Incunabula Exhibit at Shapero Rare Books

On the occasion of publication of their catalogue of incunables, Shapero Rare Books have highlights from the collection worth 10 million USD on display in their central London premises from 24 May.  

The catalogue features 75 incunables offered for sale from one of the most significant collections of books published in the first decades of the history of printing.

This is the first time for decades such assemblage of important works has appeared on the market.

The historical significance of these works is immense as they are the earliest and most important representations of the invention of printing in the 15th century which eventually changed the world.

The original collection was built up more than 20 years ago and is therefore fresh to the market. The owner Dr. Joost R. Ritman created in Amsterdam a library and research institute of international renown dedicated to the study of philosophy and Western religious beliefs called the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica.

A remarkable collection which includes many magnificent works of the utmost rarity and finest quality.

Examples include three books printed by the renowned printers Fust & Schoeffer, who originally collaborated with Gutenberg on his bible - the first book printed in the West. However they eventually became his nemesis and led him to bankruptcy. Fust and Schoeffer were the first to produce a book with the printer’s name and date.

??    The fourth earliest printed book (1459) by DURANDUS is the first edition ever published of a well known author and only the third to bear a date. This work is hugely significant in the history of early printing and very beautiful with colourful illuminations, some hand painted in gold and valued at one million dollars.

??    The fourth edition of the Latin Bible, printed seven years after the Gutenberg Bible, is also available and valued at approx 1.5 million US dollars.

??    Other highlights include first editions of important landmark writers, such as:

o    Aristophanes (printed in 1498 by Aldus Manutius in Venice, who invented the “italics”, in a beautifully illuminated example)

o    Petrarch, the “father of humanism” (first collected edition of the Latin works, published  1496)

o    Plato (first edition and first Latin translation of his complete works in any form, published 1484)

o    The first edition of the epic tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece (Argonautica) by Apollonius printed in 1496 on vellum (calf skin) with illuminations painted in gold valued over 600,000 US dollars.

The books are on display at shapero rare books, 32, saint george street, london w1s 2ea and copies of the catalogue are also available.

Further focused information is available; please contact Lucinda Boyle and Pierre-Yves Guillemet at rarebooks@shapero.com, +44 207 493 0876

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