In Francesco Colonna’s allegorical romance, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili… type, illustration, design and fine printing were combined to produce the book beautiful.
The book itself is a work of art, but the woodcuts themselves are attributed by some to the Paduan miniaturist Benedetto Bordon, or Bordone.
The spread shown above is taken from a copy in an early 20th century binding of red morocco gilt that sold for £130,000 at Christie’s (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) on December 12.
A few other examples of this famous work have made more and in 2010 a copy that was once part of the great French bibliophile Jean Grolier’s library was bid to more than twice that sum, £280,000, in the King Street rooms.
Part of the wonderful Arcana collection, and in a restored and rebacked calf binding made by Gomar Estienne in the 1550s for Grolier, it was an ex- John Rylands Library copy that in 1988 had sold for £170,000 at Sotheby’s.