Manuscript Masterpieces from The Schøyen Collection

Manuscript Masterpieces from The Schøyen Collection

Sale Overview

In the summer of 1955 in Florence, a 15-year-old Martin Schøyen acquired his first antiquarian book. From its binding emerged a fragment of a French manuscript of Sermons written c.1300: this was MS 1 of what would become one of the most extensive collections of manuscripts ever assembled. Martin Schøyen’s precocious enthusiasm for collecting was in no small part shaped by his father, Engineer Martin O. Schøyen (1896-1962), whose own library would provide the catalyst for the Schøyen Collection as we know it today.

By the end of the 1980s Martin Schøyen had become well known to auction houses, academics and dealers alike as a committed bibliophile whose collecting was guided by scholarship and a studious attention to the market. His ever-expanding accessions, fuelled by the diversity of interests that mark out the addicted bibliophile, would end up encompassing the history of writing and literary culture worldwide, over some 5,000 years of human history. It should not have been possible to build a collection of such scope and quality in the second half of the 20th century, but Martin Schøyen succeeded against all odds. There is little doubt that generations from now he will be still be remembered among the pantheon of great bibliophiles who were his mentors and inspiration, amongst them Sir Thomas Phillipps, Martin Bodmer, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, Henry Yates Thompson and Peter Ludwig.

The lots offered for sale are a selection of the jewels in the crown of this splendid collection. The sale spans 1,300 years of cultural history and includes world heritage manuscripts such as the Crosby-Schøyen Codex, the Holkham Hebrew Bible, the Codex Sinaiticus Rescriptus and the Geraardsbergen Bible, but also Greek literature, humanist masterpieces, early English law, a historically important Scottish chronicle, and the earliest known book-binding.


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