At £2700 in a Tennants (20% buyer’s premium) sale of March 7, the most expensive of them, bound in full morocco by Simier, was a work by Quintus Smyrnaeus, or Quintus Calaber as he was called in the first Aldine edition of his epic continuation of Homer’s account of the Trojan wars, the ‘Posthomerica’.
This Greek text editio princeps was published at Venice in 1504 under the title Quinti Calabri derelictorum ab Homero because the only known manuscript of his poem had been discovered at Otranto in Calabria by Cardinal Bessarion in 1450.
A 1517 Aldine edition of the Tragoediae of Seneca, featuring illuminated capitals throughout and bound in full morocco, was sold at £2100.
Offered much later in the sale, and perhaps from a separate property, was what looks to have been a very battered 1571, Basle edition of De judiciis astrorum.
This was a Latin translation from a Castilian manuscript of a work by Al-Shabani, Ali ibn Abi al Rijal (d.1040), an Arab astrologer/astronomer known in a latinised form of his name as Haly Albohazen, that had been first printed in Venice in 1485.
The Tennants copy made a higher than expected £2800, but in 2016, at Christie’s, a better looking copy of this edition in a later vellum binding made £4000 as part of the Giancarlo Beltrame library.