Rare books 'withstand economically challenging times'

The leading German auction house Ketterer Kunst has enjoyed a great end to 2009, achieving its two highest rare book sales of 2009 at its Hamburg auction on 16-17 November.

Ketterer Kunst's highest sale was Phytanthoza-Iconographia, by Johann W Weinmann. The lavishly made Baroque book features more than 1,000 colour-engraved plates of plants and flowers.

Dated 1737-45, the renowned Regensburg apothecarian's work sold well above its calling price of €40,000, eventually bringing a remarkable €56,000.

Johann W Weinmann's
Phytanthoza-Iconographia (€56k)

It reportedly sold to a German private buyer, eager to secure each of the four volumes of Phytanthoza-Iconographia for his collection.

Just behind it was the auctioneers' second highest sale of 2009, an exceptionally remarkable book, Speculum Humanae Salvationis, from 1489.

Translated as Mirror of Human Salvation, the 15th century illustrated anonymous theological work was a bestseller in the Middle Ages.

The rare copy soared past its €21,000 calling price, to a final value of €46,800.

The lucky buyer was an antiquarian from Saxony, who more-than held his own against an excited auction room and a good number of telephone bidders.

Overall, the sale netted an incredible €1.2m, with 84% of lots sold.

"This shows that Rare Books - a section that has been well established for years with solid sales figures - stands the test of even economically challenging times," said Robert Ketterer, auctioneer and owner of Ketterer Kunst, in a statement.

"Consistency and quality are values that are in demand now more than ever."

Ketterer Kunst will no-doubt be hoping to continue this success at its next announced Rare Books and Manuscripts sale, scheduled for May 2010.


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