In medieval times it was more widely spread than the Bible. Now a unique copy of an early German edition of the Legenda Aurea will be auctioned at Ketterer Kunst in Hamburg on 21/22 November, 2011.
A copy in this completeness of the richly illustrated edition of the two volume work cannot be found either in the markets nor in the relevant bibliographies.
The then extremely popular book by Jacobus de Voragine provides information mainly on the lives of saints. The Dominican monk and later archbishop of Genoa originally wrote the work in 182 tractates, which he organized according to the church year.
Originally entitled Legenda Sanctorum (Readings of the Saints), it gained its popularity under this title and one of the first books William Caxton printed in the English language
The purpose of the book was to provide reflection on occasion of important church holidays as well as uplifting reading matter. With an estimate of €25,000 ($34,500), the unique book heads the incunabula section.
Estimated at €24,000, the Biblia Germanica inferior is just slightly below this top mark. The famous Lubeck Bible by Steffen Arndes counts among the most renowned German 15th century woodcut works.
Collectors interested in text from around this period will also be interested in documents written and/or signed by Henry VIII, of which we have a few in stock.
Besides Maria Sibylla Merian's magnificently illustrated book Surinamsche Insekten (Surinamese Insects) from 1730 (estimate: €40,000), another top lot in the auction is George Catlin's North American Indian Portfolio.
The rare first issue of the first edition is considered to be the one in finest colouring, as it was executed under Catlin's supervision. The description of original Indian life, which will be called up with an estimate of €50,000, is a unique contemporary document of highest rarity.
From incunabula to Americana, there is something for everyone in Ketterer's rare book auction.