The most expensive lot in an October 29-31 series of sales conducted by German saleroom Reiss & Sohn (18% buyer’s premium) was a very rare vellum copy of Gulielmus Duranti’s Rationale Divinorum that made €350,000 (£304,350).
An influential and much reprinted compendium on the mystical origins and meaning of the liturgies – and only the fourth book to be printed using moveable types – it was issued in 1459 by Johannes Fust and Peter Schöffer after their break with Gutenberg.
That work was previewed and illustrated in the special book section of ATG No 2415, so illustrated above is another of the top lots.
Featuring an illustration of Herbipolis, the old name of the Bavarian city of Würzburg, it is a spread from a much more famous work than the Rationale…: a 1493 first edition of Hartmann Schedel’s great Liber chronicarum, printed by Anton Koberger of Nuremburg.
In a rebacked 18th century binding, this Latin text edition of a biblically inspired history of the world from the creation to the end of the 15th century contains two double-page maps and more than 1800 woodcut illustrations, all exhibiting good and old colouring.
Many are the work of, or were at least overseen by Michael Wohlgemuth and his stepson Wilhelm Pleydenwurff.
It is also possible that the former’s pupil, Albrecht Dürer, was involved in the work’s creation.
There was some dampstaining, spotting and other defects, but this copy almost doubled the estimate to sell at €190,000 (£165,215).
Only three or four copies have made more.
Among the maps an example of the famous ‘Leo Belgicus’ map, one issued by CJ Visscher of Amsterdam, sold well at €55,000 (£47,825). A rare example of the map in its second state (of three), it was dated 1621.
One of three catalogues that made up this series of sales at Reiss & Sohn focused on exploration and mountaineering.
In the latter category, and sold at €12,000 (£10,435), was a group of 21 original illustrations – 14 in watercolour or grey wash over pencil, like that reproduced above, plus eight ink drawings – for Gottfried Merzbacher’s Aus den Hochregionen des Kaukassus, published in Leipzig in 1901.
They are the work of Edward Theodore Compton, the English-born son of a Quaker family which in 1867 emigrated to Germany, where they believed their talented son would receive a better education in art.
As well as gaining fame for his Alpine pictures, Compton also became an accomplished climber and included previously unconquered peaks in his many ascents in Europe, North Africa and South America.