Offered by Stockholms Auktionswerk (22.5% buyer’s premium), Kepler’s work presents a star catalogue and planetary tables.
It is an accumulation of data initially undertaken by the great Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe that, following his death in 1601, was continued for many years thereafter by Kepler, the German astronomer best known for his laws of planetary motion.
This copy also contained a striking, double-headed eagle map by Philip Eckebrecht (shown above) that is not found in all copies.
It is dated 1630 but all known copies of the map were issued years later – almost certainly after 1658, when the dedicatee, the Emperor Leopold, came to the throne.
This Swedish copy of Kepler’s work had a contemporary but somewhat worn, warped and defective vellum binding.
One or two copies have made rather more at auction, among them the ex-Honeyman copy that in 2007, as part of the Frank Streeter library, made $110,000 (then £55,000). A copy among the many fine Kepler lots in Richard Green’s scientific library offered in the following year sold for $110,000 (then £56,120). Both of those sales were held by Christie’s New York.
In sterling terms, however, the record was set at Christie’s Paris in 2009, when a copy sold for €85,000, then around £72,000.