News | February 5, 2024

Vesalius’s Own Annotated Copy of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Sold for $2.2m


Vesalius's own copy of De Humani Corporis Fabrica 

Andreas Vesalius's own annotated copy of his magnun opus, De humani corporis fabrica, has found a new home and will be on display at KU Leuven, the oldest university in the Low Countries following the Christie’s Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts sale.

It is something of a homecoming for this book – a revolutionary work of medical science that changed our understanding of the human body and medical practice – because its author was born Andries van Wesel in Brussels in 1514 and educated at the University of Leuven. The book was purchased by the Flemish Community, Department of Culture, one of the three constitutionally mandated regional governments in Belgium, together with the university, KU Leuven, for $2,228,000.

Other top lots in the sale, which included material sold on behalf of the William P. Watson Family Trust as well as from the Library of the late Dr. K. William Harter, included: 

* an extensively annotated copy of the first edition, first issue of Euclid's Elements, printed by Ratdolt in 1482, which brought $403,200

* The Second Folio of William Shakespeare, 1632, the second edition, first issue, which made $277,200

* The Fourth Folio of William Shakespeare, 1685, the last of the 17th-century editions of Shakespeare's collected plays, which realized $88,200

* Jacobus Mazzocchius's Epigrammata antiquae urbis, 1521, King Charles I's own copy of a fundamental work on the study of ancient inscriptions, with the King’s name and motto inscribed on the title, which brought $81,900

* The Bradley Martin copy of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, 1590-1596, the first edition of both parts of Spenser's great Tudor epic, first state of the title, which belonged to a legendary collector, which earned $60,480