95 Theses
The opening page of the 1517, Basel printing of Martin Luther’s ’95 Theses’ which sold at German saleroom Reiss & Sohn.

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In the year that marks the landmark anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, this version of the renowned text sold for more than seven times its estimate of €150,000 at Reiss & Sohn in Germany on May 16-18.

Although it is disputed by some, Luther is said to have nailed a copy to the doors of churches in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

‘Disputatio... pro declaratione virtutis indulgentarium’ was the first printing of the ‘95 Theses’ in which Luther attacked the practice of selling indulgences, payments by which those wealthy enough could pay to have their own or relatives’ sins absolved.

It was published in small quantities in Basel, Leipzig and Nuremburg and very few have survived.

The Leipzig and Nuremburg issues were printed as placards, but the Basel edition, printed by Adam Petri, appeared as a four-leaf pamphlet and it is a copy of this that has sold at Reiss & Sohn, as previewed in ATG previously.

It is believed that it was originally sold as a duplicate by the Basel University Library prior to 1940 to Ferdinand Baron von Neufforge (1869-1942).

In 1960, it was offered in a bookseller’s catalogue (G. Rosen, Reformationsdrucke der Bibl. Neufforge), and sold to a collector. It last came to auction in 1985.