Auctions | June 11, 2012

PBA Galleries to Auction Rare Fasciculus Temporum Manuscript

On June 21, 2012, PBA Galleries in San Francisco will offer one of the rarest and most significant pieces it has ever brought to auction, a manuscript on vellum in “Grand Format” of the Fasciculus Temporum of the 15th century monk and historian Werner Rolewink, produced c.1471. The Fasciculus is a history of the world with dual parallel timelines dating both from creation and the birth of Christ. It was the first history of the world to be printed (by Arnold ther Hoernen, in Cologne in 1474), and was immensely popular, going through 30 editions before 1500, and has the claim to be the bestselling 15th century book by a contemporary author. Indeed, the Fasciculus was apparently the second publication of any living author, seeming to be predated only by Robertus Valturius’ De re militari (1472). This is one of only thirteen known manuscript copies of the work and the only known copy in private hands, and also one of only seven known manuscripts that predate the printed book.
The manuscript comprises 30 vellum leaves, in Latin, handwritten in brown and red ink, with numerous roundels in red. There are three miniature paintings in colors (of Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus in the manger; Christ nailed to the cross; and a resurrected Christ, a halo of tooled gold leaf surrounding his head, holding a gold leaf orb that is also delicately tooled), and a large, elaborate initial in red and blue leading off the text, with several smaller initials in red or blue. Of further note is the large size of the present manuscript, done in “Grand Format,” dwarfing the printed version. The leaves are 43.5 cm. (17¼”) tall, much larger than the 29 cm. (11½”) of the 1474 printed version. This allows fuller utilization of the elaborate roundel format, with an elegance and beauty not available in the printed version. This grand format is a characteristic of the pre-publication manuscripts only - post-1474 manuscripts typically followed the smaller format of the printed book. The printed version did have a series of small woodcut illustrations, markedly different from the three beautifully executed miniature paintings in this manuscript. The manuscript is elegantly bound in 17th century paneled calf with gilt tooling. It is estimated to sell for between $100,000 and $150,000. Here is a link to the item description and accompanying images
About PBA Galleries
PBA Galleries of San Francisco is the only west-coast auction house specializing in books & manuscripts, maps & atlases. The company offers private and heirloom libraries at auction, providing clients with a staff of professional appraisers, online and printed catalogues, and bi-monthly auctions where participants can bid in person, by phone, fax, e-mail, and in real-time by signing up at the PBA Galleries website. For more information contact Shannon Kennedy - 415 989 2665 -
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