May 27: The First Atlas Map of America and more at Ketterer Kunst

- by Thomas C. McKinney

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Ketterer Kunst offers a variety of material in their upcoming May 27 auction

May 27this a date many a high roller collector will want to bookmark in their calendars. Ketterer Kunst, the Munich-based auction house, will be hosting a sale of Rare Books in Hamburg that will not disappoint. With 492 lots on offer, they are divided categorically:

Renaissance and Humanism
Discovery of the World
Literature and Art
The Modern Book
Modern Book Art
Printed and Written Words
Geography and Travels
Early Prints and Manuscripts
Natural Sciences

 

There are several items carrying six-figure estimates, but the highlight of the sale is undoubtedly Geographie opus novissima traductione by Claudius Ptoelameus. Ketterer notes that this 1513 edition has been previously referenced as “the most important,” as it is the first atlas ever to include a map of America. This first “modern” atlas is complete, with 26 double page and one single page woodcut maps after Ptolemy by Martin Waldseemüller. This collection centerpiece is estimated at €140,000 as lot 23.

 

Two dozen books and portfolios with illustrations by Marc Chagall from a private German collection are also included in the sale. Chagall’s Cirque stands out, being one of 250 numbered copies of “the fantastic and gaudy world of the circus through the eyes of Marc Chagall” (lot 87, €120,000). Copies of ancient texts illustrated by Chagall, like Longus’ Daphnis & Chloé (lot 189, €130,000) and Homer’s l’Odyssée, are also being offered (lot 90, €35,000).

 

Natural history, always a popular collecting target, is very well represented in the sale. Pierre Joseph Redouté’s Les liliacées (lot 39, €120,000), eight volumes in four, includes 486 botanical plates. Meanwhile, Naturgeschichte der Fische Deutschlands (lot 35, €50,000) by Marcus Elieser Bloch, is arguably the main ichthyological work of the 18thcentury. Complete copies, as this one is, are quite rare. Over 400 copper plates make up the work. And if fish are not your cup of tea, then perhaps birds? Getting off the well-known paths of Audubon and Gould, Ketterer offers two striking lots that would fit right at home in an ornithological collection. Lot 33, Histoire naturelle des oiseaux by Georges Louis LeClerc Buffon is a monumental work, this copy with 998 (of 1008) colored plates. The following lot, Cornelius Nozeman’s Nederlandsche vogelen, is slightly less ambitious, with “only” 250 plates. Both are magnificent, and both are estimated €30,000.

 

With the recent pro-socialist developments in Spain, it seems appropriate to include the first edition, first volume of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. Volume I is the only one printed in Marx’s lifetime. It seems fitting that the book, printed in Hamburg, returns to its origin city for resale. It is estimated €30,000 as lot 52.

 

There is evidently a great variety of material coming to the rooms at the end of May courtesy of Ketterer Kunst, and this brief preview is just a snapshot. I encourage you to browse their online catalog, which offers efficient navigation by sale section as well as even more defined topics of interest. The catalog can be accessed here. The sale will take place in Hamburg on Monday, May 27 (US Memorial Day).