Gutenberg Leaf Among Offerings at Swann Galleries, Oct. 21


New York—On Tuesday, October 21, Swann Galleries will offer a diverse selection of Early Printed, Medical & Scientific Books in a wide range of fields, including theology, Enlightenment literature, travel, astronomy, the occult and psychiatry.

The lot with the highest pre-sale estimate is a single leaf from a paper copy of the 42-line Bible in Latin, aka the Gutenberg Bible, Mainz, circa 1450-55, with text from Acts and two manuscript initials (estimate: $40,000 to $50,000). The last time Swann offered a Gutenberg Bible leaf it sold for $55,200 in April 2013.

Additional religion highlights include Catholic liturgical works, such as Missale Leodie[n]sis ecclesie, Speyer, 1502, an early missal for the use of Liège, with text and music printed in red and black throughout ($15,000 to $25,000) and a scarce small-format Book of Hours, Hore beate marie virginis secu[n]dum usum Romanum, with 15 half-page miniatures in colors and gold, Paris, 1529-45 ($3,000 to $4,000); as well as Ordnung in Eesachen, Tübingen, circa 1535, the first printed Protestant marriage code ($1,500 to $2,500) and György Enyedi, Explicationes locorum Veteris & Novi Testamenti, ex quibus Trinitatis dogma stabiliri solet, Kolozsvár, 1598, an important early Unitarian work refuting the scriptural basis for the dogma of the Holy Trinity ($800 to $1,200).

Noteworthy medical titles are Michael Servetus, Syruporum universa ratio, Paris, 1537, a treatise on the Galenic theory of digestion and curative use of syrups ($2,000 to $3,000); an unusually well-preserved copy of Joseph Hurlock, A Practical Treatise upon Dentition; or, The Breeding of Teeth in Children, London, 1742, the first English-language book on children's teeth ($2,000 to $3,000); Samuel Hahnemann, Organon der rationellen Heilkunde, Dresden, 1810, the fundamental text of homeopathic medicine ($6,000 to $9,000); and a Bremer Press edition of Andreas Vesalius, Icones Anatomicae, Munich, 1935 ($4,000 to $6,000).


Books on astronomy include Johann Schöner, De judiciis nativitatum libri tres, Nuremberg, 1545, noteworthy for containing an early favorable reference to Copernicus’s De revolutionibus ($6,000 to $9,000); a first edition in Latin of Galileo Galilei, Systema cosmicum, his 1632 dialogue proving the validity of the Copernican heliocentric theory, bound with a second edition of Galileo’s Tractatus de proportionum instrumento, a 1612 treatise on the sector or proportional compass and its use as a calculating instrument, both Strassburg, 1635 ($15,000 to $20,000).

Among scientific books on other subjects are a second Aldine edition of a collection of Neoplatonic writings, Iamblichus, et al. De mysteriis Aegyptiorum, Chaldaeorum, Assyriorum, and other texts, Venice, November 1516 ($4,000 to $6,000); Giovanni Branca, Le Machine, Rome, 1629, containing the first published representation of an action-powered steam turbine ($5,000 to $7,000); Niccolò Cabeo, S.J., Philosophia magnetica, 1629, an important treatise on magnetism containing the first recognition of electrical repulsion ($3,000 to $4,000); and Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica . . . Editio tertia aucta & emendata, London, 1726, the last edition to appear in the author’s lifetime and the basis of all subsequent editions ($8,000 to $12,000).

The auction will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21. The books will be on public exhibition Friday, October 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, October 18, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday, October 21, from 10 a.m. to 12 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: Single leaf from a paper copy of the Gutenberg Bible, Mainz, circa 1450-55 (estimate: $40,000 to $50,000).

Second image: Galileo Galilei, Systema cosmicum, first edition in Latin, bound with Tractatus de proportionum instrumento, both Strassburg, 1635 (estimate: $15,000 to $20,000).