Gutenberg Bible Leaf Headlines Swann Galleries' April 9 Auction


New York—Swann Galleries is pleased to offer a diverse selection of Early Printed, Medical & Scientific Books at auction on Thursday, April 9.

A rich assortment of early printed books includes a single leaf from a paper copy of the 42-line Bible, aka the Gutenberg Bible, with the text of 2 Kings 21:3-23:3, Mainz, circa 1450-55, contained within a copy of A. Edward Newton’s A Noble Fragment, New York, 1921 (estimate: $40,000 to $50,000). A related item is Eusebius of Caesarea, Chronicon, Venice, 1483, a second edition of a synoptic world history first published circa 1475-76 that contains the third published reference to Johann Gutenberg as the inventor of printing ($6,000 to $9,000).

There is also an early 15th-century manuscript in Latin and Italian on vellum with Saint Aurelius Augustinus, Sermones ad heremitas and other texts ($15,000 to $25,000); a complete and well-preserved manuscript of Petrus Lombardus, Sententiarum libri IV, Bohemia, 1463 ($30,000 to $40,000); and Johannes Reuchlin, Vocabularius breviloquus [with Guarinus Veronensis, Ars diphthongandi and Johannes de Lapide, De arte punctandi and De accentu], Basel, 1486, a Latin dictionary first published in 1478 that appeared in some 20 editions by the end of the 15th century ($5,000 to $7,000).

From the 16th century are Ces presentes heures sont a lusaige de Romme toutes au long de requerir, Paris, 1534, a superbly illuminated printed Book of Hours on vellum ($15,000 to $25,000); an exceedingly scarce volume from the private library of Queen Elizabeth I, volume one (of three) of Cicero’s Orationum volumen primum, in contemporary calf with the queen’s badge, Paris, 1543 ($8,000 to $12,000) and Marcin Laterna, Harfa Duchowna, Krakow, 1596 ($800 to $1,200).

Among the significant scientific books are Guillaume Rondelet, Libri de piscibus marinis, Lyons, 1554-55, first edition of Rondelet’s massive treatise on aquatic life, which covered far more species than any earlier work in the field ($4,000 to $6,000); Aratus, Syntagma Arateorum, Leiden, 1600, first Grotius edition of the Phaenomena of Aratus, a 3rd-century B.C. poem on the constellations, celestial phenomena, and weather signs ($3,000 to $5,000); Conrad Gesner, Thierbuch; das ist, Ausführliche Beschreibung . . . aller vierfüssigen Thieren bound with his Fischbuch; das ist, Ausführliche Beschreibung . . . aller unnd jeden Fischen, Heidelberg and Frankfurt am Main, 1606 and 1598 respectively ($4,000 to $6,000); Sir Isaac Newton, A Treatise on the System of the World, London, 1728, first edition in English ($3,000 to $5,000); and Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology; being, An Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by References to Causes Now in Operation, London, 1830-32-33, first edition ($3,000 to $4,000).

Medical books of note include John Bulwer’s Pathomyotamia; or, A Dissection of the Significative Muscles of the Affections of the Minde, London, 1649 ($2,000 to $3,000); a nearly complete set of Johann Rudolph Glauber, Pharmacopoea Spagyrica . . . Pars Prima[-Septima], Amsterdam, 1654-68 ($800 to $1,200); a first edition in Latin of Glauber’s collection of medical preparations, lacking only the 2 supplements; Antonio Scarpa, Saggio di Osservazioni e d'Esperienze sulle Principali Malattie degli Occhi, Pavia, 1801, first edition of the first textbook of ophthalmology published in Italian; and W.T.G. Morton, Remarks on the Proper Mode of Administering Sulphuric Ether by Inhalation, Boston, 1847, first edition of a booklet containing complete instructions for administering ether ($800 to $1,200 each). 


Among travel book highlights are a first edition of Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimes, with Purchas His Pilgrimage, together five volumes, London, 1625 and 1626 ($30,000 to $50,000); Jerónimo Lobo, A Short Relation of the River Nile, London, 1669, first edition in English of an excerpt from the unpublished Portuguese original work on Ethiopia by Jesuit missionary Lobo ($2,000 to $3,000); and John Harris, Navigantium atque itinerantium bibliotheca; or, A Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels . . . , London, 1744-48 ($3,000 to $5,000).

The auction will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 9. The books will be on public exhibition Saturday, April 4, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; and Monday, April 6 through Wednesday, April 8, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

An illustrated catalogue is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, Inc., 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, or online at

For further information, and to make advance arrangements to bid by telephone during the auction, please contact Tobias Abeloff at (212) 254-4710, extension 18, or via e-mail at

Live online bidding is also available via

First image: Gutenberg Bible Leaf, text of 2 Kings 21:3-23:3, Mainz, circa 1450-55. Estimate: $40,000 to $50,000.

Second image: First edition of Samuel Purchas, Purchas His Pilgrimes, with Purchas His Pilgrimage, London, 1625 and 1626. Estimate: $30,000 to $50,000.