Plate from first editions of both parts of the 1679-83 edition of Maria Sybilla Merian’s study of caterpillars and their transformation into butterflies, Der Raupen…, which sold for €42,000 (£32,060) in a sale held by Ketterer Kunst.

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The price paid on May 28 – seemingly a record – was four times what had been predicted for this scarce work, though in 2003 a vellum bound copy in which a few of the plates were partially coloured did sell for $28,000 at Christie’s New York.

Each of the 100 plates is accompanied by Merian’s own scientific observations. Though this vellum bound example showed some minimal foxing and browning, along with a few other defects, it was essentially a good, broad-marginned copy containing fine impressions of the plates – one of which is reproduced above.