It was part of the auction house’s inaugural Ritual and Culture sale. One of four such auctions planned by Freeman’s (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) to combine art and objects from various specialist departments, this one included a 20-lot book and manuscript section.
The leaf from the 42-line Gutenberg Bible of 1450-55 was one of those that in 1921 were bound with A Edward Newton’s five-page essay ‘A Noble Fragment’ and sold by the US dealer Gabriel Wells, who had broken up an imperfect and incomplete copy.
Pictured above is a page from a copy of the first part only of a profusely illustrated, 1478-79 Bible printed with a West Low German text c.1478-79 by Heinrich Quentell of Köln.
With elaborate borders and coloured initial, it is centred by a woodcut that depicts Eve’s creation from Adam’s rib.
This and the 89 other woodcut illustrations display work that, according to David Bland’s classic History of Book Illustration, “set the style of Biblical illustration for many years to come”. They were later used in Koberger’s 1493 Bible, thus influencing a great many others.
Itself lacking a few leaves, this single volume realised $26,000 (£14,855).
The sale took place on September 23.