Christie's sale of ancient books and manuscripts in Paris on May 11 was led by a rare Jewish mahzor, which achieved a 209.5% increase on estimate.
The mahzor, or prayer book, includes prayers for the entire liturgical year and is comparable to the Rothschild Mahzor, which is now housed in the JewishTheological Seminary of America in New York. Like the Rothschild Mahzor, the Christie's edition was created in 15th century Florence, Italy and is richly embellished with intricate designs.
The mahzor was lavishly illuminated by noted artist Giovanni di Guiliano Boccardi, and represents the only known Hebrew manuscript that he worked on.
The auction was the first time the book had been seen in public, after spending over 100 years in the same family's collection. The ornate tome went to auction with an estimate of €400,000-600,000 ($514,703-772,055), achieving a final sale price of €1.85m ($2.41m).
Also featuring in the sale was a copy of Matisse's highly sought after work, Jazz. Comprising 100 prints, Jazz was compiled in 1947 by the artist, who was unable to draw or paint due to poor health. This lot was further enhanced by a signature from Professor Paul Santy, a doctor who tended Matisse during his illness, along with original notes from the artist.
The work sold for €289,000 ($371,872), towards the top end of its estimate of €200,000-300,000 ($257,368-386,027). The sale comes just under two weeks since Matisse's Les Pivoines brought $19.1m to the Christie's Impressionist auction.
Paul Fraser Collectibles' sister company, PFC Auctions has a superb selection of rare manuscripts in its current sale, including this document signed by Elizabeth I, which features the Royal Great Seal.