Notable Auctions

Some of the catalogues listed below are still available in printed form for back order.

Autumn 2019 – From the Alps to the Himalaya

An interesting private collection on exploration and mountaineering was sold in autumn 2019. The 284 lots offered a wide range of impressions especially on Asia, from the Description de l’Inde (1786-89) by J. Bernoulli to an original print of the famous photography of the footprint of a Yeti taken by Eric Shipton in 1951. Futher noticable were the original watercolours and sketches by Edward Theodore Compton for G. Merzbacher Aus den Hochregionen des Kaukasus, hammered down for 12,000 €.

Autumn 2018 - Economics and Science

After almost a quarter of a century Reiss & Sohn again offered a splendid private library of economics in a special auction. The collection was gathered over a period of 30 years with great enthusiasm and knowledge. It’s focus laid on economic thought from the 16th until 20th century. The first edition of Thomas Hobbes Leviathan published in 1651 (11,000 € hammer price) was on display next to Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees published in 1714 (8,000 € hammer price), Thomas Malthus An essay on the principle of population  published in 1798 (80,000 € hammer price) and Karl Marx classic work on Capitalism Das Kapital, published in 1867 (60,000 € hammer price) as well as dozens of great first editions of English, French, German and other internationally renowned authors. Almost 400 lots were brought to sale.

Spring 2017 – Bismarck and Luther

In 2017, certificates and documents from the legacy of Otto von Bismarck were sold by us at an auction. The proceeds from the sale were nearly three times that of the preliminary estimates. The gem of a collection of printed material of Martin Luther offered for the year of the anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting of the theses of 1517 was the first edition of the “95 Theses” at a “hammer” price of 1.1 million Euro, this milestone of modern history found a new and happy owner, thus reaching the highest price obtained at an auction for a printed book ever since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Spring 2016 – Architecture, a Collector’s Library

In 2016, in a separate catalogue, an important collection of old books about architecture could be sold at the auction. Almost all of these 200 rare editions from the 16th and 19th centuries found new owners.

Autumn 2015 – Sachsenspiegel, a Monument of German Legal History

In 2015, a collection of issues of the Sachsenspiegel as from the 15th century were offered at the auction in a separate catalogue brochure. Here, especially public libraries were able to buy missing copies for their holdings.

2012-13 – Japan – China – James Cook and the Discovery of the Pacific

A special auction held in autumn 2013 with books and graphics about James Cook and the discovery of the Pacific region was completed successfully. The material, which almost exclusively originated from a private library could be sold almost 100%. In October 2012, a special catalogue was issued on the subject “China and Japan” in which predominantly books were offered, many of them with bids in the order of magnitude of the ten-thousands, all originating from a European private collection.

Spring and Autumn 2011- 40 Years of Reiss & Sohn

In 2011, the Reiss & Sohn Company celebrated their 40th anniversary. Three special catalogues were published on the occasion of this anniversary which represented the basis for the auctions in the company history with the highest turnover figures.

Autumn 2006 – Buffon and the Major Works by John Gould

The autumn of 2006 was marked by the sale of even two special catalogues: an exquisite catalogue with 25 ornithological gems earned us 1.2 million Euro with the highest bid being made for the splendid copy in contemporary red morocco of “Histoire naturelle des oiseaux” by G.-L. Leclerc de Buffon selling accounting for 230,000 Euro hammer. The special auction of medicine was also a major success with a sales rate of 90%.

Autumn 2005 – Botanic Library of the Kings of Hanover

One of the most significant specialised libraries of literature in the field of botany still in private hands with more than 700 items could be sold as joint acquisition to several German government-run libraries.

2002-2004 – Library Hans L. Merkle

The auction of the library of the former chairman of Robert Bosch GmbH, Professor Hans L. Merkle – also called “God The Father” by the members of his staff – represented one of the highlights among the book auctions held in the early years of the new millennium. The items sold included important works from literature, philosophy, mathematics, and science as well as important illustrated books of modern times. First editions by Euclid, Goethe, Kleist, Michel de Montaigne, Pascal, Proust, Schiller, Adam Smith, and many others were offered in three superb catalogues. The total proceeds from the sale of the Merkle collection amounted to 3.6 million Euros, thus exceeding the preliminary estimates by far. An English dealer who was present in the hall remarked: “This is the strongest sale since long”.

1999-2001 – An important Southern German Princely Library.

From 1999 to 2001, Reiss & Sohn sold parts of the Fürstlich Fürstenbergische Hofbibliothek (Court Library of the Prince of Fürstenberg) of Donaueschingen at an auction. Several thousand valuable volumes changed ownership. In autumn 2001, a specialised catalogue on dentistry from the 16th to the 19th century followed.

1998 – Atlases – World Globes – World Maps

A special auction with more than 200 atlases from the 16th to 19th centuries and almost 100 word maps were presented in a separate special catalogue, thus marking a special highlight to which the auction house is now committed.

1992-1994 – Libraries of Nordkirchen and of the Earls of Schönborn-Buchheim

In 1992, Reiss & Sohn were able to offer one of the most significant parts of the Library of Nordkirchen at an auction. From 1993 to 1994, the library of the Earls of Schönborn-Buchheim was sold at an auction (total proceeds: Around 7 million Deutschmarks). Several special collections on the subjects of atlases, maps, old music, modern literature, and press books as well as national economics were offered, each in special catalogues, follow-ups of these were offered in 1995-1998.

1989 – Spanish and Portuguese Travel Books

In addition to various collector’s items and single items from various propterties, Reiss & Sohn were also able to sell at auctions some important old libraries with partly thousands of volumes. In this context, in particular, a collection of Spanish and Portuguese travel books and documents collected in the 1920s is worth mentioning. The proceeds from this auction, which was held in 1989, amounted to 5 million Deutschmarks.

1972-1988 – Many successful Book and Map Sales

1971 – Auction 1 in the City of Mainz - The Craddle of Printing.

Godebert M. Reiss’s first auction comprised 2500 items. The bid of DM 19,000 for the “Landnámabók” of 1688 made this work the most expensive one at the three-day event. It ranks among the first few books printed in Iceland. In addition, it is one of the most important sources of Viking history and the discovery of the North Atlantic and America. The printing of the auction catalogue, in those days still in hot lead typesetting, was arranged by the Eggebrecht Company at Mainz.

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