Rare Finds

Herbals Outperform at German Auction

A two-day auction of rare books by the German firm Ketterer Kunst on Monday and Tuesday this week realized impressive prices for herbals. All the herbals on offer at auction sold above estimates, sometimes by significant amounts. (Images and more text)

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The herbal highlight was the Herbarius Patavie, (pictured above), from the collection of botanist and anatomist Lorenz Heister and bearing his signature, which attracted bidders from around the world. In the end, a German bidder won the herbal for $97,500, blowing well past the original estimate of $18,750. Herbarius Patavie was printed by Johann Petri in Passau in 1485. The book contains 150 half-page botanical woodcuts.

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Another highlight was the generously illustrated 1497 Hortus Sanitatis, (pictured above), which went for $67,500 after a bidding war. The estimate on the herbal was $25,000. The 1497 edition was the third Latin edition of one of the fifteenth century’s most extensive works on natural history and medicine.

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And the first German edition of the first scientific herbal – the Contrafayt Kreüterbuch from 1532-37 (pictured above) – sold for $24,000, $14,000 over its original estimate of $10,000. The herbal contains 280 woodcuts, most hand-colored.

[Pictures from Ketterer Kunst]

Browse related collectible books:

Rare Book Room of Medical History

Pages and copies of the Hortus Sanitatis

Reprinted with permission from Fine Books & Collections, author

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