£60k for rare 18th century botanical books

Auctioneers Ketterer Kunst will be holding a rare books auction on November 16-17 with some sought after gems on offer.

Most eye-catching is probably the Speculum Humanae Salvationis (Mirror on Human Salvation), a popular text originally printed in 1473. This is a near-complete fifth German edition from 1489.

Speculum Humanae Salvationis
Speculum Humanae Salvationis from 1489 ($37k)
(Click to enlarge)

The text, estimated at €25,000 ($37,000) and containing 272 of an original 279 woodcut prints with attractive contemporary colouring, is bound in calf skin with clasps. Some mild staining, scuffing and clasp repairs do not prevent this from being a very beautiful piece.

Listed at €5,000, a 'friend album' belonging to Johann von Bassen is a kind of Who's Who of the second half of the 16th century, including important combatants of the Thirty Years War.

Much more recent, but no less desirable, is a Vingt-deux poèmes (22 poems) by J Cassou published in 1978 with a numbered print run of just 115 copies. The text is illustrated by 22 original prints, including ones by Calder, Miró and Ernst. It is listed at €16,000 ($24,000).

The top lot is an herbal text published in 1737 by J W Weinmann, Phytanthoza-Iconographia.

Phytanthoza-Iconographia Weinmann

Although obviously of special interest to botanists, the four complete volumes of this first edition are in very good condition. The 1,025 colour engravings remain highly attractive, despite a few being browned or foxed. The work is valued at €60,000 ($89,000).

The lots are already on display on weekdays. This exciting sale, containing several hundred collectible books and manuscripts, takes place in Hamburg.

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