superficie visae, Amsterdam, by Frederick Ruysch with two color mezzotints by Jan Ladmiral earned $5,250.
Incunabula featured Marcus Valerius Martialis’sEpigrammata, Venice, 1485, with commentary of Domitius Calderinus, which brought $7,500.
“The finest edition of Don Quixote that has ever been printed,”a first Ibarra edition of Cervantes’s El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha … Nueva Edición, corregidapor la Real Academia Española, Madrid, 1780, in four volumes, exceeded its high estimate bringing $11,875.
Additional highlights included a first edition of one of the scarcest early Italian chess manuals, and first book printed in Militello, Il Gioco de gli Scacchi, by Pietro Carrera for $10,625. The True Prophecies or Prognostications, London, 1672, a first complete edition in English of Michel de Nostradamus’s quatrains supposedly predicting historical events, garnered $5,750.