Isidoro Fernandez's remarkable library of rare books and manuscripts crossed the block at Christie's London yesterday (March 20), bringing strong results.
A 1572 first edition by Spanish goldsmith Juan de Arfe led the sale, selling for £40,000 ($60,360) - a 166.6% increase on its £15,000 top estimate. The work, which focuses on metallurgy, was designed to be used for reference by artists and artisans.
A first French edition of Thomas More's celebrated La Description de l'Isle d'Utopie (1550) also exceeded its high estimate, selling for £17,500 ($26,408), while a rare translation of Marco Polo's famed travel diaries from 1601 brought £15,000 ($22,635).
Collections are often amassed for pleasure, not profit. Yet substantial price increases suggest we ought to think about collectibles in terms of investment as well as enjoyment.
Isidoro Fernandez (1887-1963), a Bilbao-born businessman who spent the latter part of his life in London, has been described as "a very private man" by his granddaughter Elisa, who comments that he inspired "respect, but not fear."
Elisa states: "My grandfather was a man who only had a very basic education, yet could run a successful toy wholesale business, teach himself French and slowly develop a sophisticated taste in books."
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