Any number of spreads from Hartmann Schedel’s famous ‘Nuremburg Chronicle’ have featured on these pages in past years, but they have usually tended to focus on one of the numerous city and other woodcut views found in that profusely illustrated work.
Seen above, however, is something rather different by way of a change: a very busy double-page spread from a first German text edition of 1493 offered in a Ketterer Kunst (23% buyer’s premium) sale of November 26 in Munich.
Finely coloured in the publisher, Anton Koberger’s print shops in Cologne, it showed some staining, worming and other faults of condition, but was essentially a fine copy. Its binding of blind and roll-stamped pigskin with brass cornerpieces and clasps dated to the mid-16th century.
It sold at €120,000 (£106,195).
Beautiful Latin version
Eight days later, in a December 4 sale held by Christie’s New York (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium), a Latin text copy boasting what the saleroom called “superb colouring worked with a rich and vibrant palette to produce a copy of exceptional beauty” was offered.
Also reproduced above is a spread from that copy featuring an early world map.
In a 16th century German binding of blind tooled pigskin over wooden boards with brass fittings, this exceptional example sold for a high-estimate $300,000 (£234,375).
Only one copy has made more at auction – but it really was a great deal more. Nothing has come close since the summer of 2010, when another coloured copy of that scarcer German text edition sold at a treble-estimate £450,000.
It was part of a Christie’s sale of the splendid ‘Arcana’ collection of illuminated manuscripts and incunabula formed by the US financier and philanthropist, Ladislaus von Hoffman.