Hartmann Schedel and Pliny the Elder lead amazing rare books sale in Hamburg

In a couple of weeks' time, German auctioneer Ketterer Kunst is holding one of its all too rare book sales.  The company, which concentrates more on art, always assembles a fascinating collection of early first editions of various languages of a quality comparable to, but different from those which might appear at Christie's or Sotheby's.

To be precise, the sale is described as one of Rare Books, Manuscripts, Autographs and Maps, and it offers 1,800 objects including incunabula, old prints, manuscripts, cookery books, literature about travel and exploration, autographs, photographs and modern illustrated books

Some of the highlights include an extremely rare copy of Carel Allard's Orbis Habitabilis Oppida et Vestitus which comes with a double page coloured title leaf and 99 double page coloured copper plates.

Illustration of Santo Domingo from Allard's book
Illustration of Santo Domingo from Allard's book
(Click to enlarge)

This is a magnificently coloured and well-preserved copy of the sought-after city book - a strong candidate for investment.

R A Skelton commented on the facsimile edition of 1966 "[Carel Allard was] the first editor of a town-book to couple topographical plates and corresponding costume-plates.

"In his collection, twenty-three of the subjects (making 46 plates) are represented by such pairs, the costumed figures in the second plates being backed, in all cases but three, by a reduced version of the same view as that presented, on a larger scale, in the first plate."

With views of a great range of places from Amsterdam to the Congo and Constantinople to San Juan, the c1695 work is expected to sell for €38,000 ($53,960).

Also boasting some impressive city views, Hartmann Schedel's World Chronicle is generally regarded as the most richly illustrated incunabula bar none.

Hartmann Schedel World Chronicle
Macabre illustration from Hartmann Schedel's World Chronicle
(Click to enlarge)

The high-quality artistic woodcuts were made primarily by the German painter and engraver Pleydenwurff W. and his father M. Wohlgemuth, learned in a Nuremberg workshop alongside Albrecht Dürer.

The lasting fame of the world history is based mainly on its opulent artistic style, with word and image complementing each other and making a thoughtful, balanced unit.

Hieronymus Muenzer's map of Germany at the end is the oldest printed map of Germany.The first German edition of the book is expected to sell for around €50,000 ($71,000).

This book is likely to be the top lot, but it may also be a first Italian edition of what is often referred to as the oldest comprehensive encyclopaedia of natural science: Naturalis Historia by Pliny the Elder.

The text is important because of its influence on Western thinking, and the printing is a landmark, both because it is the first translation of its kind, and because it represents a departure for printing, utilising Jenson's famous Antiqua, the model for all later Antiqua.

It too is estimated at €50,000 in Ketterer Kunst's sale, which takes place on November 22-23 in Hamburg, Germany, with online bidding available.


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