Books and Manuscripts - 2015 auction review

This year saw strong results for rare books at auction, with the Valmadonna Bomberg Talmud setting a new record for a piece of Judaica at auction late in the year.

Prior to that December auction, a series of fascinating lots crossed the block.

Take a look at some of our highlights below.

Top book and manuscript sale of 2015

The Valmadonna Bomberg Talmud was this year's standout book sale, achieving a stunning $9.3m at Sotheby's.

Bomberg Talmud Sothebys
David Bomberg was a pioneering renaissance printer

This makes it the most valuable piece of Judaica ever sold.

Bomberg was a renaissance era printer, whose ground-breaking setting of the Talmud remains the standard even now.

This rare intact copy is from the Valmadonna collection of Jewish texts, which auctioned in a dedicated sale in December.

2015's most important book and manuscript sales

Robert Boyle's The Sceprtical Chymist (1661) was the star of a March sale at Bonhams London. It sold for £362,500 ($539,363). The work is one of the first to combine chemistry with physics, laying the groundwork for Sir Isaac Newton among others.

The Gutenberg Bible was the first book to be printed using movable type, allowing for the mass production of texts. It's publication transformed Europe. A clutch of eight pages from a first edition sold for $970,000 at Sotheby's in June.

Hobbit Tolkien Sothebys
This edition of The Hobbit set a new auction record

Perhaps benefitting from the recent trilogy of films by Peter Jackson, this rare first edition of JR Tolkien's The Hobbit made £137,000 ($209,983) at Sotheby's in June.

A broadside proclaiming Irish independence was among the most fascinating historical manuscripts selling this year. It realised £305,000 ($462,143) at Sotheby's in June.

The most unusual book sale of 2015

Dodd Security Analysis
This classic investing text was one of the surprise hits of the year

A first edition copy of Benjamin & Dodd's landmark economics text Security Analysis was the surprise hit of the year.

It beat an estimate of $5,000 by 375% to take $23,750 at Swann Auction Galleries in June.

The work is required reading for value investors, explaining the significant jump in value as the money men duked it out.  

Security Analysis:

It was a breakout year for…

This year saw exceptional sales of Korans as wealthy middle-eastern bidders bought back items purloined during the colonial era.

One example, a page from the famous 9th or 10th century Blue Qur'an, made £365,000 ($547,565) at Sotheby's in April. Another, by 19th century calligrapher Yahya Hilmi Efendi, realised £230,000 ($354,504) at Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewoods in Exeter in August.

It was a year to forget for…

An anti-Morman tract failed to sell in an August auction at PBA Galleries in San Francisco. Meanwhile, a first edition Book of Mormon made $57,500 at Swann Auction Galleries in September.

One you may have missed

The original cover art to Herge's The Blue Lotus sold for $637,342 in a sale at Christie's Paris in March.

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