Parisian Biblia latina vulgata: Rare pocket-size Bible at auction in Germany

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Parisian Biblia latina vulgata: Rare pocket-size Bible at auction in Germany
Biblia latina vulgata. Latin manuscript on parchment. Paris, ca. 1250-1270. Estimate: € 65.000.

HAMBURG.- Back in 1250 AD the Parisian Biblia latina vulgata was the first of its kind. On 23/24 November 2015 the famous medieval “Pocket Bible“ will be called up for the estimate of € 65,000 in the auction of Rare Books – Manuscripts – Autographs – Decorative Prints as well as Maritime and North German Art at Ketterer Kunst in Hamburg.

A complete bible, handy and portable, bound in calfskin, just a little larger than a postcard and around 5 cm thick – that was a little sensation some 800 years ago. Up to then bibles used to be so large and bulky that the biblical texts were only made in form of unhandy separate volumes.

The so-called pearl bible was the first complete bible introduced to the market in one pocket-size volume. The tiny scripture on extremely thin parchment alongside the miniatures and elaborate initials do not only deliver proof of both the writers' and illuminators' mastery, but also of the ingenious division of labor of such a large project. It has everything it needs in exemplary manner and user-friendly design. Accordingly, it was no surprise that the Parisian pocket bible soon became a real bestseller, today, however, it is very hard to find – especially in such a completeness and great condition.

Next to this biblical book sensation, the auction has some more religious rarities on offer: One is a Latin book of hours from around 1450 with excellent miniatures by a master from the Bedford circle. With its virtuous border decorations it is a prime example of the Parisian horae tradition in those days. It will enter the race with an estimate of € 100,000. The other highlight is a likewise French book of hours from around 50 years later. Endowed with more than 70 miniatures by acclaimed illuminators, it has been estimated at € 90,000.

A letter of indulgence, written in Gothic minuscule during the pontificate of Pope Boniface VIII may be obtained for the estimate of € 12,000. The document, embellished with a calligraphic opening initial and nine wax seals is of utmost rarity.

The section of Expressionim has three extremely rare de-luxe editions on offer: Paul Fechter's “Das Graphische Werk Hermann Max Pechsteins“ (estimate: € 25,000), the first edition of Max Osborn's Pechstein monography (estimate: € 4,000), as well as the renowned almanac “Der Blaue Reiter“ (estimate: € 35,000), released by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc.

Yet another prime work is the first edition of a complete and untrimmed copy of Albertus Seba's famous Thesaurus “Locupletissimi Rerum Naturalium Thesauri“ in four volumes from 1734-65. The first comprehensive account of the world's biodiversity by the Amsterdam apothecary and natural scientist of East Frisian origin will be called up with an estimate of € 20,000.

A copy of Immanuel Kant's main work “Kritik der reinen Vernunft“ has been estimated at € 18,000. The first edition of one of the world's most important works of philosophical literature, published in Riga in 1781, comes from the collection of the Swiss businessman and author Emanuel Stickelberger. Fittingly, the philosopher's profile will be called up in form of a silhouette estimated at € 3,000. The important iconographic document shows, alongside Immanuel Kant, ten of the most important and famous professors of the Königsberg university in a sort of portrait gallery.

The range of offerings is completed by the famous Plato edition by Marsilio Ficino in a contemporary pigskin binding by the Tübingen book binder Johannes Zoll (estimate: € 25,000) and the first edition of the “Pantheologia, sive summa theologiae universae“ by Rainerius de Pisis (estimate: € 15,000) from 1473, an autographed letter of recommendation by Charles Dickens for Hans Christian Andersen (estimate: € 6,000) and an original manuscript with poems and 12 watercolors and gouaches by Hermann Hesse (estimate: € 10,000) from 1919, as well as an extremely rare complete copy of the de-luxe edition of Marie de la Hire's exhibition catalog for Francis Picabia (estimate: € 6,000).

Besides rare books, manuscripts, autographs and decorative prints, the auction also comprises works of Maritime and North German Art. While the latter offers, among others, works by Eduard Bargheer (“Blick aus dem Fenster“, estimate: € 3,500), Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen (“Mutter mit Kind am Busen“, estimate: € 3,000) and Udo Peters (“Kinder auf einer Brücke in Worpswede“, estimate: € 3.000), the section of Maritime Art offers works such as Claus Bergen's “Besatzung eines U-Bootes grüßt auslaufende Schlachtkreuzer“ (estimate: € 5,000) as well as Johannes Holst's “Amerikanischer Klipper im Sturm” and his “Dreimaster auf bewegter See“ (estimates: € 3,500 each).

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