PRESS RELEASE - April 2021
50 Years Auctions at Reiss & Sohn - Rarities to Celebrate the Jubilee
Königstein (Germany), April 2021. – Reiss & Sohn has been auctioning bibliophile treasures from the Middle Ages to the present for 50 years and is today one of the world’s leading houses in its field. Since the foundation in 1971 in the Gutenberg city of Mainz, more than 200 successful auctions of high-quality antiquarian books, manuscripts, maps, prints and photography have been held by Godebert and Clemens Reiss.
For this festive occasion and in addition to the two regular auction catalogues a special catalogue is published with 80 exceptionally beautiful, rare and important books and manuscripts from the 15th to the 19th century, including about 50 incunabula. Over the four days, a total of around 3100 lots is on offer, for which bibliophiles from around the world will also be able to bid live online.
The splendid opening will be made by two precious illuminated books of hours from the end of the 15th century, written on parchment for French use. The estimated prices are 38.000 € and 40.000 € respectively.
Outstanding from the rich offer of incunabula is the “Chronecken der Sassen” of 1492 written in Low German dialect by Konrad Botho, the chronicler of the Dukes of Brunswick. This first and rarest of the great illustrated chronicles in Germany, richly decorated with approximately 1255 old coloured woodcuts, is expected to fetch 20,000 €. Twenty years earlier, the important “Etymologiae” by Isidorus Hispalensis was published in Augsburg, in the present copy also estimated at 20,000 €. It comprises the entire knowledge of the time and also contains the first ever printed map in the form of a schematic map of the world. At the same time it is one of the first books with woodcut illustrations ever.
Undoubtedly “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium” by Nicolaus Copernicus’ is one of the books that changed the world. Copernicus opened up the heliocentric view of the world to mankind and thereby he overthrew both the teachings of the Bible and the astronomy of Ptolemy. The copy at Reiss & Sohn with an estimate of 150,000 € contains Copernicus’ epoch-making work in the second edition of 1566, substantially expanded for the first time by Joachim Rheticus’ famous “Narratio prima”.
Among the numerous scientific works an extraordinary sammelband with no less than 6 rare works by Johannes Kepler from the period 1614-1639 is worthy of attention. It includes the first edition of Keplers’ visionary treatise “Somnium”, which describes a dream journey to the moon. The volume also impresses with its remarkable provenance and is available at 30,000 €. Two of the most beautiful botanical works of the Baroque period can be purchased at Reiss & Sohn: the “Phytanthoza-Iconographia” by Johann Wilhelm Weinmann with 1025 plates of plants from all over the world in brilliant colour engraving (estimate 50,000 €) and Christoph Jacob Trew’s “Plantae selectae” with 110 old coloured copper plates of mostly exotic plants (estimate 30,000 €). The drawings for both works were partly created by the same famous painter Georg Dionysius Ehret.
The great navigator James Cook, who opened up the Pacific for Western civilisation, died in Hawaii in 1779. The account of his death was edited for the first time in the anonymous German booklet “Nachrichten von dem Leben und den Seereisen des berühmten Captain Cook” (News of the Life and Sea Voyages of the Famous Captain Cook). A copy of this extremely rare work, bound together with another very rare account of the Spanish expeditions by Bodega y Quadra, is expected to obtain 20,000 €. In 1596, the Dutch circumnavigator Jan Huygen van Linschoten wrote the handbook “Itinerarium, Ofte Schipvaert naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien”, comprising the invaluable knowledge of the East and West Indies and the relevant sea routes. The estimated price for a coloured copy of the rare second edition from 1614 is 60,000 €.
The offer of atlases and town books at Reiss & Sohn is again neither lacking in quantity nor in quality. Among the most valuable items are Blaeu’s Belgian town book in the Latin edition from about 1652 with 296 views and plans and Janssonius’ rare town book of the Netherlands from 1657 with 113 views and plans, both in splendid colouring and each with an estimate of 75,000 €.
A rarity of special kind is the first edition of the so-called Peasants’ Articles of 1525, a unique document of German political and European social history, being the first German statement of fundamental and human rights. Since both the first edition of these six leaves and the numerous reprints mostly were destroyed by the opponents, the offered copy is extremely rare and precious (estimate 60,000 €).
REISS & SOHN
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